Résumé 2.0: Revealing the Meaning of Our Work

Last night before I went to bed, I started jotting down things that defined the essence of who I am. I broke these down into What I Do, How I Do It, and Why I Do It.

This morning, I was thinking about how a résumé is structured and how different parts are separated into silos, like your education from your work experiences.

Yet when I started jotting the progression of my life out, something interesting revealed itself to me. I started by writing out my interests as headings (ie games, computers, web, communities, culture, etc). And below each heading, instead of listing What I Did or a How I Did It differently from others, I instead listed Why I Did It. In effect, what compelled me or pulled me into learning each new thing.

When I wrote it out this way, two things happened. I suddenly started seeing connections between everything I was doing and why I wanted to explore and learn new things. And more importantly, I saw a common narrative to my life emerging as a whole. Here’s a small example of what I mean.

Games – As a kid, games let me role “play” with the concept and identity of myself and, in doing so, helped me figured out who I was and express who I wanted to be.

Computers – I got interested in computers because of computer games. I saw a way to explore newer digital worlds and role play within them which again helped me figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I even learnt how to code to create my own games and simulated worlds to play within, letting me express myself in a whole new way. Later, I found I could use apps for writing, artwork, and music, helping me to express myself in other mediums beyond games. Finally, I got so good at using computers that I helped others with computer problems which impeded them in expressing themselves. I even created a backup system whereby I could remove these impediments for anyone in a few minutes, even if they were of a catastrophic nature.

Web – When the Internet became more prevalent in the early nineties and people started using the Web, I was immediately drawn to it as another medium to express myself but especially one in which I didn’t need any permission to do so, compared to print and television which were fairly gated mediums. Playing computer games, I found the Web was the optimal platform to share my knowledge of the games I was playing, sharing tips and tricks in the process to help others. As a highly introverted person, while playing computer games online with others really brought me out of my shell, it was the Web which really catalyzed this even more so, moving things from an individual nature to a collective one.

Community – Of course the naturally next step after learning how to use the Web was building communities with it online around the computer games I was playing. This was a highly transformational moment in my life. In sharing what I was learning online, I had attracted the attention of others and collectively together we combined our knowledge and created a community for others to learn within and put that knowledge learnt into practice. In doing so, my leadership capabilities naturally seemed to emerge and I started intuitively cultivating the communities I was a part of in a particularly positive way, using knowledge from books I had read decades earlier (ie Tao Te Ching, The Art of War, etc).

Culture – After the Dot-com Bubble burst around 2001 and the web firm I work for imploded, I began to question everything in my life, particularly the way that work worked. After finding and reading The Cluetrain Manifesto and seeing it as a beacon of change that was sorely needed, I reflected back on my online community experiences around playing computer games and wondered why those experiences of teamwork and collaboration felt so amazing in comparison to the conventional offline world of work. The word that emerged for me as an answer was culture. In effect, the patterns of behaviours, beliefs, and values were radically different within these online communities compared to the conventional offline organizations I was working within. To me, the culture in the communities I had helped cultivate felt very natural and open, whereas the culture in companies often felt very stifling and unnatural. What I was beginning to experience here was a way to express the identity of myself not just individually but myself as part of a group collectively.

Now if you look at everything I’ve written above collectively in this small example set, you’ll realize this ongoing connectivity and a sense of “building upon” everything. It wasn’t like I was letting one thing go and starting something else. Each new thing I learnt was added to and expanded upon a larger narrative that was emerging.

Also note how radically different this is from a typical résumé which often doesn’t articulate this depth of meaning. In effect, a résumé lists what a person has done (ie scope of job, achievements, etc) and perhaps may barely touch upon how they do it uniquely but it doesn’t explain why they do what they do. Yet when you do look at this why, this meaning, suddenly you go from seeing a person’s life as just a sequential series of interests that they are leaping between, to seeing the deeper passion and purpose of the person that connects their entire life as a whole.

To me this is essential if we want to start understanding the broader potential of people and understand how they can flexibly adapt to newer interests and skills that relate to the why of their life, making their next leap seem not like an unrealistic stretch but rather a natural progression of their ongoing greater narrative.

In reflecting upon this though, I think a Résumé 2.0 should both strive to maintain aspects of a Résumé 1.0 but also expand upon it becoming something more. Thus the primary focus of a Résumé 2.0 should focus on the why of the person but peripherally on the side of this narrative or thread emerging in there life, the how and conventional what should be shown as well. It’s just that these other things are just no longer the primary focus, their superficial.

Even going beyond this, whereas a Résumé 1.0 strives to show the growth and progression of an individual, a Résumé 2.0 goes beyond this and shows the stable core narrative of a person emerging more and more clearly as they progress through their life, as the essence of who they are. In effect, each new diverse interest and experience shows and emphasizes reoccurring patterns that clearly define the person’s overall life narrative which is more commonly known as their passion and purpose.

In doing this all, we start seeing people, their identity, in a newer, more meaningful way. We start seeing the whole person, a bigger picture of them, rather than just isolated facets of them.

Finally note how this process is mirrored on an organizational level as well, allowing a previously silo’d organization to see itself, it’s identity, in a newer, more meaning way, bringing the organization together as a whole rather than previously seen as just separate parts.


Thoughts on “How to Survive the 21st Century”

The World Economic Forum has provided a transcript of Yuval Harari’s Davos speech on How to Survive the 21st Century and it’s remarkably poignant on recognizing the shifts required for us to truly awaken and transform ourselves for the new world that is emerging before us. Below are my thoughts on specific areas that relate to my own life’s work.

Automation will soon eliminate millions upon millions of jobs, and while new jobs will certainly be created, it is unclear whether people will be able to learn the necessary new skills fast enough. Suppose you are a fifty-years-old truck driver, and you just lost your job to a self-driving vehicle. Now there are new jobs in designing software or in teaching yoga to engineers – but how does a fifty-years-old truck driver reinvent himself or herself as a software engineer or as a yoga teacher? And people will have to do it not just once but again and again throughout their lives, because the automation revolution will not be a single watershed event following which the job market will settle down, into a new equilibrium. Rather, it will be a cascade of ever bigger disruptions, because AI is nowhere near its full potential.

In other words, we need to learn not just how to flexibly adapt to a single large transitional change but rather to an ongoing series of changes. The reason for this is that we are undergoing a massive systemic shift (aka Big Shift), both technologically and societally, which will change everything, including the very perception of ourselves both individually and collectively. Yet the change will occur virally, slowly at first, building on the edges, but as it progresses and starts transforming things, it will speed up exponentially like a wildfire.

This is why the pace of change feels like it’s speeding up exponentially, getting faster and faster, because as more and more things are transformed, more things are influenced by these transformations and begin to change themselves.

Thus expect people to misunderstand the overall Big Shift occurring because they’re often just seeing and focused on these smaller shifts. Because of this, people will think certain things will need to be done but they will soon realize their solutions are inadequate. That’s because they aren’t thinking big enough and radically enough. For example, yes we need to upskill a billion people by 2025 but the approach of how this is done, and realizing why it needs to be done a certain way, is critical for its effectiveness within the Big Shift versus within just smaller shifts.

To put it another way, if you only focus on smaller shifts, you will realize you’re doing the right things but in the wrong way, thus wasting valuable time having to redo things again in the right way later. If you see and understand the Big Shift overall, you will be doing the right things in the right way from the very start and thus feel like you’re continually building momentum.

Old jobs will disappear, new jobs will emerge, but then the new jobs will rapidly change and vanish. Whereas in the past human had to struggle against exploitation, in the twenty-first century the really big struggle will be against irrelevance. And it is much worse to be irrelevant than exploited.

This is the core reason why I speak about the critical importance of mental health in the future because we need to proactively start helping people deal with their sense of identity feeling shattered when their job becomes obsolete because they believe their identity is inexplicably linked to their job, being one and the same. So we need to help people realize that their identity is so much more than just their “job”. One way of doing this is looking at your life on an “atomic level” as Dick Bolles describes it and seeing how a cluster of transferrable skills, commonly seen across many different jobs you’ve loved doing in the past, may articulate your identity better in a rapidly changing world.

The added benefit of seeing yourself more than just a rigidly defined job and more as a fluid, unique network of transferrable skills is that you’re more able to flexibly adapt to the shifts occurring around you because you’re understanding yourself and stabilizing yourself on a deeper, intrinsic level. In other words, the more you understand your unique skill set, articulating and infusing it with meaning (often described as one’s passion and purpose), the more you’re able to surf these waves of change because you’re transforming and becoming the wave of change itself, finding your own balance internally rather than relying upon society to balance you externally.

Those who fail in the struggle against irrelevance would constitute a new “useless class” – people who are useless not from the viewpoint of their friends and family, but useless from the viewpoint of the economic and political system. And this useless class will be separated by an ever-growing gap from the ever more powerful elite.

This perfectly describes how our current beliefs and mindset are limiting the perception of ourselves, effectively blinding us to the untapped potentiality of ourselves and each other. This is occurring because we are often looking at people within a limited technical context of their past jobs and even more so often just looking at them from a hard (technical) skills perspective. Until we start looking at a person from their soft (transferrable) skills, we won’t see and fully tap into their innate human potential.

I find this somewhat ironic considering that the whole emphasis on The Future of Work is that since automation will replace rote work, we need to focus on and unlock things that only humans can uniquely do. Yet we’re not making this shift in the way we perceive ourselves with regards to this type of human work because the very social constructs we’ve created for finding working relationships, such as a résumé, are still inadequate in helping us to express our overall human potential.

This needs to change and change now, yet it seems barely anyone is focused on the importance of this. It’s like a person wearing glasses that filters out their ability to perceive different colours and the person is continually frustrated they can’t see different colours. Well until they take off their glasses, they will continually be frustrated. In the same way, we need to remove our filtering beliefs which are blinding us to the untapped potential which is literally all around us and under our very noses.

If you know enough biology and have enough computing power and data, you can hack my body and my brain and my life, and you can understand me better than I understand myself. You can know my personality type, my political views, my sexual preferences, my mental weaknesses, my deepest fears and hopes. You know more about me than I know about myself. And you can do that not just to me, but to everyone.

A system that understands us better than we understand ourselves can predict our feelings and decisions, can manipulate our feelings and decisions, and can ultimately make decisions for us.

This is another sad fact, where people might say “Well figuring out the potentiality of a person is probably going to be really, really difficult to do, so it’s probably why very few people are working on it right now.” As the quote above indicates, we have the capabilities to understand a person on a deeper level, so much so that we can know them better than they can know themselves.

So it’s not a question of can it be done, it can be. It’s more a question of how and why. How can we do this and why? What’s the purpose for doing it? Right now the main reason organizations and nations are doing this is for control and manipulation. But imagine if instead of using this knowledge against people and it was used to help people. In other words, the purpose shifted from control and manipulation to freedom and empowerment.

So imagine what organizations and nations could collectively achieve if they came together to radically shift the current societal focus away from the control and manipulation of people to the freedom and empowerment of them. Some people might say that control and manipulation is more profitable. Possibly. But it also what is keeping the world divided and in conflict with itself, thus preventing us from tackling the larger wicked problems we face.

To truly achieve the epic results required in the years to come, we need everyone working together and at their highest capacity and potential. Yet right now, most people aren’t even probably working at average capacity. Most people are disengaged from their work. It feels meaningless and lifeless because they can’t see the deeper meaning they are looking for in their own lives and within themselves.

When I person does begin to understand themselves though on a deeper level, it’s like like their entire life comes together, makes sense, and ignites them like a fusion reaction. The energy released feels limitless to the person and their work begins to feel effortless, more like play than work. That’s because they’re naturally following and being pulled by their own curiosity and imagination, rather than being pushed into doing it. This is the intrinsic motivation need for creativity and flow to emerge within their life, amplifying their productivity naturally.

In the coming decades, AI and biotechnology will give us godlike abilities to reengineer life, and even to create completely new life-forms. After four billion years of organic life shaped by natural selection, we are about to enter a new era of inorganic life shaped by intelligent design. 

Our intelligent design is going to be the new driving force of the evolution of life and in using our new divine powers of creation we might make mistakes on a cosmic scale. In particular, governments, corporations and armies are likely to use technology to enhance human skills that they need – like intelligence and discipline – while neglecting other humans skills – like compassion, artistic sensitivity and spirituality.

The result might be a race of humans who are very intelligent and very disciplined but lack compassion, lack artistic sensitivity and lack spiritual depth. Of course, this is not a prophecy. These are just possibilities. Technology is never deterministic.

When I read these words, I immediately thought about our ongoing search for aliens (as “new life forms”) out there in the cosmos. More recent articles are saying that perhaps the reason we can’t find alien life forms is because our perceptions are blinding us to the possibilities of what they could conceivably be. In other words, we could be looking at alien life right now but we’re not seeing it as alien life because we can’t perceive it as such.

Why I think this is incredibly important is because by shifting the context of this lesson, we can apply it to the current context of our world today. We are creating a world that is alienating people, not only from each other but from their very human selves. This is why I believe we will never truly start seeing and discovering alien life, until we start seeing and discovering the human potential of people lying dormant all around us. In other words, just like alien life forms, these people are invisible to us because our perceptions of what we expect them to be are blinding us to their true potential of what they are.


Mastery of the Heart

For the longest time, I’ve indicated a frustration, a lack of ability, in articulating what I’ve intuitively seen emerging for the past couple of decades. What I’m realizing is that it is not an inability to express myself that limits me but rather a fear to truly express myself in my own words that does. 

For example, if I take a collection of quotes by a variety of notable people and place one quote after the other to form a greater narrative that I see emerging, I feel no inkling of fear whatsoever in doing this and expressing myself using other people’s words.

It is only when I start to write out this emergence and “connect the dots” in greater detail in my own words that I begin to falter, stumble, and doubt myself, blaming it on a lack of mastery of words…when really it is more a lack of mastery of the heart. In effect, I’m not trusting my feelings and thus not trusting my Self in turn.

Therefore until I can accept my Self as I truly am and speak in my own words, however imperfectly, of the perfect feelings I am experiencing, I will never move beyond this point that I feel stuck within. In effect, I will always be standing in my own way, letting fear barricade the love my heart wants to release.


The Freedom to Write in Different Ways

One of the drawbacks I find in creating a loosely structured space for yourself online is that most web platforms have predefined expectations of what they should be and how you should use them, rather than being loosely structured so you can play around with them and create your own customized structure that works for you.

This is why I fell in love with Squarespace in 2004 but by 2014 lost faith in it, as a lot of the functional flexibility that it once had was removed when it was completely rebuilt and relaunched with Version 6.

Today, I love where WordPress is going with the flexibility of blocks, eventually going beyond posts and pages to constructing your entire site with them, but in my opinion it still hasn’t gone far enough on the post level. What I mean by this is WordPress is optimized for long form writing. If you want to do micro-posts (emulating Twitter), you really have to customize its “out of the box” experience substantially to achieve this.

And yet if we want to create a space where we can maintain our self as a “whole”, rather than being scattered across the Web on many different social network platforms, then WordPress needs to be flexible enough to allow a person to emulate the basic post functionality of these others platforms.

For example, if I have a simple one sentence thought that I want to post, I should be able to do this. Of course I can do this on WordPress but it looks awkward and out of place because the context of what your posting doesn’t change the appropriate style of it.

Personally I think this is why blogging, as a whole, lost its momentum because other newer, social network platforms like Twitter and Facebook made it easier to post shorter thoughts. Thus people didn’t feel like they had to write an essay on their blog, because it had a long form expectation to it, whereas these other platforms made short form writing acceptable and even admirable, since achieving clarity and conciseness in fewer words takes some skill.

I think part of the problem in combining these different forms of writing is how does one integrate and display them both on your site? My guess is that short form writing would become your more abundant and easier method of writing with long form posts emerging only once in a while.

When I was on Twitter, I noticed this same pattern. A lot of my posts were one to three tweets in length but then I would have a long thread of say 10 tweets to convey something deeper in meaning. I even remarked that if Twitter enabled a method to combine these tweets into a long form post as a whole, it would be pretty amazing, as you would be able to easily write short form and long form all in one place.

Anyways, in closing this off, I think to convert WordPress to a short form platform first and foremost, you’d really need to change some of its functionality. I’ll cover some of these things in a future post.


Enabling Space for Ourselves

More generally, it seems that profound change needs a kind of space of “gratuité”: an “enabling space” which is in a first step – free of function, purposes, goals, etc. The approach of the U-theory provides one way that such a space could emerge.

Markus F. Peschl

While rereading once again the paper on Triple-loop learning as foundation for profound change, individual cultivation, and radical innovation by Markus F. Peschl, this quote near the end of it intuitively felt familiar and reminded me of Tiago Forte’s work on Building a Second Brain and what I’ve been struggling to accomplish with my own online journal for a couple of decades. That being creating a loosely structured online space where a person’s identity can naturally unfold and be discovered simply based upon what they focus their attention upon.

The creative process of this simply starts with “seeing the patterns”, which is easy, and then moving on to “seeing the relationships between the patterns”, which becomes monumentally more complex.

If you were doing this with a web platform, you’d be posting article links you found interesting, along with a few quotes from each that held meaning, and then creating a category for each pattern that emerges when you post another one in the future that feels like it aligns with it.

As time progresses and you’ve collected a lot of patterns, one naturally moves into seeing the relationships between the patterns whereby one realizes that a handful of these patterns actually relate to one another, clustering into a structured narrative of some kind that starts to provide some clarity of what is emerging.

Again one doesn’t try to force the patterns into a structure and order but instead just tries to let things emerge on their own, as noted in another quote from the paper on triple-loop learning.

This process of letting-come is the other side of the process of letting-go. In other words, one shifts the focus from surrendering to looking at what wants to emerge and what is new. This is an epistemologically fragile process in which new ideas and changes emerge and converge (“crystallize”) towards a specific vision, concept, idea, etc.

And if one researches the process of crystallization, one realizes that clustering is an integral step within it as well, whereby the “clusters need to reach a critical size” before they become stable. With our online journal, it works the same way. You need to have enough patterns clustered and converging into a greater hierarchical category, relating to what’s emerging, before you can clearly see with some stability what is emerging.

The further beauty of this approach is the loose structure of it, in that the categories as patterns can be fluidly renamed and regrouped hierarchically until you feel they are right. This is essential because one needs the ability to play with these structures, mixing and matching them in different ways, trying them out, until they fit naturally on their own (rather than being forced to fit).

To understand what this might feel like to experience, I think Tiago Forte’s article on What It Feels Like to Have a Second Brain comes very close, as noted below.

The experience I have as I work with my Second Brain is that we have a relationship. It is almost as complex as a person, with its own wants, needs, goals, and history. It is like a child – a being of pure potential, of endless curiosity and open-mindedness as it encounters each new morsel of insight. It communicates with me, sometimes aligning with my interests so we can run together, but also sometimes demanding maintenance, attention, or software updates. I know that every investment in this organism will return 10-fold, 100-fold, 1,000-fold. And not in some far off hypothetical future, but in a matter of hours, days, or weeks. Such a sure investment makes the superficial pleasures of social media lose all their color in comparison. I am on my devices as much as anyone, consuming as much information as anyone else. But I am not doing what everyone else is doing with it. I am preserving the very best of everything I am exposed to, like a patient gardener squirreling away seeds and cuttings from every garden in the world, to plant in his own magnificent creation. 

And furthermore he indicates how this alters his existing perceived and conventionally constructed sense of self, letting a larger, truer Self emerge on its own.

My Second Brain constantly deepens my understanding of myself. It reflects back to me my assumptions, my stories, and the evidence I use to justify my beliefs. It reflects back to me the identity I’ve constructed, which in the light of a backlit computer screen I can see is full of holes, and gaps, and makeshift patches. But I also have more evidence, more options, more borrowed beliefs from others to fill in those gaps. I evolve faster, on more levels, a flurry of swapping modules in and out in such a way that the system of my Self works better, but at the same time, I see that I am not the modules. I am something more, something greater than the sum of its parts. This gives me the courage to detach from that Self, to let go of my need for any one idea or theory to be right or true. I can try more of them on for size, see how more of them feel, decide which of them serve me best.

All said and done, we often don’t realize how so much of our identity is so predefined by what society expects us to be. Yet if we can just let go of these expectations (and accompanying judgements, if we don’t follow them), we have the opportunity to create an open space where our True Self can emerge and come into being, if we give it the space to play.


Lifelong Learning & Playing

I was looking at some résumé templates on Pinterest the other day and I laughed at what I was seeing. Most templates showed 80% of the résumé as being work experience and just 20% of it being your formal education.

This perfectly shows how outdated things are today and why résumé are inadequate to show the potential of a person in the future emerging presently because your working and learning should be continually ongoing. Even what you’re playing with should be in there as well. By this I mean things you’re experimenting with to see if they are interesting paths to pursue for further learning and work.

Yet that’s not what we’re seeing today because we’re still stuck in the past. We need to move from outdated best practices to newer emergent practices, whereby playing, learning, and working are continually ongoing aspects of life, rather than just a serial one way path from childhood to adult.


Adding Unsupported Music Services to the Sonos Google Assistant

Last year we purchased a Sonos Beam soundbar speaker to completely replace our previously outdated Harmon Kardon sound system and speakers within our living room. Near the end of the year, we also decided to add an IKEA Sonos-compatible SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker to our kitchen as well. So far we’ve been loving the ease of use and sound of them overall.

Wanting to finally play around with the voice assistant capabilities of the Sono Beam, I activated Google Assistant on it recently and I’m also really enjoying the basic functionality of it for doing things like increasing or decreasing the sound volume, pausing playback, or skipping songs.

One drawback I noticed though is that the voice assistants only support a very limited range of music streaming services. One music streaming service we’ve been loving lately has been Stingray Music, primarily because of it’s human-crafted stations which go well beyond the 50 song playlist limits of other music streaming platforms (i.e. Spotify). Unfortunately Google Assistant doesn’t support Stingray Music even though Sonos does, so I couldn’t play its stations with it.

To get around this problem, I noticed that you could link your Sonos system and Google Assistant using to create custom voice commands to play music stations on unsupported music platforms like Stingray Music. To do this, all you need to do first is just add the station to your Sonos Favourites and then create an applet which links to that favourite similar to this one.

Needless to say, this is pretty wild because it allows someone to potentially create Google Assistant voice commands for many other things that aren’t normally supported by Google Assistant as well.


Making a Living By Just Living

In watching a variety of people share what they love to do online over the years (like Li Ziqi above), I’ve been noticing a pattern emerging. To many of these people, they’re just simply living their life and by doing so, they are make a living out of it.

Of course for this to work, you need to create a system, a process, and an environment that seamlessly and effortlessly can capture the essence of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. I’ve found this extremely difficult to do in even capturing the essence of my own life’s work, as probably 80% of what I’ve learnt and know I haven’t shared yet. Often times, this is because I don’t capture the essence of what I’m doing in the moment but do it later. But by doing it later, I find a lot of the essence, the feeling of what I was doing in that moment, is lost.

More than just sharing what you know, what is also important is how you share it. In Li Ziqi’s video above, I find it remarkable that she’s effectively just getting out of her own way and letting her work speak for itself. In comparison, most Western shows would have the person talking and gabbing away while they work, similar to how most cooking shows do today (to the point I have to change the channel because I find it too overwhelming and distracting).

She, in comparison, remains silent for the most part, thus creating and holding this otherworldly presence that enfolds you and invites you in, creating a relaxing sense of time and space for your own life. This is comparable to some artists I’ve seen who record their work and share the emergent creative process as it quietly unfolds.

All said and done though, I believe everyone has a hidden talent and potential that they rarely recognize because it’s second nature for them (perhaps even believing that everyone can do it, so it’s not that big of a deal). If given the chance to share this talent and presented so in the right way to compliment what they’re doing, I think most people could make a living by just living and being themselves.


Being Yourself

I use the term “work”, because it’s more understood, but really it’s “me time” — doing what I love. Writing, learning, improving, and creating. Whether it’s creating music, websites, books, or companies, it’s all just creating.

The word “workaholic” would apply, except it’s play, not work. It’s completely intrinsic — just following my own interests. I’ve found what I love, and do it as much as possible.

Derek Sivers

I’ve said before that The Future of Work goes beyond just working and integrates both learning and playing into it as well. And furthermore, that the outcome of this integrative process, the transformative effect of it, is that we are finally able to just be ourselves (tying into my mantra of Be Real Creative).

With this in mind, it’s evident that The Future of Work as a descriptor for this change and transformation is an inadequate one. Calling it The Future of Living would probably be closer to the mark, as it incorporates playing, learning, and working as a collective, cyclic process of life.

Yet even The Future of Living seems inadequate to me, as it implies something not here yet, even though this new way of living is emerging right now and being practiced by many people on the edges of our society as we speak.

For some reason I’m reminded of my previous site subtitle of Life in Design. It was supposed to be a play on words, relating to my graphic and web design work in the past but it seems to have taken on a life of its own, representing now how I’m striving to design my own authentic life. Yet not design in the conventional sense, where you plan it all out ahead of time, but rather design in a natural sense (similar to permaculture) whereby your life’s design unfolds on its own by observing its patterns and seeing where it wants to naturally grow and go.

It’s funny when I think about this all. I’ve continually been shifting the articulation of my identity over the years (ie systems > identity > social innovation > creativity > play) to try to better encapsulate and “package” who I am. Yet I realize now I’ve done this continual shifting because I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. I’ve been focusing on the how of my work rather than the why of it all.

In effect, the why of my life’s work is striving to help myself and others to just be themselves within a world that wants and even expects them to be someone else. Systems, identity, social innovation, creativity, and play are all just the ongoing methods and means I’m continually learning of how we can create environments that allow us to just be ourselves.

Again I laugh at the absurdity of the statement that my life’s work is just striving to be myself. And yet it seems almost poignant when one questions what “life’s work” means? I initially thought it was something that took you your entire life to achieve but perhaps it goes beyond this. What if your life’s work is the work of living an authentic life in itself?

Again to many, this might sound stupidly simple to achieve…until they realize how much of their life and identity is defined by others rather than themselves. Therefore being “nobody-but-yourself” is actually quite epically challenging, requiring a lot of courageous leadership and creative willpower to “follow yourself” and just be your authentic self.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.

E.E. Cummings

Shifting Our Attention

And so I feel compelled to speak up because in my experience the more I go after that powerful feeling of paying attention, the happier I am. But the more I go after the powerful feeling of getting attention, the unhappier I am. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt