Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Speed of Light: Fast OR Slow?

Which one are you more like?

You are a Tortoise if you:

Phone your friends to make arrangements to get together.
Find your best creative solutions after you’ve slept on it.
Rely on gestures to describe something that’s too tough for words alone.
Are a member of the “Slow Movement”.
Only turn the TV on to watch educational shows and the news.
Don’t own a cell phone.
Turn off your Black Berry when you leave work.
Are more like an elder.

You are a Hare if you:

Read “Fast Company Magazine”.
Text or instant message.
Read “Blink” and think without thinking.
Let your left brain bully your right brain.
Use a PVR.
Have call waiting.
Keep a cell phone or Black Berry tied to your hip.
Are more like a kid.

Here’s a thought, it may be that hares are the early adapters, front runners even mavericks. It also may be that hares are shallow, superficial, forgettable, meaningless. The fast pace can detract from serious one on one relationships that demand time, continuity of attention and commitment. We’re close to moving 186,000 miles per second or about 300,000 kilometers per second (the speed of light) and where does that leave us?

How about those tortoises? Maybe they connect through their intuition, are more subjective, holistic. Perhaps they rely on their right brain, take their time building relationships and trust, nurture and reflect on situations and solutions. Walking gives a person a different perspective than flying a jet. When was the last time you walked?

Not so fast…or slow. We’re quick to peg things as opposites. Brain based theory discusses the connections between the two sides of the brain and I’d suggest that there’s much more synchronicity between fast and slow as well. The two extremes seem far apart, however, the relationship is relevant to the situation, scope and time. Speed or idleness is linked with our existence, our perceptions and our lifestyles. So here are my questions for the week:

1. If fast and slow weren’t antonyms how could we link their relationship?
2. If we valued slow over fast what would change?
3. What impact does fast and slow, left brain and right brain, have on your lifestyle at the moment?
4. What if there were no opposites in our vocabulary? How would that change the way we think and act?

And by the way in 1999, a team of scientists led by Lene Hau were able to slow the speed of a light pulse to about 17 metres per second and in 2001, they were able to momentarily stop a beam. Hmmm…

Monday, December 22, 2008

Push your Thinking, Spring for Excellence

If you’re like me the quest for new ways of doing things better, creating innovative ideas, solutions, and approaches is ongoing. Springs, coils, and helixes, all with similar features, connect to revitalizing, rebooting and refreshing thinking. Push beyond and see what springs up as your thinking moves forward:

1. