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GO MAKE SOMETHING: The Maker Movement

GO MAKE SOMETHING: The Maker Movement

At a party recently, a bunch of old guys – artists, tinkerers and generally handy dudes of a certain age – were reminiscing about high school shop class.

They found it amazing that forty and fifty years ago it was not considered unusual for a bunch of silly-assed, overly amped kids to be dealing with hands-on fooling around using massive, old, industrial-strength power tools.

In fact, they agreed, shop class was the go-to class for all the worker-dude guys who were not academically inclined.

All those assorted spinning wheels, sharp cutting edges, power cords, burning and smoking things, flying sparks, mounds of debris and such were a natural part of the shop class landscape.

jim-wood-turning
“Jim’s Wood Turning” by William Warby via Flickr [CC BY-21.0]
Every one of the guys remembered that their shop teacher was missing at least a couple of fingers.  Every one of them remembered the safety lectures.

Mostly, though, they remembered how shop class got them fascinated with the joy of Making Something.  Collectively they mourned the passing of this rite of passage.

IT’S A-L-I-V-E!!!

Those old dudes were sounding “Taps” too early, it seems.  The joy of Making has taken the world by storm again.  It’s even got its own Movement now.  Do-It-Yourself lives!

This “Maker Movement” is a convergence of traditional artisans, computer hackers, independent inventors, designers, tinkerers and other (often manic) crafty sorts who toil away in their cluttered workrooms and closet-offices making cool stuff that sometimes solve everyday problems, big and small, and sometimes is just for fun.

time-to-clean-up-the-work-bench
“Time to Clean Up the Workbench” by Kent Landerholm via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
The first stirrings of the Movement in 2005 was spurred on by the vision and enthusiasm of the editors of Make: magazine, a publication that was born out of founder Dale Dougherty’s conviction that Making is a very good thing to do.

Before the magazine was a year old, it had become a nexus and a gathering place for a tech-influenced, grassroots, DIY community that spread and sprawled out like a kudzu vine.  The magazine dubbed  them “Makers.”

“I think the magic of [the magazine] was simply that we connected a lot of different groups that were making things but saw themselves as doing something separate,” Dougherty has said.

According to him, the artisans and artists saw themselves as different than the people who do robotics or electronics.  There was a sense of disconnection among all of these creative folks.  A knitter, a musician and a guy who builds a drone might not be able to feel like they belong to the same tribe, for example.

“To some degree calling them all makers kind of allowed for a flourishing of some different people coming together and seeing commonalities,” he said.

MAKE:  MAKER FAIRES

The Makers also spurred the magazine editors on to put together the first Maker Faire, a festival celebrating the innovation and self-reliance of the folks who do-it-yourself.

The first Maker Faire happened in San Mateo, about 20 miles from San Francisco.  It was billed as the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.”

The idea was to get all kinds of people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and show what they were making and share what they were learning with other people.  It was also all about experimenting, playing, and having fun connecting with other people.

The first Faire was a grand success, stirring the imaginations of jaded consumers numbed by the overabundance of generic, mass-produced goods.  It spawned what has since became a worldwide network of fancy flagship Faires in major cities that involve thousands of people as well as more down-home, independently produced mini-faires.

At these events, curious participants of all ages can experience the inventions of the Makers firsthand.  The spectators are invited to join in the parade and fun is had by all.

This 2012 YouTube video, “Inspiring a Maker Movement” was published by CNN and features Dale Dougherty talking about the very fundamental human need to make stuff.  You’ll also get a taste of what it’s like to be at a Maker Faire.

As Dougherty points out, it isn’t all high-tech, although 3D printers, digital manufacturing, drones and robots are all glittery highlights at the big international Faires.   New forms of arts, entertainment, crafts, food experiments, and every other kind of human creativity is fodder for exploration.

  • You can learn to build your own smartphone or make your own toys.
  • You might be able to print out a pair of shoes.
  • Maybe you’ll make your own jewelry or a handbag for mom or learn how to cook up something new.
  • You might learn how to crochet.
  • You might even learn how to home-automate your house with just a few simple measures.
  • You could learn how to pickle, can, and preserve fruits and vegetables and check out the latest advances in bee-keeping, composting and growing your own food.
  • You might learn how to write better instructions.

Checking out all that’s new in the world of making things could lead you to the start of a new interest, hobby or vocation.

At the Faires, open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology rule.  The strategy is to provide interested people with the right tools and the inspiration and opportunity to use them.  Creativity and a lot of imagination-sparking ensues.

to check out the Faire schedules and locations. It truly is mind-boggling!

MAKE:  BUSINESS

Makers make stuff.  They want to know how they can do this thing or that.  They want to know how other people have solved a problem they are facing.

Magazines (like Make: magazine) as well as books, podcasts and YouTube videos for do-it-yourselfers have grown exponentially as more and more people become interested in being a Maker of one sort or another.

Hobbyists, enthusiasts, and those who’ve gained a certain mastery in some form of Making might be encouraged to give demonstrations, classes or workshops that attract others who want to explore new ways of Making too.

mike-soroka-demonstrates-glassblowing
“Mike Soroka demonstrates glassworking ” (Artisan’s Asylum Open House, 2012) by Chris Devers via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Then there are the MakerSpaces that welcome a diverse group of builders, hackers, and hobbyists who share resources and knowledge.  Hundreds have cropped up in the past decade or so in the United States.

Some are housed in existing community centers such as libraries, museums or youth centers.  Others are sponsored by companies and organizations at conference centers.  All of them focus on the love of Making.

This YouTube video put together by TheMakerSpace earlier this year explains further:

MakerSpaces have taken off in all kinds of directions.  There are community-based spaces, spaces for kids, and spaces for explorers of all kinds.


maker-space-ship
“Maker[Space]Ship” by San Jose Public Library via Flickr [CC BY-SA-2.0]

makers-space
“makers space” by jenny cu via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

makers-space
“Makers + Spaces” by Sharon Vanderkaay via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Here’s another YouTube video, by Intel (yes, those guys) showing off their “Ultimate MakerSpace,” at the company’s Intel Developer Forum in 2014.


Both the dedicated and dabbler Makers have fueled the growth of companies that produce the materials and tools that people use to make (or fix) stuff.  Sales of arts and crafts supplies and parts for all kinds of machines and electronic equipment are booming as well.

People who get involved in Making often find something that they feel is worth exploring further, that gives them great pleasure.  Some of them turn their new-found passion into a life-long hobby.  Others become entrepreneurial and turn their creations into a business of their own.

Besides distributing their creations to traditional brick-and-mortar stores or participating in venues like street fairs and festivals, many Makers sell their creations online to people all over the world by making their own websites or by using Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy to sell their own cool stuff.

The connections just keep multiplying.

More than one observer of economic and business trends have commented on the Maker Movement.  It has gotten wide and deep.

The general consensus seems to be that it is a very good thing to encourage folks to ponder on problems and figure out how to make their own solutions rather than just going out and buying another doo-dad put together by someone else.

After all, it is the people who make things who have the potential to change the world.

SEED THOUGHT

Matthew Crawford, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the author of SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT:  An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, has this thought:  “I think [the Maker Movement] is tapping into a really basic fact about us as human beings.  From infancy we learn about the world by manipulating it, by sort of poking it and seeing how it pokes back.”

My own feeling is that each of us carries a little spark of the Creative within us.  It’s a good thing, I think, to go play with that.

Here’s a poem:


SPARK

What do I want?

Peace and freedom,

Friendship and love…

What all humanity says it wants.

 

Unoriginal?

Perhaps…

Or maybe it is encoded

In the cells of this body

That carries the primal spark

Which comes from the eternal flame

That burns at the heart

Of our ancestral home.

