the past can only be remembered now

Reflecting on your day, hundreds, or thousands, of things happen. In fact each day of your life this is so. This moment, Now, is therefore only one of many, many moments.

Yet this moment, Now, is as it is. Indeed, it cannot be otherwise.

Moments of the past are merely as we recall them. Moments of the future are dreams, creations of thought. The division of moments, the division of our lives, into past, present and future is mind-made and ultimately illusory. The past can only be remembered, now. The future only imagined, now. So in essence all there is that is real, is Now.

When your attention moves into the Now, there is space, clarity, simplicity, peace. There is also an alertness.
Many people confuse Now, with what happens in the Now. But the Now is deeper than what happens in it. It is the very space in which it happens.

This moment, Now, is the one constant truth. No matter what happens, no matter what changes, one thing is certain … it is always Now.

Makes you wonder why we dwell on the past and worry for the future, doesn’t it? Wasting Now.

Don’t waste it, embrace it. Now.

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time to turn around from a scene not seen?

Lincoln's address

Ten years ago, it would have seen a very different picture.

People congregating to admire perhaps the greatest President – the saviour of the Union. Or, maybe they would be amassing merely to gaze upon the art; the fine alabaster sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, cosseted in a columnar temple looking out to Capitol Hill.

Except now, more than half of these people are facing the wrong way. At least, facing the wrong way to look directly at the statue.

For now, unlike a decade ago, the adopted mode of recording your presence is the ‘selfie’. And so, half of the people are looking away, beaming at their mobile, posing, pointing, pulling all manner of faces. Alone, or with companions peering over an appropriately framed shoulder.

It’s an odd sight. Half looking towards, half looking away.

Maybe the ‘selfie’ posture accurately reflects the passing of time? The past appropriately behind us, looking back. As if looking in a mirror at what has gone before, whilst our bodies, and eyes, face out to the future?

There was a time we recorded photographically the thing, the place, the view. However, it seems to me that instead, in this ‘selfie’ age, what matters most is the subject in the foreground. The self. Me. I. The grinning, posing photograph taker. I am, in this moment, more significant than the history that preceded me. More relevant than the beautiful scenery behind me. More important that the place, the environment, the location.

We share these pictures to showcase first and foremost our expressions, our poses, our facial creativity, our friends, not to show off the backdrop.

I wonder what metaphor this is, for our future? Not observing the wonder around us. Instead, the preoccupation with looking at ourselves. Not deeply. Not into our soul, or our very being. But looking at our superficial, surface selves. Sharing these with others. Competing with others. Even now, we photoshop them with filters. To remove reality. To remove blemishes.

Maybe we need to face reality again? Maybe we should turn around more?

Maybe that would be a decision on the scale of those Abraham Lincoln once took?

the graduates of today…

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I’ve spent some time today with some new graduates joining the organisation.  It’s day two for them.

Driving to the venue I reflected on being one of them…  thirty years ago.

I was now standing in front of them, much as key leaders had been marched out in front of me all that time ago. Then, the leaders were booted and suited. Ties, business suits and highly polished brogues. Today I am in an open neck checked shirt and chinos. Over or under dressed?

I sat on a panel as groups presented their thinking around a business priority. We questioned them, then they questioned us. They seem more worldy wise than I recall being in my time. Great questions about society, change and cultural diversity. A colleague on the panel suggested our pension was in safe hands.

My session with them explored self, authenticity and learning agility. And it seems that although the graduates of today are more connected, more aware, more socially responsible and possibly smarter, they still suffer everyday human frailties. They were still worried about how they came across, still wanting to be reassured, encouraged. They still wanted to be heard, accepted, understood. They discussed self awareness and being themselves, yet they still had limiting beliefs about what was possible, albeit fuelled by a hunger to achieve and succeed.

It seems that whilst much has changed in thirty years, much is the same.

Their very humanity, their vulnerability, their humanness, no different to ours all that time ago.

Maybe that’s a sign of how we need to develop our education, our learning about being human? Maybe the focus on learning ‘stuff’ is strangling our ability to learn about the nature of being human?

moving to a new age

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The world is changing.

We hear that a lot lately. Technology, society, East catching West, globalisation, consumerism, social media, virtual reality, robotics etc. Much is indeed changing.

But are we changing with it, or are we trapped, caught in our own story?  A story spun by the very creators and enablers of the change. Much of what we refer to as change is simply the inevitable out turn of the industrialisation age. These early industrialists promised us: work hard, fit into the schemes of work we define, do what’s asked and you will be looked after, you will get what you want. Factories, mass production, even the idea of management, all born at this time.

Now, we’re caught, in this late-capitalist phase of our society. Our narratives about work remain oriented to this thinking. Work days and weekends. Home and the workplace. Career. Professions. Trades. Status. Money. Recognition. Security. Control. Management. Competition.

We learn, more or less successfully, how to mould ourselves to the categories already on offer in the world – factory worker, administrator, school teacher, manager, accountant, doctor…

For the most part we cope. Some thrive. Many however become disenchanted. Disenfranchised. The system isn’t working for them. The rewards may come, but they’re not enough, or they don’t bring happiness. The ‘have nots’ judge the ‘haves’ – the rewards aren’t fair, equal. Our hearts and souls are stunted by the repeated self-abandonment that fitting in can require of us. Square pegs, round holes. Freedom lost to a defined, managed, measured way to do, to be.

