TT 1942 – Listening to Silence

Listening to Silence

Stop what you are doing!
What do you hear?
Listen for those subtle noises
That are normally drowned-out
In the busyness of life.

Listen more!
The chatter, the clicks, the hubbub
Listen to the space between the noises
They are quieter and even more silent
Than the silence you started to listen to –
Quieter, even, than the quietest sound!

What else lies in the space between?
It is a space to meditate on
The past and the future.
It is the place of pure presence.
Absence of anything,
It holds the answer to everything!

Claude Debussy once said,
“Music is the space between the notes.”
The notes might dance harmoniously,
But the rests dance closer to the truth.
A hidden message that you can only hear
If you listen to for the silence.

In conversation, there are those that compete
To drown-out the silence.  They do not listen
They are on “permanent send”,
Not yet charmed by (nor knowing of) the fact
That they were given two ears and one mouth
For a reason: to listen twice as hard!

Try it for a minute, then an hour, then even a day.
Muted by the desire to listen more.
Not just to the noise, but more importantly,
To the space between the notes
That play to the timeless music of glorious silence.
The answer lies in the space between.

© Lorne Mitchell 2019

Picture from iStockPhoto 178359962


Inventors are from Uranus. Investors are from Venus.

Sometimes you trip over a word and it takes on a shape.  It bugs you until you look at that shape and see something different.  Something unusual.

That happened to me this morning.  I received a note from a friend of mine who was talking about Elon Musk and his investor dilemma.  Whilst typing back a reply, I said: “it’s the difference between an inventor and an investor”.  And the shape of these two words hit me!  They were so similar – and yet poles apart.

So, as is my wont (an old English word meaning habit or custom that spellcheckers highlight as a mistake, but it isn’t), I set to with the idea that an inveNtor and an inveStor are two opposing forces under tension in any business.

And whilst deciding that this was, indeed, a good analogy, it struck me that so many letters are shared between these two words. In fact, seven out of eight letters are not just the same – BUT THEY ARE IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION IN THE WORD!  The only difference is the fifth letter – where one is an “N” and the other an “S”.  How can two such similar words have such contrasting shapes positions in business, yet share so much at the same time?

To use the old analogy “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, it got me thinking about which planets would inveNtors and inveStors inhabit?  I looked up this idea on an astrology website and found that Venus is the bringer of love, beauty and money.  So that will do for the inveStor community (though I sometimes find it hard to see how those three words fit nicely into one sentence.

As for Mars – well that is a non-starter.  We needed another planet.  And so I typed-in “innovation” to find that Uranus represents technology, rebellion and innovation!  That will do nicely!

So, inveStors are from Venus and inveNtors are from Uranus.  There you go!

Yet that wasn’t enough.  I further studied the two words to find that the only difference were the two letters: N and S  – and suddenly it hit me!  They are also polar opposites on the dial of a compass!  I was so encouraged to find even more elegance down this particular rabbit-hole!

                                     North, South or somewhere in between?


Further to discovering this chance pairing, I thought again.  Whilst looking at the meanings behind the planets, I came across  Mercury, the Messenger God who is know for communication, day-to-day expression and  coordination.  A vital and often missing ingredient when inveNtors and inveStors cannot see each other’s point of view.  What other letter (in the same place as the N and S) could be a catalyst for change?  What could be the Mercury that goes between Venus and Uranus (though I know full-well that is impossible in our particular solar system – but work with me on this!)

And so I came across the letter “R”.  One of the few that makes sense and is a word.  An inveRtor.  It has a medical meaning, but I preferred the one used in electricity – which converts AC to DC current and back again.  An inveRtor is a converter of energy from invention to investment.  Perfect!

So, in summary, we need more inveRtors in business to go between the impossible stances that inveNtors and inveStors take when they stand-off in their own worlds of creativity and resolution.  A few more inveRtors that will be comfortable in the space between what is impossible and what is possible.  A few more inverRtors that will help  inveNtors like Elon Musk save the planet with his fantastic ideas to make the world’s transportation system run on electricity without making all the inveStors run a mile!

As it was such a great rabbit hole to go down (and it is Thursday and I have not written Thursday Thoughts for a while), I thought I would write-up the story.  More to follow soon!

