Monthly Archives: July 2013

Social Business

I started reading Muhammad Yunus’ book, Social Business. He suggests that in addition to government agencies, charities and for-profit corporations, the world needs another type of enterprise – the social business.  This is basically a company set up to address a particular social need, such as public health, poverty or education, and is structured similarly to a corporation but returns no dividends or capital gains to its investors.  Any profit is guaranteed to be re-invested into achieving the social goal.

This might sound like a pipe-dream coming from someone else.   Yunus, though, is the guy who founded the Grameen bank.  Through his work millions of people have had access to banking services and small business loans that would have otherwise been denied them.  He has demonstrated in very practical ways that helping the poor can be about more than handouts – that creativity and entrepreneurship are key aspects as well.

In his advice for those considering starting a personal business, he says Start with a personal passion.  Too often, as businesses or individuals, we do whatever we need to do to earn revenue, and consider our ‘mission statement’ as something to be tacked on afterwards, maybe to please investors.   But what would happen if we looked at it the other way round?  If we asked ‘what is my mission in life’ first, and only then asked ‘how am I going to achieve it on an economically sustainable basis?’

Dennis Bakke, in his book Joy at Work suggested a very similar concept.  He argued that the goal of a for-profit corporation and a non-profit charity should really be the same thing: providing a service for society on an economically sustainable basis.

But regardless of how we choose to structure our enterprises – non-profits, corporations, co-ops, we must start with defining our mission, and then decide how we will go about reaching it.

Intentional Nutrition

We’re often been told that we should ‘eat healthy’, but I’m coming to realise that an intelligent approach to nutrition needs to be far more specific than that.  I went into the library the other day to look at books about diet and nutrition.  There were hundreds of books on the subject, and nearly all of them mentioned on the front cover the goal of losing weight.

I think that this is a terrible goal, for several reasons.

Firstly, it is expressed in purely negative terms.  I am convinced that we do well in life when we frame our goals and desires positively.
Secondly, it’s horribly unspecific.  If there is a theoretical perfect weight for every human being, then presumably some people are above that weight and some below.  “Achieve your correct weight” would be a better subtitle.

But thirdly, weight is a terrible proxy for fitness.  I define fitness quite simply as ‘the ability of the body to perform a required task.’  And this could mean very different things depending on the task and the individual in question.  When Ranulph Fiennes prepares for a polar expedition, he very intentionally tries to gain weight, both in fat and in muscle, to sustain himself over the long months ahead of trekking through a frozen wasteland with only what he can drag behind him on a sled for sustenance.  He is guaranteed to burn more calories per day than he can replenish from his food stores, so he has to have extra body mass at the start of his journey.

Scott Jurek is probably the worlds greatest Ultrarunner.  He needs to eat enough food to rebuild his muscles after each days training, and consume enough energy to propel himself for 100 miles over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

An expectant mother also wants her body to perform the task of growing and delivering a baby; and her nutritional needs will be dictated by this process.

A weightlifter or a wrestler or a UFC fighter needs to build sufficient muscle mass to compete well, and will need to have a protein-heavy diet geared towards growing and sustaining highly functional muscles.

Interestingly, none of these individuals have ‘lose weight’ as a primary goal.  And each one of them will need to have a different diet.  If a sedentary office worker eats like Michael Phelps, he will soon be very unhealthy, but Phelps needs to consume 6000 calories a day or more to support his workout routine.

When we know what tasks we want our body to perform – when we know what we mean by fitness, then what we need to eat will start falling into place.

Today I woke up, went for a 20km run, spent the afternoon in the pool and the evening on a group bike ride.

chia-seedsStrangely enough, despite being offered donuts several times throughout the day, I had no desire whatsoever to eat them, but I did find myself craving my hemp, chia-seed and buckwheat cereal.  I didn’t make those dietary choices out of some sense of guilt, but because my body was clearly communicating that in order to achieve the demands I was placing on it it required the correct fuel.

This is true in other areas of life.  What we choose to consume will be intrinsically linked with what we are trying to achieve.


New site design

I’ve tried to drag this site kicking and screaming into, well, whatever we’re calling this current decade.    The goal is a clean, minimalist interface, easy to find articles, and a good user experience on any device.

I’ve also just learned far more about the innards of WordPress than I ever wanted to.  Apparently, if you create a child theme, then you override existing PHP pages by creating new pages with the same name in your child theme folder.  Unless, of course the php page is functions.php.  In that case, both copies get included, causing all sorts of fun and conflicts.

In the end I gave up and edited the parent theme as well, so if I ever update the parent theme I’ll have to make a couple of changes.

Thank goodness for the Chrome WebInspector.  I can’t imagine how we used to do web development before we had tools like that.

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