Here's to our 2012 being magical, synchronistic, surprising and resilient.
A year where everything might change, but what's truly important is found to be indestructible.
A year where dreams are no longer just dreams, where reality grows on trees, and people can do what they imagine.
A time where you'll meet exactly those you need to meet.
A space where those things connect that fit.
May you feel at home in the fabric of life.
This is an avatar exercise/process from the book Resurfacing by Harry Palmer:
Objective: To increase the amount of compassion in the world.
Expected Result: A personal sense of peace.
Instructions: This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, malls, parks, beaches, etc.). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively and from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.
Step 1. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
"Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his/her life.
Step 2. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
"Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.
Step 3. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
"Just like me, this person has known sadness, suffering, and despair."
Step 4. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
"Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs."
Step 5. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
"Just like me, this person is learning about life."
1. Done by couples and family members to increase understanding of each other.
2. Done on old enemies and antagonists still present in one's memories.
3. Done on other life forms.
appreciation a. favorable critical estimate. b. sensitive awareness; especially : recognition of aesthetic values. c. an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.
It's a nice thing, appreciation. Problems, obstacles, issues, conflicts - they tend to start dissolving when appreciated.
I suppose I noticed it first when I had just learned NLP. I was working as a coach and therapist, and people would come in with such wonderful problems that somehow were quite easy to alleviate. OK, it is actually an NLP trick: to reframe a problem as an accomplishment. But what works is just as much that one honestly admires or appreciates the cleverness of people's problems.
The client comes in and says "I'm really depressed today" and I say "Cool! How did you do that?". OK, I've got to watch out to not be too enthusiastic, or our rapport would go out the window, but that's basically my attitude. I'm not going to feel sorry for them for feeling bad, starting to look all droopy myself, and then have them explain all the many sad and very compelling reasons why they're depressed. No, if we assume that they'd rather not feel depressed, I'd rather find out how they make themselves feel like that. I.e. what do they remember, what do they look at, what do they tell themselves, etc. There is usually an exact strategy there. And if we can find that, they can probably learn to feel something more useful.
But actually I don't even need to use any technique to make them discover that. Even if I just listened, while greatly appreciating what they're doing, it would tend to start dissolving. I mean, as opposed to listening while being all in agreement with the reality of their depression. Oh, it might still take some work, but things change much faster when you appreciate them.
Works the same with my own problems. If I think about them while agreeing that they're problems and they're hard to solve, then that's probably the case. If I look at them innocently and alertly, appreciating whatever I find, they usually don't stay the same for very long.
Most of the problems of the world are clever and complicated, but rather silly. I'm not saying they'll all go away by just looking at them in amused amazement, but they probably become easier to solve. And what really is the problem is usually what some people think and feel, not what really is there. It wouldn't be a problem for everybody on the planet to have enough food and clean water, if enough people felt a bit differently about it. The problem is mental, not a lack of resources. [ Inspiration | 2009-10-26 23:48 | 38 comments | PermaLink ] More >
I have no parents; I make the heaven and earth my mother and father.
I have no home; I make awareness my dwelling.
I have no life and death; I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means; I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets; I make character my magic secret.
I have no body; I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes; I make the flash of lightning my eyes.
I have no ears; I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs; I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy; I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy
I have no designs; I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design.
I have no miracles; I make right action my miracle.
I have no principles; I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics; I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents; I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends; I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy; I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor; I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle; I make immovable mind my castle.
I have no sword; I make absence of self my sword.
"A lot of people think or believe or know they feel (experience) -- but that's thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling (experiencing). Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel (experience). Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel (experience), you're nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
I learned last week that my friend Habib had died. I didn't actually know he was sick, and I wouldn't really have expected so, seeing him in the periphery being busy as usual, networking, organizing communities.
It was strange, but at the same time quite appropriate, that I learned he had died a month earlier by noticing the messages people left for him on his Facebook profile. And in that month he had appeared a number of times in the event feed, seemingly having recruited people to causes, having gotten new friends. And people continued leaving messages to him, as if he was going to read them, but now sad but thankful goodbye notices. I left one too.
It is not that I knew Habib terribly well, but I've known him for a number of years, and he'd been on my very short list of the greatest networkers and community organizers I know. I know a lot of networkers, and a lot of people with large networks, but not quite anybody who puts their energy into using them as well for good as Habib did. He seemed to spend all his time weaving things together, organizing communities, and just being present with people. That is, somebody who would happily spend several hours with you on the phone, and who truly was interested in knowing you, helping you in the areas where you might need help, and connecting you up with collaborators in areas where your strengths are.
We met in the late 90s sometime. He came by my office in Venice, California, and we talked a lot about network collaborations. Later he sent me a plane ticket to come up to Seattle, and we met once or twice at conferences and open space meetings after that.
Blogs are in part about having conversations, I think. But how exactly?
Most blog postings allow comments. So, one can talk about things in the comments. That makes sense if one happens to come back and look at that posting several times. Or one has some other mechanism for knowing that somebody answered your comment. One can subscribe to a comment feed, but few people would do that. The result is that if you leave a comment in somebody else's blog, it is quite likely you never notice that other people responded or posted comments that were related and many interesting.
If several people have blogs, one can respond to other people's postings in their blogs by posting something in your own, and including a link to the other post you're commenting on. The owner will usually discover that before long, from watching Technorati or some similar service, but they might not. There's a protocol exactly for letting blog owners know that somebody linked to them, trackback, but that is pretty much out of commission now that it is mainly used for spam. I remind you that my blog receives around 5 phoney trackback accesses per second all day long, and there isn't really more than one blog or less per day that creates a real link to me.
If I make a post in my blog on something that several people have discussed already, it gets a little cumbersome to keep track of. Maybe I don't even notice, and even if I do, do I link to all of them? It becomes a bit like writing an academic paper, which is not what I like blogging to be.
There's a bit of a lack of a mechanism that ties these things together. A way of making blog postings and comments part of a conversation, even though it happens in several places. Could be simply a tag, I suppose, although you might easily get a lot of other things mixed into it, unless you make a very specific tag. And you'd have to count on that there's some service that picks up everything with that tag, which doesn't quite happen. Technorati will pick up posts on your front page and their tags, but is not going to pick up comments, and is not going to notice if you add new tags to older postings.
Or it might be that one has a way of referring to a root posting in a certain way. "Matt's discussion of breakthroughs" would naturally start with a particular post with a URL. And it wouldn't be very hard for people who post their own articles or comments to link to it. But it would have to be a certain type of link, or be stored in some kind of shared register. I mean, either some kind of <link rel="conversationabout" href="...">, or you ping a particular service which keeps track of which items refer to the same conversation root. [ Inspiration | 2007-06-21 19:16 | 9 comments | PermaLink ] More >
I'm intrigued at the idea of self-portraits as a means of learning to love and understand yourself better, and perhaps as a means to Let-Self-Change. UK photographer Victoria Sims, whose self-portrait is above, is a master at this.
Hm, yeah, didn't think about that. But kind of how writing your bio makes you examine who you really are. Visually too, of course. How do you want to present yourself? Who are you really? How can you show that better? [ Inspiration | 2007-06-20 21:53 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]
A technique for producing ideas is a little book by James Webb Young, originally written in 1939. It is considered quite a classic, particularly among advertising people. I didn't know about it, though, so thanks to Guy Dickinson for mentioning it.
It presents a very simple and sensible strategy for producing ideas. Nothing really revolutionary, but he makes it very clear and reproducible.
A basic concept is that new ideas come from combinations of old elements. So, you need a lot of raw material, you need to work on putting it together, and you need to give the ideas space to appear in. The technique consists of roughly these 5 steps:
1. Gather material. If there's some particular area you need ideas for, you'd want to gather all the information you have, and organize it. Specific information. If you're dealing with a particular product, you'd need to know exactly what is unique about it, what it is made of, etc. You also need a repository of more general knowledge, about life. It is often best to gather that without any immediate thought as to where it will fit in later. But delve into different areas, learn how they work, and keep the knowledge. Put together a large storehouse of information that you later can draw from.
2. Work on the particular area you have in mind. Try to combine the elements you have. Think about it all the time. Chew on everything you know. Look for connections, previously unseen relations between elements. Look for how other things you know might relate to elements of the task at hand. Work it all over, possibly to a point where you just can't stand it anymore and you aren't getting any further.
3. Then drop it. Go do something else. Really what you're doing is that you're letting sub-conscious processes take over. So, the information is being digested under the surface. New ideas are incubating, while your conscious attention is elsewhere. So, go do something entirely different, but with some emotional involvement. Go for a walk, listen to a concert, paint the fence.
4. Ideas get born. They pop into your mind when you don't expect it. Maybe when you're walking in the forest, maybe when you're snoozing in the morning. Moments of "I've got it!" are much more likely when you've done the previous steps, i.e. you've gathered material, you've mulled it over, you've let it digest, and, bing, ideas pop up.