And now, a looming challenge is that many of those roles themselves have gone, are going, or will go in the next twenty years. Falling victim to the very possibilities the Industrial Age and its offspring the Technological Age, have created.

Time for a new way of thinking? A new paradigm?

One with enhanced caring and social responsibility perhaps? One that champions a calling maybe? One that redefines contribution and reward? One that places humanity ahead of hierarchy? Who knows? One thing seems clear though, we need to start to define and move to a new age.

 

is it off?

I wonder sometimes how far away we are from the office dying?

I don’t mean my office specifically. I mean the concept and the physical manifestation.

Huge swathes of land used to hold them. Resources expended through their sustenance, upkeep and running. They form visual blots on our landscape; splatterings of glass and concrete across our towns and cities.

Millions of us still travel to the office.  We walk, drive, cycle, commute. Time is lost, travelling. Pollution generated and scarce resources lost, through travelling.

When we arrive we sit in a box, or at a desk and we type and talk. We respond to emails, fill in forms, write presentations and papers. We sit in meetings, we talk in groups, we phone people. For many, the majority of the day is spent more engaged with a keyboard and display than with another human being.

Yet still we come.

Still we come to a physical building miles from where we live to sit with others who also come. Why?

Is this just a hypnotic pattern we succumbed to in past decades? A trance-like manoeuvre we replicate without thought? A pattern so ridiculous, yet so intoxicating, that we cannot see beyond it?

Many have seen the light. They work from home.  Some play with the light; they work from home on Friday.  Some tease the light; they come to the office, but continue working when they get home.

Some say they come for the interaction. To meet people. I wonder what future for this? The other day I heard someone say to their neighbour “I just sent you an email.” They didn’t then have the conversation. Alerting the recipient to the message seemed to suffice.

Nowadays technology either can, or is close to being able to, replicate our ability to perform all these office tasks from anywhere. Social media heralds a new way. We can already share screens, documents, hold chats, share video, see each other via Skype or Facetime. Virtual reality, an imminent reality.

So will the office die? Is the office off? Will it fade away as a construct of the 20th century, lost to the annals of history like cave dwelling or the medieval neck ruff?

Maybe we will convert them all to care homes for the elderly?  Or to shelters for the homeless?

 

 

going…

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We spend a lot of time going.

Going places.

On a bus the other day, gazing backwards out of the rear of the vehicle as it trundled up Park Lane, I noticed this. All around me were cars, buses, bikes, vans, lorries. All the occupants, driver or passenger, going. Where wasn’t clear, but they were all going. As was I. Glancing to the side there were pedestrians and cyclists on the path. Also going. An inline skater eased between these goers, also going? Peering skywards, an aeroplane could be made out, high in the clouds, going. Going further perhaps, but nonetheless going.

We are not often still.

When we’re not physically going, we’re mentally or emotionally going.

Going from here to there. There to here. Going forward, going backwards. Sometimes going sideways. Going round and around. Sometimes going, in order to go. Going to familiar places and to new places. Going to be with, going to be away from.

Or maybe we’re coming?

What’s the difference?

Are these people around me going or coming? Coming or going?

However they might describe their orientation of travel, of movement, one thing is clear. They are not still. They are not simply being. They are not just in the present. They are going, or coming, from or to. Past or future. Was, will be. Then, when.

Not… now.

 

 

the growth of the fad

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering including video gaming in the 2020 Olympics.

My first reaction was, that’s ridiculous. Almost as daft as cream cracker eating as a competitive sport. But then I reflected.

When is change about growth, modernisation and progression, recognising the demands of a changing world, and when is it a retrograde step, challenging history and values from a time gone by? Every change it could be argued comes with an upside and a downside. Every change from the invention of the wheel, through the Industrial Revolution right up to the advent of social media.

When is change almost for change’s sake? Because changing shows that we’re doing something? We’re active. Moving.

In organisations we move the deckchairs constantly. New teams, new roles, changed reporting, changed priorities, redundancies. All intended to respond to the market, to customer needs or to the call of efficiency. Yet often these changes hark back to methods or structures discarded at a previous evolution. Growth in organisations and in society it seems is more of a spiral, moving forward, yes, but circling back over old ground at the same time.

It seems change, growth, movement are a deeply intrinsic human need. We seem incapable of just standing still.  But where and how we grow seems more and more to be less considered, less thoughtful, as the modern world evolves. The capacity and capability for change, seems to be driven increasingly from the need for change itself, rather than from a considered view of how and where to evolve to a markedly better place. We seem addicted to the idea that things just have to be different. It’s the movement that counts more than the destination. This in turn seems to raise the profile of temporary.  Places that exist just as staging posts from one change to the next. Temporary, transitional states. Fads.

I wonder if the consideration of rows of professional e-sport players, sitting at terminals, playing each other at a computer game, watched by crowds, is more a response of this modern need to change, than a true enhancement of the sporting ideals conceived by the Olympic founders?

It seems to me that, if it gets the go ahead, it would be merely a temporary nod to a changing world, probably gone and forgotten within one or two games, replaced perhaps by insect eating or another up and coming fad.

I wonder what happens to us should we ever be unable to change? If we become stuck? When growth stops being possible because only one company runs everything and it is all optimised to meet every human need?

Then, we probably wear virtual reality headsets which create imaginary change so that our intrinsic need for growth is met. And that will be the only Olympic event.