There is a tension between Willing something to happen And going with the flow. Will tries to control the situation. As Flo becomes less attached, Will becomes more so!
Flo has a wisdom about her Acting with Grace and effortless ease Such that magic often happens. Will can’t understand how she does it So he tries even harder To control the situation.
So who wins? Will or Flo? Flo and Will are not natural partners: They are like Fire and Water. Too much heat and Flo evaporates In a puff of steam: she’s gone! Off to find consolation in condensation.
Too many of Flo’s watery ideas Extinguish Will’s fiery inspirations Which dance from one flame to the next. They are no match for the bucket Of intangible wishy-washy water that Flo Throws on Will’s energetic flickers of intent.
So is there any resolution? Indeed! Erf can help by grounding the situation. He provides a hearth and channel So Will and Flo can co-exist in separation. Ayr can also help Will to focus his fiery resolutions As well as Flo, crystallising her thoughts with a chilling wind.
In any polarising situation, two forces Will flow better when a third comes into play. Dilemmas are broken with new vibrations Played out with the different elements, Each one needing some of the other to find The sweet spot of our creative genius.
(To my friend Bee, who reminded me all that I have forgotten about the magic of the Four Elements!)
Autumn leaves start to turn And she blows her chilling wind. The rain now feels colder and wetter Than the September kind, Flooding the parched earth And bringing a new spring.
It’s time for a clear-up (Or is it clear-out?) Out or up, no matter, stuff has to go… To make space for new things to come. A sort of Spring clean in Fall (There are no words for it… yet)
The strange thing about this time of year Is that releasing those things that you no longer use Can be seen as leaves falling from a tree They may still be of value to others: One man’s waste is another man’s water It’s the want not, waste knot!
Do we REALLY need it? Do we have a PLACE for it? Will we really USE it enough to own it? Do we LOVE it any more? When was the LAST TIME we used it? Won’t we bee better off if we RELEASE it?
Where there is tension, let it resolve. Where there are liabilities, let them be settled. Where there are past traumas, let them rewind. Where there is resistance, go with the flow. Where there is anger, let you have peace. Where there is darkness, let it be light!
Want not, for there is an abundance for all. Horde not, for others may have more need. Release yourself from things that no longer bring you joy. (For me it’s unread books and unplayed musical instruments) Untie the want knot and release yourself from stress. Come, join the revolution!
At the end of every quarter, I move into the centre of the circle. The centre is constantly shifting and changing. Sometimes it can feel a bit stuck in place or time. Othertimes, it has everything spinning around at 100 miles an hour. But there is always a still centre to be found somewhere in there. Calmness in the eye of the storm.
It is that centre that I seek out every three months. To give me space. To take stock. To look backwards and forwards at the same time. To celebrate what has been done. And to meditate on where we might go in the future.
This week is a particularly special time of the year. The hard work of opening-up the combs and extracting the honey is over. We have an angel called Heather who helps us with that part. It is now time to bottle the sweet amber nectar. Some say it’s been a bad season for others. But we have been fortunate this year. It’s looking like a good ‘un!
The honey itself pours into the jars in a vortex of swirls Sometimes left-handed, other times right. Never straight-down like water. As each jar fills, the trick is not to stop the flow too early, Nor too late before the honey overflows onto the floor and makes a mess. There is a rhythm to it which becomes quite meditative. Like all skills, it is a combination of practice, timing and feedback.
You are never quite sure how many jars you will fill. Nor how many total pounds of honey you will jar. The mystery of not knowing whether this will be a record season. But it really doesn’t matter. It is what it is. I don’t worry too much about which particular flowers they have come from. They make their own unique, delicious blend.
Harvest time is such a natural time of the year to close circles. The celebration of the friendships made And a time to reflect on those who have passed. Now to get ready for winter. It’s going to be a cold ‘un, they say. Time put the winter quilts into the tops of the hives. The circle is closed.
Yesterday I flew from the UK to Germany to have the first meeting this year with a client that I last worked for ten years ago. Getting up at 4.00am and struggling through the security gates which reminded me of a cattle ranch and then twisting and turning through the duty-free glitter path that is the only way to get to the plane at Stanstead Airport, I took a short 20-minute taxi ride to the client’s office that turned out to be more expensive than the flight itself! It was a beautiful day and I had a good two hours before the meeting to walk down memory lane. I needed to make sure I was energised and that my mind was clear.
