Sometimes you get stuck. You can’t think of a way out.
Well, it’s not the first time! Mankind has a long history of innovation.
This video explains it beautifully – and gives us seven questions to ask when you get stuck:
Go on! Try it! Ask the seven questions:
1. What can we imagine?
2. What can we look at differently?
3. What can we use differently?
4. What can we move?
5. What can we interconnect?
6. What can we alter?
7. What can we make?
That’s all very well if you are a guy (like me) and trying to fix things to make things better. But what about the emotional side of the equation? Jason Headley has another (perhaps much more brilliant video) which should amuse those that find communication skills between the sexes more challenging:
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.
(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.
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).
As we come to the end of the summer break, for most of us, school, university or work starts afresh. I say, for most because, like with all generalisations, there are always those who break the rule. An increasing number of friends seem to be moving into “retirement” or “semi-retirement” – breaking the pattern of a life-time by taking more time off. Two of my children are starting University – a break from the long years of study at school to the less structured, more fun time at Uni.
And the little word “break” got me thinking. It seems to have so many meanings. It runs to many definitions in the dictionary – both as a verb and as a noun. It can be:
- destructive (as in – “break a glass”)
- illegal (as in “breaking the speed limit”)
- liberating (as in “break out of old patterns”)
- exciting (as in “breaking news”)
- disappointing (as in “break my heart”)
- the point of profit (as in “break-even”)
- time to eat (as in “breakfast”)
- very confusing for someone not fluent in English (as in “break a leg”)
For such a little word, it has so many different subtle meanings and so many different ways to combine itself with other words to mean so many different things!
Yet, with all of this, I always see the start of September as the opportunity to break from the past and focus on the future. For some reason, even more so than with Christmas or Easter. Perhaps we are all subconsciously programmed by the school year – whether as students, former students or parents. Yet there are those who will always break the mould and find other beginnings and endings in their year and not agree with me.
Great word “break”.
The speed awareness course that I wrote about last week focused on stopping distances.
Since then, I have been thinking a bit more about reaction times – because that is the part that, as a driver, you control. Once you put your foot on the brake pedal, it is all down to physics.
It also reminded me of the sequence that I was taught when learning to drive: Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.
Yet, even before looking in the mirror, there is the thought or intent to move the car in a new or different direction.
So the whole sequence looks something like: Thought > Intent > Mirror > Signal > Manoeuvre.
And that got me thinking about work.
How often, in business, do we start by looking in the mirror – and we expect to be inspired by looking at the figures of last month’s performance?
How often do we start moving things before we signal to the wider group affected by the change?
In today’s frenetic online world of tweets and likes and such things, the opportunity to act without thinking, to press the “Buy Me Now” button before remembering you already have enough (books, clothes, food…<insert your particular collection obsession here>) for your needs.
How often do we act before we think about the consequences?
How often do we manoeuvre before thinking?
And what about this strange word, Manoeuvre. Is it spelt right? And what does it really mean?
I looked up the second part of the word (oeuvre) and found this:
OEUVRE = A work of art – Synonym = Work
Etymology: Today’s word was borrowed so recently from French, we have not yet resolved its pronunciation in English. It devolved from Latin opera “works,” the plural of “opus.” Sanskrit apas “work” and German üben “practice, exercise” derive from the same ultimate root.
The interesting thing, I find, is that holidays a good time to move out of work mode and into work of art mode. It allows you to look at your life as the creation of a series of works of art and puts a different emphasis on the process or the day-to-day grind and allows you to review your creations in the past year and those that you wish to create in the coming year. I always have a small notebook handy so I can jot down ideas on new works of art. Notebooks are much more fluid than a smartphone. Not sure yet whether an iPad is as good. Don’t think it is.
So, basically, before you start the next round of your Man-Work (or Woman-Work), it is best to take time to think. Think about signalling to those around you that you are going to create this new work of art – and even before that it is worth looking in the mirror to check there is no one behind you that is going to get in your way. Oh – and before ALL of that, it is worth thinking about the implications of changing direction and creating new works of art that might affect other users of the road you have chosen.
