Sam Radford

October 13, 2021

Writing is easy – until it is hard

I get asked, ‘How do you manage to write so much?’, a lot. And the truth is that, like most established habits, it’s quite easy once you’ve done the work of making it a routine in your life. The routine – and the accompanying triggers – do a lot of the heavy lifting of making the habit continue. For much of this year, that’s where I’ve...
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October 4, 2021

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you

I read a letter recently, written several thousand years ago, from a master to his apprentice. The author included the line that titles this post: guard the good treasure entrusted to you. He’s talking about the gifts the apprentice has. Earlier in the same letter, he writes about, ‘rekindl[ing] the gift of God that is within you’. Gua...
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September 30, 2021

When words don’t sync with reality

“Writing or words not backed up by action will end up ringing hollow. Similarly, a person who only talks but does not practise ends up living a hollow existence. There is nothing at the core – no real substance – because the actions don’t match up to the intentions. So that is the danger of writing – when the words are out of sync from...
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September 28, 2021

What if worry was prayer?

I took a huge amount of pleasure listening to a conversation between Luke Norsworthy and Barbara Taylor Brown on a recent episode of Luke’s podcast. Though it wasn’t remotely the main focus of the podcast, there was a throwaway line from Barbara that I’ve been pondering since I heard it. She said that worrying about friends and family ...
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September 27, 2021

A good life

“Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you. —Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, ‘Ikaigi’” I love the simplicity of this. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy! Sometimes the simplest things to understand are the hardest t...
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September 23, 2021

Improve your life with better handling of notifications

I don’t write much about technology any more. And when I do, I aim to write about it in ways that are relevant to everyone – not just geeks like me! Today’s post is, as such, technology focussed but will, I hope, help us all. Let’s get to it. As of this week, the iPhone has a new feature that I want to highlight. It’s part of iOS and i...
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September 22, 2021

Fewer blog posts of late

I’ve been writing less frequently the last couple of weeks. But don’t worry: I do intended to get back to writing each week day. Lately I’ve had no extra headspace though. Work has been all-consuming whilst we’ve launched a major new programme for thousands of teachers here in England. This busy spell has left me with less time for rea...
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September 21, 2021

Flexibility = resilience

I finished reading ‘Ikigai’ by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles this week and, towards the end of the book, there’s a chapter on resilience. This paragraph in particular resonated: “Resilient people know how to stay focused on their objectives, on what matters, without giving in to discouragement. Their flexibility is the source of ...
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September 14, 2021

The thief of happiness

“To compare yourself and your results against anyone is probably like the thief of happiness. —Emma Raducanu” I came across the above quote in an article on the BBC website a couple of days prior to Emma Raducanu’s remarkable win in US Open tennis final in New York. Reading that, it becomes even harder to believe she’s just 18 years ol...
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September 9, 2021

The wherewithal to cope

I was grateful for this reminder from Oliver Burkeman in his latest newsletter: “...imagine you were a member of a prehistoric tribe, setting out on a multi-day hunting expedition into the unknown. You couldn't possibly have felt confident, if “confident” means feeling sure of how things will unfold. But there’s a kind of confidence yo...
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September 8, 2021

Let us be awake to life

One of my morning meditations recently included the mantra that makes for the title of this post: “Let us be awake to life.” I find it all too easy to drift through life. Days blur into weeks, which blur into months, which blur into years. And before long, I’m repeating the tired refrain: Doesn’t time fly? I lose sight of the truth tha...
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September 7, 2021

Lessons from several women who have embraced Orthodox Judaism

There was an intriguing article in The Telegraph over the weekend about several women who have embraced Orthodox Judaism. I found it interesting on various levels. But there was a sentence that captured my attention where one of the women was describing her first Sabbath: “That Friday evening, as well as eating chicken soup, they sang ...
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September 6, 2021

Anger AND love

This from John Philip Newell in his book ‘Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul’ touched a nerve for me over the weekend: “Today we hear many voices denouncing the abuse of the environment. These are important voices, and it is imperative that we listen to them and their dire predictions of the catastrophes we are bringing on ourselves and future ...
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September 3, 2021

Clarity over certainty

I found this quote from Shawn Blanc’s latest newsletter helpful: “Certainty is a destination. Clarity is a direction. Don’t waste too much time in the hunt for certainty, when, often all you need is just a little bit of clarity. With a little bit of clarity, you can start moving in the right direction. And once you’re moving, that acti...
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September 2, 2021

Sunday neurosis

I’m reading a book called Ikigai at the moment. It’s a delightful and insightful read, exploring the lessons we can learn from this Japanese ‘secret’ about living life with purpose. One paragraph about ‘Sunday neurosis’ jumped out at me when I was reading last night: “Sunday neurosis, for example, is what happens when, without the obli...
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September 1, 2021

You teach best what you most need to learn

““You teach best what you most need to learn,” as the author Richard Bach famously put it. You’re drawn to the subjects you struggle with because you struggle with them – because the stakes feel high to you, so you’re motivated to try to puzzle out some solutions.” I appreciated the paragraph above, pulled from the latest newsletter fr...
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August 31, 2021

Note taking or making notes?

