The calling

There’s a gap in the market where your version of better can make a welcome change happen. […] Yes, you have a calling: to serve people in a way that they need (or want). The opportunity is for each of us to choose a path and follow that, nor for our own benefit, but because of what it can produce for others.*
(Seth Godin)

What do you care about? What kind of work serves you? What do you need? What do you want?**
(Bernadette Jiwa)

A calling rarely arrives within as some tub-thumping, light-show of sudden certainty, more as a growing conviction of how we can serve others in accord with who we are.

It will demand everything, but as Bernadette Jiwa reminds us, we need to also attend to how our calling serves us … for the long run, the life-run.

Frederick Buechner’s summing up of calling or propose, then, remains one of the best I’ve come upon: we find our purpose where our deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need.

Here are some reflective exercises to help:

Connect to your purpose and calling, finding different ways to express it: words and images;
Recognise and find joy in the strengths that have brought you to this;
Grow your understanding of the uniqueness of what you bring;
Identify and develop your core values;
Make your new insights and developments available to others.

(*From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(**From The Story of Telling: Needs and Wants.)

How to plan for serendipity

The club is a very ancient institution, but it is a disaster when whole nations turn into clubs, for these, besides promoting the precious qualities of friendship and loyalty are also hotbeds off sectarianism, intolerance, suspicion, superciliousness and quick to defend an illusion that flatters self-love or group consciousness.*
(Johan Huizinga)

[V]astness is repeated in every system of our lives. If we only care enough to zoom.**
(Seth Godin)

The best way to plan for serendipity is to play the infinite game.

Invite as many as possible to play for as long as possible, and change the rules if some threaten to be excluded or the game is coming to a premature end.

What then happens includes new encounters, sharing of ideas, new ideas being born, new possibilities tried, new people met, new ideas encountered, more ideas clustering, more exploring.

Seth Godin includes the following image in his blog for today. Go on, click on it and keep zooming.

Godin’s words, above, pertain to this incredible universe in which we discover more and more as we zoom in … and also people’s amazing lives.

We cannot plan for serendipity by carefully selecting. As many as possible need to turn up and then see what happens.

Douglas McWilliams documents, or zooms in, on the incredible boost to the London and British economy that has added significantly to every person’s life in the UK through the contribution of immigrants – emigrés.

We do to know if there is any limit to our zooming. The adventure is in the finding out.

(*From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Zooming in – the magic of looking more closely.)

Game-spoilers and tension-makers

You have the freedom to change your story. You can live a different one, one that’s built around those you seek to serve.*
(Seth Godin)

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

If we’re being honest, we’d prefer others to change, not us, the external circumstances to be altered rather than those of our inner worlds, and yet changing our personal stories is where our opportunities are to be found:

It is, however, through difficulty and opposition that we define ourselves. The mind needs something against which it can profile and discover itself.^

The deviants, outliers and experimenters comes to our rescue, and, when we are able to be such for others, we create the kind of tension people need to be able to move.

But first we must spoil the game.

Johan Huizinga names these game-spoilers:

apostates, heretics, innovators, prophets, conscientious objectors;^^

and they lead us into liminal spaces, into a:

temporary abolishment of the ordinary world.^^

Now we have the freedom to change our stories.

(*From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(**From Youngme Moon’s Different.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^^From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)

The real adjustment bureau

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

We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.**
(Tania Luna)

Life comes with more than one big choice available to us.

If things aren’t as we want them to be, we can adjust.

Originally from the Latin ad “to” and juxta “near.”

We don’t adjust without a good reason, though; that’s human nature.

It’s not easy. It requires time and energy.

We’re like an Australian land-train, not stopping for anything.

It takes a lot of energy to STOP! and notice the way things really are.

Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy.

It’s easier to be pushed along our familiar trajectory by the momentum of our story so far.

There’s the cost of admitting we’ve been wrong and probably for a while.

Years and miles of keeping with something when we needed to adjust.

It may be blindingly obvious but every day provides another opportunity to adjust, to move nearer to what we want to do.

That’s the beginning of the good news.

We are also full of astonishing and wonderful things.

Values, talents, passions.

I know this.

It’s my work.

I haven’t yet come across anyone lacking these.

All of which make adjustment possible.

A new direction.

(*From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(**Tania Luna, quoted in Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments.)

The wisdom of nature

No matter what your skill level its when you begin, you can get an “A” in this class. My final grade is based on where you began and where you ended up and what is it that you found.*
(Lynda Barry)

understanding and loving are inseparable**
(Erich Fromm)

Lynda Barry is writing about a comic-making class for adults but she could be writing about wisdom.

How wise can we become?

We won’t know until the very end, if our aim is to be lifelong learners:

The root of the word “education” is e-ducere, literally to lead forth, or to bring out something that is potentially present.^

To stop growing in wisdom jeopardises everything: wisdom shapes our worldview but worldview can shape our wisdom. Seth Godin provides a helpful reminder that:

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.^^

Wisdom isn’t so much what we know but how we live.

Wise lives like public gardens, open to all and taking a lifetime to establish. They don’t contain everything but they do have themes that can be added to.

They are a labour of love, which brings me to Erich Fromm’s words, included by Maria Popova in blog telling the story in the children’s book The Fate of Fausto about a man who wanted to own the world and who meets a watery end.

Believing he now owns flowers and sheep and trees and mountains, Fausto comes to the sea, vast and unbowing. He declares his ownership over the waters but the sea is silent. Fausto rants and the sea eventually asks how Fausto can own something he does not love, that he could not love her if he doesn’t understand her.

Previously, ranting and stamping his feet has got Fausto his ownership way with others, but it marks his demise when he tries to stomp on water.

Wisdom understands that what we know isn’t “it” but is partial and there is so much more to know and also many things we will never know – which is, by the way, another form of knowing.

How can we own? We are the students and nature our teacher:

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it has to tach and not, when I came to die discover that I had not lived.*^

(*From Lynda Barry’s Making Comics.)
(**Erich Fromm, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Fate of Faust […].)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(*^From Henry David Thoreau’s Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.)

Everyone and all

To see people who notice a need in the world and do something about it. … Those are my heroes.*
(Fred Rogers)

Yes, you have a calling: to serve people in a way that they need (or want). The opportunity is for each of us to choose a path and follow that, not for your own benefit, but because of what it can produce for others.**
(Seth Godin)

Who are the people who need you to turn up and do what you do?

Seth Godin encourages me to focus on my “smallest viable market,” not to aim for everyone – which in the end is to aim at no-one:

Organise your project, your life, and your organisation around the minimum. What’s the smallest market you can survive on.**

If I could be there for fifty people in a year, I’d be happy.

Thank you to all those who are there for me.

(*Fred Rogers, quoted in Stillness is the Key.)
(**From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)

The infinite game

What’s really happening. What the goal is. And how it is that you’re part of the eternal flow. The important thing is the love affair. The important thing is the dance itself.*
(Richard Rohr)

I’m not rational and neither are you.**
(Seth Godin)

In his latest book This is Marketing, Seth Godin marks the important difference between being market-driven and marketing-driven.

Before you think this is not for you, the reality is we’re all marketers, we’re all selling something, whether it be a belief, a sports team, a political party, an opinion, a product, a dream, a course of action … .

Marketing-driven is basically listening to self and wanting people to “buy” what we have.

Market-driven is listening to what people and providing something they want – allowing for the fact that people may not know what they want and we have to come up with some interpretation they may not have thought about – remember Henry Ford’s suspicion that people would have wanted faster horses rather than what he had in mind.

It is the latter that makes it more possible to keep our eyes on the infinite game – to include as many as possible for as long as possible – the great flow of life we all find ourselves within for around eighty or so years.

(*From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(**From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)