Whosoever will may come

I intend to look at technology the way [C. B.] Macpherson looked at democracy, as ideas and dreams, as practices and procedures, as hopes and myths.*
Ursula Franklin

As I begin reading David Epstein’s Range I have been reacquainted with Laszlo Polgar and his life project to grow his children Susan, Judit and Sofia into geniuses, specifically chess champions.

I’d come across this story several years ago. Laszlo first of all had to find a partner to pursue his experiment with. Marrying Klara, the couple set out to see if it was possible to grow genius. The daughters’ achievements are quite remarkable but the thing I remember from my first encounter was how the girls came to see more important things in life than chess.

As I reread the story, I find myself with the thought that I am more concerned to discover with people who haven’t had such a focused upbringing just where their experiences have brought the to and the choices they now have.

These are probably to lying around on the surface, but are certainly to be found beneath the surface.

Ursula Franklin’s insights not only stretch from democracy to technology but also to the contents of our lives because we are more than the practices and procedures our working lives may pour or force us into, we are also ideas and dreams and stories

I hope you still believe this, but even if this is difficult, they are still there, possibly well-hidden beneath he layers of practices and procedures, roles and responsibilities. These are what I love to discover, and it’s for everyone.

*From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.

3 significant things to do

Don’t chase success. Instead, chase new and interesting ways of solving other people’s problems.*
Hugh Macleod

More effort creates beauty and magic and remarkability. Perfectionism is a false hope and a place to hide.  Effort, on the other hand, is our best chance to do work that matters.**
Seth Godin

Seth Godin writes about a third effort option to insufficient and sufficient: more.

Throughout their book on humble leadership, Edgar and Peter Schein use the term personising: relating in a deeper relational way in the workplace: seeing people rather than roles.

Hugh Macleod warns us not to chase significance, but to do solve everyday problems for people, but better than anyone else does.

These three things – more effort, personising (including becoming one with the mission) and solving everyday problems better lead to something magical happening through our lives. I guess that’s all we can hope for.

*From gapingvoid’s blog: Take something ordinary and elevate it;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: Effort.

VUCA skills

While finite games are externally defined, infinite games are internally defined. The time of an infinite game is not world-time, but the time created within within the play itself. Since each play of an infinite game eliminates boundaries it opens to players a new horizon of time.*
James Carse

In their book on Humble Leadership, Edgar and Peter Schein anticipate an increasingly VUCA world: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Within such a world, we will have to become more flexible and less rigid in our thinking, emotions and activeness.

The list of abilities continues to grow: silence, centredness, humility, openness, listening, presence, integrity, inquiry, adaptability, lifelong learning are but some needing to be grown within us.

Which future-aware abilities would you like to add to the list?

*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.

Holy things

We not only create stories for metaphors of life, we create them as metaphors for a meaningful lifeTo live meaningfully is to be at perpetual risk. […] If, should the protagonist fail, life would go back to normal, the story is not worth telling.*
Robert McKee

The meaningful life may come to us in an unusual guise.

Yesterday I was pondering holy discontent. When we notice something is wrong and are compelled to do something about.

Consecration follows: giving oneself to the need or cause we have perceived.

I use this word because it suggests we understand there to be something extraordinary about what we are about to do, like the Blues Brothers on their mission for God.

On the outside it will likely look ordinary, earthly and just hard work.

On the inside it is a holy thing that will bring beauty into the world, even if that is only one person’s world.

In keeping with all things that are worthwhile, it will require risk, the leaving of the familiar and safe, misunderstood by others, being a lifelong learner.

*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: A Little Risk Goes a Long Way)

The thing about a holy discontent

But the task of all tasks is to transform what is insignficant into greatness, what is inconspicuous into radiance; to present a speck of dust in a way that shows it to be a part of the whole so that one cannot see it without also instantly seeing all of the stars and the heavens’ deep coherence to which it ultimately belongs.*
Rainer Maria Rilke

Very few people have the leverage to change the world. But all of us have the chance to change the people around us, and those actions change what gets built, funded and launched.**
Seth Godin

They apologised to me for their rant.

