Speaking About Spoke, My Longest Ever Post!

Exactly 14 years ago I quit my job and I have never worked again.

I was in a management role. I woke up one day and realised what I was doing was a complete waste of time.

It was driving me crazy. The work didn’t produce things, anything. I shuffled paper, went to pointless meetings, managed staff who didn’t need it, wrote meaningless reports, strategies and KPIs all of which produced next to nothing.

When I veered into work that actually produced something, like writing stories, having conversations and mentoring people, I was told off. Managers didn’t do anything ‘tactical’. They did ‘strategy’. They went out for expensive lunches with key ‘stakeholders.’ Argggggghhhhhhhhh.   It was all killing my soul.

My partner recalls one morning around this time when the endless meaninglessness of management got to me. I ran through the house, biffing my cellphone onto the couch, ripped off my suit jacket, pulled off my tie (I grappled with that beause the knot got tight) ripped off my white shirt popping all the buttons. I pulled off my suit pants and sat in my underwear and knotted tie on the coach, yelling.

That was it. My days as a ‘suit’ were over.

The day I quit I had no idea where my next dollar would come from. I still had a young family and a large mortgage and I was the main bread winner.

I called up a friend who was a brand and marketing expert and asked him to meet with me so I could set myself up in my own business.

We arranged to meet at a new French café in Kingsland that made wonderful galettes, a buckwheat pancake with yum fillings like my favourite ratatouille.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend had been in an altercation and was suffering a concussion. He never showed up. What was I going to do?

This café also served a wonderful dry cider in teacups, a tradition from some region of France I guess. I ordered some and a galette. They were delicious. It was a cold clear late autumn Auckland day. The sky was dark blue, and on the brick wall in the café’s courtyard, a bougainvillea was laden with dark pink flowers that looked beautiful against the sky.

So I thought, there was nothing to it, I would simply dream up my own brand and business plan.

I’d like to say I wrote the whole thing on the back of a paper napkin, but somehow I think I probably had a note book.

I jotted down a couple of sentences about what I considered I had to offer the world, and the word Spoke jumped up at me.

Spoke. It had two great meanings for me; the spoken word, and the spokes of a wheel that connects the hub to the rim.

That was what I was all about, great communication that connects.

Simple. And so Spoke was born and a 14 year journey into business began.

This journey has taken me to every corner of the world.

I have made ginormous mistakes and had enormous successes.

I have paid business coaches $1000 an hour, and I have earned $1000 an hour. I have earned nothing giving my time to not for profits sometimes for weeks, and I have earned $1 an hour.

I have sat in horror looking at bank accounts sitting on zero with no idea when any cash was coming in, and I have seen my bank balance hit $900,000, albeit briefly, not quite the $1mill.

Why I am telling you all this? Well it is part of my story, and I believe we all have stories to share, that can contribute to others, sometimes in ways that can be unexpected and unintentional. Sometimes we share something we think is useful, and it was actually something else that we talked about that struck a chord with someone.

The exercise of being visible, sharing, showing up, expressing yourself is really the trick.

What is Work?

After my 14 years ‘out of work’ what I really mean by ‘work’?

A good many of us have a very unhealthy attitude to work. We end up thinking that being busy, and ‘doing’ lots of stuff equates to value.

Working is a form of belonging, the most basic of human needs. If we are working we belong some where and to sombody or some people/family. We believe work gives us a worth.

But what is the nature of work?

Work as an employee is soul-less.

Work serving others and giving of yourself is soul-full.

At the beginning of this story I said I have not worked for 14 years. I mean working as an employee. I have come close several times in extended contracts, and then felt my soul withering as I became an employee widget in a system of useless management, and I bailed.

You see we are on the edge of perhaps the biggest revolution in work in the history of humanity.

We have created so many meaningless activities that get described as work, and earn an income. These roles are shortly going to completely disappear.

Traditional professions such as lawyers, accountants, management, and even some roles in medicine and engineering and marketing are no longer needed. We can sort most of this with an algorithm or AI.