 

Work and play bring us together,

More than the sum of our parts,

The synergy fueled by the love

In the hearts of each of us.

 

I am small,

No more substantial

Than a wispy-haired seed,

But the stones are my brothers,

The stars, our cousins,

And the winds carry whispers

And echoes of the life that

Is, has-been and will-be,

And the waters of river and sea

Comfort and cradle and carry us all,

In circles and cycles and serpentine spirals,

Backwards and forwards,

To our beginnings

And our ends….

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo:  Hexapod robot (Maker Faire Somerville) by Chris Devers via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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HOW TO MESS AROUND

HOW TO MESS AROUND

Hands-on (often inept) fooling around with stuff has been called “tinkering.”  The top definition for the word “tinkering” in the online collaborative Urban Dictionary is this:  “to mess around with something and you don’t really have a clue what you are doing.”  (The regular dictionary definitions are pretty boring.)

It’s to honor the Urban Dictionary spirit of tinkering that Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich, the co-directors of the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio put together the book, THE ART OF TINKERING.

In the introduction to this amazing collection of wonders by 150+ Makers who combine art, science and technology to put together incredibly diverse works, Wilkinson and Petrach tell us that tinkering is “more of a perspective than a vocation…. It’s thinking with your hands and learning through doing.”

The book grew out of the work being done by a group of artists, scientists, developers, educators and facilitators who play with many different sorts of tools, materials and technologies at the museum’s “Tinkering Studio” and at the PIE Institute.

JUST MESSING AROUND

This gathering of fun-loving Makers bent on giving us all a taste of the joy of tinkering was the result of a project called the PIE (Play-Invent-Explore) Network.  This federally funded project began as a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, the Exploratorium, and several other museums,

They started by experimenting with science and art activities that developed into innovative educational activities suitable for wonderment, playfulness and learning about the world around us.

Work by the Tinkering Studio guys often become either exhibits at the museum or hands-on activities that allow museum visitors to jump in and play in the museum’s Tinkering Studio space which is open to the public.

The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium has become an inspiration for tinkerers and other wanna-be Makers since it began in 2009.

This 2012 YouTube video published by core77inc  gives a taste of what the sessions held in the Studio feels like:

TINKERING TENETS

The book has a slew of advice about how you, too, can play at tinkering.

Here are my favorites:

  • Create rather than consume.
  • Express ideas via construction. Use your hands to build the constructs living in your mind.
  • Embrace your tools. Learn how to use them the “right” way, then figure out other ways to use them that work for what you are trying to do.  It’s been said that a master knows how to misuse tools at least three different ways to get other results.
  • Prototype rapidly. When you have an idea, don’t let it just sit in your brain.  Get it out into the world as soon as possible.  Sketch a design.  Build a working model with stuff you have lying around.  Once it’s out of your head you can work out your next steps and move on to Phase 2.
  • Make it strange. Use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways.  Take a common object and put it to another new use.
  • Get stuck. It’s a good thing.  Failure tells you what you don’t know.  Frustration is for making sense of that failure in the moment.  Taking action to work through the problem and playing with it ultimately lead to new understandings.

BEST BIT

The best advice of all is this one:  You need to balance autonomy with collaboration.

Autonomy – going solo – helps you get to your own kind of mastery.  You learn how to work with tools and materials.  You develop your own skill and knowledge.  You grow your confidence.

running-a-drill
“Running a Drill” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Tinkering with other people can be a blast.  Collaboration helps you clarify your ideas for solving a problem because you have to be able to explain them to your partners in a way they can understand.   (Otherwise they won’t be able to help you get where you want to go.)

setting-up
“Setting Up” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
You and your partners will have different and various skills and ideas that can be brought to bear on the problem.  Cross-pollination is likely to occur and that could lead to other wonders.

set-to-go
“Set To Go” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Best of all, everybody can be a part of something larger than themselves, and that, as any wise guy will tell you is a very good thing.

eat-our-rust
“Eat Our Rust” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
All of the pictures of the hand-made sailing rail-cars project above were taken by Gever Tulley, the founder of Tinkering School, an internationally known summer program.   He also started SF Brightworks, an innovative K-12 school in San Francisco emphasizing experience-based, hands-on experiential learning.

Tulley is the also the author of the book FIFTY DANGEROUS THINGS (YOU SHOULD LET YOUR CHILDREN DO), among others.  As he has noted, “I have made it my mission to reintroduce the world to children:  the real world as revealed through unscripted, hands-on, meaningful learning experiences.”

Here’s a poem.


MAKING ROOM FOR THE CREATIVE

The Creative has no limits, it is said.

It moves along, coursing through our days

Like rivers and streams,

Tumbling over the rocky places,

Making babbling brooks and dancing rills,

Trickling through the hard

As runnels and creeks,

Diving under massed walls,

Soaking on down to run deep

And springing back up as

Freshets, sweet and clear….

Tributaries all, running through the World

On their way to the Sea of Dreams

Where all potentialities roll around playing.

 

It keeps on moving, the Creative,

Carrying away bits of our landscape

And depositing them somewhere other,

Building up and tearing down

The structure of our lives.

It’s just there, the Creative,

That essence, shiny-bright,

A beautiful, chaotic force.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Tinker Town Tuesday” by Erin via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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TRY SOMETHING ELSE

TRY SOMETHING ELSE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an inclination to try and see whether you can pull something off.  [Trying it for yourself can lead to some amazing discoveries.]

I am watching a young friend who’s stuck in a major cycle of suck.  He won’t try anything new.  I don’t understand why it’s so hard for him, but there it is.  He sits around moaning about how his life is not working, but he won’t try doing anything different.

I don’t know.  Maybe he took the Icarus story too much to heart.  Icarus and his dad, a mythological inventor extraordinaire named Daedulus, were incarcerated in a famously inescapable prison by some king or other.

Daedulus, it says here, invented a way for humans to fly.  (This was long before hot air balloons and heavier-than-air planes or anything.)

The inventor and his son, the story goes, strapped on wings made of wax and feathers that Daedulus designed.  The wings worked and father and son escaped the fortress strong, but Icarus got so tripped out by the experience that he flew too close to the sun.  The wax melted, the wings fell apart, and he crashed.

At this point, the Greek chorus cuts in and dolefully groans out the orthodox lesson:  “The gods get angry at those who would dare to fly.”  Uh-huh.

(It is worth noting that Daedulus also flew and he got away clean.)

icarus
“Icarus” (at the entrance of the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio) by The Mighty Tim Inconnu via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had an interesting take on the Icarus myth.  He said, “I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be as is generally accepted, ‘don’t try to fly too high,’ or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers and do a better job on the wing.'”

Kubrick is famous for directing ground-breaking, innovative films (in their time) like Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket.  He was really good at the art of trying something else.

HERD-THINK

We are, all of us, trained to fit in.  The herd is stronger if everybody is all together, doing the same things, following the tried and true is the reasoning.  Everybody agrees.

Don’t stand up.  Don’t stand out.  In Australia, they call it the “tall poppy” problem:  Stand out and you’ll be cut down.  In Japan they talk about the nail that sticks up.  (It inevitably gets pounded down.)  Sheesh!  Taking a turn off the beaten path engenders dire predictions of eminent doom.

the-tall-nail
“What’s That Saying About the Tall Nail?” by Alan Levine via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

The easiest way to “fit in,” it seems, is not to start anything, not to try anything that is not-like-the-other-guys.  It’s also a really good way to get stuck in suck…as my young friend is, unfortunately, finding out.  The problem is you can get mired in a miserable bog of your own making that is a lot like being stuck in high school forever.

fit
“Fit” by Daniel Horacio Agostini via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

SEED THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS

The antidote to all the heavy, herd-induced, foot-dragging, haul-that-barge-tote-that-bale mentality is to get into the habit of trying something else.  It doesn’t seem to matter what you try, it seems.  (Probably, though, experimentation with the latest pharmaceuticals might not be a grand idea.)

