i move, therefore i am

21 we just need a plan

‘The purpose of strategy … is not to find the right answer, because you will be wrong anyway.  The purpose of strategy is to move us to act. … You have to think you know what you’re doing while still opening yourself up to serendipity.’*

We want to identify the right path before we do anything.

Just to move is more important; we find we build a path when we do.

Moving means we show up to possibility.  In a random universe, we never know when or where opportunities or possibilities will show up.

For Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid camera, it came in the form of a question from his three year old daughter Jennifer, on a trip to the beach.  Jennifer asked why they couldn’t see the picture Land had just taken and not have to wait.  Land could have ignored the question, but instead he took a step back, suspended the way he saw and understood,  and allowed the question of a three year old to begin a quest – a path he hadn’t been looking for.**  Which brings us to a strategy for moving forward.

‘Humble inquiry maximises my curiosity and interest in the other person and minimises bias and preconceptions about the other person.’**

Whether it be a person or some weak signal of future possibility, asking open questions makes it possible to move, to be open to the randomness.

What’s your question?

(*From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(**This story is told in Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)
(^From Edgar Schein’s Humble Inquiry.)

love and discipline

20 love x discipline =

When you’re expressing a combination of love and self-discipline, what are you doing?

Where would you travel to and who would you meet with to be able to express this?

What makes you train harder and travel further, is likely to come from deep within.

There’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

When people talk about carrots and sticks, theyre usually referring to acting upon others – somehow making others do what they want.  As Mary Poppins would say, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down.”

Just as extrinsic motivation can be sometimes a carrot and sometimes a stick, so intrinsic motivation comes in different forms, though.  There’s motivation from within and motivation from deep within.

‘Whoever must play cannot play.’*

The world isn’t a rational and orderly place, but that’s the kind of choices we try and make.

Deep choices allow us to play, but often appear irrational.

Play is how we live life from the core of our being, made possible by human imagination.

‘[I]f we want to develop a sustainable approach to reaching success we must simultaneously acknowledge the world is random while retaining some sort of rationale in our approach.’**

We need a rationale in order to act, but we’re terrible at using a rationale of randomness – yet the universe is random.

‘I just wanted to do it!  It was an internal drive that I couldn’t ignore.’^

Our best guide is found deep within.  It’s what makes us follow the rabbit, begin an adventure, enter the game.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(^From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.  Guillebeau is referring to his desire to visit every country on the planet before he reached 35 years of age; he found other things happened on the way, too.)

reaching into the random

19 we just don't know

‘We are conditioned to search for similarities, not differences.’*

‘Our futures enter into each other.  What is your future and mind becomes ours.  We prepare each other for surprise.’**

As we reach out into a world and universe of randomness, we try and see patterns and similarities where there are none – maybe trying to find more people like us, comparing this experience with that, and this person with that person.

Nassim Taleb describes a black swan.  First of all we don’t expect it – there was a time when Western hemisphere dwellers thought all stand were white.  So we are deeply impacted by what we didn’t see coming.  Thirdly, when we’ve recovered, we write a back story to explain how we ought to have seen it coming, rationalising or justifying the phenomena – we see patterns where there are none.

It’s really hard to be as open as we need to be in a random universe; our brains want to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know, enabling us to make a speedy judgement – something to do with survival from our ancient past.

In this post, I’m pulling disparate thoughts together from various authors and thinkers I happen to be reading today.  Frans Johansson is writing about randomness, Ed Catmull writes about the hidden, and Chris Guillebeau mentions a book publisher called Random, and I begin to see a pattern.

But there is no pattern, there’s only coincidence.

However, if I’m aware of this, and still pull these different thoughts together into a new idea – realising this is exactly what it is – then I’m expressing something exciting about being human.  We are generative beings.

We create patterns which allow us to play within the universe through the entirety of our lives – we may well be acted upon and respond much of the time, but we also act upon the universe, we initiate.

All of us do this, so it’s surprising that we don’t create an impossible chaos.  But then another incredible human ability kicks in:

‘Our futures enter into each other.  What is your future and mind becomes ours.  We prepare each other for surprise.’**

We play together in order to create bigger patterns or stories within which we are able to live together.  Yuval Noah Harari suggests that humans have created political, national, and religious myths to live in communities larger than 150 members:

‘Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another.’^

I like to think of this as the alchemy made possible by those who know they’re playing an infinite game: inviting as many as possible to play and ensuring the game remains open and running for as long as possible.

Here we are, opening our lives to one another, recognising we are all in the dark about things way more than we’re in the light, together reaching into the random:

‘Accessing your ignorance, or allowing curiosity to lead you, is often the best guide to what to ask about.’^^

(*From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)
(^^From Edgar Schien’s Humble Inquiry.)

i’m here too

18 we are rich 1

“I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me”*

There is wisdom that allows everyone to bring their remarkable contribution.  Too often, however, something gets in the way, like when we compare ourselves with others, or others compare us with someone else.  Why do we have to be like someone else to have anything valuable to bring?

Richard Bachman’s novels weren’t as good as Stephen King’s in the eyes of those selling and buying books – the trouble was that Bachman was King.  It turned out to be the name people were purchasing; King was writing under a pseudonym so he could break out of the culture at the time of only being able to publish one book a year.**

On my favourite Saturday morning radio show, the presenter Danny Baker was asking his listeners if they’d ever been at the front of a queue, and how did they get there?  One of the stories that came in was of a family who’d drive down through the night from Aberdeen to Dover, to be the first in the queue for the ferry.  One year they managed it, only for the ferry to dock poorly so another queue was let on first.  Getting to the front of a queue is a random thing.  All the people at the front of their respective queues got there way more randomly than they know.

I wonder whether we place ourselves better in the universe if we accept randomness, searching for the remarkable everywhere.  How the person who’s number one may not the best, and that kind of thing.

When we see how everyone can bring something special, we open ourselves to possibility, then the world can only be a richer place.

(*Dawna Markova, quote in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer for the 18/5/16.)
(**This story is told in Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)

longer sentences

17 #getcolouring

This morning, I enjoyed blue skies with birds wheeling through the air, heard pigeons cooing and crows crawking.  I am part of this and it is good.

My life now seems so small.  It is passing so quickly and I want it to be enjoyable – which means I must live with creativity and generosity.

These three words – creativity, generosity, enjoyment – emerged for me when my friend Alex asked, What does it mean to be human?  This question also prompts me to name the five elemental truths.  To be human means that life is hard; we are not as special as we think, our lives are not about us, we are not in control, and we are going to die.*

I think of these as half sentences, though, inviting us to complete them.

Life is hard, but together we can make it create something full of meaning, or,

You’re not as special as you think, but you have something rare and beautiful to contribute.

Not so much about “this is how it is,” they’re anchors from which to move into adventures.  Adventures don’t have to take us to the other side of the world, but they do take us out of the ordinary.  Into something challenging and stretching.  (I am realising my challenge to doodle every day, seeing where this goes, is satisfying my love for colour.  And colour is everywhere and in everyone.

It’s time to #getcolouring.

I feel the possibility of things.  Possibility that is wide open and not prescriptive.

‘In infinite play, one chooses to be mortal inasmuch as one always plays dramatically, that is, toward the open, toward the horizon, toward surprise, where nothing can be scripted.’**

We are drama-people, not theatre-people.  Drama is unscripted and open; theatre is the opposite – you know just where it will end.  It’s in the script.

Drama people are tipping point people:

‘[T]he very idea of a tipping point centres on the long term impact of relatively small groups adopting new ideas and behaviours.’^

Such groups know that no one person knows everything, and they honour the hiddenness of things – the result of complexity with all its ifs, buts and maybes.  This is reshaping how we think about leadership: infinite games inviting everyone to contribute.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”^

(*Richard Rohr identifies these five “truths” from male initiation rites from  around the world, in Adam’s Return.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)
(^^Mary Oliver, quoted in Mindfullybeing’s Mindfulness.)

i have something you need

16 what do you mean

That’s a really difficult sentence for me to write.

As an introvert, everything inside of me wants to change this to, “We all have something someone else needs”

At some point, though, we have to believe in the something different and valuable that only we can bring.

Yesterday, in a TEDx event I had the privilege to be a part of, Emma spoke of how she’d come to understand herself to be a “cultured mongrel’ rather than a purist, how others couldn’t understand how she could be this and that; the important thing was that she could.  From this place she is able to make her unique contribution.

Malcolm Gladwell identified three (basic) kinds of people: connectors, mavens, and salespeople.*  I’m the middle person, the one who loves knowledge and making it available whenever and wherever.  Though I sometimes connect, and sometimes sell, I’m a maven most – so I read “company” in the following statement to be the people I meet with.

‘If you are a Knowledge-Seeker, you constantly search for information and experiences to navigate your company in a highly complex business environment.’*

I’m never happier than when I am helping others to make their unique contribution.  For me, wisdom is knowledge working in someone’s life, the result of, and the producer of, love.

Here’s the thing I’d love to hear more about, though:

What is it that you have which others need?

(*See Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.)
(**From Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal’s Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder.)

what’s on your “to do” list?

15 what's the different

“We like lists because we don’t want to die.”*

Another list announces “I’m still here.”

There are day-to-day lists – the paying of bills, the work deadlines, people to get in touch with.

Then there are the lists of the things I want to do in the year: get cycling, read at least forty books, improve my doodling, get to the Academie Gallery in Florence … .

But there’s also the list of different and unexpected things – where we each identify and live our extraordinary dreams, explorers of life beyond the “good enough.”

‘The more prepared you are, the more spontaneous you can be.’**

Identifying the must do before I die thing on the third kind of list, we get to make the rules, figuring out how to do the deep practice.

This list is more hidden, though.  It often needs more time and effort to bring it to the surface.  We’ll often judge it prematurely so we don’t give it a chance of breathing.  But if, for a little while, we can suspend judgement – our ways of seeing and understanding – and allow ourselves to feel this hope or dream, we may just have given ourselves the chance of producing the “art” we most want to bring to life.

(*Umberto Eco, quoted in Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(**From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)


14 why are you smiling

Within a year of Apple bringing out the iPad, sixty four other companies had developed more than one hundred tablets between theml.*

Frans Johansson makes the point:

‘The interconnected universe we are building across cultures, industries, and other barriers makes for a hyperadaptive environment.’* because it’s hidden?

I wonder, though, what do others fail to see because they rush to follow a new trend – what are they rushing past?

There’s something really important about your curiosity, the things only you wonder about, how this makes the invisible visible.  You’re not prepared to follow the crowd, and instead you look where others don’t bother to, to connect where others fail to, seeking out the hidden thoughts, experiences, and, most of all, the unnoticed people, so that what you bring into the world to share is all your own.

You have a great respect for what is hidden; you know that many things will never be known.

(From Fran Johansson’s The Click Moment.)

a listening place

13 find me here

My friend Steve provides a space for people to share their stories; he calls it Time For Yourself With Others.  (Which reminds me, it’s about time we had another one, Steve.)

It’s a simple but brilliant hour, in which someone gets the chance to tell their story to a small group of people, then answering a few questions, and, finally, receives encouragements on postcards from all those who’ve been listening.

In our stories, we are saying, “Find me here.”

Everyone is searching for somewhere they can call home, beyond a building, beyond a town, village or city, and when this home is a listening place, each can tell their story and be supported by those who hear it.

The listening place is where I strain to hear the important things a person’s life is saying to them, the “horizon of possibilities,” as Yuval Noah Harari names it:

‘A ‘horizon of possibilities’ means the entire spectrum of beliefs, practices and experiences that are open before a particular society, given its ecological, technological and cultural limitations.’*

What Harari is seeing for the community, I see for the individual, according to each person’s experiences, talents, passions, curiosities, and relationships.

‘Each society and each individual usually explores only a tiny fraction of their horizon of possibilities.’*

Listening places make it possible for us to explore more.  It offers an infinite game of possibilities made more powerful through a time of askesis, that is, confinement, from which our direction and energy emerges – and who knows what this might be?

Because of this, we can say, each person’s life is incomparable and unprecedented.

(*From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)



12 everyone has grace to share (colour)

I wonder whether most people are who they most want to be, and how many, if given the opportunity, would make or take a change?

Making space for change is one of the most precious things we can give to another.  That a person is not judged or condemned, but given an opportunity to be their higher Self can be one of the most beautiful ways for allowing a life to be open and become.

People of peace are important members of the WE story.  When we come to one another in peace, we are exploring what can be when both or all exist as their highest Self.*  Peace is not only the absence of judgement and conflict, but the presence of hopeful and imaginative possibility.

‘I saw that if we describe revenge, greed, pride, dear, and self-righteousness as the villains – and people as the hope – we will come together to create possibility.’**

None of us want these “villains” to be part of our lives.  Allowing everyone the possibility of evicting their villains is an attitude of the infinite player, who wants as many as possible to play the game for as long as possible – the game is everything, and the game is about you and me becoming more than what we are doing:

‘Finite players play within boundaries, infinite player play with boundaries.’^

I find myself thinking of Michelangelo’s incomplete prisoners or slaves residing in Florence’s Academie Gallery, wrestling to be free from the marble they are being carved from.  And I think of the Christian apostle Paul writing to baby communities of believers in the city of Colossae, encouraging them to wear different clothes, except these clothes are kindness, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

We do not know what we are capable of.  Every day, we are still searching for the best things to wear, our best Self.

(*The Hebrew shalom is richer than the Vulcan “Live long and prosper,” as it contains within it the hope for all we are and have and relate and touch to prosper.)
(**Roz Zander in Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility.)
(From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)