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Start with why (book 3 of 26)

Start with why (book 3 of 26)

February 11, 2018
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It’s a bit surprising I haven’t read this book before, I agree. I mean, I even helped initiate a movement in Sweden that asked #WhySchool, so undoubtedly asking Why to find the underlying purpose, the driving force, the reason for What and How, is a habit close to my heart. And yet, I’ve not actually read the book before. I’ve watched his (Simon Sinek that is) TED Talk, many times, I’ve listened to podcasts with him, and oftentimes use his Golden Circle, and now, finally, I can honestly say I’ve read the book Start with why.

Golden Circle

The Why in the Golden Circle is the why of “WHY do you do what you do?”, that which is your purpose, the driving force behind all that you do, and how you do it – your reason for getting out of bed in the morning; the meaning of your life, in a manner of speaking. In the words of Simon Sinek:
Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe. A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions – everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture and whom you hire. 

I can see my why, and have clearly seen it for about 8-10 years or so, but I haven’t truly mastered the art of voicing it clearly (which is not uncommon, and there’s a logical reason for it as well, as the two inner circles of the Golden Circle correspond to our “emotional” limbic brain, with the outer What-circle corresponding to the rational and language-centered neocortex. So, it’s easier to explain what it is I do, and harder to tell you why.). Yet. What gave it away to me, was me lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, looking backwards to all the jobs and positions I’ve filled in my life, and finding the common thread, that which all of those experiences has in common: I encourage change. I see that which is, and also, what it could be, and work relentlessly as an agent of change, to help (people, departments, companies or organizations) reach a greater level of potential.

On page 214, Simon Sinek tells me why that is “the way to finding one’s why”:
The WHY does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not born out of any market research. It does not come from extensive interviews with customers or even employees. It comes from looking in the completely opposite direction from where you are now. Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.

About the same time as I saw that common thread, I woke in the middle of the night with clarity on the meaning of my life: to make a positive imprint. So, I am an agent of change wanting that change to be for the better. Now I just need to be able to voice this clearly and succinctly, to make it communicable.

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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A matter of perspective

February 10, 2018
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There is not one truth, there are many, all depending upon our perspective. It’s all a matter of perspective, and the sooner we actually start to live our lives based on that understanding, I think the world will change for the better, both for the individual as well as society at large.

Hillary Diane Andales impressed me with her entry into the Breakthrough Junior Challenge of 2017 (a challenge she actually won!), where she explains this very clearly:

So the really mind-blowing idea here is that observer’s in different frames will perceive different version of the same reality. And every observer’s frame is equally valid. So before you start to make any observational arguments with others, first imagine yourself observing through their reference frames. 

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The world needs more of it!

February 5, 2018
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Generosity-Curiosity-Warmth-and-laughter-opennessGenerosity. Curiosity. Warmth and laughter, openness. Depth and honesty, respect, sincerity and a willingness to stay put, to not shy away from the tough and hard questions. People with enormous integrity, making me want to find out more, to listen more, to read more, about them, but more than that, I want to listen and read more by them.

Who?

An imam and a rabbi, in conversation with Krista Tippett in On Being. I start to listen to the edited version, and immediately thereafter I press Play on the unedited version. Which I then proceed to listen to yet once again. And I don’t feel satisfied yet, I’ll be relistening more, mark my words.

Krista starts the conversation thus:
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and in truth, there’s a lot of laughter in what comes next: an imam and a rabbi walk into a conference of reform Jews. But amidst reports of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, there are also friendships — and conversations like this — taking place.

Imam Abdullah Antepli and Rabbi Sarah Bassin – I listen to them, and fill up with hope. The way these two people work, and the impact they are having, one heart at a time, is just amazing. There is humility here, loads of it, these are humble people, in my view, and yet, at the same time, they are so strong, flexible and far from easy push-overs. Far from it, by the sound of it!

At one time, Imam Antepli touches on something that is well tuned to my intention for the year:

Imam Antepli: That’s really beautiful. And my biggest holy envy of Judaism is, absolutely, Shabbat. This is something — the world needs more of it. Imagine — when the world’s largest, most effective and influential religion, capitalism, is telling you, “Work more, harder. Buy more. Study harder,” there’s one voice from Sinai for 5,000 years, saying, “Once a week, don’t do that.” 

Wise words, those. The entire show is inspirational, truly. And since I started writing this post a day has passed, and I’ve listened to the show no less than five times. This is a record! And I’m not done. I’ll press Play at least once more. At least.

This – people in true conversation – is what the world needs more of. And one of the ways I use to get more of it – besides engaging in conversations myself – is to listen to On Being, still going strong as my favorite podcast!

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Creating tomorrow’s schools today (book 2 of 26)

January 28, 2018
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First time I met Richard Gerver he attended an ENTRIS-conference in Sweden, in 2013. Almost five years ago – time sure does fly by when one’s having a lot of fun! I started talking to him during one of the breaks, and then we continued the conversation over email. He also guest blogged for #skolvåren (aka school spring), a movement initiated by me and a few others on Twitter a few month before I met Gerver.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, Oct 27th, 2014.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, in Huddinge, in October, 2014.

