skill

The will and skill to create

The will and skill to create

October 24, 2020
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The bottom line:
How will and skill combine to emergent creation, and how my awareness of this makes me embody the experience.

”Because the tools of production have entirely democratized, the population of producers is expanding exponentially, and now there’s little stopping those with the will and skill to create from doing just that.”

This is a quote from The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, and as I was writing the accompanying book reflection, I started to dive into the concept of the will and skill to create, as I find it an interesting concept.

Perhaps because this year has been such an opportunity for me to dive deep into the concept of creation, first as a participant in the premiere cohort of the AKIMBO-workshop The Creative’s Workshop, and second because I and many from that cohort have continued to create, and relate, staying in touch both in the forum available for all participants of AKIMBO-workshops, and in a separate forum created as a spin-off from TCW, but also subscribing to each other’s blogs and newsletters, setting up regular or one-off Zoom-calls, and many other ways.

The will and skill to create.
I have it. Have had it for many years.
Most prominently with my writings, I’d say, but there are so many other things I create as well, precisely because I possess the combination of will and skill. Last night I finished an intervention on a knitted sweater I bought in a flee-market years ago, a garment I like, but only wore a few times as the arms are simply off. Way too long, making it all-but-impossible to actually wear. I unraveled the sleeves, picked up the stitches where it was suitably long, and knitted a new cuff. Rinse and repeat, I now have a garment that’s useable again. Will. Skill. Creation. Given the long time it’s been tucked in the projects-basket, will have been a long time coming, even though I’ve been inhabiting the skill to be able to do this, for decades. But all of a sudden, will stepped in, and shit gets done.

That process, where shit actually gets done, is an interesting one. For me.
So when D started to talk about embodiment, something clicked. So I told him, about this intervention of sleeves and he nodded, acknowledging me in my understanding of this as an embodied process or practice.

Being a w a r e of what I was doing, a witness to the process, to the sudden consummation of the possible marriage between will and skill, resulting in creativity. Embodying it all, the will, the skill, the awareness. All levels of human beingness playing, together.

The very physical aspect of it, fingers dexterous enough to unravel the machine-knitted sleeves, picking up stitches onto the knitting needle. Binding off and sewing the cuff on the inside, doubling it, to mimic the look of the other cuffs.

The mental and logical aspect of it, my brain working out, as I went along, where to put scissors to sleeve, how to get the arm just right lengthwise, what to knit to bring the girth of the sleeve in by half or so, to ensure the new cuff would actually work as a cuff.

The visual aspect to it, my eyes carefully examining the other edges of the garment, wanting to make it look similar, because I didn’t want the new cuff to stick out, but rather blend in.

The emotional aspect of it, the pleased sensations coursing through me, not just at the finish line when I was done, but throughout the journey. The trepidation at actually cutting into the first sleeve (Will I totally destroy it? Will I succeed in making the necessary changes to it, or will it be ruined forever?), the happiness at being able to catch all the stitches without too much trouble, the sense of exploration and curiosity as I pulled it on now and again, to make sure that I didn’t unravel the sleeve too far, that the newly made cuff was not too long nor too short, but just right.

The meta-aspect of it all, me observing me, putting hand to scissor, scissor to sleeve, knitting needles to yarn, present to my mental calculations and gambles that paid off as I now have a garment that I can use. Want to use.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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The Long Tail (book 10 of 12)

October 23, 2020
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in Tip
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I picked up The Long Tail by Chris Anderson from a please-take-a-book-for-free-shelf somewhere or other. Might even have been at Malmö city library at the end of TEDxSlottsparken, come to think about it.

”We have been trained […] to see the world through a hit-colored lens.”

It’s one of those books where the concept has been well-known to be, the term long tail one I’ve likely used many times, never actually having read the book, a bit like Simon Sinek’s Start with why.

”One person’s noise is another’s signal. If a producer intends something to be absolutely right for one audience, it will, by definition, be wrong for another.”

Written in 2006, me reading it in 2020, it’s a bit of a funny throwback to the time when life was just starting to get so digital that it is today. There are references to MySpace but not Facebook, to Netflix and BlockBuster, but these were the days when Netflix was more or less solely a DVD-rental-by-snail mail-company. Twitter, iPhone, Instagram… nonexistent. That in and of itself is both a bit fun, and all the same, makes the book a bit dated, very clearly written when it was written.

”Niche products are, by definition, not for everyone.”

The concept itself though, the long tail, is still highly relevant, even though I would venture a guess to say that many probably still don’t really think about it actively, but rather unconsciously.

”Because the tools of production have entirely democratized, the population of producers is expanding exponentially, and now there’s little stopping those with the will and skill to create from doing just that.”

This is not a book where I’ve made many a marginalia-entries, quite the opposite. A dozen, perhaps. One dog-ear, but one which didn’t even make it into this post. It’s not a book you should spend time reading, honestly. I probably shouldn’t either, but… alas, I have, I did, and here I am.

I do find the will and skill to create interesting though. But I will save that for another piece.

”Fundamentally, a society that asks questions and has the power to answer them is a healthier society than one that simply accepts what it’s told from a narrow range of experts and institutions. If professional affiliation is no longer a proxy for authority, we need to develop our own gauges of quality. This encourages us to think for ourselves. Wikipedia is a starting point for exploring a topic, not the last word.”

