Never say never

The goal isn’t just to deliver the information – it’s to capture the imagination.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

The people who keep going when something threatens to stop them are those who have bigger stories to connect to beyond the information of their present predicament, enabling them to bring their imagination to bear on the resent reality.

These stories are not fixed but unfolding, they not only involve flourishing for one’s self but for others too.  In this, they’re infinite in nature, including others for as long as possible, and, when the rules become recalcitrant, finding better ones.

(*From The Story of Telling: What the Best Communicators Do.)

It’s tempting

Thank you for allowing me to be a human being.*
(St Clare of Assisi)

One cannot know the rivers till one has seen them at their sources; but this journey to the sources must not be taken lightly.**
(Nan Shepherd)

Nan Shepherd was describing actual rivers in the Cairngorms but I snatch her words for human lives, how we must go to the sources of our lives to understand them, to be the people we can be and want to be.

These journeys are hard; there are many temptations to face on the way.

Temptations not to begin to look more closely, or to give up when it becomes demanding, to switch the journey for an easier one, to end up thinking too much of ourselves, or too little.

To make these journeys, though, is what it is to be human.

(*St Clare of Assisi, quoted in Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(**From Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain.)

Help me to see (people who see in the dark)

At least it feels like this.  People who seem to be seeing clearly in what appears as darkness to us.

In our universe, humans are only able to use around 5% of existing light without technology.

It’s a reminder for me that in the human family, we need each other to be able to see more than 5% of what there is to see.

What this also means is that we can see what others can’t.

Though this can can feel so mundane and ordinary that we underestimate how powerful our seeing is, thinking everyone must be able to see what we see.

Perhaps they can’t.

Perhaps the thing to do is to hone what you can see with what others see.  Those who do this chose a powerful way:

‘They see with their mind’s eye a different future.’*

( *From Seth Godin’s blog: Make an impossible dream a future reality.)


Energy for what?

We sell ourselves short when we argue that there’s something magical about creative work, something that can only happen if we’re born to do it.*
(Seth Godin)

Energy produces talent.  Energy to keep going, wrapping hours of practice around some passionate curiosity.  There’s nothing magical about it, but it can be the closest thing to alchemy you can know, the thing that will only exist if you make it so.

There’ll always be energy to do this, if you want it.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Born to paint?)

Wholeheartedness is not a title

It’s the work we quietly get on with when no one is watching that makes people care to connect.  Visibility alone won’t get us to where we want to go.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

Titles […] point backward in time.  They have their origin in an unrepeatable past.  Titles are theatrical.  Each title has a ceremonial form of behaviour.**
(James Carse)

The wholehearted way is one we walk when no-one else is looking, doing hat matters most because we are denying ourselves if we err.

In these days of social media where someone can be “followed” by millions, we can be tempted to think that numbers equate to meaning.  What we need more than anything else, though, is for you to keep working at your wholeheartedness, at what will make a real difference in the world, that opens the future:

‘The only essential is this: the gift must always move.’^

(*From The Story of Telling: Building a Following.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)

A shock to the system

But extraordinary contribution is rare.  It’s when we surprise the system, and perhaps ourselves, by showing up with something unexpected, fart beyond the common standard. […] Extraordinary contribution changes no just the recipient but the giver as well.*
(Seth Godin)

Pain and joy, belief and unbelief, agony and ecstasy go together.

When something really good comes along, it is likely that it not only changes things for those who are open to it but has already radically altered the person bringing it.

It’s what makes life life.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: What is extraordinary contribution worth?)


Personalisation is telling one another a bit of our story of who we really are, where we have come from, and where we are going. […] Personalisation is a process that can only occur in degrees, and it can become dangerous.*
(Ed Schein)

In a world where data is king, it’s more important than ever to remember that what we measure becomes the thing we’re compelled to act on.**
(Bernadette Jiwa)

We see many things up close in each other that we could not see from a distance.  It’s like noise and signals.  There’s a lot of noise but the noise is unimportant,.  The signals, though, are what our lives really are, the stories of who we are, how we got here, where we hope to go.  We take the risk of being known and knowing because no-one is perfect and at the same time are pretty amazing.

