30 riskfullness

When we step outside of the roles and the everyday norm, we see and understand there is more to us than we think.

When we step into the worlds of others and allow them to step into ours, we’re opening ourselves to a future which wants to emerge.

To open our minds to see and understand more.

To open our hearts and be present to others.

These have required our vulnerability and riskfullness.

We have been brought to something new we must commit ourselves to; something Otto Scharmer has critically named the “essential emergence” – an opportunity to live  beyond WYSIATI.*

A year ago, I saw such an experience offer itself to someone.**   She was excited at first, but she later realised this would ask her to risk something (perhaps what others thought of her, perhaps what she thought about herself).  She withdrew from the possibility.   All I have left is the note in my journal capturing her initial excitement.

Only a risk-full life increases the possibility of more.

(*What You See Is All There Is.)
(**I journaled this as I thought it important for this person at the time: a serendipitous moment.)

to risk more

29 another word

There are three contexts for risking more.

There’s the internal context, when we’re prepared to explore the deepest, uncharted areas of our lives.  We’ve called this severally: contemplation, meditation, reflection, mindfulness: as there’s a hiddenness to all growing things, we too have a hiddenness for why we are who we are and do what we do.

There’s the external context, where we’re prepared to connect with people, discover more about how the world and the universe works, engage in our work, and are prepared to commit to causes which are important to us.

Then there’s the deep source of emergence,* the possibility of new things happening in and through our internal and external worlds, especially including what we can be about together because of the deep connections we’ve been able to make with others – deep because we have brought a greater understanding of who we are which enable us to overcome the obstacles and barriers we experience to others.

To deepen and expand each of these contexts requires risk.  And the willingness to risk, Brené Brown argues, is only made possible by our vulnerability.

Daily, we live in our relationships and do the work we do – not knowing how we will fair – because of our willingness to be vulnerable.

To be vulnerable is to be an experiential, feeling Human.  We already are vulnerable, so what we are contemplating is the possibility of knowing and exercising vulnerability so we can expand and develop it more: towards the things we feel to be so very important in life – the pursuit and living of our values and beliefs.

If we hope for anything, vulnerability is involved.

Whilst vulnerability opens us to what we are most fearful of and want to avoid – and it will be its very nature – it also opens up all we desire and value:

‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity and purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.’**

(*So named by Otto Scharmer in Theory U.)
(**From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)

focal length

28 unfinished

As in the focal length of camera lenses as a way of  thinking about focal length in our lives.

Dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp shares different examples of artist’s work: some have a panoramic view, some work in the distance – observing and observed, whilst others are close up.  Of photographer Ansel Adams, Tharp offers:

‘Earth and heaven in their most expansive form was how Adams saw the world.  It was his signature, and expression of his creative temperament.  It was his DNA.’*

This got me thinking.

I love when ideas from different people come together and open up possibilities, and these thoughts from Tharp appear to collide with Otto Scharmer‘s about how we need to be people opening our minds, our hearts, and our wills towards an emerging future.

Seeing the panoramic or bigger picture means opening our seeing and understanding to there being more; inhabiting the middle ground is about getting closer to see and hear and touch the details we cannot appreciate in the big vista (we see and feel, and are seen and felt); and, the up-close (macro?) is about involvement, commitment, delivery with no escape.

Two thoughts then.

All focal lengths are desirable for our lives: the big picture of more, the close enough to see and be seen, and the up close and engaged.

We’ll also have a favourite lens.  Our signature, as Tharp puts it.

(From Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.)

not enough or enough?

27 enough or

The products of two mindsets.

Not enough comes from a scarcity-mindset.

Enough comes from an abundance mindset.

A scarcity-mindset usually wins, though, and is the product of wars, terrorism, tragedies, disasters, injustices, crime, poverty, and much more.

Brené Brown suggests scarcity environments contain shame, comparison, and disengagement, with the casualties being our willingness to be vulnerable and engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.*

Mindsets are ways of seeing reality; they are not reality.

Arthur Schopenhauer offers,

‘The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what nobody has thought about that which everybody sees.’**

Erwin McManus adds, ‘When the soul is sick, one of the symptoms in blindness.’^

You may have noticed, I often suggest humility, gratitude, and faithfulness as ways of being present to an emerging future, enabling us to move forward.

Humility because we clearly see who we are and sense our worth.
Gratitude because we see what we have and understand how to engage with this.
Faithfulness as many imaginative and creative ways of putting humility and gratitude into practice.