I could only see the beauty of their concern, their desire for something better.

It felt to me like a holy discontent: something wrong we notice that defines us so that we have to do something to make it better.

We may think that finding purpose in life should a far more pleasurable experience, making us feel content, joyful, calm, inspired, rather than poked with a sharp stick.

We continue by questioning what one person can do and of course the answer is, everything:

all any man can do is to add his fragment to the whole^.


*From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: Contagious commerce;
^Robert Henri, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Drawing on Walls: An Illustrated Homage to Keith Haring, His Irrepressible Art of Hope, and His Beautiful Bond with Children

Living in the singularity

We are survivors of immeasurable events,
Flung upon some reach of land,
Small, wet miracles without instructions,
Only the imperative of change.*

Rebecca Elson

We are one world.

This is the truth and reality that came to us powerfully when the first photograph of our planet was taken from space.

We are a singularity.

Billions of years before the picture was captured a big bang of change came upon an unimaginable density.

Our world exists within a singularity.

We are flesh and electricity expressions of singularity working our way from disconnection to connection with ourselves, with others, with our world, with our universe and with our god.

Such integrity begins with humility the discover of truth.

*Rebecca Elson’s Evolution, from her book A Responsibility to Awe.

Getting it all together

From the Latin integer, which simply means “intact.” To be in integrity is to be one thing, whole and undivided.*
Martha Beck

Each of us possesses five fundamental, enthralling maps to the natural world: sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell. As we unravel the threads that bind us to nature, as denizens of data and artifice, amid crowds and clutter, we become miserly with these loyal and exquisite guides, we numb our sensory intelligence. This failure of attention will make orphans of us all.**
Ellen Meloy

I am not intact without you, without the world, without my god, without me.

In this realisation I fathom integrity to be a journey, a lifetime, an endless unfolding of the possibility to connect and be more intact today than I was yesterday.

*From Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity;
**Ellen Meloy, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Picking’s: The Conscience of Colour from Chemistry to Culture.

Beneath the nimbostratus

Nimbostratus are thick, grey, featureless layers of cloud that cause prolonged, continuous, often heavy, rain, snow, or ice pellets. … Nimbostratus are the deepest of all the layer clouds – sometimes extending from 2,000ft up to around 18,000ft – and generally extend over many thousands of square miles.*
Gavin Pretor-Pinney

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.**

If you’re in Edinburgh today, this is likely to be the cloud you were looking up at in the morning.^ It’s an astonishing thing when you think about it: thousands of tons of water hanging in the air, falling on us in a way that will not (directly) harm us.

I always try to have a book open on the natural environment. Following reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, I’m exploring the skies.

*From Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s The Cloudspotter’s Guide;
**Psalm 19:1-3
;
^As I complete this for posting, it’s the afternoon and the cloud has broken up and has texture, so becoming another form of cloud, perhaps altocumulus.

The vastness of human exploration

Real relationships must be built and renewed through repeated cycles of rupture and repair. … We are unique. Yet we become our unique selves only in relationship with others.*
David Rome

Slow relationships give deep relationships a chance; we know fast can’t do that.

And thirty years of shallow is still shallow, but to be willing to explore, going unfamiliar and stretching, and giving space to recover and reflect, leads us into worlds of human relating that we are only on the edges of.

*From David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer.

And there is more

Are situations that seem to have no satisfactory solution challenging me to grow, to change, to become more than I have been – stronger, gentler, more responsible, more loving? Are they inviting me, perhaps, to come alive in a whole new way?*
David Rome

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die …**
The Teacher

I thought it would last forever.

I really believed I could find a solution.

I wanted the future but I didn’t want to let go of the past.

Maybe if I try just one more time.

But I’ve invested so much.

The future is so unclear.

Quietly, gently, insistently, a beginning may be calling, a walking towards that is also a leaving.

*From David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer;
**Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a.