A year and a half later I met up with him again, as he was talking at a conference hosted by the schools in Huddinge outside Stockholm. Four fifths of the #skolvåren back office attended and got a nice chat with Richard as you can see in the accompanying wefie.

Around that time, in 2013-14, I also bought two books written by him, but never got around to reading either of them, until now, that is. I tackled Creating tomorrow’s schools today as the second English book-I-already-own-but-haven’t-yet-read. I have a copy published in 2012, although the book was first released in 2010. And it is a bit dated, with references to Second Life as well as the hope installed in the US and the world by Barack Obama in his first term as President. That just feels a bit… well… outdated, there’s no other word for it really.

Disregarding that though, I did enjoy the read, especially the second part which tells the tale of the transformation of Grange Primary School – a very inspiring read I must say! There’s a lot I can say about the educational systems around the world, but one of the things I strongly believe in is the need for more diversity. It’s impossible to create one type of learning environment that will suit everyone. I just don’t believe in it. And in the diversity of educational settings that I envision (including both home and un-schooling), what was created (and is alive and kicking still today!) at Grange Primary School certainly fits the bill as well.

Or in the words of Richard Gerver:
“Up to now we have educated all children with one model, with one set of values and for one perceived purpose; that education is the answer. It can only be the answer if we understand that we are living in a different world and that the education on offer needs to meet the needs of the diversity of society. To do that we must stop believing that education is something that must be done to children and that one size will fit all. We must do more to value children, their cultures and their backgrounds.” (page 17)

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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The Icarus Deception (book 1 of 26)

January 14, 2018
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The first English book in my reading challenge of 2018 is The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, a book he actually gave me himself, signed, sealed, delivered. I went to #SethinLondon in 2015 (Boy, times sure flies, can you imagine it’s been 2+ years already Michael?) and got two books to bring home.

My dear friend Michael Sillion, Seth himself, and yours truly at #SethinLondon, November 2015

My dear friend Michael Sillion, Seth himself, and yours truly at #SethinLondon, November 2015

Now, the book is… Seth. That’s one of his most prominent features I must say, having read his blog for years on end, listened to a number of podcasts with/by him, and having read a few books as well; he is Seth, where ever he is, whatever medium he’s coming across. He speaks the way he writes, and he writes the way he speaks.

And I love it. I am totally fascinated by the way this man’s brain operates, how he can see things that I am blind to, and how he shares it all – generously, and with such great warmth. I was totally star-struck upon meeting him, and he “brought me down” (or rather, brought himself down by being absolutely human, in the best possible manner!) in the most gentle fashion, asking my name, making small talk in a way that took away my anxiety, leaving only a great feeling behind.

The Icarus Deception is no exception – it’s Seth. His style of writing, his style of pointing out the would-be-obvious stuff that I (and you?) just miss, don’t even give a passing thought to – but which, when he put’s the magnifying glass upon it, I realize has immense value.

Sure – it’s filled with sentences that are very “quotable”, short, snazzy, to the point, and packing quite a lot of punch, a bunch of them. And I guess some people might not be into that. But for me it works. And I can see how being drip-fed “Seth-isms” for ten (or more likely fifteen?) years or so, has made a huge impact in my life.

Am I doing more art (he’s very particular about art!) now? Yes.

And I being more vulnerable, and sharing my art? Yes.

Do I constantly expand my comfort and safety zones, by putting myself on the edge? Yes. That’s what I am doing at the moment, holding a 9-day course in a subject that is far from “my home base”. Is it scary? You bet, but do I let fear stop me, from putting my stuff out there? No, except sometimes, so the better answer is: less and less. Or as Seth expresses it:
For the first time in history, most of us have the chance to decide what to do next, what to make, how to deliver it. Most of us won’t take that chance, but it’s there.

Take the chance!

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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A new day is on the horizon

January 8, 2018
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“I want all of the girls watching here now to know, that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘me too’ again.” Oprah Winfrey as she accepts the 2018 Cecil B. de Mille award.

I watch it, and I shiver. Come to the end, and immediately press play again, and now tears come streaming down my cheeks. Third time around – I am amazed at this extremely powerful speech, by an equally amazing and powerful woman. I just might watch the speech a fourth time, a fifth time… and whenever I need a boost!

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26 English books to read during 2018

January 3, 2018
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One of my sub targets for the year, linked with my intention to live a more intentional digital and analog life during 2018, is to read 26 Swedish and 26 English books, books that I already own. There are more books in the house, still unread that I want to read, but of the English books these 26 were the most enticing.

26 English books

As you can see, it’s a mix of new and old books. The Swedish collection has a more diverse touch to it, whereas this collection feels a bit heavier. However, all of these books have one thing in common: I want to read them!

