circles of knowing


‘If you must know, let it be flowing and growing.’*

‘Who is your coaching circle – your circles of five or six?’**

Who are those who make it possible for you to know and grow?  Not in some forced way but in the direction of who you are?  Perhaps they’re all in one place, or maybe they’re scattered.

Geography doesn’t define them as much as how they humbly and kindly and caringly challenge – they are not about answers but about questions and possibilities.

What you see on the surface is what lies beneath.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle describes how the simulated pressure of a robot hand can lead someone to think the robot cares – we argue that we gain comfort from other creatures with limitations so why not robots?  We even gain comfort from humans whose true motivation is unknown.

‘For [Aaron Edsinger], creating sociable roots is its own adventure.  The robots of the future will be cute, want to hug, and want to help.  They will work alongside people, aware of their presence and wishes.’^

There is nothing simulated about those who make up a circle of knowing, and there is nothing simulated about the awareness they bring to us.

(*Kerry Hillcoat, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From U.Lab Portobello.)
(^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)

the snatch


The idea won’t go away.

The possibility has snatched her heart and won’t let go, and she has embraced it – not tightly because even as she follows its lead she finds it  grows, morphs, and she allows herself to be abducted by it.

Now she imagines and practices, the first creation followed by the second.   She’s carried over old obstacles.  Her movement is becoming more relaxed, less tight.  More skilled, less by numbers.

She’s imagining the people she needs to connect with.  The universe delights as she relaxes into her story, and lets go of what held her back to to bring two hands around her future.

don’t be a stranger


“I will not live an unlived life … I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me … to loosen my heart’*

‘Splitting is one way we have of getting rid of self-knowledge … ‘I’m not bad, you are.”**

I choose again not to be a stranger to my days, that is, to myself and to possibility.

I’ve sometimes been accused of things I’ve thought to be more about my accuser than me – projecting onto me something they can’t face in themselves.  This is negative splitting but I wonder whether there’s positive splitting, too, meaning we can be strangers to really good things in our lives.

These lie hidden within our lives, waiting to be discovered, turning this part of me and you from a stranger into a friend.

‘Mindfulness is widely understood and described as the state of being more conscious about yourself, your surroundings and those you interact with.’^

The way of life in all its fullness is a movement from being a stranger to being a friend.

(*Dawna Markova, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life.)
(^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)


what comes next?


‘How can you pull people together from across different systems in order to do something inspiring, fun, and meaningful?’*

‘The individual buyer of the transformation essentially says, “Change me.”‘**

‘How we treat others is the only proof of truth we have.’^

There is insurance – if something goes wrong (with your home, your health, your travelling, your equipment, your insurance even) you’ll be covered.

There is assurance – you can be confident the cover will come through no matter what.

There is ensurance – let’s try and make sure you don’t need the insurance.

When it comes to the future, we get to be in the ensurance business, hoping the future into existence with foresight, intention, and love.

The future will not be about covering up people’s differences but uncovering them, as Rohit Bhargava says, ‘Everyone wants to be noticed, recognised, and celebrated.’^  I know my celebration goes up as my gratitude increases and I can’t be grateful for someone vaguely – I can be grateful specifically.

The gifts or contributions emerging from our uncovered diversity will make a significant difference, moving beyond whether there’s some economic benefit or not for ‘through them society emerges were there was none before’.**

‘Creating a space colaboratively is the best recipe for creating a collaborative space.’*^

(*From U.Lab Portobello.   Check out this earlier post to find out a little more about U.Lab and Theory U.)
(**From Joseph Pine and James Gilmore’s The Experience Economy.)
(From Frank Schaeffer’s Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God.)
(^Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)
(^^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(*^From Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft’s Make Space.)


the familiar and the new


‘Learning to predict the future has an even more predictable side effect: you will become more curious, observant, and understanding of the world around you.’*

‘Competence is the enemy of change.’**

The small group had come together to explore mindful doodling, the text for doodling to being: “We find ourselves in the familiar and the new.”

Humans are a future-orientated species.

Each day brings the familiar but we know this alone is not enough for us to grow and develop.  We also need the new or different.

The next U.Lab question to ponder is: ‘While participating in U.Lab, what seed of the future (intention) did you become aware of?’^

Four things come to mind about the future:

We’ll move from competence to incompetence insomuch as we’ll increasingly pursue our curiosities and passions out of the familiar and into the new and unknown.

We’ll become more engaged in what we do, not only with our minds but also with our hearts.

We’ll more accurately understand our flaws and weaknesses – not excusing ourselves but using our knowledge to grow – not an extension of human ability through technology but through honour and nobility and enlightenment:

‘Humankind has first to accept its own weakness and propensity to make a mess of things; if people really take to heart the fault lines in themselves, the perfect machine will seem less a commanding remedy; indeed, we will actively seek a remedy to it.’

We’ll move from the ego to the eco: despite the disconnections we’ve witnessed in 2016, we will embrace connection and see the forming of esemplastic communities embodying imagination, collaboration, and invention.

If we like the look of this such a future will only exist if we make it.

(*From Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)
(**From Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?)
(^From U.Lab Portobello. Check out this earlier post to find out a little more about U.Lab and Theory U.)

feelings, nothing more than feelings


‘While participating in U.Lab, what has touched you and why?’*

Feelings matter more to us than we know.  We say, “This is what we think,” when really it’s what we feel taking control, and when feelings go unnoticed they can mislead us.

‘It’s the norm for most of us to run on emotion throughout the day, and there is nothing wrong with this.’**

‘When we say that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,’ we are usually speaking of things that ‘come alive’; when their elements are integrated into one another.’^

When our thinking and our feeling come together something powerful happens.

I open my mind to there being far more than I understand and know but I don’t stop there.  I go further, noticing how I feel about these things.  What energises me?  What does the exact opposite? Which feelings grow when I notice them and which wain?

An elegant life emerges from bringing heart and mind, feeling and thinking, together.  They allow us to add more, develop more, become more, do more.

(*From U.Lab Portobello.  Check out this earlier post to find out a little more about U.Lab and Theory U.)
(**From Steve Peters’s The Chimp Paradox.)
(^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

more and less


‘While participating in U.Lab, what has been your most important insight about yourself?*

Haven’t we done enough thinking about ourselves?  Isn’t the more hopeful thing to begin thinking about others?

It’s not about thinking about ourselves or others, it’s about how we think about ourselves.

A deeper reflection will not only take us to a truer understanding of ourselves – we are less than who we think we are and more than we know – but will also take us to others in their uniqueness and worth.

To move towards others, I need to give up the poorer ideas I have about myself – who I am, what I have, and what I can do.

When we become people who not only act and experience but also reflect on these actions and experiences then we have created a pause.  But it is only a pause before we do what we must do.

‘After blending, the Scotch is returned to oak casks, where the flavour improves, becoming smoother and creamier with a longer, lingering finish.’**

This is the process of double-aging: blending whiskies then maturing for longer.  Whilst they’ve matured on their own, something very special happens when they are blended and aged again.

It’s a picture of what happens when we bring our best personal insights and share with others.

(*From U.Lab Portobello.  Check out yesterday’s post for more on U.Lab.)
(** Sally Rasmussen in 1001 Whiskies You Must Try Before You Die.)



‘While participating in U.Lab, what has been the most important insight?’*

U.Lab  is a massive open-online course that encourages people to find each other locally and learn and imagine together, seeking to be aware of and present to the emerging future for business, society, and self.  (There’ll be another U.Lab opportunity next back end and it’s free.**)

One of the things I’ve personally benefitted from is being able to further develop a daily practice of opening my mind, heart, and will.

Author of Source Joseph Jaworski proffers three practices for being open to the emerging future: wake every day with your deep intention or purpose in life (by journaling or similar), stay connected throughout the day to your deep intention,  and, sense and seize opportunities as they offer themselves.

These three things hold infinite possibility including: reminding me there are so many things that I don’t know but others do, there are things I must walk away from in order to do what I must do, and there will be many opportunities in a day to express this in some way for others.

(If you are interested in finding out a little more about what this looks like as “A Theory of You (U!)”, let me know.^)

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**Check out Seth Godin’s post which has something to say about why this can be a world changer.)
(^How U.Lab and Theory U can be used as a means of personal transformation.)

thanks for sharing that


‘What do you need to let go of?’*

‘Scarcity appears when wealth cannot flow.’**

In the beginning there was information.

As I turn my attention to information, asking ever deeper questions, it becomes knowledge.

And as I explore my relationship with this knowledge and try it on then I find it turns into understanding.

As I live in my growing understanding day by day towards others, towards my world, towards myself, perhaps it will morph into wisdom?

An abundance we can only grow together.

But first I must let go of the notion that I know all I need to know.

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

monuments and footprints


‘What do you want to bring into being?’*

‘A monument only says, ‘At least I got this far,’ while a footprint says, ‘This is where I was when I moved on.”**

‘Live the questions now.’^

When distilleries manager Chris Anderson retired after forty years, Dewar’s marked the moment back in 2010 with 248 bottles of whisky drawn from one eighteen year old cask.  I love this story of how the distillery marked this man’s service.  Chris received the first bottle drawn and I wonder whether he still has it, or if he opened it for his family and friends to celebrate?

What would you say you want to bring into being?  Monument or footprint?

I have a sense that my want lies in a question and not in an answer.  A question is about staying as open as possible to as much as possible for as long as possible.  A question lies between the inside of who we are and the outside of our environment and world of people and things and beliefs and the natural world.

This is my want: to bring my gift, and to help others bring theirs.  But this bringing is slow and full of questions and is a footprint.

‘The gift leaves all boundary and circles into mystery.’^^

(*From U.Lab Portobello.)
(**From Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.)
(^Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)

(^^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)