The best question might well be, What Do You Want To See?

(*From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(**Quoted by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppler in The Decision Book.)
(^From Erwin McManus’s Soul Cravings.)

why life is confusing?

26 out of order

‘I usually congratulate people when they tell me, “I don’t know who I am anymore.”‘*

The usual roles into which people fit themselves, or are fitted, are disappearing.

26 comes the chaos

Scarcity is being seen for what it is: a myth.  We’re not quite sure how to handle this, hence the confusion, but we’re increasingly seeing opportunities to produce our art.

26 and then out

I’m not saying we’re becoming invulnerable.

Quite the opposite.

Whatever we believe in or do in life, we die: our end is inevitable.  Embracing this truth and imagining how it is possible to live differently, I paradoxically find “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

26 a future order

As we begin to see how we live in a world of abundance rather than scarcity,  abundance often comes to us in random, even chaotic, ways: there’s hard learning and work to be done to capture and experience it, though Nassim Taleb suggests:

‘Everything likes or hates volatility up to a point.  Everything. … The best way to verify that you are alive is by checking you like variations.’**

Our ability to positively adapt to randomness over our lifetime – to develop complexipacity^ – opens the possibility of an abundant life which moves us out of our confusion and shapes us as generators and contributors.

(*Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth.)
(**Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)
(^The capacity to deal with complexity.)


outing the ego

25 we overcome

She wanted to be free,  to be able to live the life she felt was calling to her.

Each time she tried to move toward this, she found she compared herself to others, and something got in the way.

Sometimes she felt better than others; other times she felt not as good at all.

Eckhart Tolle writes, ‘whenever you feel superior or inferior to anyone, that’s the ego in you.’*

The ego feeds on important cravings or needs each of us finds within us as a developed species: autonomy and mastery and significance.  All of these can be really good, rather than bad:

Autonomy to live as we believe we must.
Mastery of skills through which we can express ourselves through and contribute to others with.
Significance in living for some purpose greater than ourselves.

Sometime our hero struggles with pride, greed, and foolishness in her life; at other time the struggles are with unworthiness, asceticism, and cautiousness.

The ego plays games without us realising, but when we identify and embrace who we are without comparison, satisfied and giving,we free ourselves from the gravitational pull of the “more-than” and “less-than” pull of the ego and we can fly ego-free towards the future working in a complementary rather than comparative way with others.

‘The revolutionary force in this century is the awakening of a deep generative human capacity – the I-in-Now.’**

There’s quite an experiment to be lived out.

(*From Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)
(**From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)

just a little beauty

24 add beauty

How many people are coming?

How big will it be?

How much money will be made?

The contributor of beauty knows, whilst these sometimes are important questions, they struggle to measure just a little more beauty being brought into being.

She finds herself walking in the small way, which enables her to see and honour the little-beautiful things people are often making and offering.

She is increasingly grateful for the hundreds of little-beautifuls she finds around her every day: the things people cannot not do.

They all add up to something amazing.  Being grateful for them and connecting them up in an idea or an event or a relationship, allows something amazing to happen.

24 add beauty colour 2

To bring a little more beauty into the world can be scary, but I remember a conversation with my friend Dan last year: he said, we have to keep doing the scary stuff, else we’ll continue to do the same stuff and it won’t be very good.

Beauty happens when we allow our past and emerging future to meet.  Otto Scharmer names these: social time sculptures.  One of these is taking place on Friday – something the guys I’m working with find scary, but we cannot not do it.  And whilst there’ll be those questions about how many, how much, how big, the important one for us will be, have produced a little more beauty?*

‘I have found that the most difficult and most rewarding challenge of my work is how to be both a mapmaker and traveller.’**

(*If you’re in Edinburgh on Friday, please feel yourself invited to make a little more beauty.)
(**From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(Cartoon: You’re welcome to print off and colour in the cartoon today; I’ll upload my completed version within the blog when completed.)

exploring vulnerability

23 where the softness

What if I say this?

What if I go there?

What if I do this?

What if i befriend this person?

There’s vulnerability in all of these.

We have to let our guard down – like the Starship Enterprise has to drop shields if someone is to beam aboard.  It then becomes vulnerable, but there’s no other way.

I read Richard Rohr this morning, exhorting me to embrace the negative, to avoid a dualistic view of life, including facing my shadow side.

