make it so

18 to baldly go

Jean-Luc Picard captain of the starship Enterprise need only utter these words and something happens.

For the rest of us, without a starship and crew at our command, we have to find other ways of moving or making a change.  Even when we find ourselves aided by others, we must hone the abilities and habits to initiate when we are alone, when we tell ourselves “make it so.”

Edward Deci offers words which appear helpful for the creation of “make it so” people: ‘Exploration of one’s motivation can be a difficult process, and carrying out a true choice can also be difficult.  But these are the starting points for successful change.’*

To know what we must do and then to do it hardly may not seem helpful but they’re a gift.  To know what we want above everything else – from the source of our being, and to begin to do this in some way, shape or form will make it so.  Our attempts do not have to be perfect, we simply have to begin, every day, and then we’ll be surprised what happens.**

(*From Edward Deci’s Why We Do What We Do.)
(**Here’s a simple thing you can do to identify your motivation: write out a list of 100 things you love to do.  You’ll begin flagging long before you get to 100, but then you’ll catch your second breath.  When you’ve completed this, look for patterns of things: people, activities, outcomes, feelings.  You’ve begun.  Now you just need to begin the exercise, as it were, make it so.  Thanks to Alex McManus for the simple exercise.)

there is no perfect

17 you'll never be ready

We make the mistake of wanting ourselves or our circumstances to be as perfect and complete as possible before we begin.

They never will be.

What’s more important is to embrace our heart and go.

We have to follow the dreams which have come to us as we’ve opened our hearts.  When we speak of changing our minds, it’s tantamount to saying, “On this occasion, as you’ve put these things to me, I’m prepared to have a change of mind.”  When we speak of changing our hearts, though, we speak of the very way we’re led through life being altered towards something permanent.

Our minds tell us all kinds of things.  T3’s founder Gay Gaddis counsels: “You need to learn how to shut out the noise so you can get clear on how you feel and what you think and then you can do the hard work.”*

What we’re talking about is integrity, connecting who we are inside with who we’re with and where we are on the outside: ‘When you come to know yourself, you come to yourself and your life flows more naturally.  And you become more integrated,your integrity deepens.  You inhabit the heart of your life; you become the real subject of your life rather than being its target or victim.’*

There’s no such thing as perfect and complete, but there is the possibility of trusting and following your heart.

More important than waiting for perfect is to find your community of knowing, the people who’ll support you when you jump, the ones who get it because they know they must jump too.

‘Creating the future does not begin with a plan.  It begins with a dream.  And when someone acts on a dream, it creates a spark.’^

(*Quoted by Brené Brown in Daring Greatly.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)

the stories we tell ourselves (and then tell each other)

16 each of us

“God made Man because He loves stories.”*

So begins Jonathan Gottschall’s book The Storytelling Animal in which he explores Homo fictus (fiction man).  Stories are all-pervading to Human life, we could not function, even live, without them.

‘Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.’*

I loves this.  Humans are enigmatic creatures: we are not our minds.  Like a horse, sometimes ridden and steered, but often running and roaming without us – whoever “us” is.

Our stories make sense of this randomness.

My joy is to awaken people to the stories they’re lives are showing they should live.  I admit, this is the story I tell myself but, strangely and oddly, it works.  We tell histories to understand our past, and we science-fictionally imagine the future in order choose a path and to understand our present – stories.

Those who lead us into the future, at their best, are people who tell a story within which others are able to identify and live their stories in a way which allows each and every one to flourish, to thrive.

‘Leaders must look for meaning within the chaos.  They must create compelling narratives, which give context and meaning to human existence, in which others can see themselves fitting and belonging and becoming the people they desire.’**

We tell stories of preferred futures by defining reality, discerning meaning, and discovering new ways forward.  Stories change how things can be, interrupting lines of expectation, possibility, and probability for something better.

Is the story you find yourself in the one you’ve chosen for your passions and talents and experiences and relationships and hopes and values?

Or will you tell yourself a different story?

(*Elie Wiesel, quoted in Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.)
(**Alex McManus in Makers of Fire.)

beyond a narrative of compromise

15 lines and circles and

The opposite of presence is absence.

For whatever reason, we’ve absented ourselves from what is happening – we don’t even have to be in another country, we can be in the same room.

As the great Human conversation moves forward, and it’s our turn to be a part of it, we have the opportunity to be present like never before.

Absenteeism is greater too.