SwopI pondered if I should predetermine which book to read what week, but decided against it. Have entered all the books (both Swedish and English) into my Goodreads-profile under ”To read”, so I have them there, when the time comes to move them, one by one, into ”Currently reading” before filing them under ”Read”.

However, as I did that, I noticed that I actually already read David Whyte’s The house of belonging. So I replaced it with a book I got from a fellow Supercoach in 2014, which I’ve been intending to read ever since.26 English on display

I will read these chosen English books every other week, and blog about them (at least once) by the end of said week. I started off the year with a Swedish book, so you’ll just have to wait for another week before knowing which book I start with out of these 26.

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Freedom to explore more, not freedom from…

December 24, 2017
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These past few weeks, I’ve been pondering what my intention for 2018 is to be. During 2017 I’ve had the intention of Wholeheartedness. A few years prior I’ve also gone into the new year with an intention, and I intend to do so again for 2018.

Somewhat surprisingly for myself, what’s been popping up has been different thoughts on going more analog, of letting go of habits of checking email, facebook, messenger and the likes once every few seconds, of deleting various app’s from my IPhone, app’s which are merely a mental distraction (and time trap), and not really value-adding at all.

So as a reminder, of what it really is I am looking for (more connection, more conversation, more value-adding interactions and smarter use of my time. As well as less mindless habitual waste of my time. If I am to rest, and relax, I want to do so in the analog.) I gift you Sherry Turkle in conversation with Jonathan Fields in Good Life Project. Sherry is pro-technology, but a proponent of a mindful and intentional use of technology, which is precisely what I intend to explore deeper during 2018.

She’s gotten a lot of flak for her thoughts on the matter, but I honestly think it’s well worth reflecting upon what it is we do with technology, and what it is doing to us (or perhaps more correctly: what it is I am letting technology do to me – I am no helpless victim here!). It’s not all positive, in the same way that I don’t think a n y t h i n g exists that is entirely positive. There’s two sides to every coin, and there’s also my strong belief that whatever works for me might not necessarily work for you. We might have different needs, ideas, ways to operate in the world, to relax, to get inspired and so on – and hence, during 2018 I will be exploring what a more mindful technology use will do for me.

Freedom.toOn an interesting side note, this is my use of digital technology so far this Christmas morning: Sitting in bed, writing on my IPad, listening to Spotify on my IPhone, after having checked my email (personal and work-accounts at that), my Messenger (said good morning to my eldest who’s up and about earlier than the rest of us), my Facebook- and Instagram-feeds, thrown my first Pokémon Go-ball, done some Wordfeud and WordBrain-puzzling and finished a fifteen minute Headspace meditation. Oh, plus buying a one-year subscription to the Freedom-app, using their 40% discount code (FLASH40) I received in my inbox this morning (valid 24 hours). So yeah – a bit of intentional use of technology is just what I want – the freedom to explore more of an intentional life, not freedom from technology! Important distinction for me.

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Existence is playful

December 19, 2017
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The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at.

But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.

Why? Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.

Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for.

Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.

If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

Alan Watts, British philosopher (1915-1973)

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The Personality Myth

December 17, 2017
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The Personality Myth is one of my favorite Invisibilia episodes, one I’ve listened to over and over again. There are several threads that are artfully intertwined, shifting from theory and science to personal stories.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the marshmallow test? Walter Mischel is the brain behind the test, and one of the people interviewed in the episode. And he’s adamant, that the “popular belief” of that the marshmallow test showed, is far from the point that he finds most important in the study.

SPIEGEL (one of the show hosts): Basically, over the last two decades, the marshmallow test has become a kind of poster child for the idea that there are specific personality traits that we all have inside of us that are stable and consistent and will determine our lives far into the future.

There is only one tiny problem with this interpretation, as Walter Mischel himself will tell you.

MISCHEL: That iconic story is upside down wrong – that your future is in a marshmallow – because it isn’t.

Another thing that keeps reappearing during the show is various ways to phrase the sentiment that “you might find it hard to accept that there aren’t any core traits that are permanent and fixed” – and every time this is voiced, I realize: I don’t. Not at all. I don’t find it hard to accept at all. Do you?

BoldomaticPost_the-many-ways-in-which-peopleFor me, what Walter Mischel points to based on his own research is in perfect sync with my personal experience of me changing. Going from “the most negative person I know, to – if not the most positive – at least a lot more positive than I used to be” is a very real change. Am I the same that I used to be? No. Do I have the same personality that I “used to have”? No. So don’t you try to skirt responsibility by leaning on that old idiom that it’s impossible to teach an old dog a new trick – it’s simply not true. In the words of Mischel himself:

What my life has been about is in showing the potential for human beings to not be the victims of their biographies – not their biological biographies, not their social biographies – and to show, in great detail, the many ways in which people can change what they become and how they think.

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, mixing them up with new podcast recommendations, such as this one. 

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