Software engineer Matt Cutts is featured in this You-Tube TEDTalk that was published in 2011.  In it he advises, “Try something new for 30 days.”

If that sounds like too big a step for you, there’s an even smaller, tiny-step method, all ready-made and on-line.

In this YouTube video by CreativeLIVE, “28 to Make: Create Something New Every Day This Month,” you can join Makers Kate Bingaman-Burt, Ryan Putnam, Erik Marinovich and Lara McCormick in their romp through a series of daily creative project ideas that show up in your mailbox when you sign up for them.  It’s a “way to get back into the habit of making cool stuff”, they say.

One of my favorite books that I dip into again and again for new things and new “heads” to try on is Mark Nepo’s THE BOOK OF AWAKENING:  Having the Life You Want By Being Present to the Life You Have.  Nepo took 14 years to write the book after coming out the other side of cancer.  They are his beautiful musings about life and loving and being heartful.

The book was published in 2000 and has since gone all over the world, being translated into 20 languages and over two dozen printings.  It is a wondrous place to put your head if you are wondering what else you could try.

Go on…give these things a shot!  Who knows what you might make?

Here’s a poem:


NOT A STORYTELLER

Blocked.

Again.

It just keeps going like that:

Erect a new idea and float it –

One more flying castle in the sky –

Then run-run-run to lasso the thing

And anchor it to the ground.

 

Work your buns off making it come real,

Then watch it crumple one more time

And dodge those stupid falling rocks

Coming down all around you.

 

The wise ones call it a treadmill, ya know.

I think I’m starting to get it.

That hamster in his cage has nothin’ on me except

The squeaky wheel’s starting to irritate the heck out of me,

And he just keeps on truckin’.

 

Okay…

Tell me again, babe:
You are doing this…WHY?

Hmmm….

Where’d I park my Millenium Falcon?

There has GOT to be a better way to do this.

 

Ya know…

I think I figured out why I don’t write novels.

I’m not a storyteller, it seems.

My timelines fall apart and nothing makes any sense.

It does not come together.

 

I guess I wasn’t born to write stories.

Nope.

I’m just doomed to live them.

(Sigh!)

by Netta Kanoho

Header Photo credit:  West Maui Mountain Sunrise by Mike via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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FINDING YOUR OWN BALANCE

FINDING YOUR OWN BALANCE

The wise guys say Life is a balance.  Physically that is a truth.  You breathe in and you breathe out.  Too much breathing in and you hyperventilate; too little and you turn blue.  Eat too much and you gain weight; eat too little and you waste away.

Balance is fascinating.   I remember that as kids, my friends and I used to try getting the teeter-totter plank to sit perfectly level on its fulcrum as we piled on.  We never did get it quite right.  We tried sitting in different positions on the see-saw board, adjusting the mix of thin and fat kids and throwing in assorted pets as part of the challenge.  It was a heck of a lot of fun.

see-saw
“Children View See-Saw” by Marcelo Campi via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
This YouTube video, “Defying Gravity With Korea’s Premier Balance Artist” was recently published by Great Big Story, the result of a collaboration with Korean Air.  In it artist Rocky Byun, a “balance artist” based in Tancheon, South Korea demonstrates how he is able to find the balance point in anything – rocks, furniture…even bikes and motor scooters.  His amazing sculptures appear to defy gravity.

In another, earlier video filmed at a shopping mall in Dubai and posted to YouTube by Pretty Pink in 2013, Byun is shown performing his art.  He constructs sculptures that incorporate everything from a bunch of irregularly shaped rocks, a laptop, a motor scooter, and even a small refrigerator standing on one corner.

ORIGINS OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE

There is one balancing act that is even more difficult than what Byun and his fellow balance artists can do.  That is the one that’s been dubbed “the work-life balance.”

Everybody is supposed to work at getting that one right.  Somehow, some way, we are all supposed to aim for developing an optimal career AND have an optimal family or personal life as well.  Ri-i-i-ght.

Before the Industrial Revolution, there wasn’t much talk about trying to balance work and the rest of life.  Most people lived in the middle of their work.  Farmers, for example, lived on their farms and the whole family pitched in to help grow and harvest crops as well as take care of all the other things necessary for living.

Work and the rest of life were not separate things.  Work was just part of living.  With the developments of automation, factories, and corporate offices came the Big Divide.  It became normal for “work” to happen “someplace else.”

“Work” became a “job” or a “career” and got compartmentalized away from the other lifestyle things like family, health, leisure, pleasure, community-building and spiritual development.  The priorities of the work-place and the job or the career were often very different from the kinds of priorities one needs to set for personal development or for the growing of relationships and families.

It all takes time and effort, no matter whether you want to get good at your job, advance in your career, develop as an individual, or participate in group or community activities.  It can get terribly complicated.

The expression “work-life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970’s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and his or her personal life.  In the United States, the phrase was first used in 1986.

DEALING WITH THE SEPARATION OF WORK AND LIFE

By 2010 there were all kinds of studies about work-life balances and imbalances and the effect that work has on the rest of a person’s life.  It’s a given, they say:  When the work-life balance is out-of-whack, you get out of whack.

Theories abound about how one goes about finding a “proper” balance.  Everybody weighs in with their own prescriptions and solutions to the dilemma as technology makes it easier and easier to stay connected with your work-world regardless of where you happen to be.

It’s sort of ironic, that.  Now “work” happens at home again and still we separate it from the rest of life.

It would not be so distressing if there wasn’t such a lot of guilt attached to our failure to get the balance “right” and real.  You want to be a success at your work.  You want to have a grand family life and lots of friends and so on.

Everybody tells you that you can do it all, have it all.  (And the sub-text is:  What are ya?  Lazy or something?)

BALANCE OR BUST

The problem, of course, is that you’re trying to make all the differently weighted and shaped things in your life form a structure that defies gravity….flies, even.  You’re trying to be an amateur balance artist and your structures don’t come out looking elegant and awesome like Byun’s work.  Trying to get the balance right is not nearly half as much fun as the game my friends and I used to play with the see-saws.

One way to make it all work is to run yourself ragged trying to get it all done.  That one often ends up with you all twisted into a stressed-out pretzel.  Not good.

This YouTube video by Anna Stefaniak for The School of Life, “Work-Life Balance,”  lends some much-needed perspective on the subject, I think.

Another way to find the right “balance” for you is to decide what your purpose is in life, what brings meaning and mana to it…not somebody else’s pronouncements about what is right and good and real.  Just your own thoughts.

Here’s a YouTube video, “Work/Life Balance Is a Myth” by award-winning American photographer  Chase Jarvis.  In it, he points out that not everyone is cut out for the mad dash of doing-doing-doing that can lead to $ucce$$ big-time…and the real is, they don’t actually have to be.

It is possible, after all, to have a meaningful ordinary life.  It just depends on what you want and where you put your head.

 

Jarvis helped to co-found an online education platform, creativeLIVE in 2010.   The group puts together free on-line classes and works to help Creatives market their work.  The tools they provide can help other Creatives realize their own dreams.  A good thing.

FINAL THOUGHT – ANOTHER IPS

crater sunrise
“Crater Sunrise” by Chad Goddard via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that you are the framework of your own life.  [You’re the only one who can balance the elements of your life to create a synergy that supports you as you dance to your own heartsong.]

Here’s a poem:


MUNDANITIES

The mundanities are three:

People, money, and time.

