24 it's impossible!

Google the word heretic and you come up with definitions like, “a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.”

It doesn’t say a heretic is wrong to do this.  Heretics see something others don’t.  They’re willing to take the risk of being proven wrong.  They act on faith, the faith that says something – which others don’t see – is possible; it just hasn’t been accomplished yet.

Check out this video of climber Chris Sharma attempting to climb a previously impossible rock face.  He shouldn’t be able to do the things he does.  One movement he perfected, and which has overcome climbing challenges, is the dyno – a leaping movement which wasn’t considered to be proper climbing, but on acceptance, has opened up severe rock-climbing problems.

This is the thing about the heretic.  They’re willing to get really focused around an idea and put their life on the line to see what is possible – in the video, Sharma talks about working for seven weeks on climbing this particular rock face, he’s fallen many times, but he finally completes a climb others could only get halfway up.  (It’s just over sixteen minutes long and totally captivating.)

There’re many, diverse impossible challenges in the world.  Sharma how to be a heretic: he exemplifies patience – he knows the rock face won’t succumb on the first, second, or even, thirtieth attempt, but it will succumb; he embraces failure – those many falls; and he’s able to focus great energy into particular moments of impossibility.

Heretics follow their dreams, seeking to bring them into being: ‘North and south.  Nothing more.  Look for the north; look for the south.  Don’t stop travelling between them.*

(*From Albert Espinosa’s The Yellow World.)

field trip

23 the toll of making change ...

Humans have plenty of field trips ahead of them.

We live in a solar system moving at 558 thousand miles an hour, in a galaxy travelling at 666 thousand miles an hour, in a universe we estimate to know less than five per cent of – most of it being made up of dark matter and black holes.

In such a universe, wouldn’t it be strange not to think of ourselves as travellers.

Humans are made for change.

On field trips, things happen inside as well as outside of us.

Travelling to an unfamiliar place not only holds the possibility of engaging with an environment and its contents but also for the environment and its contents to engage with us.  That’s why they’re so powerful for the Human adventure.

We can travel to places for field trips and we can travel to different times – and the  most disorientating and change-making is the future.  Here, we get to ask a different question to “What are we post-?”  We get to ask, “What are we pre-?”

If the universe is expanding, why not Humans?  (Individually, when we identify an open-ended story for our lives that we like, we can explore living it to the full.)

Here is the greatest field trip of all.*

(*I’d count reading a book, connecting with a tribe, visiting a place, undertaking a task, setting personal goals, and more, as being field trips which can lead to change.  What might yours be?)
(The quote for today’s cartoon comes from Seth Godin’s Graceful.)



keep moving

22 more more more

There are people who’ll want you to stop.

Stop thinking those thoughts.  Stop meeting with those people.  Doing doing the things you do.  (Why can’t you just be more like them?  Fit in.  Be happy.)

But you have to follow the leads, the whispers.  You know Humans are made for more.  (The genius of this is found below.)

It’s not about stopping with the first thought, the encounter with the first person’s story, the first action or movement.  (Or the second, or the third.)

We must follow our curiosity: What lies behind this, and behind this and …?

Albert Espinosa decided at fifteen he wanted to use more of the his brain than the mythical ten percent we supposedly use (mythical because that’s not how the brain works – but it’s still underused), and he counsels:

‘You could put it this way: don’t obey your
first thoughts blindly.  Consider well what
it is your thinking.  Look for things; don’t
just be happy with your first thought.’

I just add opening our hearts and opening our wills to opening our minds.

It’s the only hope for our world.

Only working with our first thoughts, encounters, and actions, so closing out the possibility of more, may be nice and tidy, but look where it’s got us.  No, we need more:

‘Just about every system, whether its
political, financial, or even religious,
has become asymmetrical.’*

So, here’s the genius of this.

After I wrote down these thoughts, above, I began something of a journey.  It began with me mentioning to my daughter I’d had a sleepless night, finding myself thinking about a load of things that are happening, including the need to explore ways of finding income when the work with my employer reduces to 60%.  Charlotte connected me with business consultant Lesley,** who gave me loads of leads  to websites, videos, and ideas, which I’m working through, and each one is another step or more.  I may not see the end of this just yet, but I’m closer to it.

Brilliant.  (And I took a minute off my run afterwards as I was was thinking about all of this – it really is an energy thing.)

