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Christopher Murphy


As Aristotle once observed, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” If you make an effort to become aware of your weaknesses you can, at the very least, begin to address them.¹

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who’s met me that – as my grandmother use to say – “I like the sound of my own voice.”

When I’m mentoring a learner in an office hours session, I’ll barely pause for breath, because I’m trying to get across as much information as possible in a short space of time.


One of the skills of a truly great teacher is the ability to listen, so that’s something I’m working on. Like any skill it takes time and practice to master.

On that note, while researching my previous essay on language, I was delighted to discover Einstein’s formula for success in life:

A = X+Y+Z

In 1929, Samuel Johnson Woolf interviewed Einstein for The New York Times Magazine. Einstein’s formula for life emerged as a by-product if that interview. As Woolf noted:

It was time for me to go and as he saw me to the door I asked him what he considered the best formula for success in life. He smiled, that same awkward bashful smile and thought for a minute.

“If A is success in life,” he replied, “I should say the formula is A = X+Y+Z, X being work and Y being play.” “And what,” I asked, “is Z?”

“That,” he answered, “is keeping your mouth shut.”

It’s fair to say that I’m working on Z (and I suspect I always will be).

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  1. You’re doubtless aware of some of your weaknesses, but there will also be weaknesses that you aren’t aware of. If you’re to grow as an individual it’s important to identify those weaknesses so you can begin to address them.

    A 360° Review is a useful tool to help you pinpoint the areas that you need to work on.

    In 2008, whilst undertaking a postgraduate programme at Belfast School of Art, I had to undertake a 360° Review and the lessons I learned about myself were fascinating.

    A dozen years later I’m still working on the weaknesses I identified. Had I not undertaken the 360° Review I wouldn’t even have been aware of those weaknesses, let alone started working on them.

About the author…

A designer, writer and speaker based in Belfast, Christopher mentors purpose-driven businesses, helping them to launch and thrive. He’s currently building designtrack, an education-focused startup.

As a design strategist, Christopher has worked with companies, large and small, to help drive innovation, drawing on his 25+ years of experience working with clients including: Adobe, EA and the BBC.


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