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

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.

 

The Weave: The Surprising Unity in Difference – New Book Available Now

We’re delighted to announce the launch of my new book – The Weave: Surprising Unity in Difference.

The Weave offers insights and pathways for leaders to build authentic cultures by using stories to unite groups in their vision and to give people a sense of belonging, of motivation and inspiration.

This book is for managers and leaders of teams looking for better ways to engage diverse groups and individuals. It offers tips and tools for:
• anyone seeking to run a project where the diversity of the group can become a source of strength
• ways for government, health, education and infrastructure providers to remove silos and get everyone on the same page
• anyone looking to improve their ability to communicate, influence and bring out the best in people who think differently to them

To order a copy of the book click the link below!

$27.50 NZD + $5 Shipping



Sourcing the Sauce

culinary set isolated on white

Great cooking is always about a great sauce.

Some chefs spend days rendering down a stock made from bones, meat, fish or vegetables, spices and herbs. Often they will claim some secret ingredients that bring it all together as a taste sensation.

But the principle is always the same. It is about taking the time to cook something down to its essence and bringing together just the right ingredients. Where an alchemy has occurred in the chemistry of the mingling ingredients.

Mayonnaise is one sauce where a magical chemistry occurs where two ingredients that never usually mix; oil and water, are blended to create something delicious.

If you mix oil and water without any other ingredients no matter how hard you beat them, they will always stay separate.

The trick is using another ingredient, an ‘emulsifier.’ Egg yolk does the trick. It has molecules that can attach to both the oil and the water, bringing them together as one.

Once you have the oil, the water and the emulsifier in just the right quantities, you can blend a smooth glossy mayonnaise.

People are just the same. Some can have very differing beliefs, attititudes, behaviours and views of life that are like oil and water, chalk and cheese. They just won’t mix.

If you want to create a great sauce or mayonnaise with a group of diverse people, what is the emulsifier?

What can weave people together so they can create something delicioius, something that people will desire, something that will inspire?

What ingredient can connect disparate people?

Where can we find a unity in difference?

I once worked with a group of Māori wood carvers. Their work tells the crucial stories and history of their culture and was at risk of dying out. They came from different tribes that had over the centuries often been at war with one another. Politically, there was conflict over which tribes stories and history took precedence over others.

When the carvers got together, they realised that the further back in time that they went, the more unified their stories were. The stories from the beginning of time were the same. The big stories of the universe, and how the earth and people had evolved were the same. They were about humanity, above and beyond tribal differences.

The same can be said for tribes, cultures, societies and communities all over the world.

What is our emulsifier that can join us all? And at the same time allow us to remain unique and distinct, as individuals and as different cultures?

We still want to taste the different ingredients in a great sauce, but we want to enjoy how it all comes together.

Source the sauce.

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.