Now let that be a lesson

The night is large and full of wonders.*
(Lord Dunsany)

Choosing to develop character is difficult, because it requires avoiding the shorter, more direct path. It can be slow, expensive and difficult work.  […]


Every time we avoid the easy in favour of what’s right, we create ripples.**
(Seth Godin)

Some see facing our failure as being nothing more than accepting our punishment.

It isn’t easy, but those who are prepared to face their failure, to be open to it as something transformative then they find growth for who they are and what they can do.

(*Lord Dunsany, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Character matters (if you let it).)

Other blue reading:
Different by Youngme Moon
My Journey into the Heart of Terror by Jürgen Todenhöfer.
Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin
Words Are My Matter by Ursula Le Guin.


Add-venture (out of bounds)

‘Work that alters the canon, that begins outside of it but then is incorporated into it, is how our culture grows.*
(Seth Godin)


Breathe deeply.

Breathe deeper, more slowly, expanding.

Breathe even more deeply.

I could continue for a while yet and what we’d find is that we’re capable of deepening our breathing.

It’s just a little picture for us of how there is more to us than we first thought, that often we stop inside the bounds before we push them, before we leap beyond them.

Worlds within waiting to be discovered as we find ways to explore them.

And then theworlds we are for each other, too.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: What happened and what will you add?)

Other blue reading:
Different by Youngme Moon
Messy by Tim Harford.
It’s all about the adventure, baby (blog) by gapingvoid.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.


I wanted a bike but soon discovered that I couldn’t make one by taking a wheel off my trike – whichever wheel I chose.

I should explain, I was perhaps four at the time.

As I think back, I also realise I couldn’t have made a trike out of a bike by somehow adding a wheel to it.

They’re different machines.

I hope I now know now that I can’t be something I’m not, but I can be who I am.

Other blue reading:
Create Dangerously by Albert Camus.Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
On taking a hint (blog) by Seth Godin.
Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor (blog) by Brain Pickings.)
Different by Youngme Moon
More Tine to Think by Nancy Kline
The Craftsman by Richard Sennett
What do you want to be when you grow up? (blog) by gapingvoid

Reverse creativity

You are eliminating the extraneous in order to shed light on the fundamental.
Less is more only when more has become a commodity.*
(Youngme Moon)

Just as having too much stuff shrinks our brains through the activation of stress hormones […] so does having too little time.  The stress of having lots to do is compounded by the stress of never having enough time to do it.**
(Michael Bhaskar)

You’d think that with all we have we’d be way happier but what one piece of research after another shows is that our levels of happiness have not gone up in accord with our income, possessions

and life opportunities.  Michael Bhaskar tackles what he names the “creativity myth,” differentiating between creative solutions and creating more things – everything being lumped under the one banner of creativity.  So much of what we think of as creativity today is about making more faster:

‘Most #creativity is much more about doing the actual work than it is about being a frickin’ genius.’^ 

Hugh Macleod points out that coming up with something creative is really 95% schlepping and only 5% being in the zone.  Perhaps we ought to be making less more slowly if it means coming up with better solutions to problems affecting people, and our planet and everything in it.  Perhaps if we are less in a rush to be seen as the next genius and put in the hard work which begins with humility, gratitude and faithfulness then we’ll value the failure that leads the better gift.  As Moon describes the “reverse brand” she could be describing the reverse creative or reverse genius:

‘They draw us down a divergent path by applying pressure in exactly the place where we least anticipate it.’*

There will be a lopsidedness to this, Moon says, and such brands find themselves under pressure to be more well-rounded, which often means more features and more choice, which then means producing more faster.  It is a journey to the over-competitive middle.

How does reverse creativity work?

My experience tells me it happens by slowing down in order to see more, feel more and do more.  To see what is needed up close, to feel not only what this means for us but to those we seek to help, and to be more imaginative with what we have rather than producing more.  Not only for what we can make but also for who we are.

(*From Youngme Moon’s Different.)
(**From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(^From gapingvoid’s blog: How to scale your genius.)

Other blue reading:
Messy by Tim Harford
Create Dangerously by Albert Camus.Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin.
What do advertisers want? (blog) by Seth Godin.
Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor (blog) by Brain Pickings.)

The blue planet

This is what the search portals provided; they promised to hold our hands as we ventured into this unregulated ocean of content.*
(Youngme Moon)

Live the questions now.**
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

The year is 1995 and Youngme Moon is discovering the internet.

In milliseconds we can be hyperlinked to thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of pages of content.  These blue hyperlinks promise us the world and more: a blue planet.

Yet the world has always been blue.

Perhaps more slowly, but we have always been able to connect with people, ideas, artefacts and the natural world.  What has happened, though, is that the borders have become more permeable or have disappeared completely.  Once information and knowledge was power.

You might have known something that I needed but because you did not want to give that power away, you didn’t tell me.  Now I can find out what I need online.  In fact I can find out way more than I need or want to know.

Now I have a different problem.  Now it’s my need to navigate or curate all the information: to find my way through and know how to use what I discover.  Relationships are even more important now:

‘How we treat others is the only proof of truth we have.^

We are seeing the development of new kinds of navigators and guides.  These people help us to live in the question, to remain open for longer, discovering what we need, identifying what resonates with us, developing our awareness, gathering and extending skills.

