Perfect Notion Icons

Everything I do now is in Notion, or as near as dammit.

So if we’re going to be spending that long on the platform let’s get it looking amazing. In this post I want to show you 3 quick ways to improve the aesthetics of your Notion page using super-simple steps to perfect your Notion Icons in under 5 minutes.


Icons are the little square images that sit near the top left of your Notion page. They can be whatever you like because you can upload your own images but I like mine to represent the content so I select a representative image depending on whatever is on the page.

It is also the image that represents that page around the rest of your workspace and in your browser tabs.

Loads of websites, both paid and free, have popped up sharing icons that you can use in your Notion workspace, or you can make your own out of photos or if you’re especially creative, images you have curated yourself in Canva or other popular design apps.

A quick google will find hundreds but I’ve found that the best are the curated lists on Twitter (thanks for this one @redgregory) – a quick search in Google or Twitter for “notion icon packs” will throw up hundreds and then you can quickly search through for lots of different options to suit your needs.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the most comprehensive sites with the icons most likely to match your needs are paid for and the best of these with over 3 million icons is The Noun Project.

So if you want to make your own, these are my 3 very easy steps to get the perfect icon in less than 2 mins

  1. Find the image you want to use, from anywhere. Download it.

2. Create a custom design in Canva. You need to make is 280 x 280 px

3. Upload the image you downloaded at step 1 to this design. Crop it to remove anything you don’t want and drag it to fill the 280 x 280 pixels.

4. To make the background transparent, click ‘Edit Image’ and ‘Background Remover’, then wait for it…

5. Click Share > Download > Transparent Background >Download

6. Upload your perfect new icon to your Notion page

7. Bask in the glory of Notion aesthetic bliss!

 If you’ve found this helpful, why not hop across to Notion for Teachers on YouTube, where I’m sharing all my latest Notion updates to help you build a system which helps you crush your Teacher Admin.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Notion vs GDPR

Is Notion GDPR Compliant? Depends on who you ask but first, what is GDPR?

Wikipedia tells us that GDPR is

“The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).”

But what is it really and how does it impact us as teachers?

As most of us have found out in Data Privacy Training on INSET, GDPR means that we as teachers have a duty to protect the information we hold about our colleagues and students:

  • We shouldn’t hold any more than we need to do our job.
  • We should protect the identity of our students, not sharing their data any more than is necessary.
  • and a whole host of other obligations for which you should refer to your Data Privacy Officer.

In short though, in the use of Notion, we need to be sure that if we are storing student data in Notion, we need to be absolutely sure that they are able to look after it properly because if they can’t and we have put the data there, it will come back on us.

So firstly, as a classroom teacher, it’s not really on us to work out if Notion is GDPR compliant. Before uploading any student data, I went straight to my Data Privacy Officer and asked them to look into it. They came back with a few questions which I will share with you later., including my answers and the useful links I shared with them to get their approval for me to store student data on the site.

So really, this is all about getting onto your School Data Privacy Officer and getting them comfortable with Notion and it’s data privacy policies. At the end of the day, Data Privacy isn’t black and white. It’s a risk to be mitigated so it’s a case of proving that Notion have done everything they can from their perspective to manage the risk and then for the school to put in place the necessary safeguards so that we aren’t exposed.

How did I do that then?

Step 1: I asked Notion if they are GDPR compliant. Sounds obvious but I thought I’d better check. As expected they confirmed that they are.

Step 2: I met with my DPO and talked him through Notion, what is it and why it’s so incredibly useful. He asked if Microsoft can do everything Notion does and I explained that it absolutely can’t, which he believed when I showed him the functionality of relational databases amongst everything else.

