Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 2, 2018

At the Monterrey Design Conference last year, one of the principals from OMA (Rem Koolhaas’ firm) gave a talk.  They began by noting all the famous architects and firms that had emerged from their office: BIG, MVRDV, FOA, JDS, REX, Zaha Hadid, Buro Ole Scheeren… just to name a few.  And we all cheered.  For they are some great designers (many of whose projects I’ve posted about on this very blog).  Clearly a great achievement for OMA to be such an incubator for great talent.

“And so,” they continued, I paraphrase, “we had to ask ourselves a question.  Why are so many of them leaving our firm?”

Murmurs filled the hall.

“Who are we being such that they feel their future is brighter outside of our company?  Who are we being that they feel the need to leave to fully express themselves?”

Silence.

It was not where we expected the talk to go… nor was it something most of us would have considered.  But there it was, honestly stated and expressed with vulnerability.  It was an inquiry, posed to us all.  And one that was clear OMA was taking on with vigour.

It’s a great inquiry.

Ben Zander, in his amazing TED talk, finishes off his presentation with a similar question, describing his definition of leadership and success:  shining eyes.

“So if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”

He then ups the ante quite beautifully:

“We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.”

When things keep going a certain way, be it in our lives or all around us; when we get that realization that maybe something is off; when we notice that our progress is stymied; when we grasp our strategies are bankrupt; whenever the barriers stop us flat we can ask ourselves that very great question:  “Who am I being such that it is going this way?  Who am I being such that these are the results I’m having?”

The answer often surprises us (in that “bad news” insight kind of way).

Once we get over the shock, we can complete it, clear ourselves, and begin to design who we do want to be.

And keep that stable of fabulous designers to make great things, together.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 4, 2018

By three methods may we learn wisdom:

First, by reflection,

which is noblest;

Second, by imitation,

which is the shallowest;

and third by experience,

which is the bitterest.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 21, 2018

Well how about that.  This post marks the 200th* Philosophy Tuesday post.  In some ways, I am amazed that this is still going strong, and yet at the same time I’m also not so amazed.  As with any practice, the pathway to knowing one’s self leads forever towards the horizon.  I’m still breathing, and so my journey cannot be done.  New lands and new roads remain to be traveled and explored.

Sometimes these posts have been easy to write.  What’s right there for me is right there, and the way to expression is quick.  Boom.  Done.  Post!  Gloriously speedy, especially in the midst of a full life.  Other times… not so much.  The impetus and entry points might be clear, but in writing things down I realize I need to take myself to task.  Take myself, my notions, my defaults, my automatics, all of those and more, take them all on and think, collide, muse, discover, and ultimately (hopefully) grow my understanding and insight.**  It’s not always fun while in the middle of that slog, but it’s always rewarding at the end, presenting new possibilities in and for life.

And to the end that they show up here in this Tuesday tradition, I hope they bring new possibilities in and for your lives as well.

It’s humbling, in so many ways, to look back and see the vast distances journeyed and to recognize the transformations made along the way.  It never seems that there is much distance left to cover and yet, it gets covered.  Felling like I’ve got a good handle on things is a ruse; my world(s) keep opening further and further.  This perspective helps pull apart the (often collapsed) notions of confidence vs conceit, or pride vs arrogance.

Do I “know” a lot?  Yes.  Can I do a lot with that?  Yes.  Effectively?  Heck yes!  Do I really know?  Well, no…  and that’s cool.  Here’s where I am.  Cool.  What’s next?  Cool.  Let’s learn.

Though I no longer preface each post with it, I continue to write from a place and intention of sparking thinking and examining.  I continue to write from the idea that we are all whole and complete and full of unseen capacity, and that we equally, often, have barriers between us and our experience of our wholeness and our capacities.  I continue to live from the stand that we are all, at our core, deeply related and connected in our grand desires.

We are of the same human spirit, and the more we can brush away that which restrains us, the more we can soar.

I thank each and every one of you for reading, for engaging, for commenting, for sharing, and for being willing to take yourself on and for your commitment to seek out new possibilities for yourself and for those around you.  A big virtual hug to you all.

 

* As with the “2 year” marker this is 200 posts give or take, not counting weeks off and weeks with titles other than strictly “Philosophy Tuesday,” nor does it take into account weeks with additional philosophy posts…

** And if I am fortunate, wisdom as well.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 14, 2018

Three umpires were at the bar one night, discussing the art of umpiring.

The newly minted umpire spoke first.  “It’s pretty clear.  There’s a box, and if the ball is in the box it’s a strike; if the ball is out of the box it’s a ball.  I call it like it is.”

“Ah yes,” replied the second, one who’d had a few seasons tucked under his mask.  “It does seem like that so often.  But then who knows, pitches can do crazy things and a bit of wind in your eye can mess you up even more.  I’ve realized that the best I can ever do is to call it like I see it.”

After taking a pull on his drink, the revered veteran umpire smiled.  “Friends.  Balls an’ calls come an’ go.  Like it is, like I see it, truth is… they ain’t nothin’ ‘till I call ‘em.

— with inspiration from Bill Klem

 

(and nothin’ that ever happened to or around us aint’ ever anythin’ to us until ya/we call ‘em…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 7, 2018

Some time ago I heard a story about AI research.  The researchers had set up a neural net and busily spent their days entering “facts” into the computer.  Each night, the computer would chew on these “facts” and spit out what it figured out, essentially spitting out its interpretation of how, and what, the world was.

One morning, it declared, “All people are famous.”

To the researchers, this was a puzzle — until they realized that they’d begun entering information about people into the system and that, thus far, they’d only chosen and entered “notable” individuals.

To the computer/AI, it made clear, perfect, logical sense.  It only knew of famous people.  Thus, everyone must be famous.

While I don’t think it was their intention, the researchers built a pretty good example of how our own brains work.

Though sometimes we are admonished to “read between the lines,” our brains are always doing just that.  They take all the vast amounts of information that comes in, parses it, organizes it, and looks for patterns… and then goes even further beyond to look for logical truths.  “If such is such, and such is also such, then it follows that…”

To once again quote the great Carl Sagan: “The brain does much more than just recollect, it inter-compares, it synthesizes, analyzes, it generates abstractions.”

Abstractions, deductions, and truth/realities that totally fit with whatever knowledge and experience it has at that point in time.

This is all great, except that we don’t know our brains have done that.  And that from thereon out, our brains will filter our new experiences and observations through that truth it already knows, even hiding things from our consciousness.  And even more so that we will take many actions based on all those, quite potentially flawed, deductions.  Sometimes it will work out.  Sometimes our actions will be downright unproductive.

Thanks to that triple whammy, it can be tough for our patterns and predictions to get updated with new knowledge and experiences that, should at least, be coming in all the time.  If we’re lucky, a different logical deduction will emerge and compete with an old one such that they balance each other out.  Or we may get a half-update, where the brain still partially holds onto the vestige view, ready to jump back to it at the earliest “confirmation.”

In moments of our most desperate want, deductions can collide to create twisted logics of epic proportions, with epic(ally poor, often) results.

But by stepping back and choosing to go into a series of inquiries to do some heavy re-examination, we give our brains a chance to go back to the primordial and recalculate.  By taking ownership of our views and deductions and realities we gain agency to revise them.  We can come up to date with our stories so that they are in line with where we are today and where we want to go, crafting them so that they serve us well.

Then we can show those AIs how its really supposed to be done…

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 31, 2018

We often think and call certain things “normal.”

When, in reality, it may be more fruitful to express them as “eternal.”

Because “normal” is more of an intellectual expression.

In our everyday, day to day, moment by moment experience of life however, most “normal” things to us don’t feel normal, no, instead they carry behind them the weight of the unchanging universe.*

It’s what’s right.  Proper.  Expected.  True.

Sitting down over a cup of tea, waxing deep, we can say “well, it’s just what I grew up with,” or “it’s what we’re used to,” or “it’s just how it is right are now,” or “that’s what they know.”

But “normal” doesn’t dig deep enough to give access to wisdom.

Especially when we’re in the thick of things.  “Normal” doesn’t open window into mindfulness and thus the awareness to realize our limited view(s) in that moment.

“Normal” can, perhaps counterintuitively, cloud insight.

There is so much “normal” out there that feels so right and like it’s that has ever been that we can miss all our assumptions and very much miss the constraints we’re living and operating under.

What is the economy, what we shop for, how we produce things, what does work mean, what’s a “good life” or “successful life,” what opportunities should you pursue, how to treat people around you, what’s proper to wear, how much attention (or not) should be applied towards community, things we like, want, need, what does love mean and entail, what’s precious (or not)…

Most days (and months and years and maybe lifetimes) we likely pay no thought to any of these whatsoever.  Why would we?  They’re eternal.

Yet…?

Nothing is inherent.  Much is inherited.

Speaking therefore of “eternal” is much more accurate, and thus powerful, way of interacting with all those background views we have inherited and assumed and lived in for so long.  It directly calls forth the dichotomy between our experience and the intellectual understanding that nothing is intrinsic and that much is created.**  And by rendering the division sharply, it allows us to take fuller control and responsibility of our views.

We get to examine what’s so, call upon our authentic selves, do some true thinking, and bring forth new possibilities that will guide us forward and upward.

 

* Hilarious, of course, given that the one thing constant in the universe is that it is quite in motion and flux…

** And, indeed, going to another country and culture shows us how differently things can be interpreted and created.