Monday, 29 December 2014

Paths to Possibilities - Day 30

Day 30
30 equals the total number of major and minor keys in Western tonal music.
It is also the number of uprights that formed the Sarcen Circle at Stonehenge.
Recent research suggests that the inner Bluestones ring probably had 
acoustic properties,
which might explain their being transported 320 km by Stonehenge's makers.
Today's piece is by Phil Willcox, the impassioned founder and Managing Director of e3ctc, a consultancy based in Lincoln, UK, which specialises in training and coaching to enable individuals and organisations to learn and develop. He is interested in authenticity and science-based emotional intelligence and the impact that they have on good leadership and the motivation of teams. Phil is a regular voice on Twitter (his handle is @PhilWillcox) and he is a good fellow to spend an evening with, putting the world to rights. A devoted husband and father, Phil enjoys helping and supporting others (both in and out of work) to thrive and grow.


This is my favourite TED talk ever.

Why? It's the only TED talk that I've come across that gets a standing ovation at the start and at the end. More so though, it is about the meaning I find in it. It speaks to me because I have daughters, I like poetry, in the journey that Sarah has been through I find similarity to my own. I could go on and will choose to stop for now, as the importance will come back later.
One of the things I hold incredibly dear and share as much as possible is my view on the value of reflective practice. Over this year I have developed that to be 'reflective purposeful practice' as it is something that I think needs to be done both on and for a purpose. Let me be clear, thinking about or reflecting on stuff is massively useful and important. Even more though, doing this:

On purpose - which means you choose to do so and to do so regularly
For a purpose - which means you are doing it to learn, change, replicate, repeat or for a reason that you will act upon in the future. 

Purposeful reflection!
Car wing mirror with in-built LED indicator
I often meet people that say 'I don't know' and that reminds me of a line from one of my favourite film series 'The Matrix' where a character called 'The Oracle' is talking with 'Neo' (played by Keanu Reeves), here's the transcript:

Oracle: You have the sight now, Neo. You are looking at the world without time.
Neo: Then why can't I see what happens to her?
Oracle: We can never see past the choices we don't understand. 
Neo: Are you saying I have to choose whether Trinity lives or dies?
Oracle: No. You've already made the choice, now you have to understand it.
Neo: No, I can't do that. I won't.
Oracle: You have to.
Neo: Why?
Oracle: Because you're The One.
Neo: What if I can't? What happens if I fail?
Oracle: Then Zion will fall.

I realise that I am running the risk of losing you in film quotes and stick with me, it works out.

As humans we find meaning everywhere. It is the reason we misunderstand each other, why two people can see, hear, smell, taste the same thing(s) and get wholly different meanings, impressions, experiences and conclusions. It is something called 'relevance theory' and means that we will experience something through the senses and find the meaning or explanation that best fits what we know, want, think or feel about it. 

Do you see a human face or a girl hurrying across the cobbles?
What you see may be influenced by your current mood and past experiences

Let's play with that for a moment. Do I (or you) believe in fate or are we in control of our destiny?

For me, I prefer yellow bananas to black bananas.

Right now you are or already have searched to find what that means. Am I likening fate to yellow or black bananas? Or am I saying that I don't believe either and I'd prefer the idea of control over fate? In reality, it's a statement of seven words that I stole from someone and put into this blog. That's it. 

You will have looked for or more likely found meaning in those seven words.

When it comes to the paths we follow or we choose or how we perceive the world, those around us or the choices we (may) make, relevance theory is a massive part of it.

One of my favourite discoveries this year has been the 'Street Wisdom' movement. (I do also notice the links here between 'street' and 'path' and that is good old relevance theory in action.) There are a few things about Street Wisdom that I really love:
  • How it uses resources that you always have available to you (yourself and the street)
  • The impact it has for people (I'll share mine soon and here's some blogs others have written about their experiences), namely Helen Amery's and Emma Browes'
If you want to know more about Street Wisdom, click here.

The reason I'm sharing though, is because, as an approach, it does a brilliant job of helping you see options and paths that you may not normally appreciate. 

When I experienced my quest in Sheffield I was shifted. The path I was on remained but how I saw it shifted. It moved from a path that was overgrown, contained stinging nettles and brambles, was uneven underfoot and a path that I was nervous and unsure to tread. 

My view on it shifted to be a path that became crystal clear, free from obstruction and one that I actively wanted to skip, run and sprint down.

What happened? I found an answer to a question that I had been grappling with for over two years. Yes, two years. I'd been carrying a question with me that I could not answer for over 700 days. Each time that question raised itself I'd be flooded with emotion(s), doubts, fears, frustrations, joy and couldn't reconcile them all away. Then, the answer came and it all went away.

I felt free.

It was amazing.

Insight found on the streets of Sheffield
Church Street, Sheffield
I will be forever grateful to the streets of Sheffield and those people and objects that shared my path that day.

As humans we are what I call 'lazy thinkers', we make assumptions and take mental shortcuts. We want people or things to fit with what we have experienced or what we expect, because it is cognitively easier for us. We don't have to think as much, or as hard, to predict what will happen or occur. That is why (as I said earlier) we misunderstand each other. I think a reason we say 'I don't know' is I think there's a good chance you do know, you just haven't allowed yourself to see it as an option or possibility before.

Finding enlightenment.
"First Light, Sunrise over Sheffield", Actylic, 2008 by Mark H Wilson 
You may think I am trying to say you need to visit unfamiliar surroundings to create a shift and I don't think that is true. I've been to Sheffield many times before and that day, but I looked at it differently. So differently it changed my life.

I started this blog talking about poetry, reflection and those I meet that say 'I don't know'. Then I've linked that to the Matrix, as I wonder if you really do know and just aren't seeing past a choice you don't understand or want to face. Then I've talked about relevance theory and how I think this links with choices as, when we open up our minds to other possibilities and meanings, we see new things and paths which may allow us to understand or face a choice. Our challenge, as I see it, we don't allow ourselves (consciously or unconsciously) the chance to open up.

Open up, see the path, shift the perception, have more choice.

Vietnam War Memorial, by American artist and architect Maya Lin in 1989,
when designing it she stated that she wanted to create something that a person could
"relate to as on a journey or passage, that would bring each to his own conclusions"

Merry Christmas (we are still within The 12 Days) and Happy New Year.

Thank you to the wonderful Kate Griffiths-Lambeth for curating this series.

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