Have a great holiday if you are still to go – and hope you got inspired if you have already been! In any case, think before you man-oeuvre your life towards the creation of your new works of art!
Sometimes you read something that really moves you. It reaches places in your mind that you’ve never been to before. It makes you re-think assumptions about how the world works in deeply profound ways.
So it was when I read this poem from Adyashanti’s book “Emptiness Dancing” and understood a little more about who is the hidden author of every thought!
The waves of mind
demand so much of Silence.
But She does not talk back
does not give answers nor arguments.
She is the hidden author of every thought
She speaks only one word.
And that word is this very existence.
No name you give Her
can embrace Her.
Mind throws itself at Silence
demanding to be let in.
But no mind can enter into
Her radiant darkness
Her pure and smiling
The mind hurls itself
into sacred questions.
But Silence remains
unmoved by the tantrums.
She asks only for nothing.
But you won’t give it to Her
because it is the last coin
in your pocket.
And you would rather
give Her your demands than
your sacred and empty hands.
Everything leaps out in the celebration of mystery,
but only nothing enters the sacred source,
the silent substance.
Only nothing gets touched and becomes sacred,
realizes its own divinity,
realizes what it is
without the aid of a single thought.
Silence is my secret.
More profound thoughts in Adyashanti’s book – Emptiness Dancing
I have to thank my brother, Angus, for alerting me to this extraordinary video.
There are no words to describe the thoughts you will have once you have watched it:
This week three events happened that highlighted to me that the way that the world owns, controls and governs the 7bn people on the planet is under extreme pressure. Yet signs that the new world is responding in sensible and more conscious ways are encouraging.
As the old-world sovereign-states governments try to balance their own budgets and wrestle with their own, unique, local problems, multinational companies increasingly put two fingers up to them to avoid paying corporation tax. Apple is a good example which, this week, apparently saved over $9bn in tax with a “bond manouever”. If you were Tim Cook, you’d probably have done the same. Yet the countries that need the tax revenue to help get themselves out of the debt that they have are being out-manouevered by the multinational tax avoidance network that serve the corporate giants that belong to no country and are accountable to, well, their shareholders, of course. Big companies seem to get it all their own way.
In the middle east, even after all the investigations over the justification of the Gulf War and whether or not Saddam Hussein did or did not have weapons of mass destruction, we are fed confusing news that civilians are being sprayed with nerve gas in Syria – and that West military intervention is, once again, becoming more intellectually justifiable. Soil samples have degraded and there is not enough evidence for going to war. So we have to wait.
Yet there are interesting counter-pressures. As a beekeeper, I have been keenly following developments on the EU which, this week, voted for a two-year restrictions on the nerve-agent pesticides (called neonicotinoids) blamed for the dramatic decline global bee populations. The EU decided on a narrow majority of 15/27 votes. The UK was one of eight countries that voted against the ban in spite of a petition signed by 300,000 people presented to Downing Street last week by fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett. The Independent has also campaigned to save Britain’s bee population. The British government’s choice to vote against the ban was based on the fact that “there was not enough evidence” that bees were being affected – and that the samples in various tests had been contaminated. The uncanny similarity between degraded soil samples from Syria and contaminated samples that voided tests for the bees made me think: how convenient! How convenient it is for a government or a leader to ignore evidence when “tests are inconclusive” or when the “evidence is not clear”. No decision is better than a decision that you could be held accountable for!
However, we beekeepers must thank the internet protest networks – led by Avaaz.org – who managed to get enough support in countries (other than the UK) to swing the vote against the vested interests of Bayer and others who have, until now dominated the decisions taken in our food chain – from the seeds we plant, the agricultural methods we adopt through to the quality of foods we eat.
