Not if what you are pursuing is the thing you know you must do.
I don’t mean having some vague hope of being able to one day do the things you hope to get good at; I mean that thing you do when your skills are creatively engaged by your passions.*
It’s hard, I know. It will feel like your over-investing time and money and energy and you can’t give any more, but if it matters to you, this is what it takes.
What you need, you’ve already got in abundance.
You find it in the integrity of your knowing who you are and what you can do (and, equally, knowing who you are not and what you can’t do), and knowing you are whole enough, having all the resources you need to be creative right now. What this adds up to is, you are able to keep going further than others who don’t have the skills or the passion or always think they need something more.
What you do doesn’t have to matter to me. It most definitely must matter to you. This is what matters to me.
Having this awareness and this attitude helps is to wrestle with a Human weakness we are not aware of. Daniel Kahneman tells us, ‘when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.’
You can always find an easier question, and then an easier answer might well be to give up. because you’re answering a question which isn’t the important one for you: “Who will employ me?” when the question might be, “How can I make what I do even more amazing?”
If you give up your art won’t be available to disrupt the world with goodness and rightness.
(*If skills and passion aren’t present then maybe it is time to give up and find the thing you must do.)
In the fourth Star Trek movie The Voyage Home, Scotty promises the 20th century perspex manufacturer the makeup of transparent aluminum (that’s aluminium).
I’m not sure we’ll ever compound such a material but transparent concrete is already here.
When we are prepared to go beneath the surface of What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI) in relation to people, the world, and our selves, life becomes concrete.
If I see more, there’s a greater chance I’ll be open to more, and then I may try things which I have never tried before and, then, the future becomes more visible, more transparent.
When we stop and see someone for who they are in their uniqueness, the world for what it is beyond our consumption, and ourselves for who we are becoming, then a breathtaking future comes into view.
The more concreteness, the more transparency.
I must cut the grass – my study looks onto the front garden.
“Mowing the lawn” sounds too grand an expression for the rough patches of green we have around our home – mixed with some shrubs and a mongrel hedge (conifer, berberis, lilac, holly, and a couple of things, I don’t recognise). But this is part of our little contribution to interacting with nature … and it’s important.
The future is connected: connecting with people, with our future Self,* and with the world.
Otto Scharmer is one of many who see our connection with the world as being an essential element in moving towards our emerging future. We are not apart from it but part of the ecosystems which make up our world – and each day gifts us air and sun and rain, and, yes, beauty.
As we look out across our galaxy, we catch something of the incredible privilege which is ours as Humans.
‘Only when we make a deep vow to the rivers, oceans,
hills, and mountains that offer us a home – only then can
they become transparent and reveal to us their real meaning.’
Then what may seem a strange juxtapose: James McQuivey suggests the business future will contain disposable companies – companies which thrive for a necessary time and then close or are sold for the benefit of the employees. This may sound very environmentally wasteful, but I wonder. I wonder whether short-term endeavours which are totally recyclable for the benefit of all concerned – rather than growing bigger and bigger and producing more and more faster and faster – will be feasible – a triple bottom line of how does this benefit people, our planet, and personal needs?
McQuivey caught my eye with his hope for such companies to be connected through openness and sharing – some of the most disruptive values and behaviours on the planet.
(*Which always includes our values and beliefs.)
Is risky because you may not make it.
But aim for more than a pass and even if things go badly you’ll probably make it.
I’m thinking about life, of course, and the stakes are high.
Nature doesn’t aim at a pass. Or, to put this another way, nature is prepared to fail in innumerable ways to succeed in many.
As Humans, we get to live disruptive lives, challenging what is with what is not yet – the adjacent possibility. Tina Seelig tells her classes, she’ll be giving her very best every time she turns up to teach, and expects the same from them. Daniel Coyle reminds us, our brains grow when they are challenged.
To be aware of something is better than not being aware. You might get the right answers in a test and get a pass.
To understand something takes us into a different world. When we understand something we see the elements or parts of something, and can take them apart and put them together in different ways, maybe with things from other places. This is innovation, the adjacent possible.
The things you are curious about are your starting places. Dig deep. How does it work, how do others work with this, what happens if you mix this with that?
Many thoughts, many ideas, many possibilities sown in fertile soil are better than aiming at a pass.
I think this is the most important question I can ask.
It is the most important question you will ask of others.
It is a tough question.
A tough question for people to answer. We create and innovate our art in response to life asking more of us, rather than simply more of the same.
It’s a tough question to ask. We have to put away our assumptions of what we think people want, and get creative and innovative in responding to the answers of they find themselves wanting to bring.
Which means it’s a question full of benefits for us too.
Pretty good and exciting.
So, I need to ask, What do you want?
We’re either disruptors or need to be disrupted.
Or we can learn to disrupt ourselves.
Here’s how we can do it.
Disrupt what we see and know by “reading”* for more information. But we want to do more than win pub quizzes and go home.
So we disrupt our hearts by reading with the aim of changing yourself, or something that matters to us. But at some point we have to begin.
Now, we read with our will, finding the thing we need to jump.
James McQuivey offers three disruptive words to move us forward across the borders of seeing more, feeling more, and doing more.**
How? makes us search for possibilities for moving from closed minds to open minds.
Who? makes us search for the connections with other that matter, and it gets personal.
What? makes us search to focus on the exact thing we MUST do when we jump with our heart fully engaged.
(*Books, people, events, experiences.)
(**McQuivey offers these words for companies and institutions, but they work well for individuals.)
Say the three flaneurs.
It occurred to me, These are three characters in my story – three key words: humility, generosity, and faithfulness.* They are becoming constant companions, co- flaneurs.
I realise I’ve met many people who aren’t the main characters in their own lives. They go through their entire lives without knowing who they are, so intent are they, for some reason or other, on following other people’s scripts for their lives.
But people who know who they, what they have, and what they can do are better able to serve others in sustainable and innovative ways.^
They hang around, spending time with us, helping us become people of: integrity – connected and connecting; wholeness – given and giving; and, perseverance – moving forward and going further.**
Have we got a story yet?
(^Those who see every day as a gift to do this.)
(*A name I’m grateful to Nassim Taleb for; the original meaning is for an idler or dawdled, but I use it in sense of purposefully accompanying me through life – something I hope I can do with others.)
(**These words are key words I keep returning to. Integrity is connectedness to my future Self, others, and the world of which I am a part; wholeness is understanding I have enough in my life – resources, people, skills – to act right now; and, perseverance is about going further and keeping going with what it is I must do.)