The most surprising thing for me was that the client faced pretty much exactly the same challenges that they faced when I was last there. It was like seeing an old friend in the street that I had not seen for a while and saying “Wow! You haven’t changed a bit!” They were stuck in a rut. And what is more, they acknowledged the fact. It got me thinking: how difficult it is for all of us (and large organisations in particular) to adapt and change.
Whilst chatting to a friend today, the exact same thought arose in a different way. We were reflecting on what we had achieved in 2015 and what 2016 holds in store for us. Like wine, we tend to describe the past year as a “good year” or a “difficult year” or even an “annus horribilis” – depending on what has happened.
I think I would call 2015 a year of transition. What one word would describe this year for you?
Yet another friend said that their work has gone very well in the past year (to the detriment of everything else) and that he was way off on the objectives he had set himself which were to spend more time with his family. Success is both personal and relative – not just from individual to individual – but also in terms of the emphasis we put on specific relationships and projects. Everything has an opportunity cost associated with it. Life is a balancing act.
For example, in the first six months of this year, I became very distracted by a project which meant that I took my eye off the ball for several other things in my life – both personal and business. Setting a balanced set of aims and objectives at the start of the year is so important. Reflecting on the objectives that I set myself at this time last year, I completely underestimated the passion that I had for this unplanned distraction.
Understanding the dependencies and trade-offs that need to be made is so important. Yet we are emotional creatures and can often be overtaken by distractions and unpredictable events that come at us from stage left. Planning for unexpected turns is also important. As the great Peter Drucker said: “It’s not the plan that’s important, it’s the planning.”
But perhaps the most difficult thing in all of this is to break old habits. This is the case with my client in Germany – and is also so true of myself as we move into 2016. In order to change, you need to jump out of an existing pattern and create a new pattern – like the goldfish jumping from one bowl into another in the picture.
Some say that if you practice a new habit for 30 days, then it will stick. I tried that by giving up alcohol for 6 weeks in mid-October. Those friends who got a bit worried need concern themselves no more! I started again last week. Which just proves that the 30-day rule doesn’t work!
The creation of a new habit requires the displacement of other habits that you need to stop. And it needs to happen so that the new pattern becomes unconscious behaviour. Yet, when you jump to a new habit pattern, it can be quite lonely for a while.
Unless you can create a substitute pattern that is more fulfilling and purposeful, the tendency is to jump back to what is familiar. All the 12-step programmes understand that. The first step is always to admit that you are powerless to the particular addiction or pattern. In doing so, you become conscious of it and can change it.
Think about it. Which patterns do you want to dissolve or move away from in 2016 to give yourself more time to do the things you really want to do? What entrenched (perhaps unconscious) patterns do you want to jump out of? Write them down and share them with a close friend or relative. Get some support on the shift to a new pattern. It is much easier like that!
That’s what I hope to do with my German client. Given that they are conscious and want to change, we will start by describing the new fish tank. All the good things about the new environment and the benefits of being there. Then finding one or two fish that will make the first jump. A bit like “Finding Nemo”. The good news is that there are plenty of fish to choose from and I believe that, 10 years on, the temperature in the current tank is a bit too warm for comfort.
Please comment if you see any other analogies or have any relevant stories to tell! In particular, let us know what patterns you want to jump out of and let us know how you are thinking of doing it!
The arguments raged for ten hours in the House of Commons. The vote was cast. The MPs agreed by a sizeable majority that it was a good thing to let the Royal Air Force bomb Syria. A few hours later, the Tornado Jets were set loose like the dogs of war.
The rest of the country stood by like a confused onlooker. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your fears, however good your knowledge of the situation: none of those would count. In May, the UK’s democratic system transferred our voting rights for another five years to a bunch of elected MPs to take nearly all decisions on our behalf. We’ll all get a vote on whether or not we want to stay in Europe – but that will be equally confusing too. Just like the Scottish No vote last year.
David Cameron’s timing for the bombing Syria vote was lucky. The Paris atrocities a couple of weeks ago certainly added considerable weight to the case. His party held the line, and increased a narrow Tory majority by doing whipping deals with selected allies and the vote for the “ayes” was further buoyed-up by the schism in the Labour party. So the “ayes” had it and the NATO alliance held together because that’s what allies do. Stick together in hard times.
What other solutions were put forward? What other creative ideas were framed? What other, more effective ways of preventing further bloodshed were considered? What were the real options to stop further escalation the a tit-for-tat of a bomb in a beach resort or another vulnerable European city versus drone attacks and bombing raids on strategic Daesh targets in Syria?
I remember visiting Beirut for a day in 1978. I was in transit from Egypt to Cyprus. Middle East Airlines put me up for a free night in a four-star hotel as part of the deal of flying via their country. It was a great deal for the penniless student that I was at the time. I took a taxi around the central part of the city on the way back to the airport. On every street corner there was a burned-out armoured car and a different faction guarding their patch. Nothing much seems to have changed since then.
The UN Climate Change Conference, which started in Paris this week, has given some hope that we might be reaching a level of consciousness that understands that climate change is going to continue to hit random parts of the world as a knight moves around in a game of chess. Although ridiculed by some newspapers for his views, I can see the connection that Prince Charles made about climate change causing drought in Syria which in turn causes a shortage of natural resources (like water), which in turn cause a refugee problem in South Eastern Europe. The world is so connected now – more than it ever has been, perhaps. It is the butterfly effect in action.
We need to think differently and organise ourselves differently if we are going to solve the complex problems that the world is currently facing. I used to think that X causes Y was the only way to think. I’m not so sure anymore. Just look at the weather. Everyone’s weather in the world is apparently affected by changes in water temperature just off the West Coast of South America with the El Niño effect. And so it is with international politics and relations: everything is connected.
I’m sure computer modelling and technology can help here – but we need a lot more than “big data” and analytics and advanced aerial killing machines directed from many thousands of miles away to solve these problems. In particular, we need to understand that each of the world’s primitive fragile systems of fresh water, clean air, natural energy resources and inhabitable land are themselves so interconnected that together they will have the greatest impact on the world’s population migration and quality of life of all of us in the coming twenty to thirty years. Southern Europe is currently under siege from migrants who themselves are refugees from a part of the planet that is fast burning-up. Areas which have traditionally sustained life, but which can no longer do so.
What to do? Commentary by analysts simply isolate the issues. Linking them together does not seem to happen so much. It might be my associative mind, but the inter-dependencies BETWEEN the systems mean that the gaps between the systems might just hold the answers. As regular readers will know, one of my favourite expressions is that: “the answer lies in the space between”.
On first glance, it was very encouraging to see Mark Zuckerberg give up 99% of his fortune to charitable causes. Line up all the rich kids and strip them of 99% of their fortunes. Job done! Yet, reading between the lines, the vehicle Zuckerberg will use will be a limited liability partnership (LLP), not a charitable foundation. The LLP will be allowed to lobby, make a profit and won’t have to give away a pre-determined amount of cash to other charities every year. Smart man, Zuckerberg. Maybe he is onto something.
It is time to think afresh about how we take decisions and how we control the excesses – whether they be banking bonuses, lobbying for vested interests or pollution. Relying on individual human nature won’t solve these problems. Traditional economically-driven regulation won’t hack the course either. The current systems are so stuck in the past; they need a complete rethink.
Waging war by throwing deadly flying machines at an enemy who can only fire back with machine guns and suicide bombers will only dig us deeper into the proverbial. It may well take Zuckerberg, Gates and a few others with purposeful family-centric LLPs to crack many of the problems that our more outdated institutions have failed to solve.
Then again, I suppose that rich families and the dynasties that they create have always ruled the world. All other structures are impermanent, insignificant or mouthpieces of the ruling classes. Mr Zuckerberg for President, anyone?
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.
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
This week’s cease-fire in Gaza probably passed most people by – except for quick glimpses of rockets being fired back-and-forth and the commentary from safe television studios by those who try to collapse a whole history lesson into a few minutes of short, sharp sentences. I am sure we were all relieved that the war was halted by an equally abrupt ceasefire.
