The drive from Jaipur to Delhi took over five hours – 270 kms. My driver, Ashok, stopped at a restaurant for lunch. It was packed. It was packed with Indians, the women all in lovely saris. It was noisy. It was Sunday. Lots of families. I felt out of place,
I visited the bathroom. It was also packed. No surprises there. Everyone in lovely saris – except me and the toilet attendant. As I left, I handed her a few rupees. She brought the notes to her lips, and our eyes met for a moment.
We talk of making a difference. We talk of doing something grand, of doing something that will make the world a better place. It is these small gestures that probably make the biggest difference.
Tom Jacobs says it better than I can:
“Humility. We are each of us brothers. Things might have gone differently. Whether we were born in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time, we owe everything to contingency, chance, and providence. As my high school track teacher used to say before a track meet, when we were all feeling wildly anxious: “everyone puts their pants on in the same way.” I never quite knew what he meant by that at the time, but I think I understand now.
Charles Baxter says something somewhere (in his novel Shadow Play) that our lives end at our fingertips. There is truth to this. There are large gestures and small gestures. Most of what matters in this world are the small gestures. Tipping well; being nice to the cashier; dropping whatever money you might have in your pocket into the homeless person’s cup (or at the very least, acknowledging their existence…saying ‘hello,’ type of thing); letting the car in front of you merge when they need to. These are small gestures. The dramatic and pivotal decision that ramifies beyond our immediate experience is rare, and perhaps not worth worrying about. By all means, vote. Like political messages on facebook. But the actual work of a truly democratic society happens in the everyday, in the dust kicked up by just waking up and existing with others in time.”
HT to Johnnie Moore’s tweetJust Stuff | Comment (0)
You know that time you felt nervous before you stood up in front of a group?
And that time when you thought everyone was glaring at you?
And that time when you forgot to say something really important?
And that time you wished the floor would open up and swallow you?
And that time something happened that really surprised you?
And that time when you thought you weren’t up to the task, but as it turns out, you were?
And that time you tried something really, really risky and it paid off?
And that time when you tried something really, really risky and it flopped?
And that time when you named what was really going on, and there was that uncomfortable pause, and then a collective out breath?
And that time when you thought to yourself, ‘why do I do this?’
And that time when you thought to yourself, ‘this is why I do this!’
Me too.Just Stuff | Comment (0)
This came to me via a circuitous and interesting route – reminding me of the power of turning up and of serendipity.
You can read the original here, at Zen Habits.
This is important for me to remember.
- We stop setting goals, and instead do what excites us.
- We stop planning, and just do.
- We stop looking at the future, and live in the moment.
- We stop trying to control others, and focus instead on being kind to them.
- We learn that trusting our values is more important to taking action than desiring and striving for certain outcomes.
- We take each step lightly, with balance, in the moment, guided by those values and what we’re passionate about … rather than trying to plan the next 1,000 steps and where we’ll end up.
- We learn to accept the world as it is, rather than being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it, despaired by it, or trying to change it into what we want it to be.
- We are never disappointed with how things turn out, because we never expected anything — we just accept what comes.
Hat tip: Nicky Hayward-WrightJust Stuff | Comment (0)
I’ve been eating out a lot. Not because I don’t like to cook, or can’t. The simple reason is I’ve been travelling a lot and eating out goes with the territory. I find myself always sighing with relief when the menu is short. And what’s even better than a short menu? When someone else does the ordering.
I remember a meal in Vancouver. It was at the end of an Open Space on Open Space gathering and I was there with my friend Brian Bainbridge and others who had attended the conference. We just wanted to hang out and enjoy each other’s company before heading to different parts of the globe. The owner of the Indian restaurant we chose greeted us enthusiastically, got us comfortably seated, brought beers and wines and water and then said, “Why don’t you just leave the food to me?” Fantastic. We could focus on what we did best: eating, drinking and having conversations while he and his staff focused on what they did best, preparing food.
Tonight I was reading a blog post – you know the sort – x reasons why x does/doesn’t work. The list was so long there was definitely going to be something there for everyone. A bit like a horoscope. Feeling a bit down this week? Never mind, the planets are on the move and by the end of the week you will have received some cheering news, maybe even an offer that will be financially and or personally rewarding.
So rather than long lists I think I’d prefer a bit more depth, a bit of analysis, some context.