Please do leave a comment below if you see any other strange or fantastic happenings on the road from invention to investment.


Into the Vortex

After the feeling of being stuck. Of being bogged-down. Of going round and round in circles, the thought changes.  What if round-and-round gets you somewhere?

Water twirl 20110903-7(210).jpg

Life flows. Events line up. Coincidences happen without any effort. Dreams start to crystalise in elegant ways that you had not expected.  You deepen your ideas on where you are.  Present.  Alert.  Observant.

Life speeds up. The pace of change shifts from first gear to fourth – apparently without going second or third. Patterns emerge that you have been working on for months – or even years.  Life becomes effortless.

Tempest in a teapot.

You give up control, because otherwise those tiny rituals that were once so important will stop you from riding the wave.  You surrender to the Universal stream of Life.

Then things go quiet.  The entry into the centre of the vortex creates an intense sense of peace. You are in the eye in the storm.

blue energy tornado

All is clear. All is aligned. You can make choices that you’ve never seen before.

Play with the energy.  Feel the power and use it for the good of yourself and your community.  Point the axis to where you want to go.  New openings will appear.  New guides will arrive to help you on your new path.

You are not just in the vortex.  You are the vortex!

4809979-small copy

 All images from Crestock.


Big Rocks and Full Jars

The very famous Chinese professor from the very famous Chinese university sat in front of a group of new students. In front of him was a large green jar. The kind of jar some people keep plants in.

Green Vase

The professor looked at the students but said nothing. Then he leaned down to his right hand side. By his foot was a pile of fist‐sized rocks. He took a rock and very carefully dropped it through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar. Then another and another and another. Until no more rocks could be dropped through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar.

He turned to the group and said: “Tell me, is the jar now full?”

The group murmured assent: the jar was now full.

The professor said nothing and turned to his left side. By his foot was a pile of pebbles. He took a handful of pebbles and carefully poured them through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar. Handful by handful, around the rocks, until no more pebbles could be poured through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar.

He turned to the group and said: “Tell me, is the jar now full?”

The group mumbled that it certainly appeared as if the jar could possibly now be full, maybe.

The professor said nothing and turned again to his right side. By his foot was a pile of coarse, dry sand. He took a handful of sand and carefully poured it through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar. Around the rocks, around the pebbles, handful by handful, until no more sand could be poured through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar.

He turned to the group and said: “Tell me, if the jar now full?”

There was silence.

The professor said nothing and turned again to his left side. By his foot was a jug of water. He took the jug and carefully poured the water through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar. Around the rocks, the pebbles and the sand. Until no more water could be poured through the hole at the top of the neck of the jar.

He turned to the group: “Tell, me is the jar now full?”

There was silence, even more profound than before. The kind of silence where those present check to see if their nails are clean or their shoes polished. Or both.

The professor turned again to his right side. On a small blue square of paper he had a small pile of fine dry salt. He took a fingerful of saly and carefully dissolved it in the water at the top of the neck of the jar. Fingerful by fingerful in the water, around the sand, around the pebbles, around the rocks, until no more salt could be dissolved in the water at the top of the neck of the jar.

Once again the professor turned to the group and said: “Tell me, is the jar now full?” One very courageous student stood up and said: “No professor, it is not yet full.” The professor said: “Ah, but it IS now full.”

The professor then invited all the people who were there to consider the meaning of his story. What did it mean? How did they interpret it? Why had the professor told it? And after some minutes the professor listened to their reflections.

There were as many interpretations as there were people in the room.

When the professor had heard from each of the students, he congratulated them saying it was hardly surprising there were so many individual interpretations. After all, everybody there was a unique individual who had lived through unique experiences unlike those of anybody else. Their interpretations simply reflected their own experiences and the unique perspective through which they viewed the world.

And in that sense no interpretation was any better – or any worse – than any other. And, he wondered, were the group curious to know his own interpretation? Which of course, he stated, was no better or worse than theirs. It was simply his interpretation.

Oh yes, they were curious.

“Well,” he said, “my interpretation is simply this. Whatever you do in life, whatever the context, just make sure you get your rocks in first.”

Would be great if you share your interpretations of the story!

Story from “The Magic of Metaphor” by Nick Owen – primary source – Julian Russell

Picture from:


Magic from Manchester

I would be surprised if you had not heard about it.  Yet we live in such a busy world, maybe you haven’t.