If you understand those things,

The world will start to rhyme.

 

If the Celestial’s your focus,

The Mundane will make you fall.

Too much of the Mundane

And you can’t see up at all.

 

The only answer’s balance

And that’s not easy to do.

There really is no recipe

For this ever-changing stew.

 

You do the best you can,

You give the best you’ve got,

You’ll rise up and you’ll fall

And for sure you’ll hurt a lot.

 

And when there are no answers

When you can’t see what to do,

You can only trust the simple truth

Residing inside of you:

 

That the Universe keeps changing,

Moving first this way, then that,

And if you follow where it leads you,

You might make it through intact.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Balance” by Thomas Hawke via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

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MORE FUN THAN ONE

MORE FUN THAN ONE

Starting is a series of events.  You decide to walk to Cleveland and you aim to do it on your own two feet – no bike, no bus, no train, no plane or helicopter…not even a hot-air balloon.  You’re going to walk to Cleveland.

So you take a first step in the right direction.  That’s starting.  At the end of the day, however far you’ve gotten, you might stop at a hotel and rest.  And what happens the next morning?  Either you quit this silly project, decide you’d rather ride, or you start again…walking to Cleveland.

directions
“Directions” by Beat Tschanz via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Up close and personal on this long walk, you’ll start to get the underlying idea after a while.  What you’ll figure out is that every step you take on this long-haul journey is a new beginning.

Every time you take another step you are reaffirming your commitment to your goal and you are making another start.  All the way to Cleveland.  (The trick, of course, is to keep going until you get there.)

But, doing the walk all by yourself can be a long and lonely trip.  A companion or two makes the journey much more fun.  A whole tribe could get downright lively on the road trip.

Entrepreneurial thought leader Seth Godin wrote a book, TRIBES:  We Need You to Lead Us, that talks about how tribes have formed down through the ages.  He shows you how to develop as a leader of one.

Any group of people can become a tribe.  Who knows, maybe you can grow your own and take them along on your journey.  This book could point you in the right direction.

IT’S MORE FUN WHEN THERE’S MORE THAN ONE

Another entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, is best known for being the founder and former president of CD Baby, the online CD store for independent music-makers.  He’s also well-known for a TED talk he did that went viral in 2010, “How To Start a Movement.”

During his talk he used a video of a guy in the crowd doing a silly dance at the 2009 Sasquatch Music Festival as a metaphor for his talking points.

The advice contained in the talk is not earth-shattering.  It is, in fact, a bit simplistic, but it did get people thinking about “lone-nut leaders” and how they get validation if they can attract the right guy to follow their lead.

It’s the “first-follower,” Sivers says, who actually shows the rest of the people how to follow and how to join in the fun.

Three years later, Phil Yanov, a technology columnist and public radio commentator, did a TEDx talk in Greenville, SC called, “Bang a Drum.  Build a Tribe.  Start a Movement.”

Yanov takes the idea a little further in his talk.  He gives you three steps to get you off your duff:

  • Find YOUR one true song. (He tells you how to tell when the song you are singing  is your one true song.)
  • SING your song so people can hear it. (Being shy won’t get your song heard, he points out, and reminds you that your mission is more important than little ole you.)
  • Grow your circle everywhere any way you can.

Yanov also offers a bonus bit of advice:  Start today….

If what you’re doing matters, waiting until everything’s just so isn’t going to make it start to happen any faster.

WHEN YOUR KOOL-AID’S BIGGER THAN YOU

There are so many directions you can take this.

If you find an “idea worth spreading,” as our TED-talk friends are wont to say, try asking whether  the idea has been spread as far as it can go.  Has its reach been hobbled by some external factor, perhaps?

Maybe the guy telling the message is a dork-head with zero people skills and his very important idea is getting trashed as a result.  Or maybe that great idea is buried in technical lingo and jargon that leaves everybody dizzy.

Can you help with that?  Can you use your communication skills and make something out of them that the general public can use?  Can you figure out everyday ways to use the seminal good idea to make other people’s lives better?

The framework you build on the one good big idea as you widen your circle of people who are believing in the big idea and helping to spread it and make it happen could become like a sunken ship off some shore that supports a whole colony of reef creatures.  The snorkeling could get good over time.

bowser-the-moray-eel
“Bowser the Moray Eel” by Roy Niswanger (Published) via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

ONE GUY’S TRIBE

As an artist painter Brendan O’Connell has made a name for himself as “the Warhol of Wal-Mart.”  His paintings of the interiors of assorted Wal-Mart stores hang in museums and his art has been lauded by the New Yorker and appeared in the Colbert Report.

O’Connell’s latest works are pictures of branded products on grocery and supermarket shelves. Collectors and aficionados snap these up.   Grocery-cart candidates can be fine art, it seems.

However, O’Connell is more than just another artist with a gimmick.  He has long espoused the idea that creativity is a human birthright and that everyone can be creative.  With this in mind, O’Connell co-founded Everyartist, a non-profit social enterprise that’s bent on sparking creativity by promoting the act of art-making among children.

Every October the group puts together huge community art events (Everyartist Live!) that involve many, many children.  Their goal is to turn the work of a million young artists nationwide into “the most massive community art event in history.”

Here’s a video of one of the events, titled “Wal-Art, Bentonville, AR,” which was published in 2012.

O’Connell built himself a tribe and they started a movement.  They keep on doing good work.

Here’s a poem….


THAT’S THE ONE

The World and the Real:

Two paths to follow.

 

It would be easy if

They just went off in

Different directions…

One going here, one there.

 

But, no.

It can’t be that easy can it?

 

Some cosmic joker went and threw

Another loop into the equation,

Making an intricate Chinese knot

With some pretty name.

 

The paths intertwine,

Over and under and through,

Up and down and around,

No beginnngs, no ends that the eye can see.

 

The cords run parallel; they divide,

Looping and swooping

Through intricate patterns,

They make a beautiful whole.

 

But, how do you tell when

You’re looking for one and not for the other?

How do you know which way to step?

(Too bad they’re not color coded.)

 

The wise guys say if you’re looking for Real,

Here’s what you do:

 

Find the path that shatters,

The one that won’t console,

The one that isn’t some easy glide

Through the same-old, same-old.

 

Find the one that takes all of everything you’ve got

And shakes it up and rearranges it all

Into some new pattern

That you have never seen before.

 

Find the one that scares you,

That bright and sunny one that’s

So full of promise that it hurts

To even look at it.

 

Find the one that starts your fears revving

And makes you dizzy with the vertigo of

Standing next to some edge

Overlooking the deepest abyss.

 

Find the one that makes you tremble,

That makes you long for what might be…

 

That’s the one.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Many Hands” by Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (photo by Jacob W. Frank) via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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PROGRESS COMES AFTER

PROGRESS COMES AFTER

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that past mistakes have consequences and what we have been and done does not just disappear because of good intentions now.  [Sometimes it takes a long time to get back to pono.]

It seems to be a given.  We’re clumsy oafs, us humans.  Often we break things without meaning to.  Our words and our actions break hearts and shatter lives – our own and those of the ones we love.

Other times, life takes its toll.  We get lost, we fall down and we lose our way.  Bits of ourselves get lost somehow.

On the other hand, broken can become stronger and more beautiful.  It does take time.  It does take care.  It takes patience and gentleness.  It is not likely to be an easy fix.

One metaphor that points the way to repairing brokenness beautifully can be found in a Japanese pottery technique called “kintsugi” or gold-joinery.

The following video, “When Mending Becomes Art” published by Kintsugisouke, is an introduction to this ancient art form.

AN OLD WAY TO REPAIR POTS

“Kintsugi” is an old way of repairing broken pottery developed by the Japanese using lacquer or some other resin laced with pulverized gold.  The story goes that a samurai broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it off to China to be repaired.  When it came back there were ugly metal staples all over the cup firmly holding the cracked bits together.  This was unsatisfactory.

The cup was sent to another artisan, an old Japanese goldsmith, who worked on perfecting a new way to heal the broken cup.  He made each crack in the cup a thing of beauty.  He honored and emphasized every flaw.  And the gold in the cracks caught the light and threw it back each time the old warrior drank his tea.

 I got to thinking about kintsugi and about all the ways we humans get broken.  I ended up writing a poem about it.  Here it is:


KINTSUGI MUSINGS

 ‘Kay.  Try this:

Take this clay tea bowl.

Now throw it on the ground…HARD!

Go for it!

Okay.

Look at those clay bits scattered all about.

Is it still a bowl, do you think?

Sure doesn’t look like it, huh?

 

Okay.

Now, say “sorry” to it.

Go on.

Apologize.

 

Did it go back to the way it was before?

No, huh?

Come on…

Put some SINCERITY into it.

LEAN on that remorse.

Say, “PLEASE forgive me.”

Say, “I didn’t mean it.”

Say, “It was an accident.”

Hmmm.

Try pulling out the big guns.

Say, “I LOVE you!”

Yeah, really…

Say it from the heart.

 

So…

Did all that saying work?

Not really, huh?

Broken’s broken, ain’t it?

And words don’t do a thing.

 

The pieces are still lying there,

Looking all forlorn.

They will not hold together.

The integrity is gone.

When you try to make them fit,

Try to press them into place,

The pieces fall apart.

Sad, huh?

 

Try pouring some tea

On all those broken bits

And the wet just runs down

All over your feet.

Hmmm…

 

Now, what?

Oh, wait…

Here’s some sticky resin stuff.

And, look at this:

There’s this shiny golden powder sitting there,

Right next to you.

 

Let’s try something.

Here, take this brush.

Now pour a dollop of that goopy stuff on this plate.

Swirl it around with the brush.

Right.

Now mix in some of that powder.

Just stir it right on in.

Slowly, slowly, slowly.

Mix it all up.

No lumps, no bumps.

Mix it all up smooth.

 

Okay.

Now, grab up one clay piece

And turn it so the broken edge faces up.

Brush the glop – all golden now – along that ragged edge.

Carefully, carefully…no slopping allowed.

Then grab up a second clay bit

And fit together the edges.

 

Resin oozes out of the crack, huh?

Okay.

Run your brush along that golden bleeding line

Along the front, along the back.

Make it smooth and smoother.

Gently now, like a dream.

Now…repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

You will mess it up, you know.

You’ll get impatient and you’ll push too hard.

The glop will spread and splotch

And you’ll have to start it over.

 

Again, again, again.

You’ll have to keep on mixing,

keep on brushing,

keep on smoothing,

On and on and on

Until each clay edge is touching a matching other

And every crack glimmers golden.

 

Oh-oh.

There’s one piece missing.

(It probably got pulverized,

Or maybe it got lost.)

No matter.

Glop some of the gloop into that empty

And smooth, smooth, smooth it on out

Over the edges, front, then back.

There.

 

Okay.

Now, set it aside.

Wait.

It’ll dry in the bye-and-bye.

 

And…

Oh!  Will you look at that!

The bowl is resurrected,

But it really is NOT the same.

Oh, no.

Now it’s something other.

Now it’s something more.

It gleams now in all the broken places.

Gold shines in all its cracks.

When you pour some tea in it

None of the wet runs out.

 

And when you hold what once-was-broken,

Healed now after all your gentle care,

Maybe then you will understand:

Fixing what you break

Is not supposed to be easy,

And words alone won’t get you there.

By Netta Kanoho

The following video about Kintsugi and the philosophy behind it was published by The School of Life in collaboration with Mad Adam Films and is part of a weekly series of offerings.

The School of Life is both a YouTube channel and a real-life school for adults that focuses on how to live wisely and well.  They are bent on asking the important life-questions that you never got to ask in regular school.  There are ten physical hubs in cities around the world including London, Melbourne, Istanbul, Antwerp, and Seoul.

Picture credit:  Sunrise Over Maui by April Schultz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

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DEVELOPING PRESENCE

DEVELOPING PRESENCE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing awareness that all phenomena are empty and illusory and the only meaning and mana in any situation is what the people involved bring to it.  [It’s a cool thing to realize that we humans are the arbiters of the meaning and mana in our own lives.]

The search for meaning and mana is a very human thing.  It’s been going on for centuries now.  The words themselves are so nebulous that it’s hard not to head off into the woo-woo zone when you talk about them.

ANOTHER FORM OF MANA

I was reading Tobin Hart’s book, THE FOUR VIRTUES:  Presence, Heart, Wisdom, Creation, and it struck me that what he calls “presence” is really one more form of what I call mana.

According to Hart, Presence is that “tug of aliveness in the silence.”  I do love that phrase.  It’s beautiful!   However, it doesn’t really say much.  (That’s the problem with all this wisdom-stuff.  You end up spouting poetry and everybody around you just goes, “HUH?”)

Hart goes on to say that Presence is an “openness to beauty and mystery.” He says Presence requires the capacity to be silent and still, to endure emptiness in order to witness and open to the good, the beautiful, and the true.  Yeah, yeah.  I know.  More beautiful blather.

The components of Presence, according to Hart, are:

  • Appreciation (that openness to Beauty and Mystery)
  • Stillness
  • Focus and Attention, which includes things like steadying your mind, not-doing, centering yourself, and pausing in your walk to notice the World around you.
appreciation
Appreciation by mark via Flickr [CC BY-NC]

APPRECIATION REQUIRES HUMILITY

Being open to the Beauty and Mystery of what is in front of you is often called “appreciation.”  It does seem to require humility.

If you are complacent in your knowledge of the World and if you are armored in your sureness that you know what’s what and what is really going on, it’s sort of hard to get entranced by the Mystery of the World around you.

Mystery is what you don’t know.  Mystery provokes wonder.  When you think you know all of the everything, it seems to me, the World gets a lot narrower and shallower.

THE WORLD BECOMES YOU

It’s a funny thing:  the World is pretty obliging.  No matter how you think and no matter what you know, it’s pretty easy to see what you believe.   Evidence mounts up all around you that you are right, right, right.

The World is quite malleable.  It is perfectly willing to climb into the box you’ve constructed.  You can get a heck of a lot of World into a very small box, apparently.

Do you think that people are out to get you?  Guess what.  You’ll find plenty of evidence that, indeed, they are.  Do you think people just naturally like to help each other?  You’ll find lots of evidence that is true as well.  Do you find the World unsatisfactory and boring?  That, too, can be arranged….

So if you want to glimpse the Mystery at the heart of the World, then you have to be really careful that you’re not letting your mind order the World around.   Since it’s something we humans are really good at, this is a very hard thing to not-do.

IS IT ME?  IS IT I?

In his writing, Hart seems to be separating out “I” and “me” from each other.  They are both inside of you, he posits, but they are nuanced and different.

There’s a part of you that observes and witnesses the World in all its glory, trying to see what is really there.  That’s the “I” part.

Then there’s the “me” part.  “Me” is mostly just in the world, so distracted and caught up in the busy that it’s swimming around in one big chaotic soup.  “Me” gets lost a lot.

I’m not sure what to do with this.  I do know that I agree with Albert Einstein’s thought that either it’s all a miracle or none of it is.