It is people, mostly men, in these professions that have ruled the first world for the last several hundred years. But it’s over.

I’m sorry guys, we don’t need you, well at least not in these roles that you perform today.

It could get ugly for a little while. These, predominantly men, many of them middle aged and generally well meaning, much like me, will desperately cling to power and wealth that they have accumulated from these ‘old school’ ways of working, overseeing how others perform useless work.

And I believe we will need a great deal of compassion and kindness to prevail as the legions of these men struggle.

Sadly there will be enormous collateral damage for all those people that these men in power have employed in meaningless work, especially managers and professionals, and the staff that they employ to perpetuate unneeded systems.

So what do we do?

It is time to get very ordinary, and definitely not extraordinary.

The simple things, the little things will be the things that prevail.

We can reinvent community and village economies, trading, bartering and selling and buying things from one another.

We can make things, grow our own food, produce our own power, create our own entertainment.

We can be a nation and a planet of small businesses, family businesses based on community values.

A few years ago I angered an old socialist friend of mine.

I said the best thing I could teach my children was how to write an invoice.

He muttered into his beard that this was an awful capitalist idea.

The thing is, today all my children have written an invoice to charge someone for their services. It is a key to self sufficiency to understand the value you offer, and the exchange you can make for it.

The future of humanity is about building an entrepreneurial spirit in every living being, that is self expressed, conscious of their gifts that they offer the world, and in love with the idea of serving others through what they can provide, and exchanging that for a range of currencies from money, goods and services, to belonging.

The Future is Indigenous

For the new ways of working, that are really a new twist on some ancient ways of working, we can look to a neglected and marginalised part of the world, the world of indigenous people.

Indigenous people have been smashed by the first world for the last few hundred years. But today the very values, practices, and ways of working from these cultures is exactly what is missing and what is needed in the first world systems of work that are failing, and that will soon be obsolete.

Here in my homeland of Aotearoa (New Zealand) the indigenous people, Māori, and close relatives from across the islands of the South Pacific/Oceania, hold the key to the future.

For many it doesn’t look like it right now, because Māori and Pasifika have been excluded, their spirit, their wairua, their joy and their culture crushed by the systems of government and commerce. The cult of the individual and the dysfunction of honouring intellect way above body, heart and spirit has prevailed.

It has been my utmost privilege to work and be accepted to work with Māori and Pasific peoples, and learn the depth and breadth of these beautiful and exquisite cultures, a way of working, a way of loving and a way of living that offers so very much in a time bereft of love and compassion.

The craziest thing in the world is that so many people in the mainstream world cannot see it.

They misunderstand that any dysfunction they see in the Māori and Pasific world is a reflection on their own.

The systems and beliefs of Mãori run deep and hold some significant opportunities for surviving and thriving the fast changing world.

The structures of the culture are universal, and if we look at every culture on the planet back far enough in time, we all share the same beliefs around how the universe is shaped, our place in it, and how we can go about balancing body, mind and spirit.

The Weave

It is these experiences, observations and insights that led me to write The Weave, The Surprising Unity in Difference.

The exercise of writing and teaching The Weave is not about me. It is not my idea, and it is not my expertise. I am the conduit for a way of thinking and being that is humanity’s oldest technology.

Weaving was the first activity that we undertook to shape and make sense of our environment and universe.

To this day, weaving as a practical activity is fundamental to the materials all around us that we take for granted that are absolute staples in the way our shaped environment supports us, from our clothing to our buildings, to the fabrics from many materials that we interact with every day.

To weave is also a powerful metaphor that we also engage with almost daily, as we talk about the ‘fabric’ of the universe, the

‘tapestry’ of life, the ‘threads’ that come together in our lives. It is the conversations, ideas, thoughts, communication and endless day to day activities and interactions. It is our now daily engagement with the World Wide Web, the most omnipresent ubiquitous and infinite weaving humans have created.

It is no wonder that the very invention of the computer came from weaving technology in the 19th century!

To weave is both the most simple of exercises and models, but also a matrix of endless complexity, that we may never full comprehend.

It is a model and a metaphor for our very existence and offers a form for navigating our lives and our worlds.

To weave is to find connection points through threads of things that can occur as disparate or isolated.

In a simple form, individual threads alone are linear. But once they are crossed they immediately start to create a greater whole, a fabric.

The trick of the twists and turns of a weave is the give and the take, that they are held in a tension of movement and moment. Dealing with difference in human beings is the same, there are times when it will be uncomfortable to intersect with someone with a different world view, in order to realise our common humanity. As Hannah Arendt said, it will take imagining another’s world, not having pity, sympathy or empathy for it, and understanding that it may always be different from your own world view.

The warp and the weft of any woven form intersect multiple times in multiple ways. In the spaces in between a picture, a pattern forms and becomes apparent.

Many cultures of the world hold sacred rituals around the practice of weaving for good reason, to honour the ‘magic’ of the creation of the woven form, and understanding that the DNA of the practice of weaving lies in ancient times, and in forms that extend with a thread into the unseen universe, acknowledging energies and connections that are often not obvious to us in a sentient and rational world view.

The interesting fact is that although the practice of weaving threads its way into metaphor and matters that are intangible, it at the same time provides very tangible materials that support us in a very practical way in daily life.

In Māori culture, the harakeke, the flax bush is most often used for weaving. It is honoured as a very important plant because it provides a material to sustain us, not to mention the use of its seeds and juices as a rongoā, a medicine.

The leaves of the flax bush are immensely strong, and are also used to create a story for sustaining planet and people. The story underpins an importance practice to honour and sustain the harakeke, and the ecosystems of environment and people it supports.

Weavers are taught that the leaves of the harakeke form a family, and that the young shoots should never be picked, and should be protected by older shoots, leaving only the most mature leaves to be harvested.

This is a metaphor for family life, where all members across generations are interconnected, and focus on protecting the young in all their interacting and intersecting worlds.

Well, I now have produced the equivalent of an essay. What is joyful for me about this, I have written this with absolute freedom; the opportunity to express myself as I choose, the time to do it, and the inclination to bother.

As I close in on the age of 60, my life delights me. I am honoured, privileged and proud to lead a life where my work is my bliss. I feel myself growing into a sense of wisdom, excited and curious as the next 20+ years unfold.

E koekoe te tui, e ketekere te kākā, e kūkū te kukupa, It Takes Every Kind of People.

Mauri Ora.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Bad About Things Being ‘All Good’?

There’s three popular phrases I hear and also use frequently.

“All Good”, “Sweet As”, and “It is What It Is.”

In the right context they are harmless and sometimes gentle phrases that are about accepting things as they are right now.

If someone says” How’s everything going?” The reply can be ‘all good’, or ‘sweet as.’

 

It is all about the context. Sometimes these phrases are exactly the right thing to say and name what is really going on. They can put people at ease, create connection, unity, and equilibrium.

But how often does this actually gloss over things that are not quite right?

Are we sweeping things under the carpet when we declare things are ‘all good’ or ‘sweet as’?

But how often have these expressions crossed over to being an automatic response to everything whether it is good or bad, running smoothly, in conflict, or challenging?

Is it resignation, or is it acceptance when someone uses the phrase ‘it is what it is’ ?

I think it can be both. But it is ‘good’ to know the difference.

I was watching a Netflix series early this morning, and it suddenly came to me how much my years of consumption of television, feature films and video has deeply influenced my perception of time.

Everything is edited so there is momentum with very little down time. We have an expectation that ‘something is going to happen’. Film makes talk about creating a beat to ensure momentum and rhythm, as we do in poetry and music. In itself that is not a bad thing. But most of what we consume day to day via visual media sets a pace, that is quite at odds with how time really passes in most of our lives.

