Making a Difference

Alleviating poverty, rectifying injustice and caring for the sick, elderly or dying are not always “happy” experiences: what makes these experiences meaningful is our ability to make a difference.

Richard Barrett
Evolutionary Coaching

How Our Environments Keep Us Down

I’m more and more becoming aware of how what I’m reading and watching is trying to cultivate and program me with limiting (negative) values often related to our base psychological needs (i.e. lower stages of development and levels of consciousness). It’s actually getting so bad that I’m finding my news feed on Flipboard is 80% garbage, basically a distraction that’s deviating me from my work and more importantly deviating me from the growth of my Self, by keeping my mindset stuck at a lower level.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but emotional reactionary articles or videos are pretty much all the rage now (with people making massive profits doing so). So there’s this pain or frustration encountered with something in life and a corresponding lashing out in anger at it.

This perfectly ties in with Robert Kegan’s Socialized Mindset, as well as a Reactive Orientation to life, mentioned by Robert Fritz.

Reactive behavior may take the form of cynicism, or you may have a chronic chip on your shoulder. You may be suspicious of others or simply have a “short fuse.” You may hold conspiracy theories about people in power or subscribe to a political or religious philosophy that reacts against injustice or evil.

Robert Fritz, The Path of Least Resistance

A more advanced and difficult to detect programming is one of pushing an expert mindset. These are typically those of a nature indicating “five things to do to be successful,” as though life as a whole can be reduced to a handful of knowledgeable things that can be quickly learnt to shortcut it and exploit it.

Spoiler alert. There is no shortcut to life, as much as we want to believe there is one. It’s a never-ending journey. Whenever you think you’ve got it all figured out, there’s another level beyond the one you’re currently within.

This perfectly ties into what I’ve said before about how the highest stages of development are often full of paradoxes, often more complex than the last. Thus stepping forward is more about letting go, unlearning, and relearning more than anything, rather than trying to mentally brute force your way forward.

But ya, getting out of these environments that are continually trying to program you and reinforce old patterns of thought are one of the most difficult things to do. And I think how we perceive ourselves, for better or worse, will determine whether we get stuck spinning within these cesspools (with a victim’s mindset) or are able to rise above them.


How Visceral Emotions Can Creatively Shatter Our Fearful Armour

My last post about John Hagel blowing my mind reminded me of something that I’ve been noticing over time as a reoccurring pattern.

Deep visceral emotions seem to awaken my mind and create a cascading effect of connected thoughts that help me to see this bigger picture of my life’s work within my mind.

But it doesn’t have to be something I’ve read creating these emotions, it can be anything. For example, I could be watching a movie and there could be a poignant emotional scene within it and it can strike a chord within me that suddenly helps me to see and realize something that I hadn’t noticed before in my work.

Sometimes these realizations are fully understandable but other times they can be metaphorical in that they intuitively communicate a deeper meaning of my work as a metaphor which I have to figure out on my own.

For example, there’s an emotional scene in the movie Man of Steel where his father tells him, “You could be the bridge between two peoples.” This eventually helped me to realize that often times I feel like I’m stuck in the middle and I can’t go forward or backwards. But I’m not actually “stuck.” I’m where I’m naturally supposed to be. I’m actually a bridge between two domains of knowledge that I’m trying to bring together to create something new (i.e. vertical development & MMORPGs) that our world greatly needs, a new way of being and living.

But what kills these emotions and synchronous connections are fear. Fear pushes us back and causes us to retreat from what what we love. But as Brené Brown noted, it also deadens and numbs our emotions in the process. Thus when I’m fearful, I can go through stretches of time where everything feels hollow and empty, even boring. But then something emotional slices through that fear, like a sword of truth slicing through armour, and I awaken again, feeling deeply about the work that I love.

It’s funny. When fear strikes us, it can feel like a fear of dying. But it’s actually not. It’s actually a fear of living, a fear of changing, growing, and evolving into something much more than we can conventionally understand in the present moment, which is why it seems so scary to us.


When Loneliness Transforms Into Solitude

I am not alone…even though it may feel that way and I may believe it.

Others have come before me and have led the way.

All I am doing is continuing the journey, reinterpreting it for others to better perceive and see it.

One step at a time. Small pieces loosely joined. As above, so below.

See the patterns. See their relationships. See their identity as a whole.


Stages of Grief & Development

We never see the world exactly as it is. We see it as we hope it will be or we fear it might be. And we spend our lives going through modified stages of grief about that realization. We deny it, and then we argue with it, and we despair over it. But eventually — and this is my belief — that we come to see it, not as despairing, but as vitalizing. We never see the world exactly as it is because we are how the world is.

Maria Popova, Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age

The Hero Path

We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known …
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.

And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.

Joseph Campbell

Love Your Solitude

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Levelling Up By Storyliving Not Storytelling

A while back, while trying to making sense of creativity applied to your life as a whole in a social sense, I defined it as connecting, empowering, and inspiring.

Initially I described this like having a intrapersonal relationship with yourself, whereby you are connecting with someone unknown within you, beginning to interact and make sense of them which is empowering, and finally you fully accept them as a larger part of yourself which is inspiring.

A metaphor I used for this is one of a journey whereby one is exploring, navigating, and storytelling, as though this larger aspect of yourself was like a new world you were discovering and making sense of it in a meaningful narrative way. In a previous post, I described it as follows in relationship to vertical development.

In this way, one learns to become an explorer, navigator, and storyteller, as they creatively traverse these different realms of being which collectively provide a greater, fuller expression of what it means to be a human being.

Nollind Whachell

There’s just one catch though. The storytelling aspect of your journey isn’t one whereby you just tell your new story of the new you but rather one in which you live your new story (which is why it feels so inspiring as an experience). And authentically leading by example by living your new story gets to the heart of my Be Real Creative mantra, as the “Be” embodies leadership, the “Real” embodies authenticity, and the “Creative” obviously embodies creativity.

What’s interesting about this is that today I decided to do a simply search on the Web using the keywords “not storytelling but storyliving” and a lot of the articles relating to it resonated with similar themes.

For example, the main benefit of storyliving over storytelling is that you are creating an immersive environment that people can step within, observe, and even interact with to fully understand in an easier way. Think of it like someone telling you of another country and its culture versus actually travelling to it and immersing yourself within it. By just being told of the country and culture, you may probably misinterpret the meaning of it and think it strange. But by being immersed within it, you get the nuances of it and understand the context of its culture.

In terms of The Future of Work, this is why so many companies have a difficult time trying to communicate how they work in different ways because you really have to be immersed within the organizational environment to fully make sense of how all the aspects of it function together in a relational way, working on a level that’s often beyond the comprehension of someone with just conventional business experiences.

At the same time though, storyliving embodies authenticity. So you’re not just someone preaching something others should do but rather someone who is actually living their evolved beliefs, again leading by example. And in terms of myself, this is something I struggle with daily. In effect, I’m able to envision fleeting aspects of who I want to be in a larger sense but the bigger picture as a whole is still not fully revealed to me, again because I think I’m not fully able to articulate this identity of my self in this larger sense.

All said and done though, I find it interesting how my intuition sees things that intuitively makes sense to me in the moment but it often takes years later to articulate the logic of what it actually means to others.


Creatively Connecting In Newer, More Meaningful Ways

I was reflecting back on Deborah Frieze’s TED Talk about how change occurs like living systems, using her and Margaret Wheatley’s Two Loops Model from Berkana, as a way of describing how this occurs and how different people can fulfill different roles in the change process based upon where they are at and what aligns with them the most.

In thinking about this though and relating it to my last post, what I realized is that there isn’t one inflection point of change occurring but multiple ones because every individual is evolving and growing at different stages of development. So it’s not just understanding what role you fulfill but at what “stage” of change are you at within your life.

Having said that though, there’s a specific quote by Deborah below that really hits home for me because it embodies what I feel has been going on for almost a decade with many change practitioners and consultants who do seem to be at the right stage of change but just can’t seem to make the leap to the next stage.

…if they get connected to one another, sharing information and learning, then their separate efforts can suddenly emerge as a powerful system capable of disrupting the old order and giving birth to something new.

Deborah Frieze

I’ve been saying for the longest time, that I see all of these notable people talking about the same thing but from their own disciplinary perspectives and languages. And while everyone of these people are most definitely sharing information, what I feel is missing is a collective sense of learning because, for that to occur, it requires everyone to start speaking a similar language of meaning which is most definitely not happening yet.

But what if that’s not needed at first? What if all that’s need at first is to just show a map of how all of these different people are working on the same thing from their own disciplinary perspective. Would a bigger picture of such help connect these people and make them realize they are not alone, as there are others out there working on the same thing in different ways?

And would that connection then help them to come together and decide upon a shared language and vision which in turn helps them to become the “powerful system” they’ve always wanted to be to disrupt the “old order.” It would probably require people to let go of their egos, so as to allow for a greater collective identity to emerge and take the center stage, rather than any one person.


Becoming Bored With Your Sense of Self

We need boredom to live better. But social media destroys it – Big Think
When boredom creeps in, many of us turn to social media. But that may be preventing us from reaching a transformative level of boredom.

When superficially bored, “We are held in limbo by a situation that restricts us from doing what we want to be doing, while simultaneously being left empty insofar as the situation does not satisfy us.” Think of being stuck in a useless work meeting or trapped inside on a rainy day.

When repeatedly exposed to superficial boredom, we can reach profound boredom, defined as “a deep state of indifference towards oneself and to the world” leading to “an existential discomfort in which people struggle with their sense of self.”

But social media couldn’t hold off subjects’ profound boredom forever. “I felt empty, an emptiness that was difficult to escape from,” one of the interviewees, Richard, told the authors. “The longer I was bored, the worse I felt about myself. Like, who am I and what do I want to do with my life?”

But when Richard and many of the other subjects became profoundly bored, they cited their listlessness as an impetus for reinvention.

As awful as the COVID lockdowns were, they provided “ideal” conditions for profound boredom, the authors said, which ultimately pushed many to discover new passions. The much discussed Great Resignation, in which employees are now leaving their unsatisfying jobs in far greater proportions than has been seen over the past two decades, could very well have been galvanized by profound boredom during the pandemic.