I really think that it’s my “me” part that is responsible for most of my poetry.  The confusion that comes from immersing yourself in the World produces more interesting thoughts than the observer-“I” part that sort of stands back and keeps trying to sort out the glory and reduce it so it can fit into neat little boxes.

stillness
Stillness by criana via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

STILLNESS

This thought reminds me of my ch’i kung explorations of Mountain energy…getting grounded in Earth energy and all that. I do notice that the one thing people with mana have in common is the ability to be still.

My Si’fu (teacher) once demonstrated a particularly powerful stance to our kung fu class.  He stood there in the center of the circle, perfectly poised with his arms and hands at the ready.  He didn’t do anything….and, literally, no one could attack him.

Remarkably, the man conquered us with his stillness.  There was no opening, no invitation for an attack, and none of the students in the circle felt any sort of aggressiveness was warranted, even though we had been instructed to move against him.

It is a thing I have tried to emulate ever since with very little success.

Another kind of still focus is illustrated by this picture of a Tibetan Buddhist high lama, His Holiness Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche.  He is displaying the vitarka mudra, a hand gesture that signifies “teaching, giving instruction, reason and preaching.”

hh-dilgo-kyentse-rimpoche
HH Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche by Wonderlane via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Perhaps this kind of centered stillness might also be effectively applied to the way an artist and a writer goes about making art as well.  Art, after all, is only an extension of the one doing it.

It occurs to me that practicing any form of art is sort of like weapons-training in kung fu.  We are taught that any hand-held weapon is just an extension of your arm and hand.  It does things, but you’re the one directing it using your body and your mind.

The same thing happens when you use the skills and tools you’ve developed to make your art or your poetry.  Your art, your poem, your dance performance takes form as your mind and body give it direction.

attention
Attention by nofilm via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Stillness is the ground for focus and attention.  If you can’t be still you are unlikely to develop enough focus to actually finish anything meaningful.  (Mana doesn’t come with built-in octopus tentacle suckers it seems.)

And if you are flibbertigibitting around like a demented butterfly, it is unlikely that you’ll be capable of giving anything much attention.

Stillness, according to all the wisdom teachers, is also the ground for tranquility and for peacefulness, so it is probably a good thing to work on.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

Hart has a number of guidelines for how to work with the mana mindset.   Here are a trio of ideas I picked up on:

Sensations and feelings can be used as a guidance system and built-in feedback loop which can help you stay aware of the world around you.

It’s sort of like that hunter-sense of terrain and place.  If you know in your body where you are and what you’re standing on, you automatically move in ways that don’t disturb the world around you.

This one does take a lot of practice.

Pleasure is a tool for understanding what nurtures you.  That one, taken to the extreme, sounds like a hedonistic sort of thing –”It feels good, so it’s gotta be good.”

I suppose if I were an academic sort, I could probably get lost in the nuances of the differences between a pleasure like an ice-cream sundae and one like wild jungle sex or something….Hmmm.  Might-be, could-be actually fun!

Mindfulness is a way to experience the world deeply.  Sometimes I can really get behind this and sometimes not.  My problem is that Mindful-Me tends to be like that centipede lying in a ditch trying to figure out how to walk around with all those legs.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When I look at the people who I consider powerful and filled with their own kind of mana, I do see all of the qualities Hart mentions.  The work these people produce does seem imbued with echoes of their own “presence.”

They are fully human, these people, so I am guessing that if I want to produce art with mana, it means I have to keep working on just being a real human being

MY THANKS

Thank you for sharing in this bit of silliness with me.

As a reward, I offer this beautiful YouTube video, “Icheon Master Hand” that was put together by the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) to celebrate the exhibit, “ICHEON:  Reviving the Korean Ceramic Tradition” which was on display at the Museum in 2013.

The video features five masters, Lee Hyang-gu, Kim Seong-tae, You Yong-chul, Choi In-gyu, and Jo Se-yeon.  They live in Icheon in South Korea, a designated UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, and are part of the city’s efforts to revive a 5,000-year old tradition of Korean ceramics.

And here’s a poem:


PFUI!

Oh, I give up!

Dragon gets me into things

And then stands there grinning

While I flounder around

Trying to find my balance again

In a space turned upside down

Or sideways or inside out.

 

I Ching nags and scolds me

All the time to be patient

And steadfast and true.

 

Archetypes wander around in my head,

Making themselves at home,

Lying on the couch, watching tv, and

Checking out the refrigerator

On the commercial breaks.

 

My inner drill sergeant revs up

At the drop of a hat.

And that stupid knight in the rusty armor

Won’t go away and leave me alone.

 

And here I am, the fool,

Trying to find my way

Back to being ordinary.

 

Why can’t I be a normal, unconscious person?

They are probably very happy.

Ignorance is bliss, right?

 

Me, I have to aim for stars

And run after rainbows.

 

Idiot!

After all the striving and trying,

I’m not even conscious yet.

Probably semi-conscious.

Definitely not post-coital.

 

All this cosmic stuff is getting me

REALLY IRRITATED!

Must be P.M.S. – Pre-Mastery Syndrome.

(Or maybe I’m just horny?)

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Presence by zlaping via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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THE TEN THOUSAND HOUR THING

THE TEN THOUSAND HOUR THING

Everybody’s heard about how putting in 10,000 hours  working on a particular skill-set pretty much “guarantees” that you will be very good at using those skills.

The number makes the “rule” easy to remember.  It’s so nice and round.

It’s also more than a little intimidating!  Ten thousand hours apparently translates to about ten years, after all, and I’m not sure whether that includes time for eating, sleeping and doing all of the other stuff humans do.

On top of the sheer immensity of it all, there is a caveat hooked onto that number:  any self-improvement and skill development that occurs after you’ve reached a certain level of skill is actually tied to how you spend your time practicing and expanding on what you do.

WHAT IS IT REALLY?

The 10,000-hour thing bounced around scientific circles since the 1970’s.  Why, the Big Brains wondered, did some people achieve an extraordinary mastery in some discipline while others did not?

It was in 2005 that a research team headed by Neil Charness, a psychologist from Florida State University, published the results of a decade-long investigation of The practice habits of chess players.

Their findings were popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book, OUTLIERS, and all of a sudden every man- and woman-in-the-street was urging their offspring to put that nose to that grindstone.

THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY

Throughout the 1990’s the Charness team placed ads in newspapers and posted flyers at chess tournaments, looking for ranked players to participate in their project.  They eventually recruited over 400 players from around the world.

For each player, the scientists collected a detailed history and created a timeline of their significant training and practice events.  The players were asked questions like these:

  1. At what age did you start playing chess?
  2. What type of training did you receive each year?
  3. How many tournaments have you played? When?  Did you win or lose?
  4. Were you coached? By whom?  How?

And so on…

The Charness study not only asked the players how long they practiced, it also asked what the players did when they practiced.  What the Charness team found was that chess masters dedicated five times more hours to serious study of the game than the players who plateaued at the intermediate level.

THE HOW OF THE MASTERS

The grandmasters focused on what Anders Ericsson, a colleague of Chandress, called “deliberate practice.”  These players chose to do activities that stretched their chess-playing abilities where they most needed stretching.  As Ericsson would say, the grandmasters challenged themselves “appropriately.”

The grandmasters studied the moves of historic gamesmen.  They memorized important game strategies until they could recognize the start of a game-winning gambit.  They studied counter-moves and practiced blocking or subverting their opponent’s efforts as well.

In this YouTube video, “Deliberate Practice,” calligrapher Esteban Martinez allows his viewers to watch as he practices writing his kanji.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.

COMPETITION DOES NOT FURTHER

An interesting sidelight was the finding that, after a certain point, tournament play really did not significantly improve playing skill.

The better guy wins.  Period.  If the better guy is you, you’re just using your skill well.  If the better guy is not you, then you lose the game and probably don’t learn much that is new.  The improvement to your game playing, if any, is a small “don’t-do-that-one” insight.

