We met twice in 2019. Lunch boxes at the Embassy. He was once a beekeeper. We had fascinating and ranging discussions, All listened into by unknown ears From a foreign country. Last time I saw him was in court After they arrested him. Now he’s in Belmarsh Prison. We pray for him every day.
As a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve decided to re-join the local writing circle. This week’s exercise is a short story in 55 words. This is my contribution
When you look back in life Have you ever noticed that Many things have happened to you Because of a set of chance coincidences? They appeared in mysterious and magical ways Which were not obvious to you at the time.
Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots Will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Do you trust your dots connecting in your future? I was in the garden one lazy afternoon when A strange cloud appeared in the sky Weaving like a numeration of starlings. A moment later a swarm of tiny dots landed Just twelve feet in front of me!
That chance landing of a swarm of bees Has taken me on a life-long journey of wonder and Study into the magical world of the honeybee. I’ve never met anyone else who experienced A swarm landing directly in front of them – But I am sure there are others, somewhere!
Steve Jobs further postulated: “Believing that the dots Will connect down the road Will give you the confidence to follow your heart Even when it leads you off the well-worn path; And that will make all the difference.”
Do you have the confidence to follow your heart Even when it leads you off the well-worn path? What surprising coincidences or dots have lined-up for you? What special places, people or natural happenings Have lined up for you in magical ways? Tell your story and please share it below!
Do you ever wonder at the beauty all around you? At Nature’s creativity and her ability to have created YOU? Or do you simply go along in your daily life Allowing the busyness of business to dumb you down With to-do lists, email and yet more meetings That makes you question: “Is there anything more than this?”
How often do we call in the experts – who make things Far too complicated and in their own interests – Producing grand reports and missing the simplest of solutions. The physicists say that humanity was created On a knife-edge of interconnected events that were most unlikely. We wouldn’t be here if this creative force had not lined them up.
So how can we harness ourselves to this natural force of creativity? Orson Welles once said: “Others create out of experience But I create out of innocence”. Zen masters encourage us to seek New answers from a “beginner’s mind”.
By adopting a child-like inquisitiveness To everything that is around us Life suddenly takes on new meaning! Seeing the world as a baby or young child Gives us the knowledge (unlike the experts) That we don’t have all the answers.
One of my favourite jokes is that an expert Is the combination of an ex – or a “has been” With a spurt – which is a “drip under pressure”! We dress them up with titles and put letters after their name, Praising them in cathedrals to knowledge and certainty. Yet the more they think they know, the more we know they don’t!
Be inquisitive and ask… Where did that come from? And where it is going to? Create from innocence. Adopt the beginner’s mind And the world will become a better place!
Steve Jobs became the iconic figure standing in a black turtleneck sweater introducing the next wave of Apple’s innovation in the noughties. Year-in, year-out, Apple perfected the pre-launch leaks, the launch itself and the post-launch record-breaking. It is difficult to find another company that has done this so well and with such theatre.
The challenge with online businesses is that the drama is more difficult to choreograph than pulling the world’s best tech journalists into a Silicon Valley theatre. And yet there are many principles that can be carried over into the online world that work in the same way. It goes something like this:
Pre-launch Information > Launch “Theatre” > Post-Launch Compound Growth
I have had the fortune of studying under a person for the past year that seems to have perfected the online product launch. So much so that many, many other successful online coaches, consultants and trainers copy his techniques. His name is Jeff Walker and his product is called the “Product Launch Formula”.
Once a year, Jeff generously presents his methods and approach in a set of three free online courses (which will be available for the next week or so) to those who are interested in learning more about this fascinating subject. The third video also contains a very valuable Product Launch Blueprint which you can download and use in your own business. It is a step-by-step guide that gives you a great framework that gives your clients fantastic value even before you launch your product!
I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to online internet training – but I honestly have to say that Jeff is possibly up there with Steve Jobs when it comes to that cool, Californian way of explaining complex ideas in really simple ways that mere mortals (like me) can understand.
I thoroughly recommend that you try to watch Jeff’s three videos over the weekend so that you can go back to work on Monday to put a few of them into practice (or into your plans) to help you launch your next product, project or set of ideas.
I have always been fascinated by debates on the differences between objectivity and subjectivity; art and science; East and West; X and Y. The truth normally lies somewhere in between.
85 years ago two great minds met in Berlin and debated such issues in what must be one of the most interesting thought pieces in the history of the twentieth century.
THE NATURE OF REALITY
Albert Einstein in Conversation with Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore visited Einstein’s house in Caputh, near Berlin, on July 14, 1930. The discussion between the two great men was recorded, and was subsequently published in the January, 1931 issue of Modern Review.
TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality.
EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the divine isolated from the world?
TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of man comprehends the universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the universe is human truth.
EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe—the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as reality independent of the human factor.
TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.
EINSTEIN: This is a purely human conception of the universe.
TAGORE: The world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from us does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon our consciousness. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it truth, the standard of the eternal man whose experiences are made possible through our experiences.
EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.
TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realize the supreme man, who has no individual limitations, through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of truths. Religion realizes these truths and links them up with our deeper needs. Our individual consciousness of truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to truth, and we know truth as good through our harmony with it.
EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or beauty, is not independent of man?
TAGORE: No, I do not say so.
EINSTEIN: If there were no human beings any more, the Apollo Belvedere no longer would be beautiful?
EINSTEIN: I agree with this conception of beauty, but not with regard to truth.
TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through men.
EINSTEIN: I cannot prove my conception is right, but that is my religion.
TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony, which is in the universal being; truth is the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness. How otherwise can we know truth?
EINSTEIN: I cannot prove, but I believe in the Pythagorean argument, that the truth is independent of human beings. It is the problem of the logic of continuity.
TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the universal being, must be essentially human; otherwise, whatever we individuals realize as true, never can be called truth. At least, the truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic—in other words, by an organ of thought which is human. According to the Indian philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words, but can be realized only by merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance; that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind, and therefore is human, and may be called maya, or illusion.
EINSTEIN: It is no illusion of the individual, but of the species.
TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes truth; the Indian and the European mind meet in a common realization.
EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings; as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it. The problem is whether truth is independent of our consciousness.
TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the superpersonal man.
EINSTEIN: We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible. The mind acknowledges realities outside of it, independent of it. For instance, nobody may be in this house, yet that table remains where it is.
TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table is that which is perceptible by some kind of consciousness we possess.
EINSTEIN: If nobody were in the house the table would exist all the same, but this is already illegitimate from your point of view, because we cannot explain what it means, that the table is there, independently of us. Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack—not even primitive beings. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity. It is indispensable for us—this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind—though we cannot say what it means.
TAGORE: In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing.
EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the superpersonal man, the universal spirit, in my own individual being.
I was recently asked to comment on a blog exploring the idea as to whether or not it is “critical to follow your heart”. It got me thinking (quite a bit). Oh, and I make no excuses for the apparent New Age flavour to this post. It’s just how it came out!
In such a fragmented world, where academics and book writers are rewarded for micro-ideas that can be framed into sound bytes (such as the one above), I find it interesting to call on history and the ancient wisdom of the Hindu/Buddhist Chakra system. In this system, there are seven centres of energy within the body. Each system nowadays has a colour of the rainbow associated with it. The heart charka is green and is at the centre of the system.
One of the main issues in today’s world seems to be that the mind (indigo) and communication (blue) centres are so energetic – with our so-called “knowledge society” coupled with “mass broadcast media” that the other (lower) forms of subtle energy get drowned-out.
Maybe this is an age-old problem? For there is also an ancient buddhist saying that “the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart”.
Anyway, I am currently doing some research on how the seven centres of chakric energy can become better balanced – not just within the context of an individual – but also in organisations AND society in general.
Without a higher purpose, life becomes meaningless.
Without mind that is connected to serve others, life becomes ego-centric and selfish.
Without clearly articulating what you want for yourself or your organisation, others won’t understand where you are coming from and ignore you or misinterpret your ideas.
Without being allowed to truly express your feelings, life becomes emotionally blocked.
Without a sense that you are truly empowered, life becomes deeply frustrating.
Without a co-creative connection with others in your family or tribe, life becomes lonely.
Without a place to call home, life becomes frightening.
And so, to the main discussion about whether or not it is critical to follow your heart.
On thinking about the idea, I came to the conclusion that it isn’t just when the heart-centre is “in flow” – or we are “in the groove” that we get that feeling of life-is-good. It is when ALL the energy centres are aligned to create an organic energy that is more than the sum of its constituent parts. It is at such times that we, as human beings, are most connected to our fellow human beings – and to the natural world around us.
In terms of organisations, as regular readers will know, I look for much of my inspiration in the work that I do a as a beekeeper. I find the universal energy which is generated in abundance from the colonies of bees that I keep is indescribable – it has to be felt to be understood. The ways that the movements and (unrecordable) energies from each tiny, individual bee are compounded to create a colony that vibrates and energises the space around for the greater good of the colony is not too dissimilar to an organisation or society where the subtle forms of energy are recognised, amplified and aligned to a higher purpose. Religious movements are one obvious answer. But there are many other examples – some with “good” objectives. Others perhaps, with more dubious ones.
I’ve also come to believe that intuition and flashes of inspiration (Ahah! moments, if you like) are not from us, but come to us when we most need them or call upon them. The egoic state sees itself as the centre of the universe. But spiritual practice is about removing the ego and tuning into more subtle forces of universal energy that pull you. It is as if you are plugged-into connected consciousness and more aware of the subtle energies that might give you a greater chance to allow your energy to be mixed in more rewarding, unique ways.
So, it probably is important to follow your heart (over your head). But true connectedness comes when each energy centre is in alignment with the whole. It is then that we give up pushing and allow ourselves to be pulled. It is then that all the dots are joined-up and where everything makes sense after the fact. This was so well articulated by Steve Jobs when he delivered his famous speech to Stanford graduates:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” Jobs told the Stanford grads. “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Trouble is, it’s very difficult to put all this stuff into a few sound-bytes and broadcast them over Twitter – or even a blog post like this!
I met up recently with an old friend. She has decided to give up work in March. The hospital she has worked in for many years as a family therapist was transferred from the private sector to the public sector last year. She is giving up because the (UK) National Health Service (or NHS) that has now taken over the hospital has made the unit a “national asset” and patients are being referred to it from across the country. She can no longer practice as she used to because the patients are disconnected from the families that should support them when they leave hospital care. Costs have also gone up because of the additional remote support that need to be given to both patients and their supporting families. In addition, she finds the extra “meetings about meetings” and paperwork completely stifling.
It reminded of a similar problem that is embedded within the UK prison system. It has been proven that offenders are much more likely not to reoffend once they leave prison if they get family support during their term inside. Yet most prisoners are deliberately sent to another part of the country to do their time. Families (often poorer than most) cannot afford regular visits. So the likelihood of prisoners reoffending when leaving prison goes up.
In each of these cases, I suppose the patient or the prisoner could be seen as the “customer”. Yet these two state-run systems have been designed without the customer’s requirements (or real needs) in mind. They have been designed at the expense of other measures (such as top-down political targets, reduction in costs etc.)
The current business fads of rationalisation, outsourcing, off-shoring, cost-cutting and factory call-centres seem to have driven traditional sane local business practices and have allowed madness to prevail.
I can’t prove it, but I believe that local, common-sense sanity has to create more flexible, cost effective public services over the prevalent national (or international) managing-by-abstract-measures madness. But that is a very difficult case to prove when big egos, big technology, big politics and big finance have each, in their own way, presented measurement madness as the new religion.
Maybe measurement is, itself, the root cause of the problem. Maybe we should be suggesting a new way to educate the cohorts of ignorant managers and measurers.
Taiichi Ohno would have thought so. One of his great quotes fits well here:
“People who can’t understand numbers are useless.
The gemba (or real place) where numbers are not visible is also bad.
However, people who only look at the numbers are the worst of all.”
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
It was attributed to Meryl Streep. On a bit of further research, it appeared that the original quote was not by Meryl Streep at all – but by a Portuguese self-help author/life coach José Micard Teixeira.
The research (and subsequent discovery of a mis-attribution) reminded me of another quote, supposedly by Einstein:
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
No one has found evidence that Einstein was the source.
And so it is. There are great quotes and famous people. Many times, famous people say great things. But with the internet, great quotes can go viral – particularly when attributed to a famous person who is likely to have said it.
Makes you think. The power of great thoughts that go viral by being mis-attributed to famous people might actually be a good thing – particularly if they spread those great thoughts further than if they were attributed to a Portuguese self-help author that no one has heard of.
Famous people come and go. But great quotes and great thoughts live on forever. Even before the Internet, how many great quotes remain in current parlance having been written by the famous Anon E. Mouse!
Last Thursday, I had a meeting with a business colleague. We had only met once before – but somehow the energy felt really good between us. Conversation flowed. Ideas bubbled to the surface. Creative spirit abounded.
During the conversation, it became apparent that I had talked in our previous meeting about intuition. I had forgotten this – but it is something I have recently become very interested in. In summary, it’s the idea that the world is far too “mental” and that many have lost touch with their intuitive guidance system – based around the heart. I’m also a strong believer in the idea that everything is connected.
And so it was, just by chance (as happens when browsing the internet) I came across this video below:
I don’t know too much about the organisation behind the video – but just love the overall theme, messages and visuals. It somehow helps us to remember things we have forgotten or lost – so we can get back into the life-force and remember who we are.
The recent events in Iraq and the rise of ISIS as a regional power makes one wonder what all of the Western intervention in the region has achieved. It reminded me of reading a book written back in the 1960s – Masse ind Macht (or Crowds and Power) by Elias Canetti.
Canetti was not an academic. He was an intelligent observer. I read the book after visiting Koln for a Beerfest. It made me understand a lot more about why and, perhaps how, Hitler came to Power. I’m not sure if it is a particularly German thing. But if you get a load of folk from that part of the world, give them beer and get them roused by a speech from someone you can barely see the other end of the room who is booming on a loudspeaker, then the binding, tribal atmosphere becomes extraordinary.
The entry in Wikipedia about the book is short:
(The book) is notable for its unusual tone; although wide ranging in its erudition, it is not scholarly or academic in a conventional way. Rather, it reads like a manual written by someone outside the human race explaining to another outsider in concise and highly metaphoric language how people form mobs and manipulate power. Unlike most non-fiction writing, it is highly poetic and seething with anger.
On asking questions: “On the questioner the effect is a feeling of enhanced power. He enjoys this and consequentially asks more and more questions; every answer he receives is an act of submission. Personal freedom consists largely in having a defense against questions. The most blatant tyranny is the one which asks the most blatant questions.”
The thought I particularly like is the idea that, for every question asked, the questioner has an enhanced sense of power and those who give answers are each time submitting to those in power. For me, this is a subtle definition of personal freedom. We have choices to submit or not to submit. To answer questions or to have a defense against those questions.
In the context of the current world order, then, who asks the questions of those who are bullys? Perhaps that is another dimension to the problem. But certainly, in the businesses that I work within, the person asking the difficult and cleverer questions is the person who sees him or herself in authority.
It was brilliantly articulated by a friend of mine this week who related the story of an ex-boss of his (now very senior in a UK PLC).
OK, please show me your plans. How exactly are you are going to achieve your objectives by the end of this financial year?
Stutters, shows plan (covering up the areas that he does not want unpicked). Relief at presenting plan.
OK. thanks for that. Now tell me what question I should have asked you that would have exposed the real weakness in your plan?
Questioners and Bullys. The world is full of them each seeking their own power. The question for the majority of us, surely, is how to expand the footprint of personal freedom whilst ensuring that the spirit drummed-up such as that described in Canetti’s Crowds and Power does not promote dictators, terrorism and crime. The pictures in the video above have an uncanny resemblance to the atrocities that have been happening in Iraq in the past few weeks. Yet the strategies and tactics to prevent such acts seem to have developed little in the past hundred years. Time to think of a better way.