Step 3: He asked me to send him Notion’s Data Privacy policies, which I link to here for you: https://www.notion.so/help/gdpr-at-notion

Step 4: He was most interested in exactly which data I planned to store on the platform. Having used Notion for a while, I had a fairly good idea that I wanted to store the following data on the platform:

  • Student First Name e.g. “Patrick”
  • Student Class e.g “3A”
  • Student Prep & Internal Test Scores e.g. “4/5”
  • Student Merits & Lesson Alerts
  • Student Late
  • Student Forgot equipment for lesson

Step 5: He confirmed that I am good to use Notion as long as:

a. It is only student first names.

b. If/when I leave the school or students leave the school, the data must be destroyed.

c. If my role changes at all and requires increased data storage on the platform, then we would need to review the arrangement.

d. Crucially, I needed to confirm that the agreement I signed with Notion incorporates the UK Standard Contractual Terms as per their link here Data Processing Addendum (notion.site).

e. To share with him a copy of these Terms. To do this I emailed Notion to ask for this. At time of writing they are looking into it:

So am I using Notion yet to store student data? Not quite, but I’m confident that I will be very soon and you can too by following the steps above.

If you’ve found this useful then you’ll love my YouTube Channel: Notion for Teachers, where I post weekly on how I’m using Notion to improve student outcomes and keep my workload manageable.

Thanks for reading!

Alcohol: An Evolution

We approach the end of the 6 weeks in which I set myself the challenge of publishing 250 words a day and I am looking forward to a short break from writing despite feeling like I still have plenty to share. 

So I now have a short priority list of things to write about and top of that list is a topic which we have all at some point or another, felt for ourselves or at least seen in others, the good and the bad: alcohol.

Drinking half-a-pint of beer daily can increase your longevity, claims  study! | The Times of India
I’ve been through everything a social drinker goes through. 

I’ve lost control in short spates, thankfully always limited to the morning after.

I’ve taken months off, followed by big blow-outs.

I’ve enjoyed and regretted drinks.

I’ve drank too little and too much.

I, like you, have had a journey and what I share here is a summary of my journey to now. It’s a journey which will continue but my sense is that from the age now of 36, it will be in a different direction than the average of the last 18 years.

Drinks were a big, consistent and generally healthy feature of my 20s. As healthy as social drinks can be.

Then something changed. I started to think about how alcohol was serving me. Funny how this was around about the time that the hangovers were getting heavier and longer. I spent longer and longer thinking in more granular detail about how the costs of consuming alcohol were weighing up against the benefits it gave me.

I like graphs and have thought about how I would graph this.

What Are/Were The Costs & Benefits and why are they moving like this?


Taste – This benefit was reducing as the taste of alternatives was improving so much and still is.

Relaxation – It will always serve this purpose, although less so as the ‘costs’ weigh on my mind while I’m drinking it now.

The ‘craic’ – It is and always will be fun to get utterly sloshed with one’s mates. The fact that this hasn’t been anywhere near as possible over the last year or so has probably served to expedite the decline.


Time – It takes increasing amounts of time to recover from a few too many*.

Energy – It takes increasing levels of energy to recover from a few too many*.

Inconsistent – Misalignment with who I want to be as a Dad.

Confidence – Every occasional but notable loss of control impacted my confidence in other areas of my life. “If I can’t always control this why would I be able to achieve my heightiest goals?”

*It’s rarely ‘a few too many’. It was increasingly more likely to be 1 drink or far too many drinks. And too often, the decision about whether it was 1 or too many was outside of my conscious control.

On reflection, the switch from net benefit to net cost came with becoming a Dad. 

I want my Son’s experience of life to be a long string of positive, present, developmental, healthily challenging, dynamic, role-modelling and influential moments. 

How can I facilitate that if I’m feeling a bit under the weather from a drink too many the night before?

Non-Dads might read this as a reason not to have kids. It’s anything but, but I only know that because I’m a Dad. Read Paul Graham on Kids and/or Fatherhood vs Ambition.

So from July 2018, the writing was on the wall, I was just coming to terms with it.

Then 4th July 2020 happened.

