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.

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

Weaving New Solutions With Ancient Technologies

Aymara woman weaving

The best story I heard in 2016 was about how the ancient weaving practices of Bolivian women are providing a solution to babies dying from holes in their hearts.

A special device similar to a little parachute is woven from a flexible metal and then feed up an artery to the heart where it fans out to seal the hole.

Researchers found that the accuracy and the dexterity of the indigenous weavers offered a more precise and lasting solution than using a modern technology to make the device.

Weaving is humanity’s most ancient technology, pre-dating agriculture and the development of ceramics. It is a practice that in essence is exceptional simple, but once the simple technique is mastered, can lead to greater levels of complexity.

However, it requires a balanced concentration of body, mind and spirit.

If we go back to the origins of every culture in the world, from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, weaving has been critical to our survival. It is no accident that for so many cultures, the physical weaving of materials and the metaphysical weaving of stories about the tapestry of life are entwined. The simple practice of weaving grounds our understanding of the complexity of a woven universe.

There is no doubt as we move into 2017 that we will experience the world speeding up. Computer speeds, new devices, new apps, greater access to technology, more big data, is all going to chew up space in our brains.

It was over 20 years ago that Information Fatigue Syndrome was identified in a study called Dying For Information.
In 1996, people were already suffering indecision, anxiety, and ill health from information overload, mostly via the Internet. Discernment to peacefully navigate information and reflect to seek simple insights is where we must grow.

Solutions for our evolution and wellbeing in the future across economic, social and environmental measures lie in simple solutions from the past, in ancient cultures that are in the DNA of all of us.

My book The Weave, the Surprising Unity in Difference explores the opportunity we have to use the models and the metaphors of weaving to create teams, communities and families that embrace diversity and innovation to build a greater future.

email info@theweave.co.nz for more (simple) information on The Weave workshops and mentoring in 2017.

 

Know Your Place

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Navigation is about triangulating where you are.

You identify three points, and you have located where you are.

Knowing your Place is also about understanding a trinity of who you are and where you are from.

1. Your place- geographically
2. Your place – where you welcome others
3. Your place- the legacy you create

Knowing your Place also requires another mighty threesome to be in balance; heart, mind and body.

Knowing your place will ground you in every environment and every interaction.

Why is this important?

Knowing who you are and where you are now, where you have come from, and where you are going are critical to effective engagement with others.

Today people want to know your back story, your current story, and the story of the future you are creating.

Knowing your Place is more than identifying with one geographic spot, that of your birth or your upbringing.

A nomad (both digital and physical) can Know Their Place as much as someone who has lived and worked in one place for many years.

It is about a knowing, a belonging, an identification with place, self and others than will ground you.

Most indigenous cultures start from a place of seeking to know your lineage and where you are from. Many consider our lineage to connect right back to the beginning of time and the creation of the planet and universe. And if you are into metaphysics, you can follow your DNA back to when were were an idea for an atom in the primordial soup.

But that gets very deep.

And that is great, because Knowing Your Place is about taking a deeper look at where you fit.

In English Victorian and Edwardian times the phrase ‘know your place’ was to ‘put you in your place’ in a hierarchy or stratified class system. Today we don’t have to do that. We can connect with our natural world, and the nature of our worlds of family, teams, groups, society and people. And take a journey to identify our place.

Our Place.
Your Place.
This Place

Sense of Place.

Place is a many layered concept.

I think of a metaphor for fly fishing. To be a great fly fisher, you work to cast your line to place it gently on the surface of the water. Your aim is to replicate an insect alighting on the surface of the water. The more attuned you are to your environment, the place you stand, the grace with which you move, your attention to the micro world of insects, and movement of current, and wind, the more you will find the sweetspot of place, to replicate the delicate movement of an insect.

A sense of knowing your place is akin to being ‘comfortable in your own skin’ and the world around you. Knowing your place allows you to embrace uncertainty, diversity and change.

Love Your Neighbour But Don’t Hang Out Together Every Day.

Neighbors Loud Music Noise

How do we balance out what we want with what others want ?

Doesn’t this just have to be the biggest question we all face as human beings?

Getting what we want, living the life we want, but getting on with others when they might want something quite diifferent from us.

It happens in families, at work, in politics, in religion, in race, everywhere we interact with others. We are social animals, wanting to belong, and then at the same time we get really annoyed with people and don’t want them around. How contrary!

So how do we work it all out and find the perfect answer?

The first answer is that we don’t. Our lives are perpetually evolving. We have to find beauty in the flaws, the challenges the imperfections and the journey both rocky and smooth. Absolute perfection, absolute order, 24/7 happiness is an illusion.

I’ve got neighbours who are very different from me, but we have got on really well for the best part of 20 years.

We don’t live in each other’s pockets like good friends, but we don’t ignore one another either. There have been times we have hung out a lot, and times where we have not said much to each other for days or weeks.

We have not always agreed on things, and in fact sometimes we have some very different and opposing views on things. But we get on. Some where along the line, we have built a deep mutual respect, a respect of difference, and a respect for what we share in common.

There is a love, and you can say in a certain way, it is an unconditional love, the kind you have in families where you might not get on, might not have everything in common, but you are family, and you love one another.

Seems to me to Love Your Neighbour should come from a place of love, of respect that does not mean going out of your own way to the point you are not doing or living the way you want to.

Loving Your Neighbour is being free to disagree with them, to be annoyed by them, to live a totally different life from them, and not tolerate them out of obligation or avoidance because you feel you SHOULD. It will never work.

So the answer to achieving world peace with a better community of diversity in thinking, lifestyle, beliefs, ethnicity and ability is accepting that we always all be different from one another. And in fact we would probably hate it if we were all exactly the same, surely we would be like robots!

As the great community builder, Peter Block puts it:

” Dissent is the cousin of diversity; the respect for wide range of beliefs.

This begins by allowing people the space to say “no”.

If we cannot say “no” then “yes” has no meaning.

Each needs the chance to express their doubts and reservations without having to justify them, or move quickly into problem solving.

“No” is the beginning of the conversation for commitment.

Doubt and “no” is a symbolic expression of people finding their space and role in the strategy.

It is when we fully understand what people do not want that choice becomes possible.

The leadership task is to surface doubts and dissent without having an answer to every question.”

www.abundantcommunity.com

Getting Real About the Real World

Wood Bookshelf in the Shape of Human Head and books near break wall, Knowledge Concept

What is the ‘real’ world?

I’ve found myself often saying this cliché about people. ‘So and so needs to get into the real world.”

So I’ve wondered why do I, and others keep using this expression?

It is most usually a criticism. Someone is being ‘unrealistic’. They are out of touch, lost in their own world, or not in touch with others.

So here’s what I really think.

Our modern world has made us increasingly separate from one another. And so we think our worlds’ look quite different from each other. We justify our own point of view through judgement and comparison to others.

We spent more and more time, in the western world anyway, doing abstract stuff staying remote in front of screens, not people, using our hands on key boards, a mouse, a remote. We spend more time in the virtual world than the ‘real time’ world.

We are educated to think and act through narrow educational lenses; to regurgitate and not to make things and experience things.
We value how people appear on paper with qualifications and abstract achievements, more than we value people’s experience good and bad.

But actually, our every living moment is the real world. The instant we embrace difference in others, diverse actions and thought, everything becomes one ‘real’ world.

If we are judging others, or even ourselves for not living in the real world, we are not honouring our experience of it, good and bad, happy and sad, failure and success. It’s all pretty goddamn real!!

In an interview David Bowie once answered the question: What is your greatest achievement? His answer was: “Discovering morning.”

Honour every experience.

Get real.

No More Time Out

iStock_000045645158_XXXLargeI’m thinking about the coming year. It’s the 9th day of 2016. It can’t be helped, whichever way you look at it – it is a new year. And just over one week in, it is a transition time from a holiday into this ‘brand new’ year. I feel like I am emerging from the twilight of a whole lot of ‘time off’, or ‘time out’, over the Christmas and New Year break.

People are trickling back to work. Each day there are a few more cars on the road. Some people look like stunned mullets, adjusting their brains to a different pace, different clothes, different environment. Back to work!  Moving from the glowing twilight post-holiday into the full sunlight! In the glaze of the sun a few things happen. It nurtures and brings life, it warms mind and body, and sustains us. But too much and it will burn and destroy.

Getting the balance right with the powerful elements of nature is the same as getting the balance right with our professional and personal lives. The seasons and the weather are in constant change. And changing too are all the man-made structures that impact our lives. Our time and our days can fill up very, very quickly. We run out of time more than ever, with instant media and communication at our fingertips. There are a myriad of things to pay attention to. Technology has definitely NOT been a time-saving innovation for most of us.

As 2016 starts to settle in, and I get into a work mode, I’m asking:  What do I want more of than I had last year? What do I want less of than I had last year?

Then I get to thinking about the whole measurement of time – be it a year, a month, a day, a moment. And about how much time can expand and contract. How it seems like time can run out, or can go on endlessly. Somewhere I know it is all relative – my relationship to time is all completely made up, by me!

So I have arrived at an idea about Time Off and Time Out. I am eradicating them.

I am having a year of Time On and Time In.

I am going to a place where I will seek more natural rhythms in my energy flows, and seek to not judge when I have more or less energy, to not compare or judge one place or another.

I will move away from segmenting my life into Down Time, Time Off, Time Out, and integrate more balance and flow.

I will get more interested in the cycles of the seasons, of the sun of the moon, and become attuned with them.

I will seek a greater understanding of ebb and flow, in myself and the planet around me.

I will seek balance.

It is my heartfelt belief that when I am in tune with my vision and purpose, when I have it showing up in all my waking and even sleeping moments, I do not need Time Out and Time Off. Time will flow with greater ease. I will rise to the occasions of deadlines and commitments,  because they will be built on the foundation of my vision and my purpose.

Do you know what your vision is? Does it sustain you?