When people ask me what I do, I tend to freeze. I dislike labels. If I have to be labelled I prefer to be known as a Polymath. Something like that. And yet that doesn’t help When you are looking for your next piece of work. The market is skewed towards hiring specialists.
The world of HR and recruitment love labels. It somehow makes the hiring process less risky For them when they can you put you into a box. Specialisms, industry knowledge, groupthink. It’s a disease which is rife and one where Renaissance (wo)man stands no chance!
How can generalists become more useful? Some give back by working as a volunteer. Charitable work is very is rewarding But does not pay the bills. Others enter academia to become Priests to the religion that is education.
Others become authors or artists. Yet in business Creativity clashes with corporate straight jackets. Squashed between policies and boring routines We need a revolution! A revolution In the way that cognitive diversity is Recognised, commissioned and rewarded.
Ahah! I hear you say! It’s up to the generalist To market their skills and get themselves a job! However, generalists don’t like being tied-down To particular job descriptions. They don’t like Being put into a box. They are too inquisitive, Onto the next idea before the last has closed.
What if there was a pool of generalists Who could be engaged for an hour, day or week? They know lots of things about many things And can challenge like the Court Jester. Crazy ideas might lead to a great product or service. Who would commission them? Would you? And why?
I’ve always been fascinated by colour and believed that men and women see colours differently. So I was both interested – and not surprised to see what researchers have found on the subject. It proves that men and women not only prefer different colours, they also see more hues of colour than men. Men, on the other hand, prefer shades. Perhaps it goes back to our ancestors, where women were more attuned to gathering different types of fruit and men were looking for subtle shadows of beasts behind a bush. Who knows? Makes you think, though!
By the way, my favourite colour is blue! But I was surprised that no men liked purple! It was my favourite colour once as a teenager. Before I turned to red – and eventually to blue. I wonder if others have changed their preferences through their lives?
Oh, and just for fun, why not put down your favourite colour in the comments box below – and we’ll see if the research is borne out by those who read the blog.
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.
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 Ulysses. At 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!
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.