It was discovered in Manchester – and here is a short video describing some of its potential:

Graphne was discovered  by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester  – who subsequently went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010″for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”.  The magic material could well  create the next break-through in battery technology for mobile phones and electric cars –  at a fraction of the cost of current technologies.  That alone would be mind-blowing!

Yet it has so many other uses.  It is cheap to manufacture .  And as it is purely carbon – it is very environmentally friendly!

If you want to get into the science of graphene, then watch this video:

There are many more videos on YouTube and many more articles about graphene on the Internet.

Makes you think.

Makes you think about the other uses it could be put to in the future.

Makes you think about how you might get more involved in developing its potential.

Makes you think how it will change people’s lives in the next century.

Makes you think.


Inventories, Unread Books and Generation Why

Last week there were no Thursday Thoughts.  I was in Edinburgh and thinking far too much to write about it.  Today I had to go up to London and got writer’s block until a chance Skype conversation with Malcolm about random stuff.  It got my right brain going and I am now back in the flow.

In much of the work I do, I am drawn to creating order from chaos by documenting the present situation.  One very useful tool is to take an inventory of what is.  A version of the truth that is accurate enough to be good enough.  It is like the difference between German and British accounting: German accounting is always exactly wrong: British accounting is almost roughly right!

So it was I was chatting to Malcolm on Skype who was listening to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time – a discussion on James Joyce’s UlyssesAt the start of the talk, Bragg points out that it is one of the most famous books of the last century – and one that few have read cover-to-cover – myself included.

It got me thinking about the fact that 95% of books are never read.  Mine included……

So I thought, what about an inventory of all the books I have – and then work out how many I have actually read?  More than 1,000 books – and less than 5% read?   I suppose that the types of books I collect are not novels.  They are more like factoid books, text books, “how to” books.  Bee books, personal development books.  I don’t read novels.  My father used to say “Life has enough drama in it that I don’t need to go to the theatre”.  I think the same about reading books.

So the inventory, used with the mirror, forces to look at yourself, your behaviour, your reality.  But the Skype conversation I was (and still am) having with Malcolm on this touched on another interesting thread.  The fact that I am of a generation where physical books represents learning, knowledge and intelligence.  But for my children, the world is very different.  An Amazon Kindle could contain the same number of books as on my bookshelves and many more besides.  For generation Y (which I call Generation Why – because they always seem to be asking the question Why?)  the value of owning physical books is almost diametrically opposite to mine.  To take an inventory of Apps on my MacBook (which I also collect) takes less than 5 seconds.  The software can be updated across the internet when new versions arrive.  Information is more transient.  More connected, near-free to produce.

So what?  Well it is time for me to start to clear the clutter of my bookshelves.  To stop ordering physical books on Amazon.  To change my behaviour.  One of the most difficult things to do.  But the inventory and the mirror are perhaps the most powerful tools to help change behaviour.  Question is whether I can  reduce my inventory without being distracted by workload, the bees, the dogs, the children – oh and that urge to go onto Amazon to buy another book on my Wish List!

Time for an inventory.  Time to put the mirror up!  It works with clients – but is so much harder to do to oneself!


The Universal Relaton Field

Whilst away at Easter I started to read Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell’s book “Godhead: The Brain’s Big Bang” which was published last year.  It is the latest accumulation of Griffin and Tyrell’s ideas on the Human Givens, and the importance of the REM state in sleep and the Universal Relaton Field.  Yet to list out the other many ideas in the book is impossible.

What is impressive about the work is that it attempts to bring a set of organising ideas to some of the BIG questions that mankind has asked since the beginning of history such as: “What is consciousness?” and “How was time created?”.  It gives some very interesting frameworks for understanding the universe by relating concepts like the big bang theory to the development of the human mind.

By drawing on their previous ideas of caetextia (or context blindness), the authors link the development of the human brain to the two very separate ways that we think: left-brained thinking and right-brained thinking.  This is very similar to the System 1 and System 2 in Kahneman’s “Thinking, fast and slow” which I reviewed a few Thursdays ago.

However, Griffin and Tyrell (being psychoanalysts) bring out some very interesting new theories on how the human mind developed to become more conscious – both to become more objective (or left-brained) as well as subjective (right-brained).  Each half of the brain (in balance) creates a rounded self-consciousness which connects both sides of the brain for human living.  However, too much focus on the path towards objectivity (which they also call the arc of descent) creates a tendency towards scientific genius and autism.   Too much focus on subjectivity (or the arc of ascent) creates art and a tendency for certain folk to become schizophrenic.  They also suggest that mood swings, depression and bipolar disorder are, perhaps a mixture of both without the ability to create balance between the halves – and yet have also produced many of our most creative geniuses such as Robert Schumann, John Keates, William Blake, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Peter Gabriel and Spike Milligan…..and their list goes on much longer (p.96)!

However, the book is far more than a set of ideas on the development of the physical brain and mental health.  In the second and third parts of the book, the authors bring together a set of very powerful organising ideas on how human consciousness connects with the “one-ness” of the Universe through an invisible field of “relatons”.  Since only 4% of the Universe is made up of matter that is visible (detectable by radiation), the authors believe that the field of relatons (or subjective matter) is contained somewhere within the remaining 96%.  These relatons have some very interesting properties.  They are undetectable (like all dark matter).  They are also capable of relationships with solitons (objective matter) and are always generating consciousness (or information).  And when two solitons are joined as matter, relatons are released!

The struggle that the mind has in balancing between objectivity and subjectivity (and the ability of such thinking to drive us mad in the process) was well narrated in the timeless classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”over 30 years ago – which had a major influence on my thinking at the time.  The authors suggest that this balance-of-two-halves-in-time (between the two sides of the mind) appears to echo the same dance that plays out from the largest to the smallest objects in the Universe and that somehow time breathes in and out between objective and subjective states through states of probability.

The book is not just analytical and mind-stretchingly interesting.  It intersperses spiritual stories and poems – and one of my favourites is here:

“How often do you sense that there is a profound meaning in a poem but, without an organising idea to consolidate it, you can’t hold on to it and it slips away from consciousness?  T.S.Eliot knew this, as we see from other lines of his great “Burnt Norton”, where he reveals his intuitive grasp of the nature of truth but also that he is aware of the failure of words to hold on to what he has grasped:

Words, after speech reach

Into the silence.  Only by the form, the pattern,

Can words or music reach

The stillness, as a Chinese jar still

Moves perpetually in its stillness.

Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,

Not that only, but the co-existence,

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,

And the end and the beginning were always there

Before the beginning and after the end.

And all is always now.  Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,

Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,

Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,

Will not stay still.

Overall, the book presents a fascinating set of ideas and theories which draw on thinking from our latest understanding of the physical brain, quantum mechanics, spirituality, creativity and the development of mental illnesses – and much more besides.  Big ideas which the book far better articulates on over 450 pages than I can in this short article.

I remain fascinated on how we can apply some of the ideas to the areas of Information Management and Organisational Design.  My previous article on Organisational Caetextia started to explore some of these themes.  Expect more to follow – particularly with colonies of bees interwoven in the stories!

I hope that it makes some of you interested enough to buy what I think is one of the best books I have read in the past year.

Picture: (c) iStockphoto not to be reproduced without licence.


The Scale of Things

I was chatting to Oscar the other night and he pointed me to a really interesting site:

If the frame above does not work for you, then you can link to the site HERE.  It makes you think how extraordinarily small in the Universe we are.  And how big we are too!  If you did not see my previous entry, the great 1977 video from IBM: “The Powers of Ten”, then have a look at that too.

The day before, I had come across another rather more abstract view that sets a new world record for representing a Mandelbrot Set – which gives a bit more of a zany trip towards infinity.

Oscar liked it – and called it “trippy”!

I hope these two views stretch your mind to think a bit more about our place in the Universe, touching both your left and right brains.

As ever, please feel free to comment below.


Reasons for Encouragement: Keeping the World View

In the week that the US space shuttle programme came to an end, the BBC put a cut-down and edited version of the film “Round the world in 90 minutes.

You can watch the older version on YouTube in five fifteen minute cuts:

Let’s hope that the planetary consciousness that the outstanding programme has delivered will continue to see the world as a fragile ecosystem and not as a toxic dumping ground for consumer madness (per the previous post).