Aspirations & Patience

As we try to understand and find our way out of the mess we have got ourselves into that is the way we work and the economies we have created, I’m interested to see how many are offering “solutions”. Something like the equivalent of a nicotine patch for complexity.

It’s not like that. It has taken us at least five generations to create the crisis of complexity we are in. It will take us as at least as many until we are the other side of it.

That doesn’t mean we can’t start, but we won’t start to solve the challenges we have until we pay them the respect they deserve.

There are no convenient quick fixes.

Reflections, Sunday 2nd August

Arch Bridge (Rakotzbrucke or Devils Bridge) in Kromlau, Germany

What I’ve noticed

I think the changes we’ve seen over the last few months are more systemic and less episodic than I had thought.

This week, I went into my nearest city mall to have my annual eye test – something that, as yet, I can’t do online. Not having been in since lockdown started, I was startled by the changes. Not just the absence of people, and the number of closed shops, but the way in which the whole place operated.

I’d had to make an appointment, and wasn’t allowed in until ten minutes before – no problem with that, but with all shops employing Virus security measures, casual wandering just isn’t possible. Using up some of the spare time to go into Boots to get some toiletries, I found the range had been significantly reduced, I guess to support stock levels and cash flow, but it just meant that what I wanted wasn’t there. And whilst I fully support wandering round with a mask on it’s just uncomfortable.

As the former volume retail and hospitality reacts to circumstances in this mechanical way, whilst online becomes ever more creative and responsive I suspect we will only see a continuing acceleration of the decline of mediocre offerings.

To accept the ongoing measures we need to accept, it will need much better offerings that make the hassle worth it.

Less mediocrity, more craft. Less template, more unique. Less bland, more beautiful.

What I’ve been reading

It must be beautiful. Graham Farmelo. There is much less of a gap between science and spirituality than we commonly assume. This book bridges this gap in a very engaging way.

Braiding Sweetgrass. Robin Wall Kimmerer. There is also less of a gap between science and indigenous wisdoms than we might think. This beautiful book looks at them side by side in a moving and beautiful way.

Things I’ve liked

Less certainty, more enquiry. Maria Konnokova. More reflections on making decisions in times of uncertainty from a professional gambler. FS Podcast.

What to do when the lyrics won’t come. We are all originators of songs – as well as other creative ventures. Here’s a two minute read for when they’re not coming.

How to be a better listener. New York Times article. Brought to my attention by the Do Lectures.

A quote

All change results from a change in meaning. People. like all forms of life, only change when something so disturbs them that they are forced to let go of their present beliefs. Nothing changes until we interpret things differently. Change occurs only when we let go of our certainty, our current views and develop a new understanding of what’s going on”

Meg Wheatley in “Finding our Way”

What I’ve learned

When it comes to thriving in the conditions we face, only three things matter.

  • Our identity – being who we are really, rather than a mask we wear to fit in.
  • The information we pay attention to. Signal or noise is a choice.
  • The relationships we nurture. We become the average of the five people we most associate with.

What I’m up to.

Finding out how to better catalyse small, meaningful groups around what’s important, then connecting them to each other.

Have a great week.

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Just about everybody is business uses indicators. All use lag indicators – sales, margins, the stuff of yesterday. Fewer use lead indicators – web hits, reputation, engagement, and of these I guess most use their lead indicators to predict their lag indicators.

In times of stability, that’s fair enough – but what about now, when tomorrow is likely to have only a passing resemblance to yesterday? What are we looking for as signal?

If our business was to stop today, how would it be remembered? What are we doing today to ensure if it stopped tomorrow, it would remembered better than if it stopped today?

All businesses stop (but hopefully not today or tomorrow) and the ghosts they leave hang around long into the future.

Lead indicators focused on keeping shareholders happy, or short term returns are very different to those focused on what matters in the longer term. Climate, Biodiversity, Equality, Community.

if we want to be remembered for the right reasons, we focus on what matters.

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