My Wife and I excitedly booked a table at a nice restaurant-bar which did good food for kids and we enjoyed a late lunch and a few drinks there before heading round to the neighbours for a BBQ. By the end of the night I think about 8-9 bottles of good red wine had passed the table. And at 1am it looked like one of them was pebble-dashing our bath-tub. And then again the next morning. It was not pretty.

I had planned the next day to be working on an exciting project I had on the go while my Wife and Son were visiting their friends. This was cancelled as my Wife hadn’t slept as she was looking after her 36 year old child all night.

So I spent the day at home looking after my Son while my Wife caught up on the missed sleep, cleaned the bedsheets, carpet and bath and entertained our Son after a morning spent on the iPad because his Dad was incapable of any higher level of interaction.

My relationship with alcohol irrevocably shifted that day. 4th July 2020, my Independence Day.

So what do I do now?

I still like the taste of a really good glass of red wine and as the alcohol free options haven’t yet caught up, I will allow myself a glass, albeit very slowly indeed. I probably burn it off before I’ve finished it. And that’s enough for me.

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So You’re a Veggie?!

For the past couple of years, my diet has taken a tilt significantly in the direction of vegetarianism. Here are the 2 big reasons why.

  1. Health. My interest was triggered by the flurry of Netflix documentaries* a few years ago which really pushed veganism. This gave me the prompt to look into it a little more with me eventually reading a book called The Blue Zones – Lessons for Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest. It really interested me that there were these areas around the world where people lived longer and healthier lives. Even more interesting was the fact that there were patterns which were consistent across all the areas.

The main pattern for me, with regards to vegetarianism, was that across most of the Blue Zones, people ate a playing card deck sized piece of meat once per month. Until that point I was probably eating that much every day! So I stopped immediately and my wonderful family accepted the challenge of adapting the weekly menu to suit my updated preferences and in fact we all now enjoy a much more plant-based diet all week round. In looking into it even further, I now understand more about the negative impacts caused by the antibiotics which get pumped into fish, poultry and meat, the negative effects of which are concealed from the consumer, I believe.

* For example “What The Health”. In truth, I didn’t enjoy the way these documentaries were produced as I found them to be highly sensationalist. The propaganda-esque nature of them was quite a turn-off. However, I am grateful that they triggered me to consider a little more consciously what I was eating.

2. Environment. The carbon emissions from the production of meat compared with alternatives are incredible. 

The stats around the use of water during vegetable production are surprising enough. Around meat production they are truly startling.

So both the impact of the greenhouse emissions and water use in the production of meat are supplementary reasons why I choose to minimise my meat intake.

What do I do now?

  1. I track my vegetarian days in my habit tracker, See 300, Like Spartan.
  2. I eat meat a maximum of 1 day per week, on average. This is more than the Blue Zones recommended quantity but if I am to be successful with this (and other habits) I need to be able to adapt them a little to suit the needs of the family. In addition, I feel that the iron from additional meat consumption supports my training for running events, which are good for me so there is an offsetting balance.
  3. We buy the best meat available, typically organic beef, cold-water line-caught fish and organically fed and free-range poultry in order to minimise the potential impact of harmful additives and other nasty unknowns.

So the evidence around the health related impacts of regularly consuming meat and the environmental stats around its production all have me comfortable with my current situation of eating meat and similar products only occasionally.

I’m very interested to hear alternative arguments which I welcome below.
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Kicking off on Youtube

That’s it, we’re off.

Off the back of the momentum of the blog and other inspiration I’ve encountered since the start of the year, I’ve made a start with the Youtube Channel.

As you’ve been so good to keep along for the journey on here, offering your feedback and support with the posts, I hope you’ll do the same on the channel. And if you would subscribe and like, and share wherever you can, I would be most grateful.

You might be a little surprised not to see ‘FourHourTeacher’ on the channel. In truth I’m in two minds about the name, figuring that the more personal approach might serve my community better, especially on Youtube so for now, we’re sticking with my actual name… crazy I know.

So let me know what you think,

And as always, it’s great to have you onboard.

