Website Update and Some News

It’s been a while in the making, but today I’m rolling out some changes to this website. You might notice a new, cleaner design and a couple of new features including search and a contact form. A shout out to Manu for helping bring these changes to life. I’ve also updated the content a fair bit to better reflect the goals of the site. In part, this held up the launch of the new design. As I’ve changed…  
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The Comfortable Life Is Killing You →

Erik Rittenberry:

It’s undeniable that out of great effort and ingenuity we have created a highly prosperous, comfortable, and thriving civilization. But the shadow side of this culture of convenience is that, as Colin Wilson and many other great thinkers understood, it reduces the human being. “The comfortable life lowers man’s resistance so that he sinks into an unheroic sloth.”

This is a great read, well worth a few minutes of your time. May it help change your life for the better.

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Empathy Is the Secret Ingredient →

Arunas L. Radzvilavicius, writing for The Conversation:

Even initially uncooperative societies in which everyone judged each other based mostly on their own selfish perspectives, eventually discovered empathy – it became socially contagious and spread throughout the population. Empathy made our model societies altruistic again.

An interesting study, and a terrific resource on the topic of empathy. So many rabbit holes to go down.

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Eating Sand →

Nora Bateson:

Systems change is not about fixing the system. It is about sense-making. The fixing will happen by happenchance, not direct correctives … but only when the interdependencies come into view.

Calling it as she sees it. Brilliant.

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Not Having All the Answers

I’m reading The Good Life by Hugh Mackay1. I was struck by the following passage, which seems particularly relevant to current times. Fundamentalism (whether religious, political, economic or cultural) thrives at times of social upheaval and insecurity. When we are at our most perplexed or bewildered, gripped by moral panic and baffled by ambiguity, that’s when we are also most vulnerable to pro…  
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Liberating Structures: What’s That? →

Nadia von Holzen:

Liberating Structures is a funny term. At least that is the reaction I get when I am telling about my Liberating Structures workshops. It seems that the term is not easily accessible outside of the Liberating Structures community. I often fail with my explanation that Liberating Structures is a set of methods (you could also call them structures, activities, interactions) to structure conversation and solution finding; and that these structures can be easily applied by everyone. Somehow that sounds quirky and abstract.

I had a similar experience when I explored Liberating Structures with other facilitators last year. I came to the same conclusion, but Nadia does a much better job of explaining it than me …

Liberating Structures is a do-it-yourself concept for teams, groups, networks to work better together.

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Personality Tests Don’t Work →

Dr. Kim Perkins:

Personality tests, we think, help us understand ourselves better. But in reality, they are often a self-gratifying exercise that gets us no closer to understanding ourselves or others.

I’ve recently been subjected to this utter nonsense and can’t believe that these tests are still used so widely. There is no hard evidence to prove they help us become more self-aware.

This is a reasoned, thoughtful argument that also provides some useful alternatives.

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Be a Better Listener →

Adam Bryant, writing for the New York Times:

The best kind of listening is about being comfortable not knowing what you’re going to say next, or what question you might ask. Trust that you’ll think of something in the moment based on what the other person just said. That will send a powerful signal to the other person that you’re truly listening to them.

There’s some great tips here. I’m happy to see the link made to using improv as a way of improving listening skills.

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Generalists Inside Your Organisation →

Jorge Barba writes:

Simple and complicated situations are the domain of specialists, while Generalists are best suited to tackle complex and chaotic situations. Another way to view this is: specialists will bring immediate answers, generalists will ask new questions. For complex challenges, questions trump answers.

I found myself nodding in voilent agreement reading through this post. I’m now reflecting on, and observing my own confirmation bias.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about the problem of categorising and labelling. Putting people in a box only encourages them to behave according to the label we assign them. It also reinforces the stories we tell ourselves. I’m struck with how it encourages us to take sides, to belong to one group or the other, rather than to see other possibilities.

Labels ignore context. In reality our behaviours are dynamic, not static. The only true answer as to whether someone is a specialist or a generalist is: It depends.

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What Are the Stories You Have to Tell? →

Gapingvoid:

When you think about it, stories are not just nice thing we use to keep ourselves amused (around the campfire). Stories are what we use to understand the universe, and our place within it. And without them, we simply couldn’t do it.

Love.

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