(*From Edgar Schein’s Humble Consulting.)
(**From The Story of Telling: We Value What We Measure.)


But email, in my view, also contributes to the haste, he thoughtlessness, and the artificial urgency that increasingly characterise the world. […] We are suffocating ourselves.  We are undercutting out contemplative powers.  We could even be, ironically, impeding progress. […] Modern technology is racing forward with little examination or control.*
(Alan Lightman)

You might not need more exposure to the new.  Instead you might pay to see what’s already around you.**
(Seth Godin)

Anxiety is on the up, the dis-ease, some say, that will characterise the 21st century.

Once upon a time, people would worry about sowing their crops and whether someone – some bandit or invading army – would come along and take the crop for themselves.  Peace was to be able to enjoy the fruit of their own labours, to sit beneath their vines and fig trees.

Most of us in the West today don’t have to worry about such things and yet our anxieties remains and, we’re told, are increasing.

Rebecca Solnit writes about how the Industrial Revolution broke up families as it institutionalised and fragmented labour, and even our leisure activities can be industrial:

‘the gym is now doing the same thing, often in the same place, for leisure.’^

We have industrial spaces for getting fitter faster and further with machines that take us beyond who we presently physically are, away from the sunshine, fresh air, natural surroundings with all its diversity that we used to think of as being good for us:

‘Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls. […] Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?  Tell me, have you these in your houses?’^^

Solnit’s observations help us to see that was has been happening to us has been happening for some time.

It’s not something we’ve recently invented with our latest technologies: social media and communications that make it possible to be tethered everywhere and at all times,  bending the human body and lifestyle to suit it rather than the other way around – yet possibly most dangerous because of its incredible speed and growth.

We’ve lost much more than the outside world, though.  We’ve also lost the inside world with the kinds of disciples, rituals, patterns and habits that allowed us to know both ourselves and what we can do and to feel as though we can develop these.

We feel rushed along by the technology – what Alan Lightman points to in his remark about our inability to examine or control – so we say we have no time for these things that may allow us to connect what is disconnected in our lives.  Technology is insidious; it is so much a part of our lives that it is hard to know where it begins and ends when it comes to being invisible and controlling our lives

Slow habits and practices allow us to develop an important counterweight so we may become who and what we are at our best: contemplating creatures:

‘Deep down you desire the freedom to live the life you would love.’*^

At the moment, I’m working on an idea that might be the beginning of the counterweight we need to bring to the digital life.  If you would like to know more about this in the form of an online course – one way technology can be brilliant – then drop me a line at

(*From Alan Lightman’s Dance for Two.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: What do you see?)
(^From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)
(^^From Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet.)
(*^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)


Big gods and small stages

Big truth must be presented on small stages for humans to get it.*
(Richard Rohr)

The “gods” know nothing,
they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations for the earth are
(Psalm 82:5)

Though we perhaps do not think of ourselves as gods yet we can act as though we are … when we see how far we have come, when we take stock of all that we have, when we compare ourselves with others.

Denis Diderot and his companions wanted to record the dignity and worth of people of all rank and skill:

‘In the Encyclopedia, Diderot and his colleagues celebrated the vitality rather than dwelled on the suffering of those deemed socially inferior.  Vigour was the point: the encyclopedistes wanted ordinary workers to be admired, not pitied.’^

In so doing, they were perhaps opening themselves to becoming more human, to join passions in some encyclopaedic way is to become compassionate:

‘A great being stays with what she loves; she’s patient, she forgives, and she allows what she loves to develop.  She overlooks its mistakes, and in this sense she suffers for and with reality.  This is the deepest meaning of passion: patior is the Latin verb meaning to suffer or to undergo reality as opposed to controlling it.’*

Which sounds more godlike.

(*From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(**From Psalm 82.)
(^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)