Things I’ve learned this week (30/08)

As part of my most recent effort to create content, I’m trying a new thing – every week I’m going to post three things that I’ve learned. Here’s the first of those…

Thing the first: At some point in the last few years, I’ve inadvertently become a coffee snob.

I’ve had something of a cosmopolitan week this week, hanging out with friends in a startup, having meetings with people talking about my business idea, and just generally soaking up as much of the entrepreneurial lifestyle as I can. As such, I’ve been to a lot of different coffee shops. I point-blank refuse to give a review of my favourite ones (its bad enough that I got instagram this week…) but the point is that I could if I wanted to. [Also, thing the first part two: there are some really bad coffee shops out there].

Thing the second: I’m not sure when the last time I really saw London was.

I’m writing this sat by the window of a coffee shop in Moorgate just as rush hour is kicking in and people are on their way home from work. I reckon about half the people who walk past have their noses buried in their smartphones. Of the rest, I reckon half again are on handsfree.

Our instinct seems to be to be always alert for any opportunity – but the way that manifests itself is in always being at the end of a web-enabled device. I was at a loose end in town the other week and decided to go to a bookshop, buy a book and sit in a park and read. I made a conscious decision to unplug. But halfway through browsing I discovered that the Amazon app can scan bookcovers and tell you how much they are, and I left the shop without buying anything because everything was half the price online. I wasn’t sure whether I won or lost there. (I’m also not sure how I ended up on the Amazon app whilst standing in a bookshop.)

I went off on a tangent – but my point was that even after I realised that I wasn’t paying enough attention to my surroundings, my first instinct was to dive into the nearest coffee shop and blog about it. Which is a real shame, because who know’s what opportunities I have now missed out on…

Thing the third: You don’t need to live in London to do your own thing.

This seems like a weird thing to say, given that I’ve had this realisation whilst in London. And, really, its also quite an obvious statement. Bear with me though.

Ever since I made a conscious decision to take a ‘non-standard’ career path (pinch of salt with that statement required) I’ve found it hard to shake the feeling that I’ve made an inferior choice. (I’m acutely aware that the only person who is pressuring me to ‘conform’ is myself, but I’ll leave the psycho-analysis for another day I think.) Part of the whole package of a ‘post-uni life’ is the idea of moving to London – that being one of the bigger ingredients for success. It’s like baking powder – the cake is perfectly edible without it, but you aren’t going to win Bake Off if you don’t have it.

But what this week has helped me remember is that I took a ‘non-standard’ path for a reason, and I don’t need London to succeed. I’ve had a pretty successful week in terms of self-progress, and while a lot of that was due to being surrounding by some awesome people, I reckon just as much of it was down to my attitude. I don’t want to get all Sliding Doors about it, but this week in particular I’ve noticed so many little decisions and chances that – had they gone another way – would have had resulted in quite large changes. It’s an attitude thing, and my attitude, weirdly, goes where I go. So when I head back home my challenge to myself is to have as successful a week in ‘not-London’ as I did here.

It shouldn’t be that hard. But that’s the point – what’s been holding me back has been me.

And bad coffee. I’m going to blame that a little bit too…