How boring would a film or Netflix series be if it included people circling round and round to find a parking spot, or waiting on hold for a call centre to respond to a request, or waiting in a queue to be served.

Of course we edit all this stuff out of the stories for media.

So really that’s fine if we know that is what is going on. But I have succumbed often to the hyper-reality that time will pass in my own life the same way it does in these fictions.

I am teaching myself now the art of doing nothing, of having ‘downtime’ be as valuable as active time.   I look to have this more in balance the same way it is used in resistance training in physical workouts.

In The Weave, we focus a lot on the intersections we come across in our interactions; the knots, the twists and turns that make up a weaving. It is the intersections where everything is held together. But it is held in a tension; too tight and the fabric is constricted and uneven. Too loose and it is full of holes and not held together.

Our approach to life can be much the same, through dark and light, through good and bad. The times of stillness and inaction inform and fuel the action, while the times of action fulfil through momentum.

It is much the same with the very essence of our lives, our breathe. We breathe in to energise, and we breathe out to relax. We would not live without both.

Our self observation and acceptance of the twists and turns is both the art and the science of living.

So when we are at peace with the yin and the yang of the light and the dark, the good and the bad, the stillness and the movement, we can say that things are All Good, Sweet As, and It is What It Is.

Weave The Ultimate Strategy

My own attempt at weaving from Nikau, knees were getting sore at this point, effort ended up in the hangi!

Once upon a time when I worked in a senior management role, I got pulled up for being ‘too tactical.’ My job was strategy, and others lower down the food chain should deliver tactics. I thought to myself this is why there is so much disconnections; those up the hierarchy start to live in strategy world, a very different world from tactics world. Thing is, I like to do both. As a communicator, facilitator and writer, I like to both develop strategies and write stories (tactics I guess) And then there were times when I would find people getting all confused over the difference between a strategy and a plan. Hmmmm, yes well there are many definitions. But the thing is, are they engaging? Do people follow them? And do we get so lost trying to define them that we lost sight of what they are intended to deliver? Dividing the world into strategy and tactics was leaving a lot of people out of each other’s worlds.

It was this kind of confusion that led to the development of The Weave as a holistic solution, a truely inclusive process. It is both a model and a metaphor designed to weave together strategies, plans AND tactics, vision and actions, beliefs and service, commitments. It spans the tangible and the intangible elements that link us all.

The Weave is all at once a process, a system and a story, so this way if people are right brain or left brain, big picture thinkers, or practical detail experts, or a variation on any of these, then they can work together to create a sum greater than its parts.

So if you want to deliver better strategies, build better teams, embed diversity and innovation and collaboration and all those other buzz words, join us for The Weave Workshop Part 1, An Introduction on xxx. And if you have been to one of our workshops before and want to embed the thinking, and learn how to facilitate The Weave thinking join us for The Weave One Day Workshop on March 28, 2018. Register at:  www.andrewmelville.com/workshops

How To Empower the New Government

I came out of a four day silent meditation retreat on Waitangi Day and the first story I read was about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech.

It was as if I had come back to a transformed nation, where a powerful vision was being enacted, and a country was being invited to hold it’s government to account and to measure it’s progress.

And now Waitangi Day is behind us, and for most so are the summer holidays.

Here in Auckland the temperatures have cooled, and the roads have got busy.

2018 is in full swing, everyone is back at work and back at school.

And our new government is not quite so new.

Waitangi had a remarkably different flavour this year.

The kōrero and speeches were inspiring. We are not used to such a flavour of inspired vision, offers of accountability, and accessibility at the head of government.

For those of us who have worked for decades to find ways to better connect those in power in government and business with the diverse communities of Aotearoa/New Zealand, it is a joy to observe.

You can almost hear a collective sigh from everyone who have strived to support those who struggle in this country, the communities that over the last several decades had become more and more removed from the world of decision makers.

I almost have to blink and gasp when I hear some of the things the Prime Minister is saying, it is so heartening.

But there is a little voice,and I am sure it echoes throughout the country for many, is this too good to be true? Is it lovely rhetoric and good PR? But then I catch myself and I think it is time to stop thinking this way and take more responsibility.

We have experienced decades of politicians saying all sorts of wonderful things and never delivering, often because the titanic systems of government are so cumbersome and unwieldly they cannot flex to change, to adapt, to connect, or to serve. Or else they simply have not adhered to a strong sense of values.

So now the question is, how do we all breathe life into this government and assist them to deliver on their promises ?

I get a sense of an attitude with this government to work as a team. And so that attitude must extend throughout the bureaucracies it leads and the wider population, so that we all collectively take responsibility to help deliver on the vision. This will require new ways of working, and at times some pain and discomfort, especially for those who are sitting in comfortable positions of privilege.

This government does have vision. It is palpable and it is tangible in the inspiration it is creating.

Paradigms are shifting rapidly in humanity in the ways of economies, technologies, and globalised cultures and identities. This government has an opportunity to empower Aotearoa to catch up and to lead in this fast moving and dynamic world we now live in, where work, culture and identity is being reinvented daily. We must move on from old models around leadership where expectations are heaped on one person at the head of an organisation to lead as a messiah. Leadership must be about the team, the group, the collective, all contributing. We do know how to do this well in this country, it is just that we have lost our way.

It will take all of us breathing life into this visionary government. And when they falter and they will, that we continue to breathe life into the vision, and not become vultures ripping at their entrails, and rather, hold them to account, regroup and to keep going.

As the Prime Minister has said, there is much work to be done. Our levels of poverty and our exhausted environment needs a great deal of love and support. We have thrashed those that fall to the bottom of our socio-economic measures, and hammered our beautiful environments. But people and planet can heal quickly, and the results can move at quantum speed, if the effort is collective, and conscious.

Weaving A Case for Great Uncleship

Weave thinking encourages us to value all the varying and diverse roles in our workplaces, our communities and our families.

I’ve been thinking about family roles. We naturally think about the primary relationships first, parents and children, and grandparents and grand children.

But how important are Aunties and Uncles? And how much do we celebrate and acknowledge these important roles?

I am an uncle, and so I’ve been thinking, what is the role of an uncle? And what might good Uncleship look like ? Not just in my family, but as a positive male role model.

A while ago I was in a business mentoring feedback session.

One woman described me as ‘avuncular.’ To be honest at the time I did not have a clear idea about what this word meant. And for those reading who may not be familiar with the word it means ‘uncle-like.’

It was unexpected feedback and I rather liked it. She wass saying I occurred as a nurturing and trusted uncle, a male role model, a supportive colleague.

In both professional and personal life, I have often found myself in the role of a mentor or teacher, nurturing others who may be younger than me, others who have been unsure, lacking confidence or simply looking for support.

In te ao Māori I have been called matua and pa, and feel honoured when I have been, because these are terms that are respectful of a male figure, who may or may not be a blood relative, but is offering some mana, some wisdom, some insight, someone trusted.

In Thailand, travelling with some New Zealand students, I was called ajahn, teacher. The word was used much like matua is used in te reo Māori, and it could be applied widely, respectfully to a figure who was offering some learnings, wisdom or leadership. And that came from both the living and the dead.

When we visited a medical school at a Thai university, the cadavars being used for the students to study were also referred to as ‘ajahn’.

So in mainstream western culture, do we revere the role of uncle?

Is it broadly applied to a trusted male figure that is offering nurture, support, love?

Western society is struggling to offer many good male role models. We struggle because our male roles, as with female roles and gender altogether have transformed dramatically from days of hunter gathering, and patriarchal systems. The reactions have often been violent and distraught. How do you express yourself today in your masculinity without constraint, but that does not harm or dominate another? It’s a big question we need to answer.

Good uncles can be great male role models. I’ve known some amazing uncles. Sometimes an uncle can be a greater support to a child or teenager when they are not their father.

