Your output yet to be discovered

Pay attention to that ratio. Double to triple time spent on input vs. output.*
(Austin Kleon)

Always work (note, write) from your own interest, not from what you think you should be noting or writing. Trust your own interest. I have a strong interest, at the moment, in Roman building techniques. … My interest may pass. But for the moment I follow it and enjoy it, not knowing where it will go.**
(Lydia Davis)

Each of us inputs different things in a variety of ways.

Yesterday someone was sharing with me how they needed to walk and connect with nature. Every morning, I enjoy sitting down and working through a number of diverse sources with my journal in front of me and my pen in hand.

I desire to become a better person: to discover, to learn and then to play by trying things out for myself and sharing them with others – this primarily in my one-to-one work.

Lydia Davis encourages following our interests as a starting point, something I’ve been doing for many years now – one thing leading to another.

To do this is to break out of the straightjacket we can find ourselves wearing from inputting the same things or not inputting widely enough. Winston Churchill spoke about how “we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

James Carse writes similarly:

To use the machine for control is to be controlled by the machine. To operate a machine one must operate like a machine. Using a machine to do whatever we cannot do, we find we must do what the machine does.^

So, as I write these words, using my computer, I interact with the keyboard and screen in a repetitive way – I am now part of this machine. I cannot move from here as long as I want to use the machine.

Carse’s words could describe other things, too, including our systems and entertainments, and the very shape and content of our days.

We need to make sure to break out of these so we don’t become old before our time, when we can remain youthful in our discovering until the day we die.

Something amazing happens when we input.

Inside of our imaginations and values and hopes, all of the things we’ve been reading and viewing and practising becomes something else, something more. We remember we are generative beings capable of making new things for one another.

We’re waiting for your output yet to be discovered.

(*From Austin Kleon’s blog: Your output depends on your input.)
(**Lydia Davis, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: Education is not a race, it’s an amble.)
(^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)

The path

The truth of the matter is, true differentiation – sustainable differentiation – is rarely a function of well-roundedness; it is typically a function of lopsidedness. The same can be said of excellence.*
(Youngme Moon)

There are many reasons why you have chosen your path. You knew it wouldn’t be easy and there are many obstacles and challenges, but we need you to keep going.

Yes, change and adapt as you go, but don’t turn aside. You transform the landscape and the lives you walk through.

This is your beauty.

(*From Youngme Moon’s Different.)


[T]he status that comes from the community. […] is the status of respect in return for contribution, for caring, for seeing and being in sync with others. Especially others with no ability to pay you. […] The goal isn’t winning; it’s being part of the group.*
(Seth Godin)

Some can only feel good if they’re higher up the pile, if there are more people below them than above.

Others, though, feel very good by enabling others – which, by its nature, involves ennobling others. The thing is, this person is also ennobling themselves.

How do you see them? The former are probably lowering themselves in your eyes, whilst the latter are most likely lifting themselves up.

We can all be ennoblers.

(*From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)

The decision

Human freedom is not a freedom over nature; it is a freedom to be natural, that is, to answer the spontaneity of nature with our own spontaneity.*
(James Carse)

But extraordinary contribution is rare. It’s when we surprise the system, and perhaps ourselves, by showing up with something unexpected, far beyond the common standard.**
(Seth Godin)

One of the killers of our spontaneity is indecision, trying to be two or more things.

Who are you?

What is your contribution?

Be spontaneous.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: What is extraordinary contribution worth?)

I hadn’t forgotten

Forty years ago when Christine and I were dating, Love is by Kim was the thing. We all have a Love is expression, found where we understand our deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need.

It’s worth remembering how the original stories of St Valentine are about heroic acts, bringing light into the darkness for which he gave everything.

The wonderful life of stories

The conversation had moved on to the matter of authenticity or integrity?

The former being true to who you are, the latter about connection to self, to others and to the world.

Someone contributed, we are not just one person but many people.*

I remarked, this was only a story they were telling themselves, meaning, we use stories to connect all of the complexity – the people we have been in different times, different places with different people – working in the same direction a life worth living.

(*For me, integrity is about connecting to all of these Geoffreys.)

More than pennies

I just had to smile when I originally read Annie Dillard’s telling of how as a child she would hide pennies in the cracks of the pavement.

She’d then hide and watch to see people’s faces when they spotted the coins.

I’ve just been looking for the story but can’t find it – I suspect it’s in An American Childhood.

Never mind, I know Dillard had hidden a “penny” in my mind that I cannot lose, hence the doodle.


There is a risk here of supposing that because we know our lives to have the character of a narrative, we also know what that narrative is. If I were to know the full story of my life I would then have translated it back into explanation.*
(James Carse)

we fall in love with what we already have […] we focus on what we may lose rather than what we may gain**
(Dan Ariely)

The future cannot be measured by what we already know – that would be to try and reverse time.

The future will weigh the present and the past.

We have, then, to try and be open.

Our lives are stories we tell ourselves.

They can be theatrical: scripted and “ready to shoot” – they can also be lost, so be careful.

Other stories are dramatic: unscripted and to be explored – they cannot be lost because we cannot lost what we do not yet have.

The former trap us in our ego – the false self – usually less than we can be.

The latter lead us into eco – our true Self with others and the world.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.)

Certain kinds of attention

A god can create a world only by listening.*
(James Carse)

To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention.**
(Susan Sontag)

Whilst offering examples of people with “skin in the game,” Nassim Taleb tells of an encounter with Susan Sontag in 2001, in which her initial interest in meeting someone who “studies randomness.” On finding out that Taleb was a trader Sontag then announced being “against the market system,” and turned her back on Taleb whilst he was in mid-sentence.^

It turns out we all struggle to listen to people who are not like us.

It’s hard but it’s worth it for the kind of worlds we are able to create together.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**Susan Sontag, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Existential Therapy from the Universe.)
(^Nassim Taleb hopes waiting fifteen or so years after the death of Susan Sontag before telling this story is more respectful.)