The internet is a good example: we can find one another and connect towards creating something incredible, or we can use the same means to troll and destroy, we can change the world with good or we can produce more hatred.  (My journey to date began in earnest because I could email someone I’d never met with a question about how the future would emerge.  His reply – received in no time at all – has remained with me ever since: ‘It will come through the people who MUST.’)

We have an opportunity to speak up and to act up.

‘The internet has given anyone with something to say the freedom to say it.  It has given us the freedom to connect, the freedom to be generous, and the freedom to make a difference.  And we (all of us) refuse to use this freedom to the fullest, because we can’t bear to live with that internal narrative it would create – the narrative of responsibility and risk and failure.’*

We like the first part of this but not the second part.  So we begin to compromise and, through the compromises, we absent ourselves.

When we turn up, when we produce our art – the thing we must do – the future comes faster, through the courage of presence.  We don’t have to be like anyone else – indeed, it is desirable we are not.  We need to know this.  Having drawn up our categories and made our lists and created our awards for this and that and the other achievement, reality is, we need your passionate creativity:

‘The leap into the space is a form of love.’*

(*From Seth Godin’s ‘It’s Your Turn’.  This morning, a group of ten or so will be meeting for more than a book group with Godin’s book.  We’ll be exploring what we do now we realise it’s our turn.)
(The cartoon will build up through the day; you’re welcome to be creative with lines and circles and squares, and to suggest a thought for the second caption box.  Have fun.)

hanging in mid-air (or punctuated equilibrium)

14 the future

I have let go of the trapeze swing and wonder when the other one will arrive.  As I wait,  I hang in the air.

At least, this is what it felt like when I woke in the small hours, and found myself wondering whether I had made a good decision to let go of the “swing” I’d held onto for more than thirty years, now looking for the one I believe is somewhere out there.

As I hang in mid-air, I know the world is changing, and the reason I’m here because what I explore and offer is the future and not the past.  The future is about a person’s uniqueness and not their conformity.  So I do  not look towards the swing I have let go of.  I look for the one which is coming from the future.

It may be a while coming, and I must learn how to hang in the air.  I hang longer when:

I create and pursue chance opportunities – which feels like following leads
When I trust and use my intuition to make decisions – trusting the hard and practice from many years
Being positive in my expectations – so as not to give up
Not only being resilient when things go wrong but learning from them and initiating new, improved things*

Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould has suggested the theory of punctuated equilibrium to explain the less than smooth evolutionary transitions, claiming there must have been great leaps in the forming of creatures.**

Which is a pretty good description for what it feels like to let go of the familiar trapeze swing, finding ourselves in mid-air waiting for the next swing to arrive from the future.  But it seems to be the only way we can move forward as Humans and as individuals.

(*From Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.  I am intrigued to find Richard Wiseman had suggested these four things for why some people are luckier than others.  I’ve personalised them as to how they have felt for me.)
(**From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)


an awakening species

13 when we practice

Human consciousness and awareness are growing.

The movie Lucy explores what might happen if we’re able to utilise more of the ninety per cent of our brains we believe we don’t use.  We can’t stop ourselves asking these kinds of question.

There’s possibly nothing else in the universe more mysterious than Humans.

‘By virtue of conscious self-awareness, we are connected to the mystery from which we emerge.’*

Alex McManus points to how we’re aware of how Humans are distorted by and towards evil, how we can be inhuman, and how genetics offer us the possibility of becoming transhuman, yet we still long to be more Human:

‘We want to close the gap between what we are – our experiential state, our actuality – and what we imagine we can be – our dream state, our possibility.’**

As Jack Nicholson’s character Marvin Udall (As Good as it Gets) says to the woman he’s fallen in love with: ‘I know I can do better than that.’

We can’t become more Human alone.  We need everyone to turn up, to join the party, to enter the infinite game of life: ‘We need your contribution, your vision, your truth.’^  When we turn up to contribute we tell the truth about ourselves.  Only when we are naked, as Seth Godin puts it, can we tell a more beautiful truth about others.  We move from an I-in-me worldview, to one of I-in-we.^^

Whilst we need one another to become more Human, we have to take responsibility for how we live moreHuman, not hiding but bringing our art, our gift, our truth, our love, our courage, our generosity, our wisdom.

‘It’s only when we are naked that we’re able to fully take our turn and to understand what it is to make something.  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing this naked, this alone, this responsibly.’^

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)
(^From Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.)
(^^From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)

finding our way forward

12 we each must find

‘So, instead of asking what it means to be human, it may be more helpful to ask, what will it take to become human?’*

Each of us is finding our way forward.