Calling Notice: 2021SWAN#3: 5 April – 16 May 2021

This is going to be the best yet!

Anyone who has been a part of Six Week Accountability Network (SWAN) #1 or #2 will appreciate the benefit of setting goals to be achieved over a 6 week period.

I have certainly felt the benefit of the accountability to sit and write this blog on nights, like tonight, at the end of a day when there was much else to do.  But the sense of ‘someone will be checking’ is such a powerful one, and once the keys are tapping I enjoy it.

It’s not for the lack of ideas about what to write. For me it’s the inertia of opening of the laptop and connecting brain to keyboard. But it’s an inertia which is much easier to overcome having built the habit over the past 5 weeks with the support of the network.

Why 6 weeks?

In some ways we have Boris to thank, see SWAN Part 1. We have found though that there is somewhat of a sweet-spot in this time period, short enough to make and achieve goals that are doable, but not so short that the goals aren’t sure to fail when they meet the turbulence of real life. What this means is that, depending on the ambition in your goals, there is some forgiveness in the schedule – you can have a bad week and still make progress.

What will I need to do?

You and I, or anyone else with whom you choose to set up your own accountability network(s) will exchange a set of goals and swap a few messages once a week or fortnight, to share successes and challenges. That’s all. Anything more than that is up to you. 

You’d be amazed at the dialogue that opens up. 

My favourite thing about SWAN #1/2 has been the connection I simply wouldn’t otherwise have had with smart people. 

Andrew Arnold

I have made 5-10x the progress I would otherwise have made, which is why I put the time into keeping it going.

Will anyone I don’t know see my goals?

Not unless you share them.

So you’re reading this because you’re at least slightly intrigued. If you’ve not taken part in SWAN#1 or #2 and you think you might like the momentum of 6 weeks accountability, mull it over for the next week until 5 April and then we can go for it.

Or you’ve already been a part of SWAN#1/#2 and appreciate the benefit. In either case, I truly hope you’re onboard for 2021SWAN#3 and look forward to swapping goals with you, or hearing about the success of your own network, from 5 April.
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The Tribe 10% Project

I’ve achieved all of the big (to me) athletic goals that I’ve set myself so far apart from two.

The first of these is to qualify for the Ironman World Championships, held annually in Kona Hawaii. My best attempt at that was at Ironman UK in 2016 when I was 30 minutes off qualification time. I simply wasn’t fast enough on the day and would have needed a year or two more of hard consistent training at a point in life when it just didn’t suit. I guess I didn’t want it badly enough at the time.

The other goal is to run a half-marathon in 1 hour 18 minutes. This will require me to shave 3 mins and 45 seconds off my previous personal best of 1:21:45.

have audacious goals

jump onboard

a group all hurtling towards similar goals is almost unstoppable

The reason for this being the goal is a post for another day, but it’s personal.  I’ve long been looking for the right time to go for it, when I felt in decent enough condition to enter a race for which I felt like I could hit it having done a decent period of training. With the lack of social events throughout the lockdown periods, I’d been able to run with greater consistency than any other point in the previous few years.

It was always a consideration that if anyone else was up for it and planning on running a similar pace then that could be enough to make me commit.

So you can imagine my delight when I got an email from my favourite sports nutrition brand, Tribe, back in February. They had prepared a package which included race entry into Dorney Lake Half-Marathon on 22 May 2021.

Tribe are my favourite sports nutrition brand

Not only that but the incredible deal included the following:

  • 2 boxes of their delicious energy bars
  • Training Plan to get me to the start line whatever my target time
  • Tribe branded jumper or cap
  • Facebook and Whatsapp groups for community support


Tribe’s target for the project, which they call Tribe 10%, is for everyone taking part to knock 10% off their previous PB. It feels great to be part of a community all working towards the same specific goals.

Click here to read Tribe’s Page: Tribe 10% Project

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written (SWAN – The Best 6 Weeks), you’ll know that I am a firm believer that accountability around my goals will improve my chances of achieving them, hence I jumped at the chance to get involved in this amazing journey.

