The more entrenched a system of measurement, the more difficult it is for a deviant, an outlier, or even an experimenter to emerge.
(Youngme Moon)

It sometimes happens […] that the spoilsports in their turn make a community with rules of its own.
(Johan Huizinga)

Knowledge is what we know and are always adding to.

Belief is how we store and use the knowledge that is most important to us.

Sometimes knowledge and belief are not enough.

Sometimes we must take a leap that only faith can make possible.

Eventually, leapers may spoil the original game, but they often lead us to a game that matters for more people.

Firstly, they must enter or create a liminal space in which they begin to form a communitas of people around the new thing for which there is no measurement.

*From Youngme Moon’s Different.
**From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.

Weak is the new strong

Genuine self-esteem is soft and open to our own flaws; the kind built on pretence is rigid, defended, and rejecting of self-honesty. The difference is fusion with our conceptualised self-stories.*
(Steven Hayes)

It is ironic that you must go to the edge to find the centre.**
(Richard Rohr)

We long for belonging and connection, and as a result can create stories for ourselves that we believe will bring us this.

Some are stories of dependence, some are stories of independence.

The best stories are of interdependence.

Honesty about who we are allows for connection to take place with others, with our world with ourselves, and, if we have a god, with god.

This story involves us walking from the centre of our lives to the edge, defusing from the story we have been telling ourselves – reality is bigger than we allow.

From the edge, we gain greater perspective and see not only the truth of who we are more clearly, but also the truth of others, our world and god. This includes a great deal of many things, including the wonder and beauty of our lives.

When we each make this journey – which is part of what it is to be human – then others helps us to see ourselves with greater clarity, with a greater perspective:

As you emerge from behind your eyes, you begin to see behind the eyes of others.*

Steven Hawes imagines this to be a place of greater consciousness, a transcendence to which we are connecting and in which we are belonging.

It is a hard journey, though, as Tania Luna readily admits and also offers the reason why it’s worth it:

We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.^

It’s okay to need others and to be needed, to not have all the answers, to fail, to struggle – it’s human.

*From Steve Hayes’ A Liberated Mind.
**From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.
^Tania Luna, quoted in Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments.

Remember, you’re invited to some Mindful Doodling on Thursday, 4th February (2pm, UK time).

Previously owned

Leaders make art and artists lead.*
(Seth Godin)

Whoever the leaders are (I’m using leader in the widest sense), whatever their fields of interest and expertise, they have borrowed from others the “materials” for their “art.”

The best know they must not allow the limits of their worldview to get in the way of what may be out there to be explored:

A worldview is the shortcut, the lens each of us uses when we see the world. It’s our assumptions and biases and yes, stereotypes about the world around us.**

They move to the edge of their worldview, opening their minds to others: opening their hearts, they step outside into the worlds of others; and they create new and improved worldviews when they open their will and make their art.

Rohit Bhargava adds further nuance to this journey via his lens of curation – we must be: curious, dislodging ourselves from the centre of our worldview, observant as we look out into the larger world of others, fickle as we gather as many ideas as possible rather than being fixated on the few, thoughtful as we consider what the new-to-us means for others and can mean for us, and, elegant as we make something new and beautiful.^

Life calls us to this journey every day, giving us incredible energies to employ:

What counts is not so much whether a person actually achieves what she set out to do; rather it matters whether effort has been expended to reach the goal, instead of being diffused or wasted.^^

Mihály Csikszentmihalyi is helping us to see something about our lives from another perspective, continuing:

The meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life.^^

We are all creators of meaning and as we live towards this meaning, the “art” we produce will also become the materials useful for others around us and who follow towards the making of their art.

*From Seth Godin’s The Practice.
**From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.
^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2019.
^^From Mihály Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)

If you’re free next Thursday (4th February), it would be great to see you at Mindful Doodling.

Different emphases

Emphasis 1: You MADE that!? – all your talents and energies and, possibly, values are wrapped up in this process.

Emphasis 2: You made THAT!? – the product you have delivered or shipped or contributed.

Emphasis 3: YOU made that!? – the irreplaceable and unrepeated you who has not sold your soul in the your product and is always leaping forward to something new and different.

Emphasis 4: YOU MADE THAT!? – when everything lines up; the imaginative and hopeful you in your sweet spot producing and delivering what only you can.

Mindful Doodling

I’m offering a free-to-join Mindful Doodling Session on Thursday, 4th February (2-3pm, UK time).

I’ve mentioned mindful doodling in some of my posts and I thought you might like to try some for yourself.

It’s basically going to be an opportunity to slow down and relax for an hour, bringing a little illustration into the day.

Doodling is for everyone, a kind practice of drawing without judgement. Everyone can do this and the world could do with more pictures and less words.

