Let’s Teach Side Hustle at School.

Let’s Teach Side Hustle at School.

 

Like many people growing up in the late 20th century, I was told at school and home that success looked like achieving well in education and work, focused around core subjects and career paths into professions or trades. There were set steps to follow, and you were always being measured against others and ranked. The measurements, metrics as we talk about today, were numeric, linear and quantitative. There was a cut off point where those with enough marks headed in one direction in life, and those with not enough marks headed somewhere else, usually to lower paid employment or perhaps no employment at all.

However, turns out my greatest successes in life have been my side hustles. But no one ever taught me that. When I was very young, I experimented with friends about making things to sell. It was a game. We made art, cookies, or perhaps even mud pies, and played shop, selling them to family or friends for a few cents. It was a little glimmer of what it might mean to be entrepreneurial and receive reward for something you made from your efforts. Later in life, products and services I have designed and delivered myself have been the most satisfying and the most lucrative.

But my education for this was only ever a game. This approach to creating things, selling or exchanging them, was certainly not on any school curriculum. And once in the work force, creating new ideas, products and services in most of my early roles was not valued whatsoever. You followed a set line, a set of formulas with parameters around delivering work and outcomes. Step outside of the set rules too much and you were reprimanded.

Today, I still see this continue. I have witnessed children in school, students in university, hungry to turn their ideas into realities that will benefit their families, communities, and themselves shut down time and time again. Many is the time I have seen an inspired student or graduate deflated as their enthusiasm, their vision and their creativity is shut down. They get told to follow the script in their career, if they can in fact find a job.

In the Māori and Pasifika world I have seen this frequently occur too with another twist. These students want their study and their research to go straight back to their whanau and community, and yet they get told their study is an ‘academic exercise’ and they do not get to deliver their ideas and have to turn to compromised roles in mainstream workplaces.

An entrepreneurial or creative spirit happens on the sidelines.

In 2020 as traditional jobs disappear in the thousands and kids have spent half the year out of school, what new alternatives can we look at to fulfil on dreams, to source an income, and to ‘make a living’ in the true sense of the word? (Interesting how we default to thinking about cash when we talk about ‘making a living’ rather than giving this phrase a broader intent!) I’m pretty damn sure that professional roles for life are on the way out for good.

The power base of the tired old professions of accountancy, law, medicine and engineering are less and less relevant in today’s world. Many of the services offered by these professions you can now google, or manage yourself. I see more and more of the traditional firms resort to fear tactics as they desperately try to remain relevant, inculcating a risk averse business culture, telling the population that it is very dangerous to do without a lawyer, an accountant, an engineer or a doctor. It is tragic that many parents, teachers, academics, business and government leaders still push these professions as the pinnacle of achievement. And in so doing they’re selling their children and their children’s children a very dud deal.

Maybe it is a bad idea to try and quantify and systemise something as creative as a side hustle. But then again maybe we should honour, celebrate and encourage rangatahi today to have a few strings to their bow, to experiment with technology and creativity, with science and with art, and where all these often sidelined endeavours intersect. I once teased an old friend with a strict socialist ideology that the best thing I could ever teach my children growing up was how to write an invoice. And I wasn’t kidding. Writing an invoice can give you many things; an awareness of business, financial literacy, self sufficiency, self worth. I know for myself writing an invoice for my services is very satisfying and empowering.

Let’s pivot, no in fact lets pirouette, to put the entrepreneurship of the creative and tech sectors at the forefront alongside sustainable uses of the land and our beautiful resources, to grow food and shelter. Is it timely to change out what has been seen as the ultimate professions.  Let’s honour the collective, the diverse skills in our communities. It is time to move away from hierarchies that values certain human attributes above others.

Kia Manawanui, Kia Kaha, Kia Māia.

 

Love in the Time of Cholera- The Opportunity of COVID 19

Love in the Time of Cholera- The Opportunity of COVID 19

It is hard to see it when so much seems bleak, but the chaos, disruption and fear we are experiencing in this pandemic can give rise to re-discovering better ways to live and work.

There are viral aspects of the COVID-19 that go far beyond the physical illness and risk of death.  It is being felt in what might seem to be completely unconnected and unrelated environments. It is being felt economically, culturally, environmentally and socially. It is affecting relationships, income, wellbeing, work and home pressures far beyond its physical presence in a community. I see the fear in my family, and I have already experienced many thousands of dollars’ worth of work cancelled or put on hold indefinitely.

This is what viruses do. They spread across networks, at a pace and in directions we find hard to keep track of. And this in turn leads to fear.

We fear what we cannot control. We fear what is uncertain. Fear has been a driving force for survival deep in our primal make up and our physiology throughout our evolution as a species.

Mastering fear is something as critical today as in any time in our history.

The difference is that today we have a greater set of tools than ever before to master fear. We can utilise science and technology, and couple it with a greater understanding and behaviours as socially aware and conscious human beings. We can be pragmatic and empathic in equal measures, but it can seem that the latter is trickier to master.

What is the opportunity that COVID-19 offers for us to live more harmoniously, more sustainably and more mindfully?

For a start some of the sensible measures being outlined are things that we should be doing anyway, regardless of the threat of contracting the virus.

  • When I hear leaders in businesses telling their staff to stay at home if they feel at all unwell, or staying away even if they feel like they are coming down with something, is that not a good practice all the time?
  • When it comes to having a sensible amount of food and resources to be self- sufficient in our homes, is that not a good practice all the time?
  • When it comes to eating well and taking measures to boost our immune systems, is that not a good practice all the time?
  • When it comes to offering leadership that allows people to make choices about things such as travelling for work if they feel unsafe, and questioning how often we need to travel for work, is that not a good practice all the time?
  • When it comes to taking greater care with hygiene in public places and moving around our connected globalised world, is that not a good practice all the time?

In a crisis, or under threat, we’d like to think that we would always rise to the occasion and do the right thing by others. But in reality, do we know whether we will stand up, or run,  attack or blame?

Dealing with fear and responding to it, when the impacts are so very uncertain, is more about simple practical steps than heroic gestures. It is about offering generosity and empathy however the fear, the response or reactions are occurring.

I am saddened by the panicked reactions I see, as it seems a great deal of fear is lying just under the surface for many people. And tragically there are some rather crazy memes flying through social and news media that fuel the fear.

How can we enable people to deal with fear in such uncertain times?

Again it is about simple practical actions, taking care of others.

Sure this has to be done mindfully, and hugs and kisses may be rather off limits.

But we can be caring of others in times of fear in little ways, random unsolicited acts of kindness, making and sharing food, offering to do chores for others… it is the simple day to day things.

Caring in Te Ao Māori is enshrined within the concept of manaakitanga, a broad and deep way of caring, connecting, welcoming, and including.

There are many ‘little ways’ within manaakitanga that enable wellness and belonging.

Communication that connects in a ‘little way’ taking time can be simply to ask how others are, and to simply listen, without judgement and without trying to solve their issues. It can be small home made gifts, cooking, carrying out simple chores for others.

  • When we see or hear someone exhibiting fear, we can practice empathy through accepting who they are, and not try and talk them out of their fear or tell them that they are wrong to be fearful. Empathy is about listening more and talking less.
  • Fear can be very abstract about what ‘might’ happen in the future. We can support fearful people in fear by putting our energies into the present moment, and focusing our activity and thoughts on the present moment, rather than speculating about what might or might not be around the corner.
  • We can support people to take actions to build immunity in mind and body, through diet and supplements, taking time to relax, walk in nature, practicing calming breathing and mindfulness techniques. Check:  artofliving.org.nz  and  www.mindfulnessauckland.co.nz

The practical measures outlined above are things that good leaders will already be carrying out. And here I must name check Mark Templeton, CEO of Aeroqual. It was a rich and caring conversation with Mark and my colleague Peter Roband that sowed the seed for this article, and in fact the title came from Mark.

What I took from those two wonderful men was that our mindsets as well as our skillsets are so important to take care of in tough times. It is very easy to default to making a self-fulfilling prophecy out of the impacts, and talk ourselves into a crisis or a drama even when we do not need to.

The best leadership right now is that which offers a way forward with compassion and empathy;  building our immunity, our resilience, our courage and sustaining our wellbeing.

And for those who must always have the bottom line in sight from a quantitative point of view, people who are well in mind and heart as well as body create better results. It is a ‘no brainer’ and a ‘yes hearter’.

As the Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote in Love in the Time of Cholera, “ Think of love not as the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”

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.