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Tag: meaning

The Secret or Sour Grapes?

The Secret

don’t worry, nobody has the
beautiful lady, not really, and

nobody has the strange and
hidden power, nobody is
exceptional or wonderful or
magic, they only seem to be
it’s all a trick, an in, a con,
don’t buy it, don’t believe it.
the world is packed with
billions of people whose lives
and deaths are useless and
when one of these jumps up
and the light of history shines
upon them, forget it, it’s not
what it seems, it’s just
another act to fool the fools

there are no strong men, there
are no beautiful women.
at least, you can die knowing
and you will have
the only possible

Charles “Hank” Bukowski

I never know quite what I think of Bukowski’s poetry – realist? cynical? ugly? brutal?

But perhaps the view that “there are no strong men, there are no beautiful women” is essential to mindfulness – to be fully present with whomever we are with, wherever we are.


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Our lives but a poetry of place?

Birmingham Central Mosque by george daley via flickr“Birmingham’s what I think with.  It’s not made for that sort of job, but it’s what they gave me.”
Roy Fisher

    Is it true that thinking about the objects around us helps us see opportunity and choice?

    Are our lives poetry of ‘our place’?  Even if we not conciously writing its poems?

    • What thoughts did I have today because of my surroundings?
    • Did I even notice my surroundings?

    Would I think differently if I rearranged my surroundings and made them more attention?

    Would I enjoy thinking that way?

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    The secret of writing: Little and often

    Goal setting through a picture of wine bottlesLittle and often – that’s the secret of writing

    1. Start before you are ready
    2. Never break the chain – write every day – write something – good or bad
    3. Stop – work for half-an-hour to an hour and never more than one-and-a-half hours and stop

    7 fold increase in productivity

    Boise, who studied academics intensively, was able to show that these three rule accounted for the 7 fold difference in productivity between top flight and ordinary academics.

    It’s a massive difference, isn’t it.

    Highly productive writers

    It seems that highly productive writers sit down and write, every day, usually before the house gets up and before they can be distracted.

    The free write, structure, edit or do whatever they are able to do at that point but they write and they never miss a day.  That way they maintain a habit, maintain their confidence, develop fluency.

    Above all, they don’t lose track. They don’t waste time figuring out where they were.

    Amazingly of all, productive writers write for short periods.  Apparently the pattern is to work in 15 minute bursts with mini-breaks, quite often for as little as half-an-hour and very rarely for more than an hour. Boise calls periods longer than one-and-a-half hours bingeing.

    Getting back to writing

    I know all this is true..  I’ve been distracted by another project and I’ve woken up each day with a head full of other concerns.

    And I’ve lost track of the concerns that led me to blog.

    Then it becomes harder to blog.

    Then the mechanics, like quickly finding a picture in Flickr take longer.

    Yes, professional writing needs to be habitual.  It has to be given some kind of priority.

    When your life changes, deliberately change the slot of time for writing?

    Maybe when our life changes, we have to sit down and ask ourselves quite openly, “Where is the time for writing?”

    Because most of us write because we “have to”. Without it, we feel that life loses its meaning.   And then it is even harder to get back into.

    Little and often

    That’s the key.

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    One of the all time classics: Viktor Frankl via TED

    Viktor Frankl Man's Search for Meaning via AmazonViktor Frankl on TED!

    Wonderful! TED has posted an old video of  Viktor Frankl lecturing. You may recall that Viktor Frankl survived a concentration camp.  He advocates searching for meaning, even when objective conditions are dreadful.

    Funny, engaging and interacting easily with young students, Frankl is worth watching for his ideas, his style, and his ability to weave classical ideas and contemporary examples, data, anecdote, poetry and wit.

    Looks as if there is no download, so you will need to head over to TED to see the clip.

    Viktor Frankl on YouTube talking about meaning in horrible conditions

    Here is another clip of Viktor Frankl speaking on You Tube.

    Quotations from Viktor Frankl

    We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

    –Viktor Frankl

    For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

    –Viktor Frankl

    When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.

    –Viktor Frankl

    What is to give light must endure burning.

    –Viktor Frankl


    An optimistic poem for a New Year

    Moving Forward

    The deep parts of my life pour onward,

    as if the river shores were opening out.

    It seems that things are more like me now,

    That I can see farther into paintings.

    I feel closer to what language can’t reach.

    With my senses, as with birds,

    I climb

    into the windy heaven, out of the oak,

    in the ponds broken off from the sky

    my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

    Rainer Maria Rilke

    Gratitude Diary and Appreciative Inquiry

    I’m not entirely sure what the last line of the poem means.  Other than that, this poem illustrates the process of writing a gratitude diary or being appreciative during organizational change.

    We look for those parts of the day where were feel as if we are pouring onward like a great river or soaring in the sky like a wild bird.  As we focus on those parts “things seem more like me now”.

    Happy 2010!

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    For those dogged moments when we just have to get things done

    As Once the Winged Energy of Delight

    As once the winged energy of delight
    carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
    now beyond your own life build the great
    arch of unimagined bridges.

    Wonders happen if we can succeed
    in passing through the harshest danger;
    but only in a bright and purely granted
    achievement can we realize the wonder.

    To work with Things in the indescribable
    relationship is not too hard for us;
    the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
    and being swept along is not enough.

    Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
    until they span the chasm between two
    contradictions…For the god
    wants to know himself in you.

    Rainer Maria Rilke

    For the god wants to know himself in you

    As we approach the end of the year, many of us will be trying desperately to clear our desks so that we can take a few days off to be with our families.

    Many of our tasks will be tedious.   And our “to do” lists will be long.

    This is the time to take each task “as it is”, one at a time, to do it with pleasure, not thinking about the other tasks, disregarding our fatigue for a moment, and to see the link between our task and our deepest dreams, not in a tortured way, but with the delight of a child.

    We need to do the task with a caress and a verve “For the god wants to know himself in you.”

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    Tight planning or joyful priotizing for 2010?

    Do you plan your time carefully?

    When I was a young psychologist, I advised people to schedule their time. My boss, an organized goal-oriented man, disagreed. He said that as long as you are doing something important, then it doesn’t matter what you do.

    Before we went to meetings with clients, he would go through the our goal and sub-goals, which he would put in a meeting planner. Clients were well aware that he had a check list because they could see him looking at it and ticking things off.

    He also ran the office with tight deadlines. He would phone in that he was coming to pick up his overnight work and he expected someone to be at street level to hand it to him through the car window.

    His work was returned in the morning and with a ‘rinse and repeat’ the next night, all our work was turned around in three days.

    But he didn’t do schedules.

    What is the alternative to schedules?

    I read a long post today from someone who scheduled his time for a whole year – very precisely.

    I think working out how much time we have available is helpful so that we can work backwards to sensible work practices.

    • We can find a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm that is enjoyable and effective.
    • We can discover what is important

    Yes, we have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What will we do with it? We have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What would be the most enjoyable and satisfying thing to have accomplished in the next hour?

    We need a system to make to find our priorities

    Long “todo” lists and massive schedules are oppressive. I find people who have “calendars” simply fill them up and then claim they are very busy.

    I don’t want to be busy. It only makes me impatient with others.

    My 2010 priorities

    I simply ask whether what I am going to do in the next hour enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful?

    I simply ask how my day will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful.

    Right now, I am asking why this week (or weekend) will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful

    How will the remainder of this month be cherished and celebrated?

    As I take my blank calendar for 2010, where are the moments in 2010 that will be enjoyable, satisfying and deeply meaningful!

    And I will leave time, plenty of time, for events to surprise me and make the year better than I could ever dream.

    In the words of poet, David Whyte:

    “What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep?”


    My customers come to me to interact with other customers. Yes they do!

    The Dummies’ Guide to Social Interaction Design (SxD)

    A few months ago, Adrian Chan of Gravity 7 explain Social Interaction Design in simple terms.  Here it is again. But even simpler.  Gen X and Baby Boomers like to begin with an overview. Once we have got the outline, we can drill down to the finer technical details.  This is for view.

    Hopefully, Adrian will correct what I have got wrong.  When you have an outline, head over to Adrian for details.

    1.  Who is the user?

    Basic Idea: Don’t think about your product or your website, your mission or your purpose: simply describe your user.

    Basic Technique: It’s tough to write a persona. You want to say what the user looks like, where they’ve come from, and most importantly, what they are looking for when the arrive with you. Think socially. Who were they hoping to talk to and why?

    Advanced Techniques: Each user arrives with skills, social competencies and understandings about the way things will be done (variously called scripts and frames). What are people able to do easily when they first arrive? What do they expect?

    We want to be predictable and make it easy for them to find their place on our territory

    More Stuff You’ll Add After You Have Answered The Other Questions: Personas for other users: rich descriptions of various users in they many shapes and forms.

    2.Who are the other users?

    Basic Idea: Your visitor didn’t arrive to be lonely. Or to talk to you! Who else will they meet here? And what will they do together? And what about the reverse -who are they trying to get away from?

    Basic Techniques: More personas, concentrating on how different everyone is not how much the same they are. Forget averages and typical. Think diversity and difference.

    Advanced Techniques: Now describe how the users interact with each other. What do they say? How do they respond to each other? How do they encourage each other? How do they learn from each other? What scenarios are taken for granted by the locals that are not at all obvious to an outsider? When we are locals describing our own space, it is hard to describe what we take for granted. Ask what annoys people? What makes them contemptuous of other people? That’s a sure-fire indication of a norm being broken.

    More Stuff You’ll Add After You Have Answered The Last Question: What is the difference between a gathering of users that is successful and one that is a flop? What is the feeling that people have when they say a gathering is fabulous?

    3.   What social outcomes happen because the users are interacting with each other?

    Basic Idea: Our actions come together to create something over and above our own wishes and desires, intentions and actions.

    Basic Technique: What happens that cannot happen by one person alone? For example, we can sit at home and talk to ourselves about Coca-cola. That’s interesting. It probably prompts us to put Coca-cola on the shopping list. But so too is it interesting when one user talks to another user about Coca-cola. The conversation about a brand, and any downstream effects, becomes possible because of the interaction. If you get stuck, list all the interactions that people fear and turn these on their head.

    Advanced Techniques: What are memes, tropes, fashions, fads, myths, and beliefs that seems to prevail among your users when they are together? How do they pick up on these norms? How quickly do the norms change and how do they change?

    More Stuff That You Will Add After You Have Answered The Last Question: How many interactions happen before this new sense emerges? How can we prompt people to ask questions and to listen to each other? How can we prompt them to reflect their outside world in our world? How can we encourage an attention to positive processes? How can we learn to interpret the less positive interactions in the positive sense of seasons?

    How do we add value to businesses, communities and organizations?

    ~ Trust, belonging & confidence are the foundation of action & initiative

    4.  Beginning with Question 3, we have some understanding of the social outcomes that emerge from interaction. These are phenomena like belonging, trust and confidence. Hard-headed business men and women might scoff at these but the scoffing, the negativity, demonstrates the point. There is something they are looking for in the interaction must happen before the abandon their skepticism and react with trust and enthusiasm. What is it the business people need so badly before they will trust other people? When we can put our finger on that bruise, we may have identified the essence of our business.

    ~ We love our differences and riff them like mad

    5. Question 2. We have some understanding of how people interact with each other in our community, in related communities, and in whichever context is our specialty. We learn fast about interaction because we pay attention to interaction. We are never ‘foreigners’ for long and even if we are marked out as different by our physical characteristics, accent or professional qualifications, we understand how people expect to behave and how they expect others to behave. We mix and match those expectations to help them ‘mod’ and ‘riff’ and have fun with each other.

    ~ We love our guests and find it easy to be kind

    6. Question 1. We understand the diversity of people who arrive and the range of their social competence. What do they find easy to do? How can we help them find their feet in a gathering? How can we help them settle down, yet meet more people, and expand their horizons. How quickly do our wall flowers and the rambling roses become a magical bouquet?

    Ready now for more details? Head over to Adrian Chan at Gravity 7. He’s the expert!

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    Don’t achieve your goals! Enjoy them. They’ll be gone far too soon!

    I Want Rhythm Not A To Do List

    When I was young, I loved To Do lists. What a buzz! I would list everything I had to do, set a priority and set about ticking it off!

    I loathe To Do Lists now. I threw away my diary years ago when I worked on an MBA programme and the lecture times changed so frequently that my diary looked like a dog’s breakfast!

    Now I like a rhythm. I like to sense the time during the week, the month, the day, the year that I should be doing whatever I should be doing!

    Rhythmless Britain Where Seasons  Take Us By Surprise

    It is difficult to dance through life in Britain. Bills arrive at odd times and are paid at odder times. The tax year begins on the 6 April – why? Who knows. There is no rhythm to anything. People even seem surprised when winter approaches. “It’s cold”, people say. It’s December. What did they expect? I know what I expect.  “Good!  It is cold.  Now I can  .  .  .!”

    My Seasons By The Bottle

    I want my life to be a dance with my goals. Like these bottles at the Vesuvius Cafe on Canary Wharf in London. 52 bottles laid out in 12 sets, I want to mark the passing of the seasons with the right wine and the right food. I want to celebrate the seasons of life by going to the market to buy food in season and cook it with a sense of adventure.

    I want my head around learning to dance with life. I don’t want to spend my time chasing the clock and ticking lists. Lists and clocks lower quality of life as surely as squalid air travel and grubby packaging around supermarket food!

    It is not only Luddites who like to savor life

    Now believe me, I am no Luddite. Never have been. I like progress. I like thinking up better ways of doing things.

    But I want to savor life. I want to have time to listen to people. I want to notice the seasons and enjoy them, not complain about them.

    To represent the season of my life, I have a handful of goals

    I’m not sure I have the system right, but at any time in our lives, I think it is good to have 3 to 5 ‘goals’. When I was in New Zealand, I had 3.  I had my rather large university course.  I had settling in a new country.  And I had departing from an old country. That’s enough! What didn’t fit into those three folders had to be put aside.

    Now I have five ‘goals’ ~ I wish I had three but I have 5!

    • I have settling in a new country
    • I have my writing ~ this blog mainly
    • I have my community and town of Olney
    • I have my next website supporting career decisions
    • And I have the website I want make – a gratitude site.

    My goals change with the season of my life

    In due course, the season of settling in (another) new country will pass and my goals will change.

    For now, I can ask whether what I am doing helps me learn how to achieve these goals. What do I learn about my own thinking? What do I learn about my overall story from each of these goals and the way they come together?

    It is the way I explore these 5 goals that will give me the rich life that I take into the next season as surely as my summer harvest must be full to provide a good autumn and a good Christmas supports an energetic spring.

    I’ll achieve my goals better if I slow down and explore them well

    My goals are a framework to coddle my efforts and softly support the tentative explorations of the land in which I live.

    The way I explore my goals determines how well I meet them.  To explore them well, I must make plenty of space for them and stop rushing around being in a hurry.

    Put that to do list aside!  What are your goals?  What are you learning about how to achieve them.  Enjoy!  In a few years, these goals will be gone from your life and replaced by others.

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