However, the news reminded me of a time when I was much smaller and of the 6 Day War of 1967 – and more particularly my father’s reaction to it. He had strong opinions about this part of the world having been posted to Palestine at the end of the Second World War. By luck, he was minutes away from the King David Hotel (1) when it blew up on 22 July 1946.
The bomb killed 91 and injured 46. The Irgun planted a bomb in the basement of the main building of the hotel, under the wing which housed the Mandate Secretariat and a few offices of the British Military headquarters. If my father had arrived a few minutes earlier, I would not have been born. Nor would my brother nor sister. A sobering thought (for my siblings and me, at least).
My father therefore had a very different perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict – and would merely say “remember what happened to the Palestinians.” This did not have anything like the meaning for me as it did for him. And for my children, it is probably just another history lesson in a country that they have not yet visited somewhere in the Middle East. In reaching a bit deeper into the subject, I came across a quote (2) by David Ben-Gurion (the first Prime Minister of Israel):
“I don’t understand your optimism,” Ben-Gurion declared. “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arableader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.”
What struck me by this quote was not so much that the Prime Minister of Israel was admitting to the fact that the Israelis had stolen “their” country from the Arabs, but more the idea that it takes one or two generations to accept; one or two generations to forgive; one or two generations to forget.
It reminded me of some research I did a few years ago on the famous Russian economist, Nikolai Kondratiev (3). Kondratiev came up with the theory of the long-wave economic cycle which takes about 50-60 years from peak to peak. Kontradiev’s views were so controversial in his country at the time that he was sent to the gulag and was executed in 1938 at the age of 46. It was Joseph Schumpeter who named the wave in Kondratiev’s name in 1939. I remember reading about long wave economic cycles about 20 years ago and wondered what might cause these types of patterns in history. I can’t remember exactly where I heard the theory at the time – but I remember hearing the idea that the 50-60 year cycle is natural because “it takes two generations to forget”. Given that a significant number of children are born to women between 25-30 (from(4) – see chart below), this is somehow quite an interesting idea.
If you take the theory and apply it to the cycle from the Wall Street Crash in 1929 (and the Great Depression of the 1930s) to the financial crisis of 2008 and our current post-crash turmoil, then 1929 to 2008 is about 80 years. Some of you might point out that the time between is not 50 or 60 years, so the theory does not hold. But perhaps this is due to the fact that we are now all living a bit longer? In any case, the underlying pattern of loosening financial controls within the international financial system seems clear – as is the pattern of forgetting the lessons learnt from the previous generation’s Grandparents. I’m not a qualified economist – but as an inquisitive observer, the theory somehow makes sense – even if it is not numerically accurate.
So we have wars, we have waves and we have history repeating itself and it got me thinking about the recent flooding that is currently taking place (again) across many parts of the UK. Over 5 million people in England and Wales live and work in properties that are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. (5) Yet there seems to be considerable political pressure on encouraging the building industry to “get building” so that we can kick-start the economy. In Kent, where I live, many of the new houses have been built on the flood plains around Ashford – and there is the famous story of the Vodfaone Headquarters building in Newbury being built on the old racecourse that was well-known for flooding.
And so it was that I came across a story (6) about the tsunami that struck Japan last year. Many people living by the sea lost their lives, but there was one village, apparently, in Aneyoshi that has a stone which reads:
“High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants.
Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis.
Do not build any homes below this point.”
Those who headed the warning (like the residents in Aneyoshi) were spared from the destruction of the recent tsunami. Other towns did not. Yuto Kimura, aged 12, from Aneyoshi said they studied about the markers in school, and when the tsunami came, his mother got him from school and the entire village climbed to higher ground.
And so it is. Maybe we are all cursed with the fact that it takes two generations to forget. But for the wise ones who read the markers that have been laid down from previous generations, it is worth teaching the next generation about the deeper lessons from history. It is worth encouraging them to take less time to accept, less time to forgive and more time to forget the important things in life.
Then again, we are all creatures of habit, so I expect the addage that “it takes two generations to forget” will last for many more generations to come!
