31 psst! you're amazing

What if we could shape the new year so that it would be meaningful in new and imaginative ways?

‘In the beginning was the dream. … Before anything ever was it had to be dreamed.  Everything had its beginning in possibility.  Every single thing is somehow the expression and incarnation of a thought.  If a thing had never been thought it could never be.’*

Some of this has been created because of how you’ve lived through the last twelve months, but some of it has been suppressed.

Each of us has a generative heart, imaginative and innovative centres, the outer limits of which we don’t fully know yet – they could be inexhaustible.

When we open our minds to the possibilities, suspending our ways of seeing and understanding, we will see more, including more possibilities which we are uniquely talented to realise.

Opening our lives to more is not about us but others:

‘One of [Chip’s] extraordinary talents was seeing the best in people.  He spent his whole life calling out greatness in others and applauding it, even when he saw it expressed in the smallest of ways.’**

I met Chip almost eleven years ago and mentioned him in my post this day last year.  Chip was as Erwin McManus described him – I met him for only one day but Chip’s investment in me literally changed my life.

This is what I want to fill my new year with: I’ll follow in Chip’s footsteps.

(*From John O’Donahue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Erwin McManus’s Soul Cravings.)

towards love

30 planning nothing

‘Part of the wonder of being a person is the continual discoveries that you find emerging in your own self; nothing cosmically shattering, merely the unfathomable miracle of ordinary being.  This is the heart of longing which calls us to new forms of belonging.’*

I’ve travelled a great distance to get here.

I’ve journeyed through many years, and from wrong places to better places.

I know I’m not finished yet.

Whether we say it’s life or the universe or god, we’re each provided with opportunities to travel.  A new year provides us with the awareness that it’s up to us to fill it with significance: being ingenious in the way only we can be, and to love in a way only we can love.

Not to travel, to stay where we are, would be a waste of a year to do something remarkable in:

‘when you expose yourself to the opportunities that scare you, you create something scarce, something others won’t do.’**

(*From John O’Donahue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?)

the possibility of things

29 here's to all those

Gift 4.0.

Once upon a time, there were only a few who were seen as gifted and blessed ones – and everyone else was subject to them: Gift 1.0.

Then some people began to use the burgeoning free-market economy fuelled by travel, later industry, and finally technology – so the number of gifted and blessed grew, though everyone else still made up the masses: Gift 2.0.

Philanthropists and grant-making bodies and sports and media events then made it possible for many unknowns to be seen and heard – but still not everyone was seen as gifted and blessed: Gift 3.0.

But everyone is able to do something uniquely and wonderfully.  The question is, how can everyone take the one an only opportunity they have to express and contribute their gift?

As I pondered and reflected, I placed my feet on the floor, on the earth – representing the reality of things, but I raised my head up, to the heavens – the possibility of things: Gift 4.0.

“Wild ones
who have not been turned to stone
by the far-reaching grasp of the empire
and its programme of consumer sedation,
the killing of imagination.
Where, my friends,
have the wild ones gone?”*

‘Stuck is a state of mind and it’s curable.’**

Gift 4.0 isn’t impossible, it’s just hard because real life is not easy.

(*Joel McCerrow, quoted in The Northumbria Community’s Morning Prayer, 29 December 2015.)
(**From Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?)

before and after

28 a new law

There once was a before to 2015 and now there’s an after.

I took a step forward and the horizon changed; I took another and it changed again.

Really, I know I am still a before person moving towards a better after.

Here I am, at the before to 2016 and I’m imagining what my preferred after will be.

I back at the beginning again, as T. S. Eliot has helped me to see:

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

No one is just a before person; everyone can be an after person, too.

And maybe we can be helpers of one another to move from before to after.



Who is my gift for?

“Yet maybe this small and mysterious exchange of gifts remained inside me also deep and indestructible, giving my poetry light.”*

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is reflecting on when he, as a child, found a worn toy sheep in a hole in the fence between his family home and their neighbour’s.  He left a pine cone in it’s stead, and, though he later lost the toy in a fire, this exchange of gifts directed his work.

Ideo’s Fred Dust dared to see the notion of design and product to be more than a financial transaction when he suggested:

“You’re a better designer if you love the people you’re designing for.”**

In the beginning, there is the gift.

The thing we most want to give for someone.  We must not compare ourselves with anyone else – who they are, what they have, how they express themselves.

There’s only you and what the universe has given you the opportunity to express.

And to carry this through life.

Otto Scharmer only warns us of three pitfalls: fame, money, and empire-building.^

(*Pablo Neruda, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

(**Fred Dust, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)

(^Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)y


discoverers all


‘The very nature of the universe invites you to journey and discover it.’*

If the new year is to be one of new discoveries, then here are three things to help:

Avoid bias – which will only lead you to somewhere you already know.