Moon describes Google as a “reverse brand.”  Google came along with a largely white home page and changed the information market:

‘Whereas Yahoo! offered an ocean, Google offered a blank slate.’*

Instead of look at all this information we have for you it’s asking where do you want to go? This idea of reverse branding makes me imagine the reverse guide:

‘They take away what we expect, but then give us what we don’t.  They say no where others say yes but they also say yes where others say no. […] They eliminate but they also elevate.’*

These blue guides or navigators first of all listen – they are our white page.  They live within the questions of who we are and what is our contribution.  They help us to see that who we are and what we have already provide the initial hyperlinks to others, to our world and to ourselves

(*Different by Youngme Moon.)
(**Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(^From Frank Schaeffer’s Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes in God.)

Other blue reading:
 Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
 Create Dangerously by Albert Camus.
 Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
 Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin.
 Let's get equal (blog) by gapingvoid.
 Why even bother to think about strategic? (Blog) by Seth Godin.
 Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor (blog) by Brain Pickings.)
 Drawn Together Through Visual Practice by Aftab Erfan.


Learning from Whoopi

If you want to live life free
Take your time. go slowly
If you want your dream to be
Take your time, go slowly.*
(Donovan Leitch)

Solving interesting problems is the best work we can do.
Seeing the world as it is, offering people dignity, choosing to make a difference… none of these are fast and easy paths, but we do them anyway.**
(Seth Godin)

There’ll always be interesting problems.

Living in a material universe guarantees this.  Materiality means everything is always changing.  Alan Lightman reflects:

“Nothing persists in the material world.  All of it changes and passes away.”^

Interesting is in the eye of the beholder.  That’s the amazing world of diversity.

Lightman has found a place to live and a way of living, things we each need to find.  As his body wears down and his life moves towards its end, Lightman speaks of finding wisdom:

“As the seconds tick by, I breathe one breath at a time. I inhale, I exhale.  These spruces and cedars I cherish and know, the wind, the sweet scent of moist and dark soil – these are my small sense of enlightenment, my past life and present life and future life all in one moment.”^

We meet the interesting problems with who we are becoming slowly, a slowness more disrupting than fastness.

Youngme Moon tells of a performance she attended of a then unknown and young Whoopi Goldberg:

‘I remember going to the show with a set of expectations – I expected it to be funny, perhaps even sidesplittingly funny – but as it turned out, the most memorable aspect of the show was not its humour but its poignancy; the show was streetwise and gritty, at times heartbreakingly so.’^^

My friend Alex McManus suggests we long for a life that is an immersive, interactive, integrated and impactful.  This deeper life is contained, it seems to me, in the words Moon uses for Whoopi’s performance: yes please to humour, but we also desire poignancy and grit, and even something to break our hearts.

Each of us is capable of such a performance.  Albert Camus spoke about how:

‘Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves.’*^

They are whispers to be listened for, so we must listen carefully:

‘Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope.’*^

Hope is to be found in the living of many lives slowly, persistently stepping out from the norm:

‘Some say that this hope lies in a nation; others, in a man.  I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of individuals whose deeds and work every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history.  As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.’*^

(*Donovan Leitch, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Speaking up about what could be better.)
(^Alan Lightman, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Alan Lightman on the Longing for Absolutes.)
(^^From Youngme Moon’s Different.)
(*^From Albert Camus’ Create Dangerously.)

That’s not my responsibility

The gap is usually in the difficulty of getting the non-owner to see a path to happiness that comes as a result of acting like an owner.   Most people are taught to avoid that feeling.  Because it always comes with another feeling – the dread of responsibility.*
(Seth Godin)

Creating a space collaboratively is the best recipe for creating a collaborative space.**
(Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft)

When we are included and involved from the beginning then we are more likely to have ownership and, with it, responsibility.

Carl Sagan got us thinking about how we are made of the same stuff as stars.  In one form or another, we’ve all been around from the beginning.  We are increasingly opening this truth and reality through science and mathematics, imagination and creativity:

“It is astonishing but true that if I could attach a small tag to each of the atoms of my body and travel with them backward in time, I would find that those atoms originated in particular stars in the sky.  Those exact atoms.”^

If all of us have forever been involved in the unfolding of the universe, what a tragedy if we believe the stories we’re told that some are more important than others, that only a few have something worth contributing and the rest don’t, but Jospeh Campbell would encourage:

‘I always tell my students, go where your body and should want to go.’^^

For a little while at least, we have the opportunity to be more than stardust, doing something more focused than careering thoughtlessly through space.  Campbell named this our bliss:

‘When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don’t let anyone throw you off.’^^

Nancy Kline might be speaking about thinking in the business world but really she’s touching on the same things, the possibility we all have to participate from the beginning:

‘I think we’re living in an epidemic of obedience. […] The crises we face today started with obedience yesterday. […] I ponder what it would take to produce an p[lanet of people thinking for themselves – in the best interest of all people.’*^

What’s your idea for including more people?

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: But what about the people who don’t care?)
(**From Scott Doorley 
and Scott Witthoft’s Make Space.)
(^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Alan Lightman on the Longing for Absolutes.)
(^^Joseph Campbell, from Jospeh Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(*^From Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think.)