Knowing who we are is an important part of this.  There’s a difference between individualism and being an individual.  Edward Deci would say the former lacks self-awareness whilst the latter possesses this towards autonomy.

Without self-awareness – which, in  it’s purest form, includes other-awareness – we make little progress.  Individualism sings at the top of its lungs, “I did it my way!”, but ‘when well integrated as individuals, people will be solid enough to persist as themselves in a society that is always shifting underfoot,’ whilst also drawing ‘strength from each other, to cherish [our] dependance on those others.’**

This relationship with others means I understand my place in the world in a fuller way.  As a person with autonomy, I know I have something of my own choosing to bring to others, which does not require others to give to me: I owe, but I am not owed.

When I honour my obligations to others I am cherishing dependance.

I don’t wait for permission but move forward and persevere: the universe, life, god has already given me what I need by putting breath in me, the rest organises itself.

“You take up space (physical and emotional).  And you better have something good to show for it.”^

‘And so, inevitably, these Masters, as they progress on their career paths, make a choice at a key moment in their lives: they decide to forge their own route, one that others will see as unconventional, but that suits their own spirit and rhythms and leads them closer to discovering the hidden truths of their objects of study.’^^

(*From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)
(**From Edward Deci’s Why We Do What We Do.)

(^Rohan Rajiv, quoted in Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.)
(^^From Robert Greene’s Mastery.)

facing the dragons

11 all the best

Courage is not the absence of fear but the absence of self.

It’s also about focusing on what it is you must do and not thinking you have to perform some courageous act.

And it’s about taking your turn because, if you have a pulse, apparently it is your turn right now.

The first question, then, is what must you do?

The second question is, What will you dare to do with what you care about?

This is your story and now is the time for your story to be lived, whether you pick up your pay-cheque for doing it or go to work so you can do it with the rest of your time.

Of course, the ideas which come with what you must do may not work, or not work as you imagine. Things rarely do.  These are the futures you enter: one which may work and which may not, and you won’t know until you act.  For this you will need courage.

What if truth is not what you know, including what you know about yourself; what if truth is what you discover when you face the dragons: truth which only appears through action?

‘You don’t need a permit or a blessing or any sort of permission to take your turn.  You only have to open your eyes and look.  And then choose.’*

(*From Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.)

where you find your wonder

10 the universe

I am trapped within my life.

I am free within my life.

One life: two perspectives.

When I reflect upon my life, I am doing so from within my life.  If I change the nature of my pondering, I can see it as a collection of facts and needs- a thing of practicality and production, or I am able to see something mysterious and paradoxical.  These perspectives are what lead me to think I am trapped or free.

Many of our perspectives are the product of modernity, resulting in functional views of life.  Some people have been able to use modernity to explore, but many more have lost touch with the wonder of life.

A few days ago I was taken out on a Florida river for just ninety minutes in a canoe.  In search of alligators, I was lost in the wonder of black water, the whoosh of wind followed by the silences, the natural flora, turtles and fishing birds and lilies everywhere (no alligators, alas): ‘When you go into nature, you bring your clay body back to its native realm. … You recover your deeper rhythm.*

All is presence, is wonder.

I am told the ancient Human ear is most attuned to the song of birds – where birds are found we also would find the things we require to live.  I found myself reflecting on what it is I am most attuned to, what I wonder at, the mystery I pursue.

We find our freedom when we identify and pursue our wonder, and after modernity and postmodernity we are entering into a new Human flourishing.

‘The unknown is our closest companion; it walks beside us every step of the journey.’*

‘We wilfully create the illusion that we have no choice because it’s frightening to be free.  But the deeper we look, the more we realise just how much choice we actually have.’**

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.)

let there be creativity

9 time to go

It could be, to create is the supreme act of order being brought out of the chaos and randomness of the universe.

This is no easy matter – a gross understatement on my part.  It will everything we can possibly bring to bear as Humans; these words from Ryan Holiday say some of this: ‘Therefore, we can always (and only) greet our obstacles with energy, with persistence, with a coherent and deliberate process, with iteration and resistance, with pragmatism, with strategic vision, with craftiness and savvy, and an eye for opportunity and pivotal moments.’*

These attributes begin to describe the capacity we’re able to grow and develop for  dealing with complexity and, through it all, for becoming more Human.

Arianna Huffington suggests four new metrics for measuring our achievements: these being wisdom, wonder, well-being, and giving.**  What if we were to nuance these even more by suggesting Human expressions and actions such as love and joy and peace and kindness and goodness were both the results and means of Human creativity?

(*From Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way.)
(**Quoted in 99U’s Make Your Mark.)