Hundreds of follow-up studies in a diverse array of fields validated the Charness team’s finding that deliberate practice is the key to excellence.  If you practice deliberately, you do get very good.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Assorted life-coaches and other advisors will usually give you the following pointers after they’ve explained about the hours.

  •  In order to get past “good” you have to take on projects that are beyond your current comfort zone. You have to bite off more than you can chew, but not so much that you choke on it.
    • Because the project is an exploration of new territory, you are going to have to shift into high gear and pick up chops. Hustle becomes the order of the day as you try to keep all those spinning plates going on that forest of sticks on your stage.
  • At some point you will go into overwhelm.  If you keep on going past that point, you will break through your  former comfort zone barriers.
    • That’s when your “comfort zone” gets bigger.  That’s when you’ll succeed at pushing back the fences and walls that enclose your zone and all of a sudden you’ll have more space to move.
  • It is a good idea to measure and get feedback on everything when you’re heading onto new territory. Measure, track, and listen your way to a new understanding.  Then you’ll be able to repeat your successes and avoid the potholes and bogs into which you’ll probably fall the first half-dozen or so times you do this.

WHAT MOST ADVISORS DON’T SPELL OUT

All of that practical advice is good and righteous.  They are very likely to work just fine in real life if you actually do them.  However, most of the advisors do tend to touch on (and then bypass) a most important point.

It seems to me that what you are really doing during all the rest of the 10,000 hours as you work towards mastery of the skillset of your choice (after you get “good enough”) is deliberate practice.  No matter what other skills you are refining and perfecting, the one that is the meta-skill, fully transportable into every endeavor, is that one.

maui-trees-at-sunrise
Maui Trees At Sunrise by Derek van Vliet via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that mastery requires practicing deliberately over time.  [Doing something over and over without conscious thought (like a caged hamster running around a wheel) is not deliberate practice.]

As you work your way towards becoming a superb artist or a magical performer, a superlative farmer or a business-magus extraordinaire, you will also be learning how to pay attention to details without drowning in them.

You will be learning how to focus down on the essentials of a thing, learning to suss out what matters and what does not.

You will be developing the capacity to turn your hand to any task, even when it is outside your comfort zone.

More importantly, you will be developing grace and agility, the confidence and the trust that you will be able to deal with anything that life throws at you because, like the chess grandmasters, you will develop a very large repertoire of mindsets, strategies, and moves that work as you move along your way to your own mastery.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Real is “deliberate practice” is just another phrase for what the wise guys call “mindfulness.”

To me, it’s a cool thing to know that a person can get to that without having to sit in a corner folded up like a pretzel, trying to breathe right.  I have a hard time sitting still and have spent a lot of my life failing at that one.  It’s good to realize I won’t actually have to.

What do you think?  Your comments are always welcome….

Here’s a poem…


WAITING

Waiting properly, not stagnating,

Not caught in indecision,

Patiently doing what is essential,

Right, real, and true,

Letting time work its changes

One by one by one.

 

When the time comes to move,

You will know it.

There is no need for haste.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Chess by Bob Vonderau via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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WHAT DO YOU OFFER?

WHAT DO YOU OFFER?

When comedian Steve Martin was interviewed by radio host Charlie Rose, the funnyman was asked to answer the “how” question aspiring performers always ask those who have made a success of their career.  Martin said nobody liked hearing this answer, but he did it anyway:  “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Here’s a YouTube video published by Suzanne Pope with that segment of the Charlie Rose interview:

Cal Newport used that quote as the title for his 2012 book , SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU:  Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You LoveIn the book,  Newport shares the journey of exploration he made in response to his own confusions about finding work that would add meaning and mana to his life.

The current mono-focus on “following your passion” was particularly unsatisfactory to him.

THE PASSION MINDSET

Often, when we go looking for answers, we are spoon-fed thoughts like those in this beautiful YouTube video, “Finding Your Life’s Purpose – Passion” by The Journey of Purpose TJOP, featuring words by Randy Pausch, Steve Jobs, Will Smith and Stuart Scott.

Newport found that what he calls the “passion mindset,” where (he says) you focus exclusively on the value your job is offering you, to be both simplistic and misleading.  He noticed that this stance, which is pretty much a staple cliché handed out willy-nilly by assorted career advisors and life design coaches, often leaves you at a crossroads, trying to hear a heart that is confused, mumbling and stuttering.

The passion mindset, he says, also sucks away your head into fantasies and daydreams of “better” choices that exist “out there.”  Instead of focusing on what is on your own plate, you spend all of your time dreaming about what is on some other plate somewhere else.

It does work.  This mindset can help you soar.  If you’re just starting out, however, holding on to the passion mindset is above your pay-grade.  You haven’t finished building out your wings yet and soaring just doesn’t happen when all you’ve got are stubby wings.

AN ALTERNATIVE MINDSET

Newport’s book is a reminder that there is another, more traditional approach to your working life that has been in existence for centuries.  He calls it the “craftsman mindset.”  In this one, your focus is on the value of what you are offering to the world.

In this TEDxKC YouTube video, “Stop Searching For Your Passion,” writer and branding specialist Terri Trespicio argues for letting go of the passion search in favor of “just doing.”  Passion, she says, is the fuel you run on.  Doing is what you spend the fuel on.

WHY DEVELOP CRAFTSMAN MINDSET?

One of the most useful things Newport does in the book is delineate the traits that defines “great work”:

  • Creativity
  • Impact
  • Control.

Somewhere on everybody’s list of the things that make their heart sing these items show up.

Being able in your work to use and stretch your innate creativity, work that results in your having a decided impact on the people in the world around you, and being able in your work to control how you use your time to get things done are among the most desirable attributes for a job and work you can call “great,” Newport says.  Most people would agree, I think.

The deal is, though, these job attributes are in high demand.   Everybody wants them.  Work that actually has all of these qualities all together is in short supply.  They don’t get handed to you as participation trophies when you show up at the door.

As Newport goes to some lengths to explain, these job traits are rare and they are valuable.  He points out, “Basic economic theory tells us that if you want something that’s both rare and valuable, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return – this is Supply and Demand 101.”

ANOTHER KIND OF CURRENCY

The author goes on to explain “career capital” – what it is and how to develop it.

Career capital is the key currency you will need to exchange for the “great” job you want.  It is an assorted set of skills and abilities you develop and own – what Hawaiians call mana’o – the unique knowledge and experience that are yours as well as your own ways of using them to product the results others find valuable.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  YOU

Developing and owning these kinds of skills takes time.  It requires making choices and decisions that hone your focus, that require commitment.

Along the way, as you develop these skills, opportunities will be offered to you because you have developed these skills.  You will be given chances to develop other related or complementary skills.  You will meet people who can and will help you along your way to your “great work.”

Newport spends the rest of his book expanding on strategies to help you choose your moves well as you build your life on this foundation of the craftsman mindset.

The following YouTube video, The Road Home to Craftsmanship,  is part of a 4-part series published by GOOD Magazine which is put out by Carharrt, Inc., a family-owned company in Dearborn, Michigan.  Carharrt makes durable work clothes that have become almost iconic.  Their motto is:  “Hard at Work Since 1889.”

 FINAL THOUGHTS

My own thought is that SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU is a great blueprint of a plan that has worked (and continues to work) for people who have found their own “great work.”

As always, you still have to go do it your own self….

Here’s a poem:


ROOTS AND WINGS

Papa was a drinking man,

A happy-go-lucky guy,

A laughing, gambling, good-time Charlie,

With a twinkle in his eye.