The bees have a short respite and Avaaz is now pursuing the real Dark Lord in the battle for Mother Earth. Go on. Vote. It can only help a growing wave of public opinion to counter the madness of global corporate arrogance that they are accountable to no one.
I believe that there is hope for us all with this new type of democracy emerging. The vote to ban neonicotinoids was a turning point for me. It would appear that these online campaigns really are starting to get policy makers in multinationals to think again and change their minds. They have a new body that they need to recognise – and a protest can come from nowhere and expose issues is uncontrollable ways. PR companies and even newspapers are becoming less and less effective in this new world of informed internet politics and political activism. Even governments must be encouraged as it gives them a new reason to act, not just sit on the fence because “there is no evidence”. After all, most of them want to get voted back into power.
Interested to know what you think – please do leave a comment below.
I met her once. We had been waiting expectantly for half an hour. She was late. When she finally entered the room, she surfed on a wave of power and authority – like the entrance of the Queen of Sheba without the music.
Calm, collected, nose in the air, she frowned with complete disdain for the cohort of journalists who were between us and the doorway. The flash-guns had fired like a set of uncoordinated fireworks as soon as the door had opened.
I remember vividly the soundman for the BBC camera crew who had a long, extended microphone covered in a sausage-shaped, fluffy sound muffler. He was lying on the floor to get out of the way of the cameras that were pointing at her. She virtually kicked him and made a comment (I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like) “that’s where you guys belong – on the floor”. She could easily have said “scumbag” – but I don’t think she did! It was all part of the drama.
She gave her short speech for the evening news and the twenty or so journalists were ushered out of the room with the sense of urgency that a hassled mistress of the house would want when letting her servants sweep the floor after a spill or a mess had been made by the dog.
She said “Are they all gone?” There was silence. A few nodded their heads to affirm they had all left. The atmosphere changed immediately. Less formal. Yet still quite tense. She was on a mission. She wanted answers to questions. She was impatient. Dennis just wanted a drink. He relaxed everyone by saying something like “Good, let’s have a drink”.
She was born the same year as my father, in another era, another age. What was important then is now no longer so important. What was pressing then is now, in hindsight, much less pressing – even trivial. Yet, at the time, she had the power. She had the authority. She had the sense of purpose. She got the attention and wanted change. Yet, for all the words, my longest-lasting memory was the feeling I had when she entered the room. Words cannot describe the electric presence she exuded. I’ve seldom had that feeling from anyone, man or woman, either before or since.
As we hear the conflicting messages of the US and UK stock market reaching all-time highs, but the British Pound losing its creditworthiness and predictions of the currency on a long-term slide into goodness knows where, the uncertainties about the world trigger a search for a model that can understand what is going on – and what one should do about it. More importantly, it makes us think more about what is important in life so we can make the hard choices to navigate a fruitful future for ourselves and those who are important to us.
It was therefore a coincidence that yesterday, I turned to a set of cards of wise sayings that I was given a few years ago, The cards summarise the ideas of Abraham-Hicks (more details at the bottom of this post).
The text says:
Those who are
mostly observers thrive
in good times but suffer in bad
times because what they are observing
is already vibrating, and as they observe it,
they include it in their vibrational countenance;
and as they include it, the Universe accepts that as
their point of attraction – and gives them more
of the essence of it. So for an observer
the better it gets, the better it gets;
or the worse it gets, the worse
it gets. However, one who
is a visionary thrives
in all times.
For those new to Abraham-Hicks, words like “vibrational countenance” and “point of attraction” might seem a bit strange. But for me, having read deeper into their work for a few years, I have found the Abraham-Hicks way of looking at the world to be extraordinarily powerful, interesting and helpful.
A simple message, shines through the more esoteric phrases: have a vision and hold it through good times and bad and you will find it is easier to take the ups and downs in life than if you just sit back as an observer and let life happen around you.
Food for thought. I would love to hear from any readers who have thoughts on these ideas. Please post them below!
More information on the Abraham-Hicks publications at: