meaningful work


Or, following our golden phizzwizards rather than trogglehumpers.

Meaningful work resonates with who we are and what we can do; it also resonates with others, making a difference.  Doing work for as much pay as we can get, acquiring and possessing things is often an exchange of Plan A for Plan B.  It’s not that we do not believe in meaningful work but we don’t think it’s possible for people like us to find it.

I have sat with enough grieving families to know the measure of a loved one is not in how much they acquired but the quality of their relationships:

“We have forgotten our collective ends, and we possess great means: we set huge machines in motion in order to arrive nowhere.”*

‘The character of our work is shaped not by accomplishments or possessions but in the birth of relationships’.**

When it comes to developing their businesses as places for more =meaningful work, it costs virtually nothing for this quality to be increased in our workplaces: for companies to engage the heads and hearts as well as the hands of employees, and as we as the wallets of customers.

“From now on, we is keeping as still as windy little micies.”^

The best way is not to wait for someone to invite us to do some meaningful work but to begin exploring and employing ourselves in what is meaningful for us.

Find your dreamwhisperer: someone who will listen very carefully for the whispers of your life – golden phizzwizards – and also for the things you need to avoid or let go of – trogglehumpers.^  Create your story or plan for including these meaningful things in every day – whether this is in your workplace or when you’re at home or both.  Experiment or prototype every day.

Of dreams, the BFG says, ‘They is always invisible until they is captured.’^

(*Jacques Ellul, quoted in Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.)
(**From Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.)
(^From Roald Dahl’s The BFG.)

we is in dream country


‘What initiative, if taken on jointly, could help shift the field of your system to 4.0?’*

‘So transformations cannot be extracted, made, delivered, or even staged; they can only be guided.’**

4.0 means everyone is involved, contributing, leadership shifting like the exchanging lead in the V-formation of geese.  4.0 is a connection to others, to the future, to the world, and to the Self.

And transformation comes from within, beginning with a dream.

“This is where all dreams is beginning.”^

Dreaming allows us to move beyond our present competence and makes a fool of rote obedience, imagining who we can be and what we can do that is more than we can do today.

Whilst dreams come from within, we often need a place for those dreams to be heard and to grow.   And there’s no better place then a group comprised of those who have followed their own curiosities and interests, developed skills and turned these into daily practices. Such “Dream Collectives” are beginning to form and make space for others to explore their aspirations and begin their own journeys.

Above all, they know ‘we shall lose that life which remains unarticulated.’^^

(*This is the last of sixteen questions from U. Lab Portobello explored since the 10th November.)
(**From Joseph Pine and James Gilmore’s The Experience Economy.)
(^The BFG in The BFG.)
(^^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

fill the empty space


‘How might these observations relate to the institutional transformations (inversions) around you?’*

‘The first step to acting like an entrepreneur is to look not at the writing on the wall but at the spaces between the writing.’**

We are each curious in a different way, everyone interested in different things. We may see things others do not.  More likely we will think differently about what we all see.

Don’t get hung up on whether you are or are not an entrepreneur.  Your curiosity and interest means you can be entrepreneurial.  There is so much for you to yet explore, the empty space between what others are doing.

This is where the future will shaped – by companies, organisations, and tribes, and sometimes individuals.  This is about exploring abundance more than fighting over scarcity. And we can all begin today:

‘The greatest gift you can give a person is to see who she is and to reflect that back to her, when we help people to be who they want to be, to take back some of the permission they deny themselves, we are doing our best, most meaningful work.’^

(*From U.Lab Portobello.  This follows the question: ‘Try to summarise an observation on your opening over the past weeks.’  My observation was that significant things emerge from our listening to the experience of others, always exploring, and how we’re intelligent together **)
(**From Linda Rottenberg’s Crazy is a Compliment.)
(^From Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)

enter into my joy


I’ve previously shared about when my friend Alex asked me what it meant to me to be Human.  How I went away to think on this some more. How it took me a couple of weeks to respond. Then – ta-dah:

To be human is to live with creativity, generosity, enjoyment.

What is your response? There are as many great responses as there are people.  Enjoy the question.

‘Joy is the product of abundance; it is the overflow of vitality.  It is life working together harmoniously.  It is exuberance. … We cannot make ourselves joyful.  Joy cannot be commanded, purchased, or arranged.’*

Such joy is not without difficulty, sacrifice, and pain; indeed, it can be more exquisite and nuanced when more has been overcome.

Joy can be the treasure at the end of an adventure.  Celebration is what takes place when something we’ve done ends well, it becomes a “party” we can invite others into.

Journey into your creativity, experiment with generosity, and bring your joy to others.

(*From Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.)



Not you.

If life is like a game of Snakes and Ladders, you’ve figured out that it’s not about the fate of the die thrown but about your choices.

When it it comes to exploring upwards this life in all its fullness you have determined to avoid the snake of early judgement – instead, you hone the skill of suspending what you know in order to discover more.

You’ve also become sensitive to the snake of cynicism – noticing when it’s begun to coil itself around your heart, forcing yourself to keep your heart open towards others rather than turning away.

