The other day travel news reported severe delays on the Piccadilly line.
Not in itself unusual.
However, the postscript revealed that the severe delays were due to a shortage of trains.
Where did they go?
Is someone scratching their head, muttering "I'm sure they were there last night"?
Maybe someone forgot to lock the train shed doors and they slipped away for an adventure of their own? Right now, they're chuffing along on the outer reaches of the Metropolitan line – gone for a day out in Amersham.
Maybe someone parked them all in the wrong siding and train drivers are meandering all over Cockfosters calling for their lost trains?… "Fenton!"
Maybe the fat controller said "park them at Harrow" and was misheard? Trains are right now queued up at Heathrow instead.
Anyone seen the trains?
I hope they're found before Monday.
It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.
G K Chesterton
Sometimes the bounty we seek is on the inside.
Sometimes it lies in a direction we are blind to.
Sometimes we need someone else’s mirror to help to look where we need to look.
We have a wren nesting right outside our living room window. It’s a bay window and there is a climber running up the side of it – a passion fruit, glorious in flower. The nest is in the climber. We can watch the wren, from barely 18 inches away, entering and emerging, singing as it goes. Oblivious and care free.
I think the wren is my favourite bird. Discreet, unobtrusive, inconspicuous. Busy in its own life, flitting, industrious, always moving. Its perky little tail its only nod to ‘look at me’, here I am’.
Maybe these are qualities I value in other human beings? Maybe I value them in myself? Maybe these are things I aspire to, or respect, or admire?
How do we decide these things and why do they matter so? Who knows? Something to be curious about though? Maybe a little birdie can tell you?
Thank you little wren.
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment
Our ability to not know, to be curious, is our energy. It breeds learning, growth, relationships, love, movement, dreams, invention, self discovery…
There seems a relatively new phenomena in our media to describe things through the medium of numbers. Newspaper articles are written around small colour panels, gleefully pronouncing ‘In numbers…’; these are summaries to draw in those who seemingly cannot be bothered to read and understand the depth of the article. It’s as if by providing a statistic, plucked from the vast expanse of a complicated subject, we can understand. Examples in the newspaper today include…
422 million people have diabetes;
1 in 5 people say social media makes them depressed;
124 refugees were taken to Turkey from Lesbos yesterday;
It mirrors the growth in need to know small snippets of many people’s lives in social media – glimpses on Facebook, 144 characters on Twitter. We are time poor, so we’re told, and so we need to pack a lot in. Scan rather then delve. Skim rather than comprehend.
The world seems to have developed into a place of ‘know a little, about a lot’.
This crosses over into what we know about ourselves. Small amounts of knowledge used as labels to describe extraordinarily complex unique human beings. “I’m a completer finisher”, “my type is INTP”, “I’m a big picture person”…
Let’s start reading the entire article. Let’s start taking a deep dive into who we are. Let’s be curious about other people and their glorious uniqueness…
You are not just a number.
Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know; whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows, or is capable of knowing.
The world is changing at pace.
What we know today may largely be irrelevant in the future. What matters most is no longer what we know, but our ability to learn new things. To keep pace with the changing world.
I wonder if Einstein would have recognised this and modified this wisdom to emphasise ‘…is capable of knowing’ and remove ‘…what the pupil knows’?
Recent research correlates success to our learning agility – our ability to be aware of our experience, be curious, seek feedback, find meaning, learn and unlearn.
Einstein was possibly good at that?
I travelled into London this morning by train. I arrive at Paddington, a busy station in the rush hour.
Leaving the train I noticed something I have experience before, but usually I am irritated by it, whereas this time I was curious.
As I stepped from the train, I found myself bumping into fellow travellers. Passengers who had exited the train from an adjacent door or another carriage further down the train; these people were passing along the platform ‘hugging the train’, rather than choosing to move to the centre of a wide concourse, away from disembarking passengers.
I was struck by this behaviour and the potential metaphors for human existence and interaction…
Staying close to where we’ve come from, our roots.
Not exposing ourselves in the throng of humanity and diversity.
Taking the shortest route in life.
Focusing on self and not noticing others.
Being in our own head and not present in the moment.
Staying protected and safe: using a train as a barrier.
Travelling tried and tested paths; the route the train took.
Seeking the beginning or end of our journey.
They seemed plentiful. I may stay curious.
I have been in a discussion today where at one point we explored what might happen if we had no line management.
We discussed how the activities associated with management could be fulfilled in other ways, by technology, by other people, through other relationships.
It left me curious though about the term and, in one sense, its ridiculous notion – that as line managers we are managers of lines.
Here’s a line … manage it.
Someone today said to me, “I tell myself I should…”
I’m always curious when I hear language like this…
Sentences like “I think I am…” or “I sometimes ask myself…”
In sentences like this we are implying two parts of ‘self’.
They beg the question, “Which I?” or “Who is speaking to whom?”
Not some weird illness generally, but rather a useful indication of some separation within us, often manifesting in an internal dialogue. Integrating these parts, or at least raising awareness of the value arising from their distinction might be useful?
What could you never learn?
Make a list.
It’s easy to begin with skills and knowledge – we often equate learning to what we know and what we can do. I for instance would find it hard to ski jump. I don’t like heights, feeling out of control or physically hurting myself, which all seem to me possibilities with ski jumping.
But explore further. Maybe you could never learn to behave a certain way, or to feel certain things? Maybe you could never learn to be calm? Or to physically strike someone for example?
Maybe you could never learn to believe something or to value something – maybe you could never learn to be envious of material wealth for example? Maybe you could never learn to love red meat?
Maybe you could never learn to be a different person in some way? Maybe being a racist is beyond your learning capability? Or to take a life?
What we are blind to learning tells us a lot.
Be curious. What does it say about you?