I have subscribed for several years now to a great site called ChangeThis – where anyone can publish a manifesto to change something that they think is important. So it was today that I was browsing the site and found out that it is World Water Day. Designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, World Water Day is held annually on March 22. It’s a day to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of water resources that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. With over half of the world’s population now living in cities, this year’s focus is understandably on water and urbanization, under the slogan “Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge.”
There are quite a few statistics and factoids listed (mostly U.S. centric) that come from a new book called the Big Thirst, being released on April 12 by Free Press. However, they still make you think:
Water is the oldest substance you’ll ever come in contact with. The water coming from your kitchen tap is about 4.3 billion years old.
A typical American uses 99 gallons of actual water a day–for cooking, washing, and the #1 personal use in the U.S., toilet flushing. But a typical American uses electricity at home that requires 250 gallons of water each day. And an American eating a diet of 1,700 calories a day is eating food that requires 450 gallons to produce–each day.
The average cost of water at home in the U.S.–for always-on, purified drinking water–is $1.12 per day, less than the cost of a single half liter of Evian at a convenience store.
Water and energy are intimately linked. Electric power plants in the U.S. consume 49 percent of the water used in the country. And water utilities are the single largest users of electricity in the U.S.–in California, 20 percent of all the electricity generated is used to move or treat water.
Water and food are also intimately linked. Worldwide, farmers use 70 percent of water. And agriculture is also one of the least efficient users of water. Half the water farmers use is wasted.
Americans spend almost as much each year on bottled water ($21 billion) as they do maintaining the nation’s entire water infrastructure ($29 billion).
Las Vegas has grown by 50 percent in population in the last 10 years–without using any more water now than it did back in 1999.
In the U.S., we use less water today than we did in 1980. As a nation, we’ve doubled the size of our economy while reducing total water use. We have literally increased our “water productivity” as a nation by more than 100 percent in the last 30 years.
Microchip factories require water that is so clean it is considered dangerous to drink.
The difference in price between home tap water and a half-liter bottle of water at the convenience store is a factor of 3,000–you could take the bottle of Poland Spring that you buy for $1.29 at the local 7-Eleven and refill it every day for 8 years before the cost of the tap water would equal that original price, $1.29.
We often hear that “only” 2 percent of the water on Earth is fresh and available for human use, outside of the polar ice caps. The “only” 2 percent comes to 1.5 billion liters of fresh water for each person on the planet. It’s 400 million gallons for every person alive. That’s a cube of fresh water for each us as long as a football field and as tall as a 30 story building.
The U.S. uses more water in a single day than it uses oil in a year. The U.S. uses more water in four days than the world uses oil in a year.
Enough water leaks from aging water pipes in the U.S. each day to supply all the residents of any of 30 states.
The city of London loses 25 percent of the water it pumps.
Seventy-one percent of earth is covered with water, but water is small compared to earth. If Earth were the size of a minivan, all the water on Earth would fit in a half-liter bottle in a single cup holder.
Not one of the 35 largest cities in India has 24-hour-a-day water service. Even the global brand-name cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai offer water service only an hour or two a day.
Treating diarrhea consumes 2 percent of the GDP of India. The nation spends $20 billion a year on diarrhea–$400 million a week–more than the total economies of half the nations in the world.
A common statistic is the 1 billion people in the world–one in six–don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. But a less well-known statistic is equally stunning: 1.6 billion people in the world–one in four–have to walk at least 1 km each day to get water and carry it home, or depend on someone who does the water walk. Just the basic water needs of a family of four–50 gallons total–means carrying (on your head) 400 pounds of water, walking 1 km or more, for as many trips as required, each day.
Between 1900 and 1936, clean water in U.S. cities cut the rate of child deaths in half.
Water required to manufacture 1 ton of steel: 300 tons Water required to produce 2 liters of Coca-Cola: 5 liters
Cooling water a typical U.S. nuclear power plan requires: 30 million gallons per hour
Water that New York City requires: 46 million gallons per hour
Water required to maintain a typical Las Vegas golf course: 2,507 gallons for every 18-hole round of golf Each hole of golf, for each golfer, requires 139 gallons of irrigation water.
Average time a molecule of water spends in the atmosphere, after evaporating, before returning to Earth as rain or snow: 9 days
Amount of water that falls on a single acre of ground when it receives 1 inch of rain: 27,154 gallons