the secret power of orange

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If you clothe someone in orange. Specifically a fluorescent hi-vis orange. Something strange happens.

There’s a secret power that creates a stillness in them. They stand. Sometimes they lean. But always still, like an evil voodoo has robbed them of motion. Often they get trapped in this stupefying state in groups. Threes, fours and more, frozen together. Sometimes they bend down. Sometimes they hold something, such as a sign, or a cigarette, or a clipboard or a tool. Sometimes they gaze collectively at a large piece of paper one holds. The spell only seems to impact on their ability to walk, as speech seems unimpaired.

Orange is my favourite colour, so this secret power it seems to possess, freaks me out a little.

cheers to small steps

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I’m off to a celebration. Drinks.

Drinks to celebrate leaving – a friend has been made redundant and is leaving his job role shortly.

We do that don’t we? Celebrate leaving. Celebrate endings. Sometimes just before the ending, sometimes just after. Like a wake.

I have never been invited to a celebration to mark someone starting. You know, a week into their new role, let’s organise drinks to celebrate. Maybe I just don’t get invited to those?

But, perhaps more of note, we don’t celebrate the awareness, the personal learning and growth along life’s journey.

We don’t go out to celebrate discovering our purpose or that we’ve finally pinned down a core value that has driven our decision making and sense of fulfilment for years. We don’t high five people in the street because we realise structure and control are important to us.

Sure, endings mark new beginnings. But the point of transition itself seems to be our focus for note worthiness, for recognition, for celebration.

The steps, the learning, the awareness… all seem important steps to movement, to change, to choice, to growth. Yet we focus on endings and ignore the enabling awareness and learning.

Maybe we should raise a glass to steps? Small steps which can amount to something bigger?

I became aware of this today.

Cheers everyone.

unsticking stuck

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There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.

Franklin D Roosevelt

We notice stuck. When we experience it, stuck draws our attention. We can’t see past it. We feel it pinning us down. Stuck consumes us.

When we’re stuck we become blind to possibilities. Ways to move forward. Advancement. Growth. Movement. All seem out of reach when stuck grasps us.

Yet there are always more ways of moving forwards.

auto pilot takes me the wrong way

be here now

I’ve moved desk over the weekend.  We have had an office re-organisation and one result is I now have a different desk position in the office.

Today I have been confused. I have entered through the wrong door, headed for the wrong part of the office, gone the wrong way for the toilet. Several times. I have been, and seemingly continue to be, befuddled.

I haven’t lost my ability to think. I still know where doors and facilities are. I can still see. Yet I keep going wrong. Ending up in the wrong place. Going the wrong way.

It serves to demonstrate how much we do on auto pilot. Without thinking; without conscious thought at least. We just set off. Our heads filled with other non geographic, navigational stuff. Thinking instead about what we will do when we arrive, or about something we mustn’t forget.

I’m sure I’ll re-calibrate. Might take a day or two. Eventually though, a new autopilot route will have been programmed. I will be free again to wander without thought, arriving at my destination with no need to engage brain or use up some of my thinking bandwidth.

Life can be like that.  Something we take for granted changes and we are momentarily discombobulated. That which needed no thought, now requires some – for us to even function. These changes aren’t always physical; about our surroundings. They can be emotional too. A new emotion emerges. An unfamiliar one. Just like a new desk position, we need to adjust. Take note. Become familiar.

That way we stay flying.

Turn off autopilot and live with presence.
Live with attention.
Live with intention.

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.

 

actors on our own stage

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I was talking with a coach today as their supervisor. They were speaking about procrastination – about something they wanted to get done but recognised they were avoiding.

As they spoke about moving forward, their hand made a shoving motion from in front of their face to their right. I was curious. They then spoke about avoiding this thing because they didn’t like advertising themselves and their talents. With this explanation they made a ‘jazz hands’ gesture with hands framing their face.

I stopped them talking and asked them to notice what just happened. They smiled and reflected back these movements that accompanied their words. They had noticed that their own gestures said as much or more about their stuckness as the story does. Our conversation took a new direction.