I’ve tried to time it for different parts of the world. All you need to do is grab some plain white paper and black pens and follow the following link:

Topic: mindful doodling
Time: Feb 4, 2021 02:00-03:00 PM (Edinburgh, UK)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 832 4040 0024
Passcode: mH1xk17E

Embracing flexibility

In our own search for beauty and what is good in life, we could do well to head outside and wander around.*
(Ryan Holiday)

In a few moments, I’m going to step outside.

It’s a driech day. Very foggy, damp, temperature just above freezing. There’s more than enough work to stay inside for and get on with, but I know I need to move, moving physically helps me to move mentally, emotionally and spiritually, too.

I’ll be back soon.

I am becoming rather than become. Rigidity is my foe, flexibility my friend. Maria Popova offers these words which feel full of flexibility:

I walk the ferned, mossed woods daily to lose my self and find myself between the trees; […] to let the rustling of the leaves beckon forth the stirrings and murmurings on the edge of the psyche, which we so often brush away in order to go on being the smaller version of ourselves we have grown accustomed to being out of the unfaced fear that the grandeur of life, the grandeur of our own untrammelled nature, might require of us more than we are ready to give.**

I know that I am susceptible, even prone, to shrinkage. I must replenish regularly for who I am and what I must do to grow, staying flexible and avoiding rigidity.

Popova is introducing David Whyte’s poem “Sometimes.” I found the words leading me into a special place as I listened to them:

if you move carefully
through the forest,
like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
you come to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,
that can make
or unmake
a life,
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.**

Included in Popova’s blog there’s also a link to a commentary from Whyte on the poem, including these words which struck me forcibly as I listened:

A life sincerely followed is always surprising and always leads you into places you did not feel you could either enter or that you could deserve. And part of the ability to hold the silence as we move and as we tiptoe or walk or take our pilgrim path from one epoch of our lives to another is our ability to not name things too early and to allow yourself to be surprised as to where you’ve arrived.^

We are being invited to bring flexible attention as Steven Hawes would name it:

Processes of rigid attention show up as ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, or mindlessly disappearing into our current experience the way teenagers disappear into video games.^^

Rigidity cannot hold the silence of our becoming – the sense of this is all we can be, a hiding from the “grandeur of our own untrammelled nature.” Only flexibility can be present in the moment, hesitating in naming things too soon and be open the possibility of surprise, something I have found myself holding in the phrase “slow journeys in the same direction.”

There is more to all of us than we know.

(*From Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)
(**From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Sometimes.)
(^David Whyte from Brain Picker’s David White Reads “Sometimes.”)
(^^From Steven Hawes’ A Liberated Mind.)

You’re muted!

Living with our strength in the world requires far more of us than distraction, avoidance, and indulgence. If you want to find peace of mind and purpose, you will have to let go of finding a way out and instead pivot toward finding a way in.*
(Steven Hayes)

My guess is that if you’ve found yourself in a Zoom or Teams call over this past year at some point the person or persons at the other end will have had to let you know “your muted!”

My bad! – self-muting.

But muting was a thing before Zoom or Teams came our way and Steven Hayes throws up three ways we can do this.

We avoid and don’t go near or acknowledge the most difficult things; or we distract, busying ourselves with something else, or we indulge, finding something that gives us comfort. Yet our strength comes through facing these.

They are a part of us, and what is meaningful and purposeful and satisfying for us may be tied in with them.

My own experience was that when I turned towards my pain it wasn’t what I thought it was, and in facing it – I still must – I grew stronger.

We find our true voice when we embrace our pain and difficult circumstances.

(*From Steven Hayes’ A Liberated Mind.)

Up imagination

Like with everything else, Covid-19 is very good at finding the weak spots in our game, and zapping them with painful, laser-like precision.*
(Hugh Macleod)

Partly winter and partly Covid-19, I’m noticing that getting up in the morning can take me a little longer. I’m just glad for the process of habits and behaviours that I can slip into that help me to get to the place I want and need to be, but I’ll be upping playfulness and imagination.**

It’s what we have to do in response to the pressure of reality.

(*From gapingvoid’s blog: Are you rethinking what’s important?)


The challenge, then, is to have one superpower. All out of balance to the rest of your being. If, over time, you develop more, that’s fine. Begin with one.*
(Seth Godin)

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material his our own flesh and blood and bones.**
(Henry David Thoreau)

We’re not born with superpowers but we can all develop one.

Identify your values, talents and energies.

Notice what moves you from curiosity to concern to commitment.

Explore every day in multiple ways.

Order your cape if you want one, but, remember Edna and never wear one on the job.

The aim is to use our superpowers as much as we can before we run out of days.

(*From Seth Godin’s The Practice.)
(**Henry David Thoreau, quoted in Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)

Deeply noticing

Routine, done for long enough and done sincerely enough, becomes more than routine. It becomes ritual – it becomes sanctified and holy. […] A master is in control. A master has a system. A master turns the ordinary into the sacred.*
(Ryan Holiday)

routine becomes a
rite, ordinary becomes
sacred – alchemy!

(*From Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)