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No more Busking

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Two of the most inspirational places I’ve ever visited are the Lost Gardens of Heligan and The Eden Project. The first brough sometthing that had been lost back into being, and the second created something wonderful out of somewhere that had been abandoned.

What they have in common is Sir Tim Smit, a remarkable, determined maverick of a man, who developed two approaches when he learned to stop “busking” – getting by alright – and committing to something.

Firstly, “Tinkerbell theory”. The idea that, like the famous fairy, things that matter to us only exist if we really believe in them. Secondly, his “Last Man Standing’ approach which is taking awkward and turning it into an art form.

There’s an excellent account of his work in “Eden“, from which this quote is taken:

“No one has a monopoly on dreams, but only a rare few discover the alchemists art of making them real. Making things real demands a commitment that goes beyond what a “busker” can give; it requires a single mindedness and determination to succeed that persuades others as much by the force of your conviction as by the idea itself. Bankers and investors always talk from the outset of the need to establish an exit strategy, a way out when things go wrong. This maybe why Britain is not the easiest place in the world to turn dreams into reality. In my view, if you believe in something, you should allow yourself only one exit strategy -death. It concentrates the mind most wonderfully. If those around you trust you, they will draw comfort from your conviction. If they don’t. you deserve to fail”

Tim Smit. Eden.

Uncertainty is pernicious, and certainty, as Voltaire said, is an absurd idea. The antidote to uncertainty is conviction in the pursuit of something that matters.

Not all of us can “do a Smit” and create what he created, but we can do our own version. He didn’t build the Lost Gardens or the Eden Project, but he did imagine them and created the space for the people who did build it, and those who will keep them alive. In his own words, along the way he didn’t lie, he just told future truths.

We have a winter of uncertainty ahead of us and we need to make a choice.

We can either busk our way through, or bring something beautiful, no matter how small, into being.

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