faithfulness, doubt, and imagination

spot the differences

Faithfulness because it’s how we connect and share our art with each other.

And faithfulness because it’s how we need to connect with ourselves.

There’s general faithfulness, like turning up and being kind, and there is specific faithfulness.

Faithfulness is all the ways you express and deliver your talents and resources.

When I’m reading Bob Harris’s The International Bank of Bob and his desire to use his nest-egg of $20,000 to invest in people through Kiva, I’m reading about his faithfulness with his resources and his talents as a writer.  In the last few days, someone I know has been discovering he loves doing this too – different ways – but he wants to help people meet their needs; he, too, is being faithful with his resources and his abilities (I know his Strengths).

Then there’s doubt.

When we’re not faithful in these kinds of way, it’s probably not because we’re bad people, but because we doubt what we have and who we are.  Humans are comparison-creatures – we’re always comparing the things around us, usually things which are most easily comparable, so similar.  This creates a problem.  You can’t compare that thing you do (your art) with anyone else’s.  If you find yourself thinking, “I can’t do what that person is doing,” you’ve fallen into the comparison trap.  (Some teacher may have messed up your thinking by comparing your work with someone else’s – the teacher has fallen into the trap too – and who were they to compare you with someone else?)

The good news is Humans are capable of getting out of the trap.

We have imagination.

Our educations may have caused us to doubt and devalue imagination, but it is the means by which we overcome doubt and realise we don’t need to compare ourselves with anyone else.  With imagination we can break the bad habit of comparing like with like.  Why not have some fun –  what if that thing you do was a train, or a surgical instrument, or a sunset, what could you do?


The reason that thing you do can’t be be compared with something already existing is because it doesn’t exist.  It’s unique.

The world is waiting for you to produce your art, faithfully, day in, day out, with imagination, focus, and love.

gross national happiness

the journey to that thing you do

The Gross National Happiness Lab (GNH Lab) was birthed in Bhutan in January 2013, the result of this country’s decision not to measure its wealth only in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

I like this a lot.  Maybe we can say, Humans are in the business of Gross interNational Happiness.  We’ve been exploring the same things as Bhutan these last couple of weeks.

What follows is some behind-the-post information; I appreciate keeping posts short only offers glimpses of the sources, ideas, and experiences which lie behind them.   (Apologies for it being a little longer than usual.)

Firstly, some words from the prime minister of Bhutan, Lyonchen Jigme Y. Thinley, an example of leading from the emerging future:

We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist
while others suffer, and comes only from serving
others, living in harmony with nature, and realising
our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature
of our own mind.

Here are some of the different themes, ideas, and experiences I’ve been overlaying:

Theory U (the “U” pictures a deepening and emerging experience), from Otto Scharmer, describes a journey from a WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) view of the world, people, and self, to which sees, understands, and experiences their interconnectedness.  Focusing on new kinds of health provision, business, finance, and farming, Scharmer explores the ways of change both individuals, societies, and organisations can experience.  The journey takes us across several borders, or thresholds: opening our minds, opening our hearts, and opening our wills.

The reason Theory U caught my attention is because of Erwin McManus‘s description of three Human quests, employing words we often use about Humans, but possibly don’t experience the power of.  The quest take us from pride to courage, from greed to generosity, and, from foolishness to wisdom.  There are again thresholds to cross.  The first can be seen as opening our minds (to use Scharmer’s phrase) via steps of humility, gratitude, and faithfulness (e.g., humility here is about accurately recognising our talents and abilities; gratitude about taking stock of all we have; faithfulness about creating daily habits of reflecting on and actioning these things).  The next threshold is about opening our hearts (e.g., we own the possibility of there being more to us than meets the eye – more than WYSIATI, we have more than we think in way of resources, and our habits are opening up possibilities we didn’t think possible), moving us to experience integrity, wholeness, and perseverance.  The final threshold is an opening of the will (e.g., we’re prepared to allow our dreams to grow larger and begin trying out the things we’ve been imagining), and we begin living with courage, generosity, and wisdom (wisdom being more about how we act than what we know).

Edward Deci‘s work on supported autonomy is hugely important when it comes to encouraging people in what they are discovering about themselves.  Deci discovered, when people sense others are trying to enforce beliefs and behaviours on them, they’ll conform (and imagination and creativity will seep from their lives), or they’ll resist and sabotage (resulting in destructive rather than constructive consequences).  Both McManus and Scharmer recognise a future/emerging Self (as a person who is both autonomous and connected) who needs to be encouraged and supported.  What others think and do can often drown out the whispers people need to hear from their own lives.

These kinds of experience for me include a small circle of people I’m a part of who are seeking to turn our dreams for a city that listens into some form of reality.  We’re increasingly realising our preparatory conversations are resonating with Theory U, and the process we are pursuing makes space and time for deeply listening to one another, recognising and appreciating what each brings, and seeking to bring all of this together in an interconnected way.

There’s also my own work of dreamwhispering (think coaching and mentoring and more), with people who’re identifying and developing their Strengths towards giving expression to their dreams.  I’m always trying out these thoughts and ideas and see the difference they make in real lives – beginning with my own.  In my thinking I carry my own description of being Human: to be Human is to live with creativity, enjoyment, and generosity.

Thanks for getting this far.

when lines are thresholds

you've gotta goout there

Lines are helpful because they help us begin that thing we do.

We don’t have to stay within the lines but, when we do that thing we do, we will arrive at lines we must cross, lines which are thresholds, portals into bigger worlds of creativity and contribution.

They will normally be met in this order:

The threshold of an opening mind – moving across this threshold will take you in greater seeing and understanding.  (Like when Malcolm Gladwell opened my mind to how a band like The Beatles and a genius like Mozart had already put in the equivalent of ten years or ten thousand hours of deep practice before they really burst onto their respective music scenes – exploding the natural talent myth.)

The threshold of an opening heart – moving across this threshold will take you deeper into the bigger world of what you see and understand by experiencing it through the lives of others.  (When I’m exploring with others the things which energise them, I get to see how they see and feel what they feel, and I also feel my own energy more acutely.)

The threshold of an opening will – moving across this threshold will take what you are seeing, understanding, and feeling, and do something with it.  (The more I accept I’m more ready than I realise to act, and am prepared to fail fast from trying out ideas, the more quickly I move from prototyping towards delivering.  This experience tells me there’s more to the world, more to people, and more to me than I thought, and I come to a new threshold of an opening mind and opening heart and … .)

And I didn’t say any of this is easy.  Thresholds are called that because they’re difficult to cross.

Hugh Macleod has posted this today – three thresholds.  I love it.

how to be successful

where are the lines?

seeing the lines

Because lines are important to Humans.  We intuitively look for the edges and seek out patterns.  One organisation found that even a vertical line protruding from a wall by a few inches helped its teams to focus on the task better.

Even if we’re given a blank sheet of paper to fill, the paper has edges – do we go landscape or portrait, do we write on it or sculpt it?  Even if we talk about thinking “outside the box”, the box is the reference point.

I’m going to be speaking at an event next month: for how long, who’ll be there, is there a basic shape?

We can still be free to do that thing we do, even with limitations and constraints, because we’re thinking about how to work freely around those lines we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for ourselves.  If you want to make your art without any deference to the lines, you’re free to do this, but probably no one will want it.

The key is the way we think about these.  We had nothing to do with the time or geography of our birth, or the technology and ways of thinking which come with these, but these are we accept and live and work with and seek to be creative with.  Lines are just the starting point.  It’s up to you and the thing you do to be creative hereon in.  It’s the way you see things and think about things that determine where your greatest freedoms are to be found.  And when you do this, you’ll possibly find yourself pointing out how the real constraints and limitations aren’t the ones everyone else sees.

The last freedom which can be taken from us, according to Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, is the freedom  ‘to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’

When we understand this, limitations and constraints become the very things by which we flourish.  We are able to take what the past has given to us, and we do something astonishingly different with it.

time for change?

listen to your heart

What do you want to change?

Where will this change come from?

Some believe change has to come from outside , or even has to be imposed, because people aren’t strong enough to bring about change themselves.  The problem is, external or imposed change runs the high risk of bringing about conformity – which wipes out creativity – or it produces resistance or defiance.

For five years, I had a role with the mandate to come alongside organisations wanting to do things differently.  I found that whilst they often wanted to be told what to do, they then, unconsciously, took a position of resistance to any suggestion.

So maybe change begins with curiosity and questioning – beginning with our inner worlds?  Where does the anxiety we feel come from?  Wherefore the itch to do something different?  Why our reaction to “that kind of person”?  Until we understand these things, we cannot be free – the thing we’re trying to move into (autonomy).

Part of this inner journey towards change will bring us face-to-face with our limitations … so we might accept and even embrace them.  It might sound like the thing you want to avoid but this makes for significant change and freedom to do the thing we love to do.  If I look more closely at the roles I’d been trying to fulfil – and am now am very happy to admit I failed in – I realise they required skills I had not developed, but,more, I wasn’t really interested in developing these skills.  Once I saw this, I could better see the skills I do have and, developing these, I’m more fulfilled and satisfied in my work than I can ever remember.

