this way, that way

31 a tribe is

‘In aesthetic experiences, individuals immerse themselves but remain passive.’*

this way experience comes to us, provided by others, impacting us but not being impacted by us.

I don’t have to go to a Universal Studios theme park for this kind of experience.  By walking into my White Stuff shop I can have coffee and cake on the house and see telephone boxes, a sweet counter, an old metal bench circling a fake tree, and wardrobes which turn out to be very big changing rooms.  However, I do not change the company in any way.

Increasingly, though, we’re living in a that way time: ‘When we change ourselves, we can change the world’ – words I shared yesterday from Nipun Mehta.  More and more people are making change in one way or another.

I was reminded of this in a conversation just yesterday with someone who was helping me figure out how to channel the thing I can do.  She mentioned Seth Godin’s book Tribes – about how people find one another and make a difference in the world:**

‘A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.’^

On the leader part of this, Godin writes, ‘By challenging the status quo, a cadre of heretics is discovering that one person, just one, can make a huge difference. … Heretics are the new leaders.  The ones who challenge the status quo, who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements.’^

There’ll always be those who bemoan the state of how things are, the same way they were bemoaning the same thing a year ago.  Unsurprisingly, nothing changes.

Last night, I was privileged to be a part of a group of people who came together to make a difference and to have fun, many giving expression to how impact not only comes this way, it also goes that way.^^

(*From Joseph Pine and James Gilmore’s The Experience Economy.)
(**It was through reading this book I met the people with whom I’ve worked on creating a number of transformative experiences.)
(^From Seth Godin’s Tribes.)
(^^VOXedinburgh’s Sangai Runu event mixed great music, artwork, and conversation, with the intent of supporting a Nepalese educational charity.)

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guerrilla gifts

30 when we change

Guerrilla gifts create disequilibrium.

I give you this but you don’t give back, you give forward – use it to cause disequilibrium somewhere else.

Nipun Mehta is turning gifts into more than an economy – into an ecology.  One exploration with interns saw them engaging in 21 days of kindness, but it had to be something new every day – their focus and engagement and wiring changed as a result (then they went on to 21 days of gratitude).

Rohit Bhargava names the non-obvious trend of Branded Benevolence,* citing the example, among others, of Elon Musk announcing, on the 12th June, 2014, he would be making Tesla patents openly available, to speed up innovation in the car industry – apparently, a big scale guerrilla gift.  (Some have been more than sceptical – I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is truly subversive goodness, or not.)

To be a guerrilla gifters involves a move from the head to the heart; these words from Tom Asacker work here:

‘They’ve discovered that breakthrough achievement is about belief.  Conviction, then action.  Magic, then logic. Heart, then head.  They know that seeing isn’t believing.  Believing is seeing.’**

How to get going?

Suspend old belief.

Give something, consistently, over a long period of time – the thing the interns, mentioned above, did.

Take hold of new belief.

Enjoy exploring.

(*Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)
(**FromTom Asacker’s The Business of Belief.)

it’s just the way it is

29 what are the

It doesn’t have to be.

It could be a lot different:

‘Stories are powerful.  Because we all become the stories we tell ourselves.’*  

We’re all part of the Human story and it’s not a story about this is just the way it is.  Things have changed in the last seventy million years.  To be Human is to be conscious of our story and our ability to change it.

A phone-in conversation on the radio this morning, about women in leadership in the top companies had one male contributor wanting to “throw the cat among the pigeons” by claiming women are the physical and intellectual inferiors to men (a serious case of it’s just the way it is).  I didn’t expect a female contributor concede these – “That’s just measuring who we are by our strength and intellect.”

I’d only just read Yuval Noah Harari’s conclusion that we just don’t know why women are subservient to men; in his opinion, the traditional arguments just don’t hold up: males are stronger; more aggressive; or, genetically developed to be more ambitious and competitive (who got to impregnate the females).

We’ve seen great changes across the last century and will continue to see change as we lean forward into the future – something we can learn to do when we realise it’s our turn to add to the story.

We’re becoming (more) Human, as we continue to face our blindspot, turning our attention on our inner selves, to where these things comes from, asking, Why do we want to perpetuate the story of discrimination and inequality, be it against females, ethnicities, genders, societies, when we can write a better story?

There’ll always be those who – for political, religious, egoistic, or personal reasons will say, It’s just the way it is, but the future belongs to those who want to bring more people to the party.