So, every day, I face the monsters within; if I miss the subtlety of their constant hunger, I’ll end up feeding them – with some pride or greed or foolishness – when I ought to be battling them.  I cannot wait until the battle is over.  Each day you meet me and my monsters.

Brené Brown adds more to this for me when she describes how, for wholehearted people, ‘Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the centre, of meaningful experiences.’

‘Those who feel loveable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  They don’t have better or easier lives, they don’t have fewer struggles with addiction or depression, and they haven’t survived fewer traumas or bankruptcies or divorces, but in the midst of all of these struggles, they have developed practices that enable them to hold on to the belief that they are worth of love, belonging, and even joy.’**

I was reminded of when I shared with a group of people, some of the struggles I’ve gone through over a number of years, and how these have defined me.  Their response was to criticise me.

Being vulnerable is risky and it doesn’t always work.  Do I regret sharing the things I did?  It was unpleasant for a number of months, but, no.  The things I shared define me, are part of me, there can be no dualism.

Most importantly, I find there are more possibilities for creativity when I explore through vulnerability.

‘Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made.  When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted all the power and made ourselves naked in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to.  We have no excuses, no manual to point to, no standard operating procedure to protect us.  And that is part of our gift.’**

(*From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(**From Seth Godin’s excellent V is for Vulnerable.)

’cause i’ve gotta have faith

22 until he has

As George Michael would say.

We all have faith; it’s more than a religious word and concept.

Faith is how we sense, open, and begin to form the future in a universe more random and beautifully chaotic than Modernism ever allowed.

Faith makes it possible for us to make the vulnerable journey, because the future is about what cannot be seen, often because it doesn’t exist, yet.

Faith is not an idea or concept, it’s movement.  Nassim Taleb is right to say, ‘A prophet is not someone who first had an idea; he is the one to first believe in it – and take it to its conclusion’ – to “put skin on it.”*

Faith makes it possible for imperfect and incomplete people to move with deep grace when others believe themselves unable.

The proud person never receives enough recognition, the greedy person never has enough resources to move very far beyond their present world, but, faith-people have velocity provided by a recognition of who they are in relation to others, their world, and their future self.

Faith is dynamic stuff and you have enough, right now.  What will you make?

(*From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)

the third imaginarium

21 will she?

A new word for me: Richard Rohr describes the imaginarium as ‘the unconscious container inside of which each group does its thinking for many people’.*

To borrow and develop Rohr’s concept: the third imaginarium lies between the first and the second.  It is imaginative thinking in the liminality which lies between two or more alternatives.

Thomas Kuhn wrote about scientific breakthroughs coming from young people who’d spent time learning the domain and connecting with the field who didn’t know it couldn’t be done.**  Rohr offers a sweet little phrase for this: we ‘must learn the rules so they will know how to break them properly’.*

One resonse to an inherited view or system, which we believe is outdated or dysfunctional, is acquiescence, a second is to resist or rebel.  A third way, though, chooses neither, knowing the tackling of something head-on rarely works.  (I confess I’ve learnt this the hard way.)

Whatever the imaginative new view or idea, it won’t be welcomed with open arms – it is neither proven nor disproven – but, then, if it is possible to establish it somehow and somewhere, something new can develop, be tested, and establish itself; the old view will then crumble and dissolve.

Those who inhabit the third imaginarium are difficult to dissuade or buy out because they value creativity over power, imagination over possessions, and concern for others over concern for self.  They have a panoramic worldview bigger and more colourful than the alternatives.

I do not have this but I seek it.

I often refer to Nassim Taleb’s writing about the alternatives normally seen when it comes to encountering stress: those of fragility and robustness.^  His proposition is robustness is not the opposite of fragilility, rather antifragile is: antifragility is the ability to grow in response to stressors – up to a point.  In the context of the idea in this post, fragility is acquiescence to what is, whilst robustness is to maintain what is.  I’d thought of antifragile lying beyond robustness, but I wonder whether it lies between what is fragile and what is robust: a third way of imagining.

Here’s some advice from Michael Heppell for becoming people of the third imaginarium:

‘Read, look into other areas, use different learning mediums, ask better questions, reflect, be open to ideas, be surrounded by learners, and prioritise learning.’^^

(*From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(**Thomas Kuhn’s significant work respected more than four decades later is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.)
(^Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)
(^^From Michael Heppell’s The Edge.)