Sometimes I wonder just how helpful to our condition of ‘being’ if might be, if we were able to watch ourselves as actors on our own stage?

 

the folding bike of life

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If you commute at all, you will have come across travellers with the folding bike.

If you have ever watched the BBC spoof W1A, the folding bike was an ever present star.

I have never owned one. I have never folded or unfolded one.  Yet they seem to me to be a marvel of engineering. Collapsing wheels, pedals, frame, chain and saddle into a compact , small suitcase sized, ‘luggable’ package.

Ideal for the linking parts of the journey; fitting easily into the boot of the car, compact for the limited space on a train, portable for the walk to the office or ascending in the lift before you hand it to your office assistant, as in W1A.

Wouldn’t it be great if life was engineered like that? Expandable for the journey itself, practical, functional, expansive, whole, readily facilitating movement and progression as we go about our business of living and growing.

Yet collapsible too. Taking on a compact form for the linking moments of change and transition on life’s journey. Periods perhaps where being expanded can bruise us, or strain us, as we attempt to move through life. Where parts of our own self catch us out, banging against our shins of resilience? Periods when bits of our life maybe stick out, knock against someone else, physically or emotionally? Periods when being expanded, our natural whole self, simply gets us stuck in a doorway, challenges our manoeuverability through a narrow gap and makes change from what was, to what will be, somewhat cumbersome?

If only life were as well engineered and flexible as the folding bike.

you can’t have pizza without pizza

pizza self awareness change
These were the words I heard this morning.

I laughed at first, but then, on reflection, realised the logic was irrefutable.

My wife was explaining a need to go to the shop, to buy pizza, so that we could have pizza for tea. The sequence of the thinking intrigued me.

It seemed to highlight the significance of setting a goal and that once the goal is in place, the steps, the resources, the requirements to fulfil that goal can follow. They become almost inevitable. The goal is pizza, pizza is required, pizza comes from the shop.

So, if you can’t have pizza without pizza, maybe…

You can’t change without changing?
You can’t move without moving?
You can’t learn without learning?
You can’t grow without growing?
You can’t see without seeing?
You can’t feel without feeling?
You can’t be without being?

Of course, these action words necessitate a self awareness – a knowledge of both the intended goal. the current state and a means of connecting them. What is learning for me? What is it I want to change? What am I feeling and what do I want to feel? What am I moving towards and how do I create movement for me? Who am I, who is the person I’m seeking to be?

It is true you can’t have pizza without pizza, but knowing what pizza you want will certainly deliver a more satisfying meal.

the move for movement

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Water seldom stands still.

Part of the endless water cycle. Rain, snow, hail and other precipitation falls. It runs from mountain to valley, it seeps into the ground, it pours into rivers. Driven by gravity, it is drawn down towards the earth. Providing a life source for plants, humans and other species. Then, from the land, the oceans and seas, evaporation and condensation draw the water up again, high into the atmosphere where the cycle begins again.

Water in many forms, with many uses. Always moving, always transforming, always serving.

As human beings we too seem drawn to movement. To move away from a past or present truth or to move towards a future one. Drawn too to transformation. Drawn to experiment. To change our state. To experience change. To work towards something. To grow our usefulness. To breathe life into something, someone. To find a new place. To simply find a place.

The inevitability of movement.

Yet water pauses too. Beads of water hesitate in the arms of the leaf, pause as a dew droplet on a blade of grass, hang in the air in a foggy breath, rest for a moment in the rock pool. Socialise with friends in the puddle, the lake.

Water reflects the beauty of now. The glassy eye of the water bead displaying its surroundings in a full panorama. The puddle reflecting passers by, life in action.

As human beings we would do well to mimic this behaviour too. To pause in the moment of now. Life comes in these moments of rest, these moments of reflection, these moments of connection with each other and the world we live in. For in one sense this is our purpose.

The cycle of movement will continue, relentlessly. It will happen whether we seek it or not. Just like the water cycle, it will complete. But like the water droplet, we would do well to pause, to reflect the light around us. Ours and that of others.