Our nuclear family age puts a lot of terrible pressure on Dads, as it also does on Mums.

I know there are both blood relatives and friends who have been great uncles to my children. Their lives have been all the richer for their support.

Sadly, an older male figure, who is not the blood relative father of a child or teenager is often viewed very warily in their relationship with a younger person, especially if they are a girl or young woman. And sadly this distrust can be well placed as there are those who have been abusive in these roles.

As have fathers and ‘step’ fathers.

All the more reason to celebrate the uncles who are good role models.

I am all for the rise and the rise of the great uncle, the good uncle, the trusted male figure in our society. Perhaps we need Uncle Clubs, or Uncle Workshops, Uncle Gatherings, Uncle Support Groups, Uncle Celebrations, Uncle Training Programmes.

We can celebrate Unclehood.

Great uncles rock.

Great families, great communities and great organisations weave different roles together to create a greater fabric.

Today, more and more people are choosing not to have families, and so the role of uncles and aunts, whether blood relatives or trusted friends or colleagues is going to be increasingly important for health communities.

Let’s weave a greater role for uncles… and aunties.

Changing Versus into Verses

There’s that sad old saying that ‘talk is cheap.’ So how do we make it richer?

Stopping to reflect on the origins of a word, and the layers of its meaning can change our relationship to language, it’s meaning and how we use it.

We can all learn to align our hearts, our souls, and our minds when we speak, when we communicate.

Patterns in language and in thinking enable us to understand and to be understood.

Changing one letter in a word, can change a pattern of thinking.

VERSUS. This word most often is used to mean two things or two people in opposition to each other, competing. So immediately, we are in a place of thinking this word is about ‘either, or’, and then very often two it is used in describing competition, where there is a winner or a loser, someone who is right and someone who is wrong.

It can also polarise, there is another interesting word, how far apart can anything in this world be than at either pole of the planet?

When we use versus in so much conversation and communication we set up poles, someone comes out on top and someone does not. It creates competition that is poles apart from a win-win outcome.

VERSES. In this word, where we take out the U, and we have an E.
Verses to me about variations on a theme, stories, chapters, twists and turns, and journeys. We have verses in songs and in poetry that weave ideas, inspirations emotions, tragedies, joys, experiences.

VERSE is also part of the word DIVERSE.

When it comes to human beings, I like to think that we are all turns of phrase, verses in the song of humanity. We are all different and we are unique. And yet we are all human, with more connection points than separation points if we stop to look for them.

There is that very old phrase that says “ There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” So really, those things that we do not like in others, are often a little bit of us reflected in others. Yes really.

If we look at everybody, rich and poor, good and bad, powerful and weak, as different verses of the poem of humanity, then isn’t that just simply a more peaceful way to live. For All Of US.

On November 9 and November 14, I am running a conscious communication workshop, Talk TORQUE.

Participants will gain simple but effective practices to gain traction in communication, gaining insights and then actions to take about the seen and unseen components of their communication.

You can register at www.andrewmelville.com/workshops

Getting personal with diversity

Getting personal with diversity

There is something dark and nasty that we do with the English language.

We depersonalise it. We turn words into ‘terms’ and conversations into ‘engagement’ and stories into ‘narratives.’  We make the meaning and use of the word narrow, and often negative.

Yuck.

The latest depersonalised words doing the rounds are ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’. Or even worse D and I.

Once we have the label and even the acronym, we have already distanced ourselves from the meaning of the words.

Often we are doing this for expediency. We are in a hurry, and shortening, generalising, and depersonalising the word helps us to rush around in our busy worlds.

I just spent a weekend at a wonderful wānanga (workshop) on Te Reo Māori. For those reading internationally – that is the language of Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

We had an awesome session where we pulled apart words from the language to find their origins, their deeper meanings. It shone so much light on the richness of the language.

The thing is, we can do that in English too, but so often we don’t.

English has lost a lot of its reverence: through use in the news media, or mangled in the mouths and on the keyboards of business leaders and politicians. Sadly, words have become cheap.

