spacewalk checklist

Ready to step out into the new?  True, it can be daunting.

To borrow some terms from Nassim Taleb, stepping into new possibilities can be more than a fragile experience (when we’re negatively affected by randomness and stressors), it can even be more than robust experience (when we’re able to recover from randomness and stressors), it can be an antifragile experience (antifragilistas thrive on randomness and stressors – up to a point).*

Stepping out can feel something like a space-walk into greater randomness and stress (or what I imagine a spacewalk to be like – never having been in space away from Spaceship Earth) but there are a number of anchors which secure you and allow you to thrive in these new opportunities so you are able to produce something others aren’t able to.

There is the purpose greater than yourself which calls to you (it can be to serve people in a far away place, create a beautiful artefact, bake amazing cakes to give away to people on the streets … ).  There is the anchor of your amazing skills and being able to hone and innovate these.  There is the anchor of people who get what you’re doing, and you get what they’re doing (this is an ever-growing tribe of people who are becoming easier to find – check out Meetup or VOX  to name but two).  A fourth anchor is one I’m developing for you at the moment – I know others are t0: spaces for opening minds and hearts and wills towards shipping the stuff you love.

If you have these things in place – which you do (you’re reading this so you’re connecting), then the spacewalk is going to be an experience of focusing on what it is you MUST do.

(*I wholeheartedly recommend Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile in which he lays out the significance of his triad of  fragile/robust/antifragile.)


it is enough

Has the stuff you love to do and ship just become harder?

everything you need

When deadlines and expectations kick in you can get stuck and find your the joy draining away … and then the voices begin.  How stupid was I to think I could do this?  I should have kept below the radar.  Everyone else can do this better than me.  I’ll never have another idea.  

Don’t stay paralysed.  Now is the time to remind yourself of a few things.

You know who you are and what you love to do – this is way more than a lot of people have.  It’s what’s brought you to this amazing place.

You have everything you need right now to produce even more amazing stuff.  In fact, you have more than you need and you have to find ways of giving this away because it’s going to keep on coming.

Because you’ve turned up, you’ve given yourself a head start on doing even more – not to mention learnt a whole load of stuff along the way which could change the world – at least someone’s world.

What you have right now is enough.

Trust me.  Better still, trust yourself.

the thing you do

and in the universe's lottery

No  one is headhunting you today for that thing you do .  At least, it’s unlikely.

But you can headhunt yourself.

It’s unlikely anyone is looking for you because they’re focusing on being headhunted themselves, and they’re missing the point that the universe is set up for abundance rather than scarcity.  This changes everything.

Whether you have a religious worldview of being created for something, or you prefer to hold a worldview that life can be significant simply because we’re here, what are you going to do?

I’m suggesting the universe is set up in a way which makes it possible for everyone to thrive – the problem is, there’s always someone who gets in the way of this (think dictators, revolutionaries, thieves, egocentrics, apathetics, pessimists, bureaucrats, politicians – unfortunately the list has many more to be added before being exhaustive).  There is something about being lost in work* which is chosen by us and meaningful to us, to develop mastery in skills,and to have purpose.

What totally absorbs you?  There are clues in this.

All of this may sounds self-absorbing, but when you think about it, it’s the path towards making the world better for everyone.  You can check out whether you’re on track if you experience success in the thing you love to do, whether you do it instinctively, if you grow through doing this thing, and if you need to do it.

I’m not saying the universe is perfect; we’d never do anything if we waited for things to be the way we think they ought to be.  Which brings us back to where we began.  Don’t wait for someone to find you and ask you to do the amazing stuff you do.   The universe has already found you and is waiting for the thing you do.  Now help someone else to do the things they do.

Have fun.

*Think about work in it’s biggest sense – the art you are able to produce through your imagination and skills for the sake of others.

between breaths …

between breathing in and breathing out ...

26,000 times a day, moving 14,000 litres of air we breathe.

The odds are, we won’t breathe very deeply.  We breathe in shallow fashion – 16+ breaths each minute when 6 deep breaths are enough.

Most of the time we breathe without noticing, we breathe in shallow fashion without noticing..