Keep moving.

(*From Seth Godin’s Tribes.  Asymmetry is the effect “heretics” have on the status quo.)
(**A wonderful conversation with Lesley Calland, and if you’re in the north-west of England and need a business coach and mentor, I recommend getting in touch.)

what do you see?

21 don't look at the rain ...

Probably what you believe in.

This is good when it means we look at the things which fill us with energy.  (One of the things about my work with different people is I catch a glimpse of what they love and how they can be creative through the things they see.  I wonder how they can push this even farther.)

But it’s not so good if it means we deny there’s a bigger world than we know.  (And it’s always bigger than we know.)

What we see is very important for how we’ll engage and shape the future.

All around us, there are strong signals and weak signals from the future.  Strong signals come in the forms of trends suggested by verifiable research and scientific data.  Weak signals, though, lie beneath the surface of what we normally see: perhaps an event waiting to happen, a movement of people rising up, or new technologies being developed.

You are more likely to see the weak signals in the fields, interests, and domains you are looking at, but you can also develop the ability to see more in all kinds of areas.  (Curiosity, once stirred up in us, tends not to notice silos.)

New things are possible when the barriers between fields and interests and domains are removed.  Some would suggest we are in a new Renaissance.*

Alex McManus refers to this as horizon scanning, developing our ability to see weak signals from both within and without our areas of interest.  This has encouraged me to connect to future-orientated organisations and people.  When I’ve tweeted the link to this post, I’ll leave Twitter open and scan tweets for weak signals in a number of areas: one organisation frames exploring through the template of TESA: technology, entrepreneurship, society, and arts; I add an extra E in the form of environment – TEESA.  You can use this acronym or create your own for the things you’re inquisitive about.

Seeing more provides opportunities for changing this into that:

‘Are you stuck with the way things were,
instead of busy turning things into
what they could be?’**

Albert Espinosa knows we look at some things and we are filled with energy, exhorting us to, ‘Find what your are looking at and look at it.’  All I’d add is, follow your curiosity.

(*Check out Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect.)
(**Seth Godin from Tribes.)


grace is yellow

20 everyday, opportunities …

Recap: Yellow is the colour of the world in which Albert Espinosa finds himself thriving, despite the most difficult of circumstances:

‘The yellow world is the name
I’ve given to a way of
living, of
seeing life, of nourishing yourself
with the
lessons that you learn
from good moments as well as

bad one.  The yellow world is
made out of discoveries,

above all, yellow discoveries,
which are those that

give it its name.’*

Today’s discovery?  Don’t be afraid to accept the person you have become as a result of making good and bad decisions.

This is who I am.  I’m here, not there.  

And this means I have a place to begin again.

Grace is yellow because it makes it possible for us to embrace and inhabit this life of good and bad decisions without them destroying us, and to start over again and again and again.

What destroys is denying, blaming, regretting.

Grace allows us to find aliveness, to thrive, and to bring these to others.**

Now to your future – it’s always on my mind.

Your future is coming towards you at a pace unimaginable to previous generations, yet, when you inhabit and embrace the person you have become you with grace,^ finding yourself learning and growing – or as Espinosa says, been nourished with these lessons – you find yourself in a place of being able to see more.

Alex McManus likens change to a river, and in the 21st century we’ve hit the whitewater.  Whitewater rafters scout ahead, looking for signals of what lies ahead.

Scouts are leaders through the whitewater experiences of change.  Grace makes it possible for you to accept who you have become and to lead.

‘Every day we get the opportunity
to give others the
benefit of the doubt.  
Every day we get the opportunity

to give others our support, our confidence
and our
trust.  And yet most days we hesitate.’**

(*Albert Espinosa lost a leg, a lung, and part of his liver as part of cancer treatment between the ages of fourteen and twenty four.
(**Check out Seth Godin’s lovely little ebook Graceful.)
(^We can be more grace-full with others than we are with ourselves.)

don’t blow it, blow it

19 i never said ...

There are different ways to look at your future.  (Of course, this isn’t about just your future but the future of everyone.)

The first way is to see it as an extension of your present existence, or some variation of this.  This way of thinking answers the question, What are my probable futures?  We see and understand and then project certain trends in our lives which lead us to expect or predict certain futures.  This is our standard way of thinking about the future.