5. Develop the idea into something useful. Go and try it out, or tell it to other people. You might need to adjust some things, or, if it is a good idea, it takes on a life of its own and takes off.
So, it is simple. No great surprise there. But if one leaves something out, it won't work so well. There's not much basis for new ideas unless you've gathered a lot of material to have ideas about or ideas with. It won't happen unless you really try to put these things together. And it probably won't happen just by working hard on it, but more likely the moment you let go. And afterwards you need to continue adjusting the idea to have it become reality.
To scientists, he is the world's happiest man. His level of mind control is astonishing and the upbeat impulses in his brain are off the scale.
Now Matthieu Ricard, 60, a French academic-turned-Buddhist monk, is to share his secrets to make the world a happier place. The trick, he reckons, is to put some effort into it. In essence, happiness is a "skill" to be learned.
His advice could not be more timely as tomorrow Britain will reach what, according to a scientific formula, is the most miserable day of the year. Tattered new year resolutions, the faded buzz of Christmas, debt, a lack of motivation and the winter weather conspire to create a peak of misery and gloom.
But studies have shown that the mind can rise above it all to increase almost everyone's happiness. Mr Ricard, who is the French interpreter for Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, took part in trials to show that brain training in the form of meditation can cause an overwhelming change in levels of happiness.
MRI scans showed that he and other long-term meditators - who had completed more than 10,000 hours each - experienced a huge level of "positive emotions" in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with happiness. The right-hand side, which handles negative thoughts, is suppressed.
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
Yeah, I think that applies generally in life. If things flow in a natural way, you're doing the right thing. If not, you're trying to be something you aren't. [ Inspiration | 2007-01-11 14:51 | 4 comments | PermaLink ] More >
InnovationTools asked their readers what important lessons they had learned about innovation in 2006. Answers here. Some samples:
Never forget the power of questions. In a recent interview Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, said “We run the company by questions, not by answers.” Innovative leaders put the emphasis on questioning, not telling. Ask fundamental, challenging questions and encourage others to do the same. For example: “What business are we in? Why do customers buy our services? What is our real added value? Is there a better way to do this?” The style and type of questions matter. Don't ask aggressive, inquisitorial questions, such as: “What went wrong? Why did you screw up?” Instead, ask broad questions, like these: “What lessons can we learn? What are the opportunities for us here?” -- Paul Sloane
Put yourself out of business! If you fall too much in love with your own rhetoric (or haven't changed it too drastically in the past couple of years) you are doomed! Innovation isn't accomplished with one surefire system but with the freshening of your best practices. Put yourself out of business before a competitor or the staleness of your rhetoric gets boring. Look at competitors with pride instead of disdain, look at other categories for freshening processes or stimulus. Challenge the efficacy of your way of thinking, stay confident but poke holes in your most sacred beliefs, at least in the sanctity of your own office. Never stop changing, questioning, re-arranging. Comfort is not for the innovators - there should always be some tension, uneasiness with today's thinking, because tomorrow will be different and so should you. Just so you don't think I sound too preachy, I continue to learn these lessons the hard way by the way and probably will all of my life. -- Marco Marsan
Passion is the linchpin to innovation. "Innovation" is a big fat generic concept in most corporations... like "God" or "life on other planets" or "empowerment." Unless the individuals within a given corporation have a genuine sense of urgency, personal ownership and passion for innovation, nothing significant will happen. Innovation begins within the mind of each person. Corporate initiatives that don't awaken the basic human instinct to innovate within each individual will be doomed. For me, as an "innovation consultant," it has become increasingly clear that the short amount of time I have with my clients needs to be devoted to awakening the passion to innovate. Tools, techniques, theory, data, models and bibliographies are all fine, but it is the passion to innovate that is the key driver of success. No passion, no innovation. Plain and simple. Unfortunately, most organizations squash passion. That's why start ups have a much easier time innovating than Fortune 500 companies. Small companies are more human scale. There is more of a sense of community, more freedom, more experimentation, more fun, and more timely feedback. The best thing any one of us can do when we work with organizations is to hold up a giant mirror and ask our clients what they see. Are they modeling what it means to be innovative? Are they creating the kind of organizational culture that is conducive to innovation? Or are they asking other people to do what they themselves have not done? -- Mitch Ditkoff
Oh, and happy new year, of course. I wish you great success in your noble endeavors.
"Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood and will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble and logical plan never dies, but long after we are gone will be a living thing." --Lita Bane