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Tag: dreams

Day-dreams win over one track goal-orientation

I'm back by Taho Scope via FlickrForget being goal oriented – it’s inherently evil

I’ve always been a day-dreamer.  It’s not that I don’t get things done.  But I’ve known since I was a teenager that getting things done is dangerous.  Psychologists like Peter Gollwitzer use more complicated impenetrable language.  Simply put, when we are going like a train, we are apt to run over other people and ultimately make a mess.

Better to chill and have a happy routine of work, look about, work, look about.  No need to be so stressed.

Living without dreams lacks soul

But to live without dreams, that is stressful. We become increasingly ill-tempered.

It’s a good thing that dreams don’t take no for an answer!

I don’t know what happens to other people but with me ultimately the dreams win.  I am fascinated by the size of my doodle books when I am overly busy.  I need my day dreams.   And I keep breaking off from work to doodle.

When too much dull work locks them out, my dreams simply break back in!  I am glad.  They are loyal friends.

They are also interesting friends.  When I entertain them, ideas  roll.  I love it.

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The give-and-take between us as we follow our dreams strengthens us as individuals and as a group

Thoughts on stray cards on my desk

I confess just to tidying up my desk and wanting somewhere to put a sentence I wrote on the back of one my business cards.  Looking at the card, I must have written this 18 months to 2 years ago.

“The give-and-take between us as we follow our dreams strengthens us as individuals and as a group.”

A touchy-feely sentiment perhaps but also a profound statement of the essence of business.

Give-and-take is the heart of business

The heart of any business is the give-and-take between us.  Give-and-take is not something we add as a layer of style or a way of resolving tension. Give-and-take is the heart.  Our business exists only to give-and-take.

We have give-and-take with our customers. We have give-and-take with our suppliers.  We have give-and-take among ourselves.

Too many businesses, though, set the process of give-and-take in stone.  The give-and-take evolves and it is the ability to build a business the grows the give-and-take that is genius.

Losing the give-and-take

Let me give you examples of misunderstandings of give-and-take.

Some Terms & Conditions on the internet put all the responsibility on the user.  Totally back to front.  The Terms & Conditions should phrase the responsibility and limits on the person who offers them.   In plain English, the T&C should state what I bring to the table and how I will honour you.

A standard role play in assessment centers sets up a “customer” as a bit of buffoon.  Managers, particularly those with accounting and legal training, often try to put the customer in the wrong and wring out of them monetary concessions based on the letter of their contract.  The smart manager judges the situation and looks at it as a way to deepen the relationship with the customer and the customer’s reference group.   A bad situation is simply an opportunity to grow the relationship and do more and better business.

How many times do employees tell managers that something is going wrong only to have their “heads bitten off”?   It is usually productive to ask for more details of the “symptoms” and to find out what the employee proposes.  Both are likely to be interesting.

Open-ended interaction is not always right nor is it predictable

It’s tough to interact with people and just to “see what comes of it”.  I don’t want to do that all the time, of course.  I am not really interested in “generative moments” with an immigration officer at the airport.  Beyond being as cheerful as possible, I just want to have my passport stamped quickly.  On a short haul flight, I also have no interest in manufacturing social moments, though I might do it to lessen the pain of standing in those ridiculous queues.

Long haul flights are quite different.  Being cooped up for 12 hours is a recipe for climbing the walls.  But the nature and quality of the interaction depends on my neighbor as much as me.

I’ve moved out my seat to allow someone two seats and the possibility of a nap.  I’ve asked the airline to find me a bank of seats so I can sleep. I’ve baby sat.  I’ve had people help me.

The story unfolds in a an unpredictable way and the flight is always better for flexibility rather than rigidity.  Of course, I hope there has been no vagueness about the fuel or the engineering.  But most of the human side is generative.  And we are more likely to chose an airline again when the interaction went well.

Give-and-take and management theory

Give-and-take is a difficult concept though.  Too often, in the management sciences we treat organizations as if they are the sum of individuals.  It is true that the interactions between individuals depends on the individuals.  I doubt Professor Stephen Hawking would find my thoughts on physics very stimulating, for example.

But after, all if the interaction of physicists wasn’t stimulating, then it wouldn’t really matter who was around him.

As it is much harder to stimulate and manage generative interactions than it is to find and hire people (buy their time), firms who understand interaction are likely to be the winners.  Brilliant people are probably better off in the company of less brilliant people who interact well than with other brilliant people who interact badly.

The practice of give-and-take

This is all theory though.  I didn’t want to lose my pithy little statement and this blog is my filing cabinet.  What I want to keep goes here.

Hope you find it food for thought.

If nothing else treasure the interactions you have with others.  Guided by their dreams, we grow stronger together.


Blog your dream alive! Begin this weekend

I can’t start . . . that’s my problem, I don’t know where to start!

If you have been scouting the internet for advice on turning your dreams into reality, then you will have come across advice to begin. Just begin!

“Arrgh!, you scream. If I knew how to begin, I wouldn’t be asking!”

Well, here you go. This is what you can do to begin.

It’s within your power and it is a test of whether you mean to begin, ever.  Or whether you will be a lurker in the shadows of your dreams to the end of your days on this earth.

Bring your dream alive through your blog

Whatever your field, whatever your concern, whatever your dream, I want you to blog evey day. A quick picture from your phone, if you have one, and a short text describing what you saw, what surprised you and what you would like to know more about.


Here is a good example of a format that would suit you: the Timbuktu Chronicles. These are stories of entrepreneurship and inventing in Africa. Captivating, isn’t?

Steps for blogging your dreams alive

#1 Sign up to Posterous and make 3 accounts

  • Account one is your long term record of who you are:
  • Account two is for your children and relatives:
  • Account three is for the development of your dream:

#2 Update your MyName account weekly

Post one update of how your career has progressed this week. Salute your colleagues. Give your clients some airtime.

#3 Update your account for your children and relatives daily

Take a picture of something you are doing and put it on line. Describe what you are seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing and let them see it too. Let them share your life.

A quick picture and a caption of what is what you walk past, eat, smell and hear when you are not with them.

#4 Add a snippet to your dream collection every day

And never break the chain!

Everyday, add a picture of something you noticed that is relevant to your dream. Or summarize what you are reading. Or connect the dots between points in your field.

Maybe over the weekend, add a summary post : the best 7 videos on . . .

Start collecting the jig saw puzzle pieces of your dream, one piece a day.

After all, by the end of the week, you will have 7 pieces!

Have you begun?

It’s a relief, isn’t it, to begin, just to begin!

Do subscribe to my jojordan.posterous blog here and I will subscribe to yours!

The best of weekends to you.  Set up your blog!

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Celebrating my supporters

It’s barely daylight

Today, my mobile phone woke me rudely “It is time to get up: it is 5.30”.  Groan.  Another commute.  Another day.

But I didn’t get up.  I’ve stopped doing that.

I don’t want to stagger through life making someone else’s dreams come true.  I want to make my own dreams come true!

Ah, dreams  . .

Is it possible?  For dreams to be not dreams?

Perhaps not in the blink of an eye.  And certainly not if I panic when I look at the gap between where I am now and where I want to be.

But I can ask myself this question:

Who would like to support me in my quest?  Who would take the greatest of pleasure in helping me along the way?

I smile.  And I hope you do too!


A plan big enough to include now!

Feb 8 2009 High Street South & Steeple snow pi...
Image by joolney via Flickr

Will your degree really take you where you want to be?

I’ve just read story in the TimesOnline about a mature student who returned to university and read psychology, very successfully, only to find that there are insufficient places for students to complete their professional qualifications.

I am sorry to hear this story. There is a breach-of-confidence here that shames us all.   When students go to university, they accept in good faith our implied promises of progression within their degree and access to their chosen profession.

Very sadly, these promises are often made lightly.  And quite often universities deliberately conceal the facts, if not by commission, then by omission.  They quite consciously don’t collect information on student destinations, and they just as consciously don’t make these facts available.  It is certainly time for regulators to insist that these facts are published on University websites and kept up-to-date!

Not only do I think publishing student pass rates and destinations should be mandatory.  I think universities should loan fees to students and recover the loans themselves!

Caveat emptor

Until the day that regulations are tightened up, then I afraid it is a matter of caveat emptor, buyer beware.  Students need to be wary of making large investments in services that have no warranty!  Should they discover that the university’s promises are inflated, they will be able to recover neither their money nor, more importantly, their time.

Craft a life plan that is far bigger than uni and the professions

So what can students do to avoid this trap?

The advice from contemporary positive psychologists is this.  Don’t plan your university studies around a specific job and employment route! Neither is guaranteed.  Indeed, we have seen from the banking crisis that nothing in this world is guaranteed.

Rather, see your university education as a supplement to your life plan.  Let me give you this example.

Young Nick Cochiarella from my village of Olney has already launched his first social network, SpeakLife while he is at college.  He’s a hardworking guy and he also has a job at the local Coop.  He is taking a slightly circuituous route doing technical training before he goes to university.  But he is not waiting for anyone.  It is true that his hard work still guarantees him nothing.  But he is not deferring his dreams, and his university training supports, rather than defines, his life’s purpose.

But I need a job now!

It can be tough to start living our dreams.  We often get into an enormous tangle.

The biggest distractor is the desperate belief that we will somehow be safe when we follow a road carved out by others.  But it is not safe, as we have seen.

And even if it were safe, why do we think that other people’s dreams will be enough for us?

Wouldn’t it be better to have our own dreams and to work with others to find where we can temporarily work together to make the path easier and broader for both of us?

A plan big enough to include now

Ned Lawrence has been challenging me to refocus this site on the needs of the ordinary person – the person who lives these dilemmas.

What do you think?

Is it possible to make a plan that is big enough to include now?

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Great quotations

No spark had yet kindled in him an intellectual passion.

George Eliot


Those who do not understand their destiny, will never understand the friends they have made, nor the work they have chosen, nor the one life that waits beyond all others.

David Whyte in All the true vows in River Flow, p. 349.

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“Go get your things. Dreams mean work”

I discovered Paulo Coelho this year. I am amazed I spent this long on this earth without finding his books.

His stories have mystical settings. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is about a woman and her childhood sweetheart who meet up again in their twenties to make a hard decision: should they get together or should he follow his vocation into a Catholic seminary and a life as charismatic and healer?

All Coelho’s books (I think) have a happy ending, but not a silly ending.   After many trials, the protagonists resolve to take the high road: living in solidarity with this world. These may be mystical stories, but they are neither fantasies nor escapist.

And the trials faced by the characters are never gratuitous. Each in itself offers a perspective on relating to the world and, I think, the tension between commitment and uncertainty.

They are a remarkably “open” read too. He has a light style that draws you into the story. And then releases you from time to time to ponder what he or one of his characters has just said.

Wikipedia describes the book as “a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens”. Read it at the end of a long week to ponder extraordinary people who live ordinary lives.

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Does your dream bring you alive?

Which is easier?  To make the interesting feasible or the feasible interesting?

Or I might say, how do you choose to live your life?

The Steve Jobs way?

Do you have a dream that you would like to come alive?  Do you want to make the interesting feasible?

Or do you fight a losing battle trying  to make the feasible interesting?

Why won’t you take the Steve Jobs way?

So many people won’t take the Steve Jobs route because they fear, if not know, deep down, that their dreams are not worth pursuing. It is not really anything to do with whether the dream is feasible, though that is the excuse.  They just aren’t very good at dreaming!

Could you become a better dreamer?

If you are a bad dreamer, could you be better?  We get better at most things with practice.  Perhaps we can practice taking a small dream and bringing it alive.

When we get good at bringing small dreams alive, then that we might agree, deep down with Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media, that it is easier to make the interesting feasible than the feasible interesting.

Dreaming little dreams is the essence of creativity

In his address to the Creativity: Innovation & Industry Conference in Leicester last week, Frank Boyd also spoke of pitching: a process of testing dreams by speaking them aloud and shaping them as we go.

Pitching and rapid prototyping.  Every week, inventors and designer stand up and spend 5 minutes describing their idea ~ and the get feedback.  A simple format for their presentation is nABC ~ need, Audience, Benefit, Competition.  Easy to say, hard to do; brilliant when we get feedback from others.

When our eyes light up .  .  .

I’ve used this in the inverse of pitching during coaching.

Rather than spend hours with psychological tests, I’ve asked youngsters to page through the newspaper and point out who they would like to be like.

I watch their eyes.  When they light up, I know we are close to what they truly want and I cna help them take small steps to shape and pursue their dream.

Bring a small dream alive, today, and everyday!

And become very good at making the interesting feasible!

And here is a small poem to remind you that the beginning of every dream is right here, exactly were we stand!

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Dreaming 2.0

I stumbled this site.  You can look your dreams, tag them, and look at similar dreams from others.

Excellent site to put your anxieties and dreams in perspective.

UPDATE: This is also an example of crowd-sourced psychology, semantic web and visualization.

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