 

‘Twas Mama made him toe the line,

‘Cause all those kids had to be fed,

And every time he tripped and fell,

She poured rage upon his head.

 

Papa was a bootlegger

During Prohibition days.

“Party” was his favorite word

And he frolicked and he played.

 

And Mama sold the liquor

At 25-cents a shot;

All the girls could dance and sing,

Food was always in the pot.

 

‘Cause Papa loved his chickens

And he trained them into the night

And in the camp his fighting cocks

Were famed for winning every fight.

 

He grew the corn and ground it,

He built and cleaned the coops,

And when his roosters won the day,

Their rivals made good soups.

 

Mama kept Papa working hard:

He’d work the live-long day

In cane fields, then in pineapple fields,

And Mama saved the pay.

 

He grew a big old garden

And went fishing for more food.

Mama and the girls took in laundry

To help care for the brood.

 

And Papa was a joy to me,

On my head, the sun rose and set.

I was a marvel in his eyes.

I was his favorite pet.

 

He taught me love and laughter

And reaching way up high.

He showed there are no limits for

This one who would touch the sky.

 

Mama was the strict one

Who taught me all the hard:

How to work and when to fight,

And duty as its own reward.

 

The training that she gave me

Has stood me in good stead.

Responsibility and family

Got drilled into my head.

 

She set me firmly in the ground

Made sure that I sat strong.

She patted the earth all around

And scolded me long and long.

 

Making sure I stood up tall,

For all that was true and right,

Making sure I’d always keep

The real within my sight.

 

And Mama gave me roots

That go way down deep.

She it was who gave me strength,

So the course I set, I keep.

 

But Papa was the one who made me brave.

He gave me the wings to fly

His love was a celebration of

A promise none can deny.

 

He showed me that anything I want

I can have if I just try.

That I am all I have to be

And all I was glowed in his eyes.

 

He told me that inside the bad

All the good can still reside,

Waiting to be noticed,

Waiting to be recognized.

 

I bless them still, my tutu,

Every day that I draw breath.

My thanks and blessings always

For my course that they did set.

 

Because of them, my heart still dances light and free,

One gave me roots and the other wings,

In gratitude I bow to them,

Because of them my heart still sings.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture:  In Love With Clay by Carol Von Canon via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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THINKING NATIVE

THINKING NATIVE

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s an artist thing to ponder frequently on the direction you want to head.   (You tend to spend a lot of time making course-corrections when you’re flying by the seat of your pants, I find.)

I have been musing on this a lot lately.  I think I am trying, in all my work – in my art, my poetry, my writing and even in my property management gig —  to incorporate the Oceanic mindsets in which I’ve been steeped.

Oceania includes Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.   Adrienne L. Kaeppler, in her book THE PACIFIC ARTS OF POLYNESIA AND MICRONESIA postulates that the goal of Oceanic art is to produce fine art that makes Pacific themes understandable in today’s worlds.  She points out that contemporary Oceanic artists don’t slavishly copy old products or art processes.  Their work is based, instead on knowledge of traditional aesthetic systems.  She goes into detail, explaining this concept of hers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR AUDIENCE (CUSTOMERS)

One very real aspect of doing work that arises out of an indigenous mindset is the awareness of the importance of the audience.  (For a business person, I suppose that would be your customers.)

I remember watching a friend (a sculptor of stones) looking at and appreciating the Light of My Life’s rock work.  He did a series of petroglyph carvings on rocks that he set in a spiral in the yard as a memorial for his dad who had died at the beginning of that year of carving.  He was also aiming at honoring the old Hawaiians who taught him so much when he first came to the island.

petroglyph-labyrinth
Petroglyph Labyrinth. Art by Mathew Westcott

Mat’s petroglyphs basically arose out of traditional Hawaiian motifs but they are definitely not exact copies of the old stuff.  Each bit is layered with a superficial theme and then deeper kaona, inner meaning, metaphor, and symbolism.

 

My friend Cecilia didn’t understand the cultural references at all and may not have even been aware of them, but she did appreciate that there were layers of meaning in there.  Just knowing that deepened the experience of the things for her, I think.  It could be, too, that Cecilia is particularly sensitive to stone her own self and that also was an enriching factor.

LAYERS AND LAYERS AND LAYERS

It’s important, I think, to remember that the layers incorporated in a work may be deep or shallow.  The one looking at it brings his or her own world and views to it as well.  Hmmm….

Native scholar Greg Cajete has written that in indigenous ways of thinking, we understand a thing only when we understand it with all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion and spirit. My goal is to make art and poetry that tap into these indigenous ways of knowing….

People are affected by my poetry because they arise out of my life experiences that are mirrors of their own.  Everyone has experienced loss.  Everyone has experienced anger, betrayal, disappointment and pain.  Everyone has experienced joy.  Everyone makes decisions about the paths they will take and the ones they will not.

This is what I share with others – my own paths toward grace.   For me, the paths that lead to grace are buried in the detritus of the everyday and they are also illuminated by my own cultural understandings and mindsets.  My mission seems to have been about finding the paths and byways that resonate with me, marking them, trying to follow them.

MAKING THE CONNECT

As for my audience, well…I am still trying to suss that one out.  A new book has just come out that addresses that very question.  Nicholas J. Webb, a popular speaker and corporate strategist, has written a new book, WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE:  How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint

Webb has spent 25 years helping people gain insights into what their customers want.  His company, Cravve, provides counseling and training in customer design and innovation for many of the world’s top brands.  This book tells you how you, too, can figure out what all those eyes that you’re trying to get to notice you are wanting to see.

In this YouTube podcast posted by CT Corporation (a subsidiary of Wulters Kluwer) as part of their business marketing “toolbox,” Webb talks about his ideas for dealing with “touch points” – the places where you connect with other people.  As I listened to the podcast, it struck me that Webb’s ideas are all about making good connections.  They are positively Oceanic in mindset.

 

(Wulters Kluwer is a multi-national information services company based in the Netherlands with operations in over 35 countries.  CT Corporation is “the largest registered agent service firm in the world representing hundreds of thousands of business entities worldwide. It provides software and services that legal professionals use,” it says here.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My audience is probably going to be made up of the people who are trying to do the same as me, people who are trying to add mana and meaning to their own everyday lives.  I think there may be a market somewhere in all that.  I just need to refine my walk so that I can connect with the people who are already working on that their own selves.

As I am learning my craft and learning more about my market, my real reward will be spending a bunch of time in what I call “Little-G World”…where I can be just like a little god, making it all up as I go along.  That is a cool thing, I am thinking.

Also, I am thinking that the late, great Ray Kroc once said, “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”  In WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE, Webb helps you figure out how to influence other people to love you for doing what you love.  This, too, is a good thing…and it’s very Oceanic.

And here’s a poem:


CONNECTING THE DOTS

Art.

What is art?

Art is not a piece of work.

It is a reaching inward and a coming back.

 

Artist.

What is an artist?

What are artists for real if they are more than

The producers of pretty objects

Meant to cover up some wall space or match a couch.

 

We are the keepers.

We hold.

We are the seekers and explorers.

We go.

We are the lost ones.

We come back.

We are the messengers.

We carry the dreams.

 

We look forward and see what can be.

We look back and see what was.

We look outward and see illusion.

We look inward and we wonder.

We accept what-is and build from it.

We accept what-is and choose the good.

We accept what-is and work for change.

 

Native.

What is that?

It is a way of life,

It is a way of being.

It is a reaching forward and a coming back.

It is looking inward and looking outward.

The way of Art is the way of the Native.

It is walking in Beauty and taking it in;

It is holding the Beauty and pumping it back out.

 

This is Native.

This is Artist.

It is a way of being.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Oceania Boards by Karen Green via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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