Try it.  Slow your breathing down, both breathing in and breathing out, from your stomach rather than your chest.

And in-between, did you notice the pause – the moment neither breathing in nor out?

If we were more aware of our breathing, we’d realise we’re breathing fast and shallow at times of anxiousness or distraction, when we’re overwhelmed or feeling pushed to move way too quickly.  We’re often too busy and tired to breathe deeeeeeeeply, to notice more, to understand more, to see the other person more, to begin to see all that is from within this bigger world rather than from our little world.

We breathe in soooooooo deeeeeeeeeply when we are curious about the world around us, when we stop thinking what we see is all there is, when we see the invisible connections with the people who fill our days.  We breathe deeeeeeeeply, when we allow what we see and understand more to change who we are – pulling us out of our small world into a bigger world.

And when we have breathed as deeeeeeeply as we can, before we breathe out, a pause, a thin|silence in which we know and hold  what our lives are to be about, the shape and colour and smell of our unique art we must breathe out, to know this as we have never known it before and to realise this is standing on holy ground, where your life speaks to you about your future.  To know there isn’t a work life and a leisure life, a sports life and a relational life, there is only life, and you you know how you must live it.

And tomorrow you breathe deeply again.

deep diving

Everything you are ...

What happens when you helicopter-drop a couple of people on the top of a mountain in the Dolomites?

You turns beautiful scenery into a mission: to descend in two days, ending with an almost sheer 500 feet descent to negotiate.  Although it’s high Summer, drop a couple of feet of snow and you have a daring-do adventure.

The two people are Bear Grylls and Stephen Fry and you can check out the trailer here.

Why mention this?

It’s an illustration of how Humans creatively frame their experiences and understandings of the world(s) in which we live.  Humans are able to create significance which isn’t really there, but, it’s astonishing to see the results.  There’s no other creature or species on the planet able to do this.

Which brings us to the 1st January, 2014 – a date we make significant, though it’s no different to any other day ( even a day is a way Humans frame what is).

Humans have to keep moving, have to progress – not the latest Hotpoint-washing-machine kind of progress, but we’re not using dolly tubs any more, and we’re not going down to the local stream to beat our favourite Next shirt on the rocks.*   It seems that when we lose this need to progress and to achieve, something dies in us.

Bear says to camera that he wants to take Stephen out of his comfort zone, and he certainly does. Stephen remarks how this is the most frightening experience of his life, but he feels the most alive when he accomplishes the deep dive.

Why not deep dive in 2014?

You don’t go into a new year unready.  Whilst Bear wanted to take Stephen out of his comfort zone, truth be told, the programme is littered with the kind of quick humour that is Stephen Fry.  There are two things you need to know: 1) who you are is enough – you’ve got yourself here, and there’s more to you than you know; and, 2) you are not alone – just as Stephen had Bear with him all the way, we have a crowd of people making the same journey – we just need to connect.

Here’s something practical you can do.  Instead of making new year resolutions (even the one to not make new year resolutions), why not just observe things for a while: the things which energise you and the things which de-energise you.

Keep a couple of lists.  One list begins, “I loved it when …” – in this list record all the things which energise you (I mean, really energise you).   The second list begins “I loathed it when …” – this list will contain all the things which really de-energise you.

Halfway through January, you’ll have some really important information to help frame what will be an incredible 2014 for you.  And keep checking in.

(*The world catches up on these developments quicker than we think.)

what did you get for christmas?

be the gift ...

I don’t mean the perfume or socks or iPod.

It’s probably more hidden or subtle a gift than these, but it’ll be there.

It may be something you feel inside as  result of a terrible news story, or a moment of inspiration from something seen or read which the time of year has framed more sharply, or some faith-revelation.   These are the real gifts because, unlike all the other presents which promise to change our lives,  these really will.

And when our lives change so do the lives of others.

It doesn’t have to be perfect at this moment, it just has to be felt deeply.

So, what did you get for Christmas – hidden there in the darkness behind the Christmas tree?

(I’m writing this early on Christmas morning.  No one is up and no presents have been opened, but I’m excited by what I’ve already unwrapped.)


to be human

Everybody gets to do something amazing at Christmas ...

I was once asked, what does it mean to be Human.

Someone else in my group had a great answer to offer straight away: “I am not Human,” he said, “WE are Human!” – gesticulating we were all included.

There are probably as many great answers as there are people, but, eventually, I came back with mine: To be Human is to live with Creativity, Enjoyment, and Generosity.

We are creative beings, we want to generously do things for others, and the amazing-boom is that we get to enjoy ourselves along the way.

Have a great holiday, and, however you spend it, do something creative, be generous, and being Human.

do it, do it again

Follow your journey ...

I read this and I thought of you.

I found myself in a conversation recently about giving customers what they want – rather than letting them try out new things.  The thing is, customers don’t know what they want.

Nobody knew they wanted a steam engine before George Stephenson created his Rocket.  They were happy transporting goods in trucks pulled by horses and people in painful carriages.

Nobody knew they wanted a vacuum cleaner before Hubert Cecil Booth turned up with one.

Nobody knew they wanted to organise their worlds so much with a personal computer until … well, I’ll let you decide which of a cadre of visionaries saw, and wanted, the possibility – Steve Jobs is in there very early.

And no one knows they want the amazing thing you have to offer until you bring it.

So don’t wait for people to ask for your genius, just bring it – whenever you can and wherever you can.

when i grow up …

you don't have to wear a cape ...

I know, I know, I keep talking about how amazing people are, about all the amazing things you can do.  You want to ask how’s this possible?  Or, tell me to get real, to live in the real world.  Life is busy, there are things to do, bills to be paid.

I guess I’m trying to offer a bigger picture for where you are, right now.  How everyday you have the opportunity to get up and live an adventure.  After all, we get one life with which to do this, and then it’s gone.

Think back to when you were young.  What did you want to be?  A footballer?  A singer?  A chef?  An astronaut?  A writer?  An artist?  (A train driver?)

You used to have dreams which were big and bright and shiny.  How come?  Who told you that you had to do this?  You imagined something and then you played at it?

What happened as you got older?  Did the the hopes change?  Now you want to become a hairdresser – I really did (and got an apprenticeship that lasted for three months – I was rubbish).  Or maybe a bank clerk or a shop assistant or lawyer (or train driver).  There’s nothing wrong with any of these jobs, unless the lawyer wants to be a bus driver, and hairdresser wants to be a life-coach, and the excitement of getting a new job and securing income wears off into a routine that robs you of your dreams and hopes.

Humans want things.  From an early age they dream about becoming* someone, doing something.  We push ourselves, stretch, practice, learn, skill-up, try and try again, fail, innovate.

It’s still there, isn’t it.  Maybe deeper, covered by a load of good, bad, and indifferent stuff?  It can be uncovered, this dream of yours.  It may transform your job, or it may be something the income from your job finances.  There may or may not be an external reward.  The internal reward, the one which comes to you every day you get out of bed, is the satisfaction of of living your adventure.

* Sadly, for too many children in our world, dreaming and imagination is stolen at a very early age.  In his book Too Small To IgnoreCompassion‘s director Wess Stafford tells of his encounters with children in Haiti:

If you asked them to do the simplest thing, they would
respond, “M’pa kapab” (“I can’t” or “I’m not capable”).
… Another common phrase was “M’pa gagne” (“I don’t
have,” meaning “I don’t have anything you need or 
would want.”).

(Cartoon inspired by Hugh MacLeod)

bespoke silence and reflection

bespoke places of deep reflection

Whenever you’re reading this in the day, have you had any time to reflect and be silent?

Did you hit the bedroom floor running, radio on, check emails and mobile, rush for the bus, scrape the ice off the car.

Has it stopped yet?

Are you still running?

I’m encouraging more reflection towards greater responsiveness whenever I get the chance.  Your emerging future depends on finding time to reflect, but I can’t tell you when or where or for how long.  That’s your adventure.  And it is an adventure; you wake up to it every day.

Maybe, just maybe, when you find that space and time, your days will begin to look different and you’ll wow us with your art, because you are identifying what you MUST do with the rest of your life, bringing more beauty into the world.