Lots of words begin to line up when we go to our inner world, embrace our limitations (stopping doing the things which de-energise us so we can do the things which do energise us): freedom, flow, wellbeing.

Another way of saying it is, listen to what your life is saying to you.


optimism=movement creates movement

A big word used by clinical psychologist Suzanne Segerstrom, meaning Human flourishing, or ‘being your very best self.’

But not the word I want to focus on today (I’ve scribbled it into my notebook of words I’ve not come across before and probably won’t use, entitled “Mind Your Language”).

Segerstrom identifies how wellbeing is as much a state of doing as a state of being: ‘doing things well, realising your potential, good relationships, and personal growth.’

It may sound counterintuitive, but we are most whole when we’re most giving of ourselves.  We count sacrifice for others as the greatest form of love.  The strange thing is, the giver hasn’t less love  as a result, but more.  Funny, we are more when we are least concerned for ourselves.

Perhaps three words to use as keys or ways to the emerging Human future to play with each day: doing … love … more.

what’s in a word?

no, really, how can i help?

A couple of things.

I hold a hopeful view of the world.

I enjoy exploring words as keys or paths to this hopeful world – especially words we don’t expect.

Words make it possible to see, to explore, to comprehend, to move.

I confess now that I’m no therapist or counsellor – they do amazing things with people I never could.

I coach some, I mentor some, but most of all I dreamwhisper – a new word, but one which sums up listening for the whispers from people’s lives, and whispering them back, focusing on the positive things in their lives and enable them to do more of the thing they do (which sometimes they don’t even know they do).  

The word I want to use, though, is wholeness.  It’s a very practical word – beyond-robust.  Wholeness is knowing we’ll never be perfect or complete, but that’s okay.  Wholeness is about knowing we have more than enough, right now, to be creative, to give, to act.  Every day becomes a quest in nurturing wholeness.

I wonder how many think they need something more, even counselling or therapy, when they need to focus on the positive in their lives and do more of this.

Which leads me to a question …

We often think of giving in some big way.  Some great task to perform.  Give everything we have away.  Be used as an emotional doormat.  But what would life be like, in the hundreds and hundreds of interactions and actions which fill our days …

What would life on earth be like if everyone gave a little more than they take?


give and see what happens

There’s a kind of magic that happens when we add our willingness to give to our resources.  We discover we are generators – generative beings.

Through curiosity and ideas and mixing things up and playfulness and love, we’re able to make more.

But we face resistance …

When we don’t think we have enough or don’t think we’re ready enough to give.

When we think we see the other person, or environment or context, as not ready to receive, and we feat what we give will be rejected.  

But more magic happens when we do the thing we love to do – when we give, things happen – not always – but more often than we expect.


go on, encourage someone

Permission and choice.  Two words which are both beautiful and practical.

What if life becomes richer when we make possibilities available to others through permission and choice?

Permission, because we all need help from outside.  Choice, because the best permission gives people the opportunity to choose the way they really want to go but didn’t think they could.

Some of the most important people in my life are those who have given me permission to move from old thinking new, old doings to new.

Each day provides us with opportunity to provide permission so others may have choose.


watch see

What You See Is All There Is.


Some say. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Reality is more weighted towards you seeing something when you believe it.

Check out Carol Dweck’s Mindset and you’ll find four sets of portrait drawings.  You could be forgiven for thinking four had been drawn by children and the other four by adults.  In fact they’re by four people on a five day art course: four before-and-after sets of drawing.  The course was really about helping people to see, the art improvement simply followed.  How much more are we missing because we can’t see very well?

Our worldviews, paradigms, philosophies and prejudices filter what we see. And these are the things we’re most aware of.  Beneath these are the ways Humans prefer to make judgements quickly – we’re told this dates back to when our ancestors had to decide quickly whether to run or fight the eponymous sabre-tooth tiger.  But the world is bigger and decisions more complex today than back then.*

Seth Godin recommends a course on seeing as being one of the most important ones we’ll ever take, enabling to see what others cannot.

It begins with seeing yourself; there’s more to you than meets the eye.  When you see this, you also realise there’s more than meets the eye to every person you meet.  And there’s more to the world in which we live than meets the eye, opened to us by others.

But don’t take my word for it; go see for yourself.**

(* It takes a lot of energy to be what Nassim Taleb names a sceptical empiricist, suspending judgement of people, things, and phenomena for as long as possible.)

(**I had an eye-opening experience several years ago which I’ve referred to in earlier posts; that was just the beginning, each day bringing new things to see.  I’ve just got to keep my eyes open – which isn’t easy.)