Don’t critique or judge – which will only close possibilities down before they’ve had a chance to open up.

Play the “yes and” game – adding to what others share with you.

Discovering lies on the far side of exploring.

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

a child is born


‘The child and the artist are pilgrims of discovery.’*

A child is born with many possibilities before them, born of their curiosity, inquiry, and attention.  Finding the right path – the one with a heart – is about finding purpose.

And our purpose is our art.

We will know this is what we have found if there’s a spirit to it – if what we do is more than than the thing itself.  And we will know this is what we have found when it creates deep relationship and community.

And perhaps what Christmas does is remind us we too are born for a purpose, and it’s never too late to identify this.

For this reason, Happy Christmas.

ho snow love hope

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

find me here

24 local is here to stay 1

‘Once our basic needs are taken care of, the things that we want most of all as humans is to matter.’*

This feels local.

Perhaps the best Christmas gift of all is for someone to help  another feel local, here – at home in who they are and what they have and what they can do.

Each of us is capable of this.

When we find each other, we can say we are local, find us here.

You belong here.**

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)
(**See Taiye Selasi’s moving TEDtalk: Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m local.)

and we will be travellers

23 we are travellers

One of the stories played out as part of the nativity story I mentioned a couple of days ago was that of the wise men guided by a star (likely a comet).

I love the thought that these men set out on a hazardous journey because they just had to follow their curiosity and their need to continually explore.

We each are guided by something different, as Bernadette Jiwa’s insight into meaningful companies proffers:

‘The customer is their compass.’*

Jiwa tells the story of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia sending their repair service on the road.  A truck was despatched around the United States, offering a repair service to ‘a jacket that had travelled the world with a customer.’*

It’s an honouring of allthose who’ve worn their clothing through the thick and thin of life; check out this message received by Patagonia with a repair ask:

“My mom raised my brother and I to explore the world with unwavering curiosity: the deep south, the Ozark Mountains,  the Great Plains …”

There’s something else happening here.  People are increasingly purchasing items which come with a story.  Part of our story is that we are a travelling species, migrating across the face of the Earth and, now, out into space.

What many of these travellers have achieved is to make the invisible visible for the rest of us.

They remind me I must travel from what I know to what I do not know, to where new possibilities occur – what Rohit Bhargava names intersections.

Places and spaces which will become our new “local”**

Bhargava shares three principles for intersectional living: see similarities, not differences,** purposefully look away from your goal, and wander into the unfamiliar:

‘In a world where we have a map in our pocket, ready to assist us with turn-by-turn directions to anywhere, wandering must be a choice.’^

As a traveller not depending on google, what’s your compass?

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)
(**Check out Taiye Selasi’s TEDtalk: Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m local.)
(^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)

get real

22 humans at their best

‘When we are in rhythm with our own nature, things flow and balance naturally.’*

Modern life tends to get in the way, mind.

So much so, we get to feeling that to be in rhythm with our own nature is simply not realistic.  But each of us is a deeply creative being:

‘What I do care about, though, is each human’s ability to express her art, to develop into the person she is able to become.  I care about the connection between people and our ability to challenge and support others as we create our own versions of art. And I care about freedom, the ability to express yourself until it impinges one someone else’s happiness.’**

How less real is this than the circumstances which led to, say, the economic bubble burst of 2007-08?

Bubbles form wherever there are disconnections:

‘Real credit is the purchasing power of a group over time – all that comes of labour, technology, and the gifts of nature.  Financial credit is the same things expressed with money.  Social Creditors did not oppose the monetary expression of credit – large industries and nations cannot operate without that abstraction – but they said, financial credit should equal real credit.’^

We live in bubbles all the time.  The recent closure of the steel works in Redcar was not because of the poor performance of steelworkers, who were working as hard as ever, but with market forces over which they had no control, and they had to rely on others to represent them – or not.

In 1994 John Elkington proffered the term “triple bottom line” for business to reconnect and get more real: people and planet and profits.

Maybe I’ve strayed from my original premise; that being, each day, we can identify with the rhythm of our own nature.  Pragmatism requires we learn to live in the bubbles, somehow, but we don’t have to do this blindly and soullessly.

We’ll need to find daily practices for reconnecting.  Otto Scharmer suggests we find some intentional silence amidst all the noise:

‘Pick a practice that helps you connect to your source.’^^

When we do this, we’re not only being pragmatic, we’re also being subversive.  Again, here’s something from Scharmer who likens the journey we make to the heroic adventure:

‘a call to adventure, crossing the threshold, following the road of trials, making the supreme encounter, and returning with a gift’.^^

Those who say get real about your creativity are more in tune with how things really are than those who say it’s just not possible.

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird.)
(^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(^^From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)