Jagged edges

(Estimated reading time: 1 minute 30 seconds)

I’ve watched the recent events in Charlottesville with a mixture of fascination and horror. As I’ve been doing so, two quotations have strayed across my path.


No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin…

Nelson Mandela

HT: Amy Cuddy

If accurate (and I believe that it is), this means that our preferences, biases and obsessions are based on culture. So, we must choose to pick up a flag with a swastika; carrying a burning torch; wear a white hood. But why would you?

Then I came across this quotation:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

 George Bernard Shaw

HT: Shane Parrish @ Farnam Street

Clearly, I don’t condone the ugly face of white supremacy that is evident in Charlottesville. But from the comfort of my liberal, privileged, white life on the other side of the Atlantic I’m puzzled and intrigued. What triggers this reaction in the modern day United States? What are the threats (real or perceived) to white people? Do they see the echoes of history in their actions?

But most of all… why do they choose a path of hatred? And, why is it not condemned in the clearest possible terms by the President?

And, why is it not condemned in the clearest possible terms by the President?

I feel that these events have exposed something about the human condition. And, as we look into the jagged edges of unreason, I am left with the outrage and questions. But mostly, I’m left with outrage.

Behold … and consider

Behold … and consider

These photos are two sides of the same piece of stone/installation. (I recommend clicking on them to see them more clearly.)

I stumbled on them a couple of months ago. Fittingly, they’ve been on my mind since then.

I’m a big fan of the concept of pausing.

Behold – spot an idea; capture it; then wait.

Let your brain process it in the background – making connections; teasing it out; adding insight.

Then – and only then – consider. Make the decision; initiate the activity; set the wheels in motion.

In my experience, the best decisions are made in this way; and the worst when there is no pause.

How long to pause? That depends. Sometimes pausing to ask that question might be enough time! But, usually, the pause should give you time to listen to other voices – including the ones in your head.

Slowing down to the speed of intention

Looking back at the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a pattern in my working life.

I’m most productive and feel most fulfilled when I have a clear plan for each day. I accept that this is not exactly an earth-shattering insight. However, if this is so obvious, why is it not my everyday experience?

sharpen-the-axeThe answer – in part – lies not in the plan itself, but in the commitment to planning.

When I don’t have a clearly defined plan, I allow myself to operate in the ‘reactive zone’. This is really about the agenda of other people. Yes, I can occupy myself, feel that I am helping others; but I’m not progressing the things that are important to me.

So I’m learning to be more intentional in my planning. This requires me to slow down and evaluate the relative merits of all the things that compete for my attention. This is also known as prioritising!

Prioritising takes time, it takes focus. It is a job in itself.

But when did you last book a meeting with yourself to prioritise? Maybe, today would be a good time to start.

Making connections

Flicking through some old notes, I came across some scribbles from a podcast featuring Scott Belsky of 99U and Behance In itself, this is barely noteworthy. So why am I writing about it?

Well, the podcast notes resonated with an article that I had spotted in Evernote the other day. The article was an interview where Emma de Vita of the FT was talking to Cilla Snowball CEO of AMV BBDO.

brainI wasn’t actively thinking about, or specifically looking for, either of these sources. I certainly wasn’t looking for a connection between them. And yet, something in my brain established a link. I don’t know how this happens. I do know that it happens more often when I am relaxed and calm, when my brain can work in the background and do the thinking without my conscious world getting in the way. For example, these connections typically happen when I’m gardening, driving, walking. The connection that I’m writing about today happened when I was tidying the study (a wee bit!).

Having made the connection between a piece of paper and an electronic note, I find myself wondering how to find a digital equivalent to flicking through some old notes. When I’m in ‘digital mode’ I tend to be more linear, more focused, thinking like a search engine. Is it going to be more unusual/difficult to make connections if/when all information is digitised?

I’ll write about the specific connections, which I’ve referred to, in the next couple of entries.

(Image from pixabay.com)