I am literally so excited for the event on 22 May, the thought of setting off from the start line as a pack of runners all targetting times similar to mine will be exhilarating.

But also across the 12 weeks since the training programmes started, until the event, the camaraderie has been and will continue to be incredible.

Conversations in the Whatsapp group have ranged across topics from trainer selection to pacing of training runs to injury prevention and treatment of niggles.

The written programme is supplemented with high quality live video sessions for strength and conditioning, flexibility and stretching.

So my message is one of gratitude to the guys at Tribe. As I think you already know, you are onto a great thing, an amazing community.  But also to everyone else reading this, have audacious goals and when opportunities like this come along, jump onboard because the momentum that comes from the social structure of a group all hurtling towards similar goals is almost unstoppable.

Or so I hope… I’ll keep you updated but it’s going well so far.

Want to keep up with me, either at Dorney on 22 May (I think there are still a few entries available!) or otherwise for updates on my progress, drop me your details and I’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing…

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If I’m running or driving I will be listening to either a podcast or an Audible book. I find it to be a great way to get better and often return from a run with renewed inspiration or ideas to boost my progress.

The Seven

I use Google Podcasts as it hands-off the episodes to the Google Home Hubs we have around the house so I can pick up where I left off on my phone and vice-versa. I always listen on 1.5x speed which drives everyone else in the car or kitchen nuts but I’m used to it.

My phone has been playing up recently so I had to do a factory reset. This meant that I had to reinstall everything so I took the opportunity to clear out the podcasts which I’ve collected along the way.

Here’s the seven I kept and why.

  1. The Tim Ferris Show, obviously. 600 million downloads and 3 ‘Best of Apple’ Annual Awards speak for themselves. Otherwise for me, the quality of questions he asks are better than any I have ever heard.  He gets right inside the thought loops of his guests, exposing their top performance for us all.
  2. The Daily Dad. Bestselling author (see below for covers) Ryan Holiday serves up these 3-4 minute episodes which deliver one key actionable per day based on the application of stoic philosophy to Fatherhood. Great to drop into the playlist to give something to think about, hopefully improving in the Dad department at least a little bit every day. Also available as a daily email. The Daily Dad blog is top notch too.
  3. Radio Headspace. This is the same Headspace as my mindfulness app which I profiled here in Mind Full of Presence. Much like The Daily Dad, it’s very short episodes giving one thing to think about each day which improves your practice. Andy Pudicombe, creator of Headspace, shares anecdotes from his time in the monasteries which support the teachings in the app. Although it doesn’t need us to be practitioners of mindfulness, these episodes are meant to support and encourage us in our practice and for me, they work.

4. The Mindset Mentor, with Rob Dial. A very recent addition to the catalogue, I’ve really got into this, sometimes listening 2-3 times to the longer episodes of up to 30 minutes. Superb for sticking on during a run and finishing with motivation to shoot for the stars in whatever projects I am working on. He goes BIG on abundance thinking which is a big area I’m trying to improve in this year. Typical episodes listed on the left, the content of which is better than the cheesiness of the titles.

  1. The Knowledge Project, with Shane Parrish. I haven’t even listened to this one yet but it’s staying subscribed due to the quality of the guests in the list. Josh Kaufman of The Personal MBA, Seth Godin who is possibly the best digital marketer alive and Nir Eyal, author of Mastering Distraction are the three most recent guests. This is going to be seriously high-value.
  2. Mr. Barton Maths Podcast, with Craig Barton. One for the Educators and mainly maths teachers obviously. For me, the best podcast there is on the topic.
  3. Side-Hustle School, with Chris Guillebeau. Chris shares one inspirational story a day of someone who has converted an idea into income. Episodes are 8-10 minutes long and Chris’ puns are worth the listen alone but they are also genuinely top quality.