(*From Tom Asacker’s The Business of Belief.)

whose voice is it anyway?

28 you don't need

Earlier this year, I attended an event with this title, curated by my friend Charlotte Bosseaux, within Edinburgh University.

It opened up to me a previously unconsidered world of interpreting, translating and dubbing: the power of interpreters and translators in altering the meaning of the original; the deep challenges to honestly wanting to move something from one language with its culture, into another; and the complexity of dubbing film and TV (including how many actors play George Clooney’s voice?).

Whose voice is it anyway? becomes a great personal question to ask about the authenticity of our own voice in the world.

Is this really my voice?  
Do I know who I am and what is my voice?  
Or am I speaking with someone else’s voice?  
The voice of a parent, a partner, an employer, a child, a friend, a public, a culture, a society?  

Life isn’t about dubbing someone’s life with a voice we think is more them (Charlotte provides the example of Tom Selleck in Magnum PI, who has quite a high voice for someone with his appearance, so the German version uses an actor with a deeper voice, considered a better fit for Selleck – though, in real life this would mean inauthenticity).*

We may have the best intentions for encouraging people to be this or that, whilst a person may feel others must know them better than they know themselves, so they comply, but beauty comes from being who we really are, knowing our voice, and sharing it with the world.

We should all be encouragers of this:

“If your actions lead people to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”**

No matter how much care those around take ing advising you about how you should “sound” – the feel and intonation and pitch of your voice – the only person who really knows your true voice is you.

(*Charlotte Bosseux’s Dubbing, Film and Performance.)
(**John Quincy Adams, quoted in Tom Asackacker’s The Business of Belief.)

beyond function

27 it is often

I asked MC why she wants to develop her work idea, what was the thing driving it – our small group was exploring how to prototype our ideas.

I smiled at her response and have tried to capture it here:

“To help people create a beautiful life in which they are making progress.”

A long way back in Human history there was a time when our consciousness developed to the extent that we began to enjoy the beauty of something rather than its usefulness.  This matters because it’s tied to seeing the beauty in a Human life, rather than the simple functionality of carbon units.

There’s something about the universe which asks us to appreciate beauty: fauna, flora, music, numbers, art, colour, you, me.  Beauty is so very big, it is very high and wide and deep.  It cannot be reduced to just these things on this list.

Whenever anyone explores the beauty of their story beyond functionality and usefulness, that can’t be bad.

It can be pretty darn good.

One more thing: beauty isn’t something we’re born with – it’s a choice we make every day.

the place for gifts

26 be a space

Gifts make their difference when they begin to flow – the unique contributions everyone can bring as an investment in the world.

High-flow environments come in many different forms.

One person can choose to be just such an environment to another – provoking by giving their gift.  Two or more people can collaborate together in a synthesis of their gifts to others.  Physical spaces can be designed to encourage gifts to flow.  And a community can exist as a result of, and with the purpose of, encouraging the flow of gifts.

In each case of these the consequences are high – this matters; there’s a richness of complexity present (the more diverse the better), and, there’s encouragement of mind, heart, and will presencing – we not only think and feel something, we do something.

Of course, high-flow and high-risk means there’s the risk of failure, but we do pay more attention (including learning how learning from failure is more important than not failing).  High flow environments promise to produce communities, with ties stronger than any commodity exchange.

Here are three thoughts from different sources I happened to be reading today:

‘Ideas do not circulate freely when they are treated as commodities.’*

‘Everyone wants to be noticed, recognised and celebrated.’**

“To reach flow, one must be filling to take risks. … the average person – you and me – must be willing to fail, look foolish. and fall flat on our faces should we wish to enter this state.”^

(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**From Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)
(^Psychiatrist Ned Hallowell, quoted in Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)

synthesis

25 the future awaits

I’m with those who hope for a new renaissance – including and inviting people to make their contribution towards a future which will see an increasing flow of knowledge and skills as gifts.

The really exciting things will happen when the barriers come down between communities and organisations, in the creative synthesis and messiness of connectedness, regardless of field, age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, politics, geography, and a whole lot more.

Almost forty years ago, Charles Mellis wrote about how ‘creative new vehicles seldom originate within the establishment – particularly in times of great change’.*  If Mellis is right then it makes no sense to be closed to what others know and are willing to share.

Find a party, bring your passion and skill – the future awaits.

(*From Charles Mellis’s Committed Communties.)