Articulating Yourself Through What You Read

One of the things I’ve found essential to having a second brain is because it helps you understand and articulate these things that are interesting and have meaning for you, revealing yourself at a deeper level in turn.

For example, in observing people over the years on blogs and social media networks, you usually see a pattern of evolution with what they’re sharing.

Initially the person may share something they find as a simple bookmark or link, maybe saying something like “This is amazing!” In effect, the person feels something of importance with what they found and shared big they can’t put it into words.

Next the person may evolve to sharing the article and including a key quote from it. This indicates they are honing in on something that has meaning within the article for them but still may not how best describe it in their own words.

After that, the person may evolve finally evolve to not only quoting multiple aspects of the article but also indicating the meaning of why beside each quote and even giving a summarization about the article as whole, relating how it relates to their work or life in some way.

Now how you can evolve yourself in this way is by progressively summarizing what you read.

At its basics, your just highlighting sentences that seem to stand out to you (but may not initially understand why at first). After that, if you’re reading a PDF, you could start using different colours to represent different levels of importance. And then you may start annotating them with a few words to explain why they have important meaning to you. And over time, you’ll start seeing repeating patterns between these things highlighted that will reveal even more meaning to you.

The beauty of this approach is that this meaning not only bubbles up from what you read, revealing itself to you, but it also reveals who you are deep down inside, your True Self. Over time, like myself, it may pull you in directions you may not have even imagined at first but in time you’ll understand how and why this meaning is weaving itself through your life, revealing a larger tapestry of your Self.


Working Towards Inspiration, Rather Than From It

Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings has a wondrous post on inspiration and the “generative power of not-knowing” as relayed by Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska.

What I find wondrous about it is that it reveals inspiration, not as a starting point for one’s work but as a culmination of it that both expands one’s sense of self and allows space for more unknown possibilities.

This is revealed by a quote by Ann Hamilton who emphasizes we work from “what we know to what we don’t know.”

One doesn’t arrive — in words or in art — by necessarily knowing where one is going. In every work of art something appears that does not previously exist, and so, by default, you work from what you know to what you don’t know.

Ann Hamilton

And Wisława Szymborska indicates inspiration is a continuous “I don’t know” which coupled with Ann’s earlier quote means we’re working towards inspiration.

A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

Wisława Szymborska

And it is this inspiration—which we are working towards—that expands our sense of self and life as a whole.

This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended.

Wisława Szymborska

This mirrors as a whole with why I’ve placed inspiration at the end of the process of social creativity (ie connecting, empowering, inspiring) rather than at the start of it. It is because it is the inspiration you are creatively working towards with regards to your work.

And it is the completed inspiration which inspires and connects with someone else, starting the creative process within them which can only be completed when they themselves complete the inspiration of their own work they are working towards.


Barbarian Pioneers

In Margaret Wheatley’s book “Who Do You Choose To Be?“, she talks about pioneers in the first stage of a civilization & barbarians in the final stage.

They are actually one & the same.

You will always seem to be a barbarian if your own pioneering disrupts someone else’s world(view).

I think this is what it probably feels like today to be a digital nomad. To others, your life may seem “foreign and strange”, finding such freedom in a lifestyle that seems so uncertain and unpredictable. And yet therein lies the wondrous possibilities of it. 


A Tsunami of Change

This is what it means to learn, to work and to succeed, I think, in the modern digital age. It is just to know your knowledge, to really in some way know yourself.

Tiago Forte, Building a Second Brain

I believe that these words hold the foundation for a whole New World that is emerging in front of us right now. A New World that radically redefines and reframes everything we think we know.

Forget jobs. Forget organizations.

Something new is emerging. A tsunami of change.

Fuck what you know. You need to forget about what you know, that’s your problem.

Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Your Too Smart for Your Own Good

Just remembering something my wife said to me years back.

“Your problem is that you’re too smart.”

She’s right. Sometimes when you’re too smart, you seek out solutions to problems that are way more complex than they need to be.

And if anything, often times the best ways to create something complex is by building it or cultivating it slowly and simply over time, one step at a time.

In this way, the complexity you need arises naturally, with very little effort, as an emergent outcome.


Second Brain or Second Self?

There’s something about using the word Second Brain that doesn’t jive with me fully though. It feels limiting in some way. To me, it’s more like you’re creating a Second Self or a Reflected Self that helps you reveal your True Self.

For now though, I’ll probably keep using Second Brain to describe this, as it has taken on a life of its own, become more and more know.


Site Purposes

I’m realizing that going forward, Be Real Creative will become my business site, articulating the overarching vision of how I wish to simply help others by revealing their unique and authentic leadership of their identity through creativity. Even this falls into alignment, as I’ve always seen myself metaphorically as a Bard. But instead of telling heroic tales of others, I’m helping others to reveal the heroic (aka leadership) aspects of themselves on their own.

And Nollind Whachell, as this website entity, will become a living example of a web-based Second Brain.