Note: This is as much a reminder to myself as well as a plea to others. Please feel free to remind me of this post if my posts start to resemble those anything-you-can-eat menus.Just Stuff | Comment (0)
One of the things I love about reading blogs and tweets is the everyday wisdom that emerges. You lot inspire me. Here’s some recent favourites:
When you are standing on the edge of a cliff, a step forward is not progress. – Anonymous (from Tom Atlee’s web site)
We do make waves…sometimes intentionally and sometimes in spite of our best intentions. Think of the poor trader who pushed the wrong button and dropped the stock market 1000 points. Now that is a wave! But it was also a wave amongst many — like the meltdown in Greece. Our waves coalesce with all the rest creating new patterns and new waves. At the end of the day it is not about “my wave” or “your wave” — but riding the waves in our part of the pond. I think. - Harrison Owen
Conversation is the way that humans have always thought together. In conversation we discover shared meaning. And: To change the conversation, change who is in the conversation. – Meg Wheatley (from Chris Corrigan)
Ideas are not the problem. Getting clear about what we really care about so we actually want to act on an idea – that may be more of a challenge. – Johnnie Moore
In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? – Siddhartha Gautama (from Patti Digh)Just Stuff | Comment (0)
This is Hugh MacLeod’s latest cartoon, and this is how he describes it:
That heady moment when you realize that all the potential that you knew was there, was just the tip of what could be an unfathomably large iceberg?
Love, Life, Enterprise, Discovery? Its one of those powerful moments which don’t come that often, but can profoundly affect us.
Yes, indeed. I am fortunate to feel intoxicated by possibility as I explore, well, possibilities.Just Stuff | Comment (1)
Yesterday I had afternoon tea with the girls – champagne, asparagus rolls, scones, cupcakes – in other words, the works. It was a pleasant and diverting way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We even had proper china tea cups and matching plates, a lace tablecloth and little silver tongs to pick up small cubes of sugar. Our host had bid for the occasion at a charity dinner and invited us to share in the delights.
It was a different world in the days when this sort of afternoon tea was more common. No-one would deny that. Yet when it comes to work we still hear the mantra to work harder, produce more. Measure the output. Be clear about outcomes. Pull the lever faster, produce more. Problem is, just like we’re not indulging in long afternoon teas so much, we’re not producing so many ‘things’ any more – a lot of work is knowledge work, thinking, engaging with others, generating ideas and solutions. Asking us to think harder is just silly.
We seem to be in the midst of this transition – no longer in an industrial era where being efficient and measuring output made sense, and not yet in whatever new era we’re entering. Stuck, hanging onto the past and not yet embracing the present. And as long as we hang there, stuck between the past and the present we lose momentum.
Momentum is what propels us forward. And for me the way to maintain momentum is to play. Play with new technologies, keep the ones I like, discard the others; play with ideas; play with different ways of working – indeed, play with different people. And I use the word play deliberately. It’s not a planned approach, there’s no system, no check boxes. It is random, it is opportunistic, and it is fun and engaging. It’s a journey of discovery. I’m trying to learn how to live in the world as it is, not as it was. It’s not without its frustrations, dead-ends and miss-hits. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m having fun despite the pace of change, the uncertainty and the uneasy sense of not really being able to keep up. How about you?General, Just Stuff | Comment (0)
So I go to the US a few years back and meet New York based improviser and consultant Cathy Salit. Fast forward to this week and Cathy is in Australia to do a pilot of her Performance Of A Lifetime program with a client.
In the meantime, New Zealander Anne Pattillo and I do some work together, start a facilitation training business, write the odd manifesto together – you get the picture.
Cathy is in Melbourne for less than a week. As it happens Anne is also in town for a facilitation gig, and I’m just back from working overseas, so we squeeze in a lunch. Anne meets Cathy for the first time. We have a great lunch, lots of laughs, and go our separate ways.
The following day, Anne’s doing her gig at the Werribee Mansion – and at afternoon tea time looks across the hall at another group facilitated by, you guessed it, Cathy.
And while this is happening unbeknownst to me, a book arrives in the mail from the TED book club called Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.
Oh, and it’s also a full moon!Just Stuff | Comment (0)
Scoff if you want. Having criteria to decide what I do and don’t do is actually liberating. Yeah, I know – it’s totally out of character, I’m sure such discipline is not something you would generally attribute to me. Nonetheless, I’ve been applying my criteria – and that is harder than it sounds – and very happy when I do. I may be poorer (in a money way of measuring) but I am much richer in every other way.
Here they are again:
- Can I make a real contribution? Is there a need for my skills? Will I make a difference?
- Will it stretch me? Is it edgy? Will it contribute to my continued learning?
- Is there an opportunity to build capacity, and transfer my skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to others?
- Will it enable me to make money and provide for the future?
- Is there an opportunity to travel to new or interesting places?
- Will I be with cool people, especially friends? Will I potentially make new friends, and build existing relationships?
- Will I have fun?
- Am I excited by the prospect?
Four, or more, and it’s a yes!General, Just Stuff | Comment (1)