And you you have grown wise in avoiding the snake of fear – knowing that keeping moving requires small steps rather than mighty leaps.

snozzcumbers, explorers, and communion


‘”Nothing is growing except for one icky-poo vegetable.  It is called the snozzcumber.”  “The snozzcumber!” cried Sophie.  “There’s no such thing.”‘*

‘Try to summarise an observation on your opening over the past weeks.’**

Of snozzcumbers: Sophie found out something new as she listened to the BFG’s experience of the foul-tasting vegetable.

Of explorers: There is a universe of wisdom to be discovered and we’re all explorers:

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

Of communion: We need more than just our thoughts to be intelligent and we need each other to be wise:

‘For Antonio Damansio, all thinking and all emotion is embodied.’^^

“These are people who see a domain but not the path.  The fact that the path is not clearly defined is what excites them.”*^

In the room together more than online, where conversations with purpose and playfulness take place, a universe of possibilities opens.

Communion is to integrity and wholeness and possibility – that is, connection to others and all things – as confession is to humility and gratitude and faithfulness.

(*From Roald Dahl’s The BFG.)
(**From U.Lab Portobello, building on this question: Where do you feel the crack (opening) to a field of the future?)
(^From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(^^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(*^John Hagel, quoted in Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)

this is my song


‘Where do you feel the crack (opening) to a field of the future?’*

‘”I is a dream-blowing giant.” … “A dream,” he said, “as it goes whiffling through the night air, is making a tiny little buzzing-humming noise.  But this little buzzy-hum is so silvery soft, it is impossible for a human bean to be hearing it. … Every morning I is going out and snatching new dreams to put in my bottles.”‘**

For some forty years, I’ve been trying to make to sense of some words about my new song.  I’ve held on to them because I have a feeling they are important to me but am not sure how.  As I listen for whispers at the beginning of the day, I hear my song in a children’s story – of all places.  This is a personal reflection but it’s also about you, because I’m a dreamwhisperer, listening for the “secret whisperings of the world”** in your life, listening for the crack, the opening, the thin|silence.

I share these whisperings, wondering what you’ll make of them, may do with them – these tiniest, most vulnerable possibilities of your future.

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**From Roald Dahl’s The BFG.)

three days of possibility


‘When the poet is in [her] gifted states, the world seems generous, exhaling odours and aura toward [her].’*

She assumes a basic position for mindful wandering.  Seated with both feet on the floor, connecting with the earth from which she comes.  Head raised, in the “heavens,” wondering where she might go.  Hands open, relaxed on her lap, prepared to receive what comes.  Breathing slowly and deeply.

‘What are the most important next steps?  Your action items for the next three days?’**

What will she do with three days of possibility, three days to follow her heart’s desire?

First of all, she clears her diary of all the things she’s got planned, enabling her to ponder the things her life is telling her she MUST do.

‘Massively up the amount of novelty in your life; the research suggests that new environments and experiences are often  the jumping off point for new ideas (more opportunities for pattern recognition).’^

These three days are about connecting to her story and her awareness of possibility.

Next, she returns all the things into her diary she’d taken out, knowing her story and its possibilities will still be there.

We don’t need anything more to be who we are: our head may say we do but our heart says “I have enough.”

Sophie tells the Big Friendly Giant, there’re all kinds of rules the children in her orphanage have to obey “like getting out of bed at night, or not folding up your clothes,” or “you get punished.”^^

And there are many rules we’ve made up or have accepted from others: “People like me can never do what our heart’s desire” and “We have to wait to be picked.”   These three days help us to let go of them.  The universe is more generous, its primal laws more inviting:

“To me the converging objects of the universe flow.  All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.”*^

(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**From U.Lab Portobello.)
(^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(^^From Roald Dahl’s The BFG.)
(*^Walt Whitman, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

beauty and truth


Can we have one without the other?

‘How do you balance beauty and truth in your work?’*

They are not mutually exclusive.

Truth offers beauty.  Beauty produces truth.

This kind of magic to occurs best in your life and mine.  Not that we’re born with it.  It comes rom our journeying out from ourselves, towards others, towards the universe.  We all have truth to bring.  We all have beauty to bring.

Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Nathan Jessup shouts down Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth.”  But truth is what we are uniquely shaped to seek and to handle in this universe.

Truth has set us free.  But truth without beauty has led us to some ugly places.

“Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me, if I could not now and always send sunrise out of me.”**

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**Walt Whitman, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

on your mark


What are you going to do today?

It’s not Go yet.  It’s not even Set.

‘What practices (moments of stillness) do you use to connect to Source?’*

‘Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery it is.”**

Each of us trailblazes something.  It doesn’t have to be big – this is a lie we swallow from our culture.  It is unique, though, our fingerprint on the earth.  Don’t rush into the day without valuing it.

We must reconnect to our Source, our muse, our god at the beginning of the day.  Perhaps this time on our own is what we will find hardest of all, as Linda Rottenberg reflects on how ‘millenials need to be connected to others at all times’^

What makes us fully alive is where the really interesting stuff begins.

It’s how we’re successful in making a difference for others.  It flows through us intuitively.  We grow when we do this.  And it feeds a need in us.

‘A halfman is not someone who does not have an opinion, just someone who does not take risks for it.’^^

Now you’re Set

Time to Go.

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**Frederick Buechner, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(^From Linda Rottenberg’s Crazy is a Compliment.)
(^^From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)