Stepping into The Pool of Knowledge

The “Ladder of Inference”. I get it now in a whole new way. We typically envision it as something we climb up but it is also something we climb down as well. In fact, climbing down with it is its primary mode because it builds an mental environment (aka worldview) we can step down and immerse ourselves within.

But later, when we are trying to go beyond this worldview, we also need to learn to step out of it, breaking it down through creative destruction, so that we can rebuild another ladder that helps us immerse ourselves within something much, much deeper than what we’re seeing now.


Clarifying Identity Through Simplified Technology

Yesterday something happened that kind of woke me up to something that had been staring me in the face for the longest time but I was effectively blind to it because I was so immersed within it subjectively. In effect, until I stepped back from what I was so immersed within and looked at it objectively, I couldn’t see what I was actually doing.

Aligning Diversity

You see for the longest time, I’ve been trying to align aspects of my life and bring them together. If you think about it in terms of trying to live your life creatively, it’s about avoiding making decisions where you’re thinking, I need to do this OR that. I must choose one OR the other. With creativity, you don’t have to do that. You can say, actually I can do this AND that.

What I’m talking about here isn’t multitasking or doing many different things in the your life at the same time, to the point that you become overloaded and exhausted. What I’m talking about here is aligning previously different aspects of your life into one thing that achieves them all at once, so that you simplify the complexity of your life, allowing you to live it more fully.

The aspects of my life that I’m trying to align are my past with my present. My past involves games, computers, the Web, and communities. My present is focused on creativity, social innovation, the Future of Work, allowing personal, organizational, and societal development and growth to occur.

Within the last month, I realized that play was the thing that linked my past to my present, as play was the cornerstone of the communities I helped build online around video games but play, in a much broader sense, is also the cornerstone of creativity, innovation, and The Future of Work.

But today, I realized this didn’t go far enough. Why? Because I still envisioned two divided aspects of my life. One focused on helping people with “Simplifying Technology” and the other “Clarifying Identity”. What I’m realizing today is that both can be achieved at once. In effect, one can “clarify their identity” by using “technology that simplifies” their life.

Objectifying Oneself to Clarify Oneself

What I’m talking about here is what I’ve referred to in the past as my Memex, or more commonly called an external brain or Second Brain. For myself, it is PDF converted books and articles that I’ve read that I’ve highlighted progressively and annotated with my own thoughts. This allows me to then easily search them as personal knowledge database, easily finding and remember things that would be difficult to remember just using my own brain.

What I realized today though was that I was creating and using a second brain long before I even realized I was doing so. What I’m talking about is this website itself. It is a simpler version of a second brain. One perhaps not with the right structure to optimize it fully for such but one nevertheless. And if you think about it, it makes sense. This is why most people have noted time and again at how blogging has been highly effective in their development, be it with building relationships, their career, or both.

Work That Encompasses All of Me

So what I’m getting at here is the answer to the question I’ve been asking myself for decades, “What work can I do that expresses myself fully, encapsulating my experiences, development, and knowledge of my entire life?” This is it. Best of all, the approach is profoundly simple and basic (i.e. setting up a website to express yourself) but the results from it are profoundly complex and rich (i.e. clarifying your identity, your passion, your purpose, etc), as it allows you to understand yourself at a deeper level than you could possibly imagine.

Even other things I’ve been working upon suddenly make sense within this newer context. For example, I’ve been racking my brain for years, trying to figure out what the next generation of a résumé would look like and function like. Well a Second Brain is it. It not only tells you who you are but where you’ve been and where you’re going. It relays the greatest questions of your life that are your “quests” you’re actively involved in (as projects).

Suddenly a lot of things makes sense to me now. I know what I must do. They are things that I’ve talked about doing in the past but wasn’t sure if they were the right things to do (as they would take a lot of work). Now I know they will be worth the effort and work involved.

In time, all will be revealed, emerging gracefully from within the present.


The Fluid Stability of Learning “Who You Are”

A while back, an emphasis of my life was articulating the importance of understanding how we evolve in stages of development and how creativity helps us transition & transform between these stages.

What’s becoming apparent to me now is articulating how our passion & purpose become quantifiable at a certain stage, allowing us to become much more fluid beings, able to flexibly adapt not just to a new way of working but a new way of living on a daily basis.

This is why I see so many people misinterpreting The Future of Work as just learning and transitioning to a new job. It’s not. Or you could say it is…but requiring the ability to do so on a daily basis, where you have no idea what your “job” will from moment to moment.

This is what it means when people say we are letting go of the rigidity in the past with regards to work and even learning…and why the capacity to “learn how to learn” will be essential within an unknown & uncertain world.

This is why the stability to live in such a rapidly changing, fluid world won’t come from new job skills so much as it will instead come from you “Connecting” up your entire life & finding a deep sense of meaning that will stabilize it intrinsically, rather than extrinsically.

Like a surfer mastering how to surf larger and larger waves, we will all need to find our “center” to be able to balance and align ourselves from within, so we can ride out & even enjoy the big waves of change rising before us, truly feeling alive doing so.