When it comes to the word  ‘diversity’, if you dig a little deeper, it comes from a very beautiful word and a beautiful concept. Great words are about great concepts and layers of meanings.

How the words are used matters a lot. It is all about the context, and when used in a ‘one size fits all’ context, meaning is often lost. The definitions of words evolve with time. Diversity was once used in a positive sense in the development of democracy to ensure that there was not one dominant group with unbridled power over others.

At an even earlier time, the word was used in a negative sense – to divert, to keep people separate.

In the 21st century, we are developing a new definition of diversity, because the way we live today in a globalised world offers an opportunity for us to not be so separate.

The most obvious areas of ‘diversity’ are around ethnicity, gender, and ability, as these are the most physical manifestations of difference.  But diversity is about more than this, it is about diversity of thought, behaviours, preferences, identities, that may or may not align with how the world sees us in terms of ethnicity, gender or ability.

So let’s fall in love with what being ‘diverse’ means, and let’s take the ‘ity’ off the end of the word, because that makes it separate.   We can be DIVERSE, more than we can be DIVERSITY.  We can act in a way that is DIVERSE.

I’d like to offer up a 21st century meaning for what it can mean to be diverse in Thought, Word and Deed.

Poetry and music have verses. Verses are variations on a theme.  So too, in humanity, our differences are variations on a theme of our common experience. We all live and breathe, and die,  so we all share something as living beings. We share love. We can love broadly and we can love all, without condition. We can be infinitely diverse in our expressions of love, it need not have conditions.

So to be diverse to me is to love the twists and turns of life, of humanity.

Rather than having diverse intimate separation, it actually can very much be about embracing our commonality through love and connection in essence, and at the same time allowing difference, uniqueness and identity.

It takes something to do this. It takes something to be with difference and sameness at the same time.

Drowning in Communication That Doesn’t Connect

Drowning in Communication That Doesn’t Connect

It’s insane. People can message me at least ten different ways on my device.

 

Sometimes I catch the popup of a new message out of the corner of my eye and then it disappears. I’m left wondering: was it on email, What’s App, Facebook, LinkedIn,  Viber, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, a text, iMessage or even very occasionally a voicemail message?  

 

Probably the most unlikely and rarest notification today is an actual phone call.   It’s no wonder we now seem to talk less and less about phones and more and more about ‘devices’.

 

I’m drowning in notifications.

 

As the wonderful U.S. poet Marie Howe observed, we spend more time staring into our screens than other people’s faces.

 

And here’s the rub, and the tragic side effect. The more ways there are to connect, the worse the quality of the communication and the more narrow the views I wish to hear.

 

However fantastic the number of pixels, that content, wherever it is from, is just not human. It lacks all the subtleties, intuitions and soul that exists in human interaction.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the access that technology is giving me: to ideas, people, lives and realities… to the beautiful diversity of the people and environments of our planet.

 

But in the overwhelming reality of choice overload, I select more and more what I want to hear. I edit out anything uncomfortable, different from what I like to hear, or that I simply do not like.

 

Here lies the comfortable zone of the silo, zinging as an ever diminishing echo chamber where there is total agreement to my world view, opinion, and reality. I only reach out to ‘like-minded’ people.

 

And the more we all do this, the more separate we become from one another.  When we engage with difference it is at arm’s length, vicariously, as if the realities of others are some kind of animation.

 

Come to think about it, when did we start talking about communication, engagement, and narratives, rather than simply just talking, listening, writing and telling stories?

 

So much language we use today has been designed to create distance, or some convoluted sense of objectivity.

 

Business speak, government speak, all this officialised language is alienating greater and greater numbers of our populations.

 

We do really only have a few degrees of separation, but we make it seem like there are huge distances in one another’s realities – across ethnicities, ages, genders, abilities, economic status,  let alone geographic distances.

 

The work we are doing with The Weave is all about getting to grips with our differences, owning them, but also believing in our common humanity.  The Weave is about how despite our differences, our unique identities, we can come together around our humanity, our love for a fellow human being, however different, however far they are from our comfort zone, or however un-like minded they are.

 

It is a conversation, not a magic solution, but it is based on the belief we can evolve, we can grow, we can put an increasing dent in the inequality.

 

 

 

Grey is the New Black…and White

 

Maybe it all started when we invented the printing press. Maybe it happened much, much earlier, when ink was first put to page. Either way, we made language into something black and white.

It dramatically shifted the way we communicate – from the spoken word to the written.

Spreading the printed word created enormous opportunities for learning, growth and exploration. It also created great separations: those who could read, those who could not, those who had wealth to print and distribute.

Monarchs, politicians and priests dominated the written word and spelt out what they saw as black and white, in terms of morals, mostly to keep themselves in power. Divide and rule, kill bad people, praise good ones.

As the passing of the first quarter of the 21st century rapidly approaches, technology is giving us access to an unbelievably overwhelming amount of information and data.

So what is black and white? What is right and wrong, good and bad? And most importantly, what is true and what is false? Today more than ever it is very often very unclear.

‘Fake news’, memes, mockumentaries, post-modernism, echo chambers, the difference between what we believe is fact and what we believe is fiction blurs.

Well, get used to it!

There is no going back now.

So is this a great opportunity, or a descent into chaos about the truth?

How on earth in today’s world do you hold someone to account about what is true?

The answer lies in there being no right answer!

If that sounds like a riddle, then maybe it is, and maybe our lives have always been a riddle to unravel as we go.

I wrote The Weave in order to open conversation on new ways of communication, based on a very ancient method for communicating.
The use of metaphor and story to deepen our connection, engagement, knowledge and growth has been around for many millennia before we invented the printed word, or even the written word.

Our world has always been about shades of grey. Black and white, even in the science of colours, have never been absolute.

Aotearoa New Zealand is a place that is often shrouded in cloud of ever changing hues of grey, white, black, rainbows – every colour that one can imagine.

What we hold in common as humanity is often intangible. It is in the realms of what we call love, heart, soul and spirit.

What we perceive as our differences are often found in our cognition, our emotion, our intellect.

If we start to dig a little deeper in reflection, in contemplation, in nature, in peace, and even in solitude, there is an undying and unspoken love available.

Sometimes it is found simply by observing nature. Sometimes it is found from what some call tuning into a more universal energy, that potentially goes beyond time and space as we categorise it in black and white.

So maybe the big black ‘space’ of our universe is like our brain – endless, virtually unquantifiable, grey matter.

People often don’t like the colour grey. It occurs as drab, not distinct, not vibrant, or specific. And that is the point really. Grey is an opportunity for reflection, perhaps finding the mystical in the shifting mist.

 

 

 

Introducing The Weave Workshops: A New Twist to an Ancient Technology

Introducing The Weave Workshops: A New Twist to an Ancient Technology

Today communication breakdown and disengagement is epidemic. There are more and more communication tools and less and less connection.

People are not united in vision, values, purpose or actions. Results are varied. Diversity of culture and of people is not embedded.

From governments and corporates, to small businesses, to not for profits and iwi, productivity and innovation is low.

The Weave© offers a rich and deep technology to engage people across cultural divides, enabling unity, while empowering individual cultural identity, including ethnicity, gender, spiritual belief, ability, or age.

Outcomes in The Weave© workshops include:

• Strategies to weave together diverse world views
• Building team cultures across diverse roles and skill sets
• Uniting governance and management teams
• Embedding vision
• Building communication and story sharing capability

The workshops are led by Andrew Melville building on 30 years experience as a facilitator, communicator, journalist and engagement specialist.

The Weave© workshops kick off in 2017:

Tuesday January 24
Thursday February 16
Monday March 27

All sessions run from 9:30 am to 2.00 pm.

Full Fee: $450.00

Register at: info@theweave.co.nz