‘Be clear with yourself before you spend a [penny] on a minute with a designer.’*
Look at who you are, look around at what you have. What is it you want to do with all this wonder and abundance?
It can be difficult.
We see the talents and passions and value the experiences of our lives, and we see all at our disposal, but the usual storylines with which we live don’t really help us. I’ve just been listening to a radio conversation looking at the impact of technology on the kinds and number of jobs, and how this means we have to reimagine education. New machines and wares but same old idea that education is for fitting us in rather than breaking us out.
Erich Fromm spotted this way back in the 1950s and he wrote:
‘Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, his fellow men and from nature.’**
When Tom Hodgkinson contemplates the business of the Idler, which he began with his partner Victoria Hull, he seems to have been exploring another storyline:
‘Our whole business at the Idler is based on the old Greek idea of the symposium, a drinking party with wine at which serious and lightweight matters were discussed.
everything we do must be beautiful or useful, or both.’^
It feels as if the beautiful and useful has discovered some space within the larger story Fromm is most concerned about; the psychoanalyst continues:
‘His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his “personality package” with others who are intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except to consume.’**
The early Jesuit novitiate would spend thirty days in solitude identifying what it was he had to do with the rest of his life; he would then pursue this with ingenuity, love and courage.^^
What can we do to find this life that is both beautiful and useful?
We need to begin my noticing moments. Dan and Chip Heath have written an entire book on the power of moments:
‘Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled.
The more you can multiply them, the better. The point we’re emphasising here is that certain circumstances demand attention.’*^
Picking up on Fromm’s mentioning energy, this is not about making ourselves a commodity but noticing when our energy is high: what we are doing, why we are doing it, who we are doing it with or for, and when we are doing it (as in, are we starting something, finishing something …).
Notice these things and then make more of them happen.
What we are discovering is clarity, what Otto Scharmer describes as “crystallising intent.”^*
(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Working with a designer (four paths).)
(**From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^From Tom Hodgkinson’s Business for Bohemians.)
(^^See Chris Lowney’s Heroic Leadership.)
(*^From Chip and Dan heath’s The Power of Moments.)
(^*See Otto Scharmer’s Theory U and Leading from the Emerging Future.)