Glass Overflowing

It’s ANZAC Day in New Zealand and we remember all those soldiers who gave their lives in war.

It is a time filled with powerful stories; of courage, bravery, service, generousity, horror.

It’s had me reflect again on the power of story.

What had young men sign up and go off on the ‘adventure’ of war on the other side of the world?

It was a great story, not necessarily based on any sort of reality, but based on the mythology of the excitment of war, of travel, of mateship, of battle and being a warrior.

Nothing wrong with that as a motivation, in fact it is age old. But as we now know the real story was vastly different. Life was expendible, the enemy often unclear, and what and who we were fighting for vague.

Now, we are becoming immersed in the stories of recession, depression, economic turmoil, environmental collapse. This is today’s world war.

So what is the real story? I find myself flip-flopping daily, depending on whether I am exposed to news of disaster or hope. Most often I find myself flicking off the news more frequently than ever before as I hit overload at the compounding stories of doom. It seems almost to become a sick addiction, like moths dizzily attracted to a light.

And I arrive at the cliche: Is the glass half full or half empty?

I’ve always like to joke that my glass is always overflowing. And actually it is not really a joke. I can choose in any given moment to view my life as abundant, it really is all about perspective.

The key is how we frame the story we create about our world, our lives, is very much a choice.

I believe the only thing that will lift the world out of recession and depression is to get straight about why we love to hear a sad story, why we are so attracted and titilated by a sad story, doom and gloom.

It’s not about being a Pollyanna, forever wearing rose tinted glasses, but we can choose at any give moment the colour of the lens, the shape of the frame, because no given moment is ever exactly the same. We don’t have to constantly drag the past with us.

The glass is always overflowing simply because I choose to see it that way.

The Spokes of Spoke

Spoke can mean two things; to have communicated, verbally, or in another demonstrable way, or the spoke of a wheel.

People ask me which of the two meanings is behind my brand, Spoke. Well, both.

The connection between the two meanings is to ‘radiate.’

So it is my intention that all communication radiates. It can radiate via the spoken word, or other media for communication, across the human senses; visual, tactile etc.

The spokes of a wheel radiate, and give strength and support from the hub to the rim, to the whole, to the circle.
Communication is about connection, and great communicate radiates far beyond what we often imagine.

It is my commitment to encourage people to communicate in a way that radiates, that make a difference far beyond what they might expect.

Without delving into metaphysics, communicating is a form of energy, most obviously perhaps in broadcasting where it travels across airwaves as energy.

We should never underestimate the power of our spoken word, of our human communication; to connect, make a difference, spread hope inspiration and love.

Road Rage

I drove into Auckland against the tide of Easter traffic yesterday. It was at a standstill, people getting out of their cars and walking around. The brand new road and expensive tunnels just north of the city let the traffic now flow about a further two or three kilometres, then it jams up, the same as before. Wow, $40 million plus spent just to shift the queues up the road a little.

I’m sorry if this sounds cynical, but it does seem a collosal waste of time and money. Now they are talking more seriously of extending the motorway further north to Wellsford, another 10-20 kiolometres .

It seems so simple but we overlook the basic fundamental problem, the number of cars on the road.

I guess we are challenged with a rugged terrain and sprawling population, but surely we could find other ways to go up north, by train, by boat, by shared transport.

I am no different from anyone else and love to do my own thing, have the freedom to jump in the car and head out of the city. But sometime soon we all have to shift the way we do this.

Spending more and more on roads, buying more and more cars, just does not make sense.

I notice too my moods in the car, my judgement of others on the road and how they drive is huge. I am at my nastiest, my darkest thoughts about others are in the car.

Road rage is such an un necessary state, and yet it consumes us, and this week in the city an innocent and lovely old man died the victim of road rage.

It is not able and it is not sussed to be in such a state that the value of a car, an ego upset, rises above the value of a human life.

Dance Fly Stories

Sometimes when I tell people my core business is story telling, they look at me slightly askance, as if to say, stories are about fiction, so do you Andrew not tell the truth!

That’s so not true. In fact ( yes ‘in fact’) I present workshops on the Science of Story because I believe that great storytelling is the ultimate form of communication. Great leaders have always been great storytellers, from Jesus to Solomon , from Mandala to Obama, from Branson to Jobs.

Storytelling is natural, and shows up as a critical part of nature.

I came across a great story about the Dance Fly in The Rules Are No Game; The Strategy of Communication by Anthony Wilden (1987).

The Dance Fly male is a great story teller. In some species, rather than just straight copulation, the male captures an insect and offers it to the female before mating. Other species adorn the dead insect offering with threads of silk, and so create a symbol. Another Dance Fly species offers the female a silk balloon with no dead prey; simply a symbol of food. The communication has become entirely information, with no ‘matter-energy’ in the form of dead prey provided for the female.

There is no direct conection between the information and what is symbolises or stands for.

So what is my point?

Simply that great storytelling is naturally a part of evolution and that communication is about a lot more than language, it involves all our senses, ideas, metaphors, facts, wrapped in story.

A cynic might say the Dance Fly and his silk is the original spin doctor. However, let’s be honest, communication is always a goal seeking activity. As Wilden says: “ Every act, every pause, every movement in living and social systems is also a message; silence is communication; short of death, it is impossible for an organism or a person not to communicate.”

And in the 1960s Ray Birdwhistell, author of Kinesics and Context (1972) said:

” In a communication system, nothing never happens.”