Michael Ashcroft

All essays

Fall down; get up: cultivating an anti-fragile identity

My life has been defined by chronic knee dislocations. But that might not have been such a bad thing, given how much it has shaped my identity.

How to be Superman

This video of Christopher Reeve transforming from Clark Kent into Superman is the best illustration of Alexander Technique I've seen. You can see him playing with his own awareness.

My ultimate guide to public speaking

An emotionally resonant, end-to-end process covering everything I've learned to date about how to prepare for and deliver a talk at a large event.

Let the others find you

Timothy Leary exhorted us to “find the others”, the ones with whom deep connection is possible. I fully agree, but I want to make one small, yet important tactical change: let the others find you.

Exploring who we are through awe

The conditions under which we experience awe contain valuable information. We can use awe to explore our inner worlds and understand who we are and what matters to us.

Mind-wandering and the dark side of productivity

I have always done ‘all the things’', so I know what it feels like to want each moment to be productive. I might want to read a paragraph of an article on Instapaper while waiting in a queue, but by doing this, am I missing out on the upsides of mind-wandering?

How to use fear as a tool for growth

I’m scared that I’m not good enough. I’m scared that you’ll judge me. But my biggest fear is feeling too comfortable, hiding from risks and missing out on growth. This is how I calibrate my fear to just the right level to grow.

Practicing Zen

Zen practice is like a loving, yet strict parent. This parent knows that while a child may hate broccoli, it’s good for them and they’ll probably grow to enjoy it. The parent encourages the child to eat it.

The cognitive benefits of the ketogenic diet

If you research keto online you’ll find mainly dramatic weight loss stories. That’s great for people who want it, but as a 186 cm, and 72 kg guy trying to gain weight, that's not what I want. I'm in it for the cognitive benefits.

How should we think about carbon removal?

I have been following carbon removal for the last ten years and believe it is an idea whose time has come. The prospect of removing carbon from the atmosphere is fascinating, because it places two perspectives on how to respond to global warming into stark contrast.