“Note taking is what happens when we’re quickly capturing content to refer back to it later while we’re listening. Note making on the other hand is when we generate ideas, like when reading. This is when we form our own ideas and insights based on the information we encounter. It’s the process of connecting the dots, or plotting new on...
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August 27, 2021

‘We have become flesh and blood billboards’

Om Malik’s latest blog post on how humans today engage with one another is worth sharing in full: “Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn: that is now part of our daily vernacular. Did you see my TikTok or read my Tweet? We don’t interact. We transact. Read the papers, and you will quickly learn that everyone is an influencer or ...
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August 26, 2021

Bearing with one another

I’m sharing more wisdom today from Saul of Tarsus, the first century writer. Though this particular line may or may not have come from his quill*, the insight is clear (and challenging). In Ephesians 4:2, the author encourages the faith community in Ephesus to be people committed to ‘bearing with one another in love’. I appreciate the ...
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August 24, 2021

What to wear

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. —Colossians 3” ‘Clothe yourselves’ is one of my favourite metaphors used by the first century writer Saul of Tarsus. He uses this, and variations of it, in various of his writings when encouraging his readers to live a life of moral virtue. I find this help...
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August 23, 2021

Bravery has many faces

Glennon Doyle shared some astute thoughts in a post on Instagram last week. Here’s what she said: “There is a family next to me at the store. I just heard the dad say to his kid: “Well, it’s brave to go on a roller coaster. And it’s also brave to say you don’t want to go on a roller coaster.” Wanted to tell you something. That is good....
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August 20, 2021

Owning our limitations

Shawn Blanc wrote about the ‘law of tradeoffs’ in his newsletter this week, saying: “In order to give your perpetual devotion to any one thing it will require the perpetual neglect of many other things. Focus requires tradeoffs.” He then added: “You can only focus on so many areas of life at a time. And you can only do focused, deep wo...
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August 19, 2021

Fooling ourselves

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool. —Richard Feynman” I started reading The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef last night. It’s a book focussed on helping people get better at seeing clearly and rationally. Much as we might like to think otherwise, this is no easy task. She starts...
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August 18, 2021

Is the rise of Western atheism permanent?

“Do you ever wonder why Western atheism is on the rise? Why does the Christian West, by far, produce the highest number of atheists? What I believe, and have dedicated my life to reversing, is that we have not moved doctrine and dogma to the level of inner experience. As long as “received teaching” doesn't become experiential knowledge...
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August 17, 2021

A pathway into deeper knowing

I’m reading John Philip Newell’s delightful book ‘Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul’ at the moment. The most recent chapter I read explored the role of the imagination in Celtic spirituality. I found this quote, talking about C.S. Lewis, sagacious: “He saw that the world of the imaginal is not simply fantasy, that it can be a pathway into deep...
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August 16, 2021

Happiness or contentment?

I appreciated this Hasidic proverb I stumbled across last week: “While we pursue happiness, we flee from contentment.” This suggestion that seeking happiness moves us away from contentment is profound and provocative. But there’s wisdom to be considered here. Happiness is a temporary state, dependent on circumstances. But contentment e...
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August 13, 2021

Being creative in showing appreciation

It’s always tempting to wait for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, or other special occasions to let friends and family know that we love and appreciate them. Most gift-giving and note writing is saved for those predictable moments in any given year. Which is fine! I’m not suggesting we stop using these moments to show our love for ...
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August 12, 2021

Regarding others as better than ourselves

I try and read a chapter of Scripture most mornings. Today’s chapter was from a segment of an ancient letter written to the church in Philippi some time in the first century AD. These two verses jumped out at me, mostly because of how counter-cultural they sound to our modern ears: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in h...
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August 6, 2021

The future of the office

Seth Godin published a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece on his blog today about the future of the office. He starts out by reminding us of something that’s easy to forget: “The office is a fairly modern phenomenon. We got by for millenia without them.” After reflecting on how work has worked for the last forty years, his comments...
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August 5, 2021

The past vs. the future

I had a conversation with a friend of mine from Germany a month or so ago. We ended up discussing our relationship to the past and to the future. In the midst of our back and forth, I ended up saying this: “We look to the past nostalgically but we look to the future fearfully.” It’s a generalisation, but there’s a kernel of truth here....
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