So that’s the lot for now. Again, for me this is about using that time when I’m running or driving or otherwise by myself to improve the quality of my thinking and my mental state. If I get out of the way of listening to them for a while for whatever reason, I feel like my optimism for my projects is affected.

It’d be great to hear if Podcasts serve another purpose for you or if I’m missing any gems so why not share a word or two below…

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Life in the Fast Lane

About a year ago when the first national lockdown was announced a  month after I had turned 35, and I was coming round to the idea of sitting at a desk for the next few weeks (what little I knew…), I read a couple of articles about how one’s metabolism can start slowing down around about the middle of the thirties. I knew I wanted to nip in the bud any potential mid-life spread.

I started looking around for strategies that would work for me, a typically hungry, regularly exercising, big-eater.

I needed something that wouldn’t require too much will-power to maintain, would be convenient for myself stick to and wouldn’t impose any extra strain on family catering arrangements, i.e. I didn’t want to be having separate meals cooked to suit my requirements.

I happened upon fasting after a friend told me about it, about how he had used it a few times. He recommended that I listen to the Peter Attia podcast, which I did. Attia is a USA-based doctor who very quickly goes well into the detail so if that’s what you’d like to hear, listen to this episode for a good summary, or read this good summary with further links for more detail on his website.

TRF vs IF: A short note on terminology. Peter Attia is fairly advanced with his fasting, including doing a 3 day water-only fast every month. This is well beyond what I think I will ever attempt as it requires the faster to very carefully control their activities and diary for that period. As someone who fasts for such long periods, Attia doesn’t describe describe anything less than 24 hours off food as Intermittent Fasting. He describes what I do, fasting for periods shorter than 24 hours, as Time Restricted Feeding. It’s just differing terminology but best to clarify in case you dig into his site and note the apparent inconsistency.

What Are The Main Benefits?

  • In limiting the duration within which I eat, I am naturally going to consume fewer calories. Less calories in, less body fat carried*.
  • Ketosis. When the body doesn’t have food to burn it turns to other energy sources, mainly fat, for energy. By dipping into this routinely I light up this fat burning process and get my body used to burning fat for energy, which is very efficient and further supports the maintenance of healthy weight.
  • Autophagy. This is a major benefit which comes from not consuming calories for extended periods. When the body isn’t supplied with calories, it eventually goes into a deep cleaning process, burning dead cells and fixing broken ones. This is called autophagy. Benefits of autophagy are reported to include reducing risks of a number of illnesses including cancer and type II diabetes.

* There are exceptions to this, especially if one isn’t taking regular exercise but broadly speaking it’s true and good enough for me.

What do I do?

Having read what I could and tried out some routines, I have settled now on the following:

  • The most concise way to put it is that from ~1830 Sunday until 13:00 Friday, I only consume calories between 13:00 and 18:30.
  • I eat whenever I want from Friday lunchtime until Sunday dinner, so that I can eat evening tele snacks on Friday & Saturday nights and have family breakfasts on Saturday & Sunday.
Keeping It Simple

Other reasons why I Fast Intermittently

  • It feels good. The sense of lightness gives me a feeling of energy.
  • It’s not as difficult as it sounds as I am busy in lessons where food is not conveniently available. I am really fortunate in this regard as my environment almost perfectly supports the habit.
  • My weight is perfectly in check, if anything I only just about keep it up.
  • When I eat, I can eat as much as I like, albeit that I naturally tend to choose healthier options apart from on Cheat Day. By ‘healthier options’ I mean vegetarian options, nuts, seeds and fruit.
  • Another benefit which is a positive outcome, although not a reason to do it in itself, is that by not eating for longer, I save myself the time associated with eating.

How do I do it?