For these probable futures to happen, nothing must change, yet there’s nothing more certain than change.  In a recent post I offered Nassim Taleb’s list of of volatility: uncertainty, variability, imperfect, incomplete knowledge, chance, chaos, volatility, disorder, entropy, time (because more time allows for more of everything on the list), the unknown, randomness, turmoil, stressors, errors, dispersion of outcomes, and, unknowledge.

The second way of looking at your future is to open your imagination to possible futures which might result from unexpected events: redundancy, a new treatment, a “Limitless” pill.  I know many people don’t enjoy science fiction, but oftentimes sci-fi writers are trying to understand where Humanity is going, or understand the present through the lens of the future.  Mad Max, Star Trek, Alien, Avatar, The Forbidden Planet are all takes on different Human futures.  Now we’re opening our minds to the possibility of there being more to our futures, more than What You See Is All There Is.

A third way of looking at your future is to consider your preferred futures.  Now you’re taking a lead because of who you are, the energy you have for certain things and not for others, the special skills you have – which don’t necessarily match up with the educational curriculum you went through or the role you have in work.  The preferred future opens through your choice and creativity, and whilst it’s waiting for you, it is one lived in connection with others.  It’s difficult to identify a brighter future and not attract, or be attracted to, others.

Albert Espinosa shares how he learnt to make a wish when he would blow out – such as when he would have an injection – he reckons he had more than one thousand of these: ‘all these wishes, all this blowing accumulates inside us and we have to let it out, we have to extract these desires.’  Between being more open to possible futures, and the choosing of our preferred futures, lies the need to share our dreams (wishes) with each other, to gently blow and be blown upon by the things people hope for and dream of.  This not only fosters our own dreams, it makes it possible for us to collaborate in dreams, because the future is connected, it is with and not against.*

‘Most people think of the future as the end and
the present as the means whereas, in fact, the
present is the end and the future is the means.’**

(*Throughout this post I’ve dropped in words from Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire, alluding to three questions Alex asks of the future.  I’ve also set this out in a way which recognises Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.  I’m find myself increasingly using the imagining of the future to help people live more in the present.)
(**Late Harvard professor Fritz Roethlisberger, quoted in Surfing the Edge of Chaos.)
(Cartoon today: Check out Hugh MacLeod and gapingvoid: he’s why I started cartooning, and his writing’s not half bad: Evil Plans, Ignore Everybody, Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear – all highly recommended.)


18 introducing the two ...

If not now, then when?  If not us, then who?

These words have been used by many people in many places.

Now is an uncomfortable word, we’re happy with a lot of things until they become now and it involves us.

None of us begin empty-handed, though.  We live with the things and thoughts (artefacts) of those who have gone before us; we have an opportunities to be innovative and different, leaving new things and thoughts for those who follow.

We live in an unfinished world and – the thing which really interests me – we live an unfinished life.  You might say, I love the smaller future, that is the future of people.

There’s no such thing as the future, as I’ve mentioned several times, and this includes there being no personal futures.  There are predicted futures – if everything remains the same.  There are possible futures – when certain, presently-unseen events take place.  And there are preferred futures – the outcome of looking at all the artefacts in and around our lives, and beginning to innovate (what I’ve also named, adjacent futures).

Perhaps we feel trapped, thinking everything must be perfect or complete before we can begin something different.  And maybe we think everybody else must have done everything that can be possibly done with the things and thoughts available.  Not so, as Alex McManus points out:

‘Constraints are the womb of creativity.’*

This is about entering the yellow zone: where hope and possibility find reality and limitation to be the soil to thrive in: ‘Freedom is the possibility to choose within our bounds.’*  And we’ll be surprised at just how much freedom imagination and creativity can make possible.

At the heart of each of us is a uniqueness and specialness Albert Espinosa names our secret:

‘Enjoy keeping them hidden, but enjoy it more when you show them.’**

Which I take to mean, “Firstly, value what makes you special, and then you can enjoy gifting it to others more and more.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m curious to know what people’s secrets are and how they’ll create a preferred future by sharing their secrets with others.  Curiosity is something you may have to carefully rekindle – it wasn’t encouraged when you attended school, neither in your workplace or church or community, but it connects your secret with what lies beyond the curriculum and job description.

So, if not now, then when?  If not you, then whom?

(*From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)
(**From Albert Espinosa’s The Yellow World.)