The long tail does enable us –you, me, everyone– to find the little niche markets suited specifically for our personal needs, wants and wishes. And yes, that’s a place where I can be encouraged to think for myself, it makes it easier for me to find more perspectives than I could before. Perhaps.

However, it also makes it harder. Look at the bubbles of confirmation bias that we all live in nowadays, or at least I do, bubbles where ”someone else has thought for me”, making it very easy to stay within the boundaries of said bubble. That is not helpful, and not, I think, a sign of a healthy society. Wanting that, a healthy society that is, is something that requires more from me. It means I have to be very active and deliberate in what questions I seek to answer, and whose answers I choose to listen to. That’s necessary discernment for me while developing my own gauge of quality, and it’s an ongoing, evergreen process. It requires continuous work, never finished. Because those gauges need to be calibrated and re-calibrated over and over again as the world (and I) shift around me. Around us.

And that’s an insight I am happy to have gotten, an insight which makes it worth my time to have read The Long Tail. So. Perhaps. You should read it too, because you just might be answering a different question than the one I’ve just answered, or you’ll provide another answer to the same question, once you’ve finished reading it. Only way to know is to find out, by doing it. By reading it. Or at least reading up on the concept. If you do, please share any question and/or answer that shows up in you.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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More silence in life?

April 23, 2020
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The silence.
Again, the silence!

Of all the feedback I and my two fellow Buddhas have gotten from people listening to one or more episodes of our recently launched podcast Buddhas by the Roadside, the one thing that keeps coming up over and over again is the silence.

10 seconds.
20 seconds.
30 seconds.

I don’t know how long there have been silent parts in these episodes, as I haven’t timed them, but they are there, they are quite frequent, and they are definitely part of the way we are, together, the three of us, me, Caspian and Dominic. Well… in 3D the silences can last for way longer than half a minute, but that’s beside the point. The point is… sometimes, it is just so lovely to be able to have a bit of emptiness, to let me, my thoughts, my emotions, make their way, leisurely, to the Point of Now. Not necessarily catch up, that’s a phrase that doesn’t ring true for me, here, but rather just… at my own pace, making my way to a meeting point, an energetic center, where connections can be made, where all of it, all of me, my thoughts, my emotions, can go off again, side by side or in different directions… only to reconvene later on at a new meeting point.

For me, this is a skill I’ve rediscovered, or perhaps relearned, as I used to be working on my retort while the other was speaking, which had me not be present in the conversation. I very rarely do this, anymore. I’ve learned to listen. And then, to see what pops up. If anything, because now and again, there’s just space, vast space, of the most glorious silence. Within.

And these silences are not edited out from Buddhas by the Roadside. There are allowed their own space. And I wonder at the way these silences of ours are picked up. Might it be, that there is a longing for more silences in the lives of our listeners? That these silences stick out for the listeners could perhaps be a sign of a longing, a need, a wish for more silences in life?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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The Talent Code (book 1 of 12)

January 27, 2019
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in Tip
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The Talent Code. Written by Daniel Coyle. Subtitled Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. The basis of this entire book is this: Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals. This is, in other words, a book about one thing: myelin. The fatty layer that wraps around neurons insulating the neural thread, so the signal can travel more rapidly along it.

It’s also a book about three things, which is how the central nervous system generates more myelin:
Deep practice
Ignition
Master coaching

Deep practice“It’s all about finding the sweet spot. There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do. When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.”

Ignition is about finding that thing you love. Stoking the fire, wanting to put more fuel on it, daily. And that requires character: “Usually, we think of character as deep and unchanging, an innate quality that flows outward, showing itself through behavior. KIPP shows that character might be more like a skill – ignited by certain signals, and honed through deep practice.” 

Might be more like a skill? No. No doubt in my mind. Character is as flexible and formative as any other skill. Learning to read and write, to dance and sing, to ride the bike and drive a car. Skills that we can acquire. Learning to be kind and generous, helpful and loving, funny and intense. Or for that matter unkind and harsh, mean and petty, jealous and hateful. All skills we can learn, even though these latter are usually talked about as character traits rather than skills. But we can learn them. It’s not a matter of being born with or without. Practice makes perfect (given that the practice is deep of course!).

Master coaching is being this kind of teacher: to get [the student] inside the deep-practice zone, to maximize the firings that grow the right myelin for the task, and ultimately to move closer toward the day that every coach desires, when the students become their own teachers. 

In the words of Robert Lansdorp, professional tennis coach: “If it’s a choice between me telling them to do it, or them figuring it out, I’ll take the second option every time. You’ve got to make the kid an independent thinker, a problem-solver. I don’t need to see them every day, for chrissake. You can’t keep breast-feeding them all the time. The point is, they’ve got to figure things out for themselves.”

Another way to put it is in the words of Thomas Carruthers: “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” 

I’ve experienced this several times in my professional life, and it is the most rewarding experience I can think of. When I am no longer needed, my work is done, and I can move on. It’s simply the best ever!

The Talent Code is a fast and easy read, shining the light on learning in the most helpful way. 10 minutes of guitar playing a day, is on my list of intentions for 2019. And yup, I will be tweaking it towards more of a deep practice, that’s for sure!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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