  • When I started out, I went from evening meal time, about 18:30, to school break-time at 11:00 when I had a couple of bits of fruit. So this was ‘17:7’. When I got used to that I decided to extend it to my first calories now being at 13:00 and I’m on 19:5.
  • Was I hungry initially? You bet! And this is my number 1 tip for successful Intermittent Fasting: I replaced eating during the 16 hours off with a zero-calorie alternative. There are a number of zero-calorie drinks that won’t ‘break the fast‘ and no, Pepsi Max isn’t one of them. Coffee and most teas are fine as long as milk isn’t added. Water’s obviously fine. For me, Aldi’s lemon and ginger tea is the perfect appetite suppressant. A little spice and loads of flavour. So I went through a lot of it about a year ago and still drink it now, although am not as reliant on it for appetite suppression.
  • I do still tend to exercise during my fasts without impact. Very occasionally if I’ve gone for a longer run I’ll feel slightly light-headed. I won’t risk it (I really don’t want to black-out in front of a class full of students!) and will just eat a healthy breakfast.

I use an app to track my fasting time. There are a few out there but Fastic is what I use. You can download Fastic here and if you do, remember to add me as a ‘Fasting Buddy’. It will track your fasting time for free and offer coaching and more guidance on the paid version, which is about £25 per year.

So we’re all getting older and the metabolisms are slowing. We might need to be prepared to try new things and if you’re looking for a scientifically evidenced  method by which to make and keep yourself healthier, I think you can do worse than to give Intermittent Fasting a try. Just start slow….

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Note: There are a number of groups of people who really shouldn’t try IF, for example, breastfeeding Mothers and children amongst other. The FAQs section of the Fastic site is worth a read in this regard.

Fatherhood vs Ambition

One of my favourite blog-posts of all time is this one, written by a guy I know nothing about, apart from that he’s called Paul Graham, a number of his thoughts on having kids are similar to mine and I sense that he’s a good man.


There’s something satisfying about reading something where someone else puts your thoughts into words better than you can. So much of Paul’s essay is exactly like this for me.

Now when people have babies I congratulate them enthusiastically and I mean it. Especially the first one. I feel like they just got the best gift in the world.

Paul Graham @PaulG

I admire Paul for having put that feeling into those words.

She [Paul’s Mum] said that one reason she liked having us was that we’d been interesting to talk to. That took me by surprise when I had kids. You don’t just love them. They become your friends too. They’re really interesting.

Paul Graham @PaulG

As anyone that is a Father of a 2-and-a-half-ish year old will know, this is so true, in a way I just wouldn’t have thought possible until I was Dad to a 2-and-a-half-ish year old.

However, I do have a problem with his essay and it is this. He wavers on the matter of ambition and how it interacts with Fatherhood. I have to disagree.

I hate to say this, because being ambitious has always been a part of my identity, but having kids may make one less ambitious.

Paul Graham @PaulG

In fairness, it’s not that he doesn’t offer some balance…

On the other hand, what kind of wimpy ambition do you have if it won’t survive having kids? Do you have so little to spare?

Paul Graham @PaulG

However, if you read his post, he’s not too sure on the matter.

For me it is is clear cut. For me, as my Son’s Dad, I have an obligation. 

I owe it to him to be ambitious. I owe it to him to make it work. 

In my mind I simply must do this because, I feel it is my duty to model for him what ambition looks like. To show my Son and the rest of the Family the day-to-day ambition that works in the World. That it’s not some cleanly polished model of progress we might be led to believe in what we see on Youtube or Instagram. It’s getting up before them, getting on top of the day and life. It’s setting and achieving audacious goals. It’s serving our communities. And it’s keeping on top of the boring stuff that keeps the World turning.

So for me, Fatherhood doesn’t impact one’s ambition, so much as to turbo-charge it. To prioritise it alongside spending quality time with the family, and working hard on the today so that tomorrow they will remember Dad putting it on the line day in day out, striving to serve those around him, make the most of life and eeking value out of every single minute.

It’s a decision to aim for and achieve stuff that is above the normal level of society.

Who’s up for 2021SWAN#3? Starting 5th April. Reply below and I’ll make sure you’re in.

What’s ‘2021SWAN#3’? Have a read about 2021SWAN#1. 2021SWAN#3 will be the upgrade.

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