On my mind this week.
One of the things about technology is that it enables us to create what we think is good material and then lose it with a button click. That’s why this week’s reflections are late. Sorry.
Ho-hum. Start again and learn from experience. The thread running through my week has been the connection between relationships and the responsibilities they carry.
It starts with our relationship with ourselves. From around the age of two, when we develop a sense of self, our relationships get complicated. There is the person we really are, and the person society wants us to be. The creative, curious, rebellious self that is the stuff parental sleepless nights, and the compliant, applauded, self that enters the world of work with a first-class degree valued by the “market’. Economics. Marketing. An “Ology”. Somewhere between who we are, and who are shaped to be, is our individual genius. Our relationship with who we really are matters, and it is far too easy to lose sight of it.
Then, there is the relationship with those around us. From a personal standpoint, I live in two different worlds. My own upbringing involved many moves, and associated transient relationships – potentially close, but terminated before fruition. At the other extreme, I married into a family that was very close, and had been over many generations. On one side, I can trace my family back ten generations, but know few of them, and have no substantive relationships. On the other side, the family I married into goes back at least twenty generations and has a strong link through those generations. What is more, it is a Yorkshire family, and the links matter. After forty-five years of marriage, I am just about accepted and appreciate it, together with the loyalty that accompanies it.
Then, there is the relationship with where we live. I have lived in the house where I’m writing this for over thirty years, and the house itself has witnessed the entire span of the Industrial age. As I write, I can see the River Derwent in the valley below. Four miles downstream is the first factory of the modem age, the Derby Silk Mill and fifteen miles upstream, Cromford Mill, which signalled the start of the Industrial age. The house I live in, and the trees I look at every day, have seen it all. The house, the trees, and the land that I am fortunate to be associated with are not assets, they are responsibilities and I respect them. They make me welcome, give me context, and give my ego a right going over. I have a responsibility to look after them as best I can.
I’ve taken to thinking about the responsibility I owe the relationships I have on a scale from one to ten; with ten high. Ten is easy – family, close friends, and the place I live. Seven is more problematic – it represents decision time – do I invest in this relationship, or push it down the order? Five is easy – choose what to invest in to make what matters real.
Technology makes relationships theoretically easy -we can connect to an almost infinite number of people and ideas. Responsibility, however, is a much harder taskmaster. Robin Dunbar posits that we have a limit to the relationships we can genuinely nurture, and his work feels intuitively right. If we can only really nurture a limited number of relationships, we must be very mindful of which ones we choose.
Comanche social activist LaDonna Harris has identified the four cornerstones of indigenous wisdom – relationships, responsibility, reciprocity, and redistribution. We are touching on the first two here, and I’ll come back to the past two in a future post.
For now, however, the notion of taking responsibility for the relationships we acknowledge is more than enough to be going on with. There is a lot to acknowledge, and we have a lot of work to do.
Things that have inspired me this week.
I enjoyed this conversation between Amy Edmondson and Rita McGrath, triggered by the notion of psychological safety. Much to reflect on. I hope you enjoy it too..
is a powerful ally, even when it hurts. This from Adam Grant on why.
Much as I like to go to London, I prefer coming back. It gets a lot of attention and money, and a lot of hype, but is not, for me, all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s a list of people doing great work who are not in London, just to show why.
I love trees, and I’m not the only one. they are as individual as we are. This, from Psyche Magaine, says why beautifully.
Philosophy at work.
It matters. Here’s why
Between the quiet of meditation, and the energy of action, is a space for that which inspires us. Poetry, a walk in the country, and Music. When it comes to music, I’ve long been a big fan of Jerry Granelli, and as my friends in the U.S.A. celebrate Thankgiving, here’s why.
A Quote that energised me.
We have tamed a lot of things, from nature to people. It comes at a price.
Have a great week.
Again, apologies this was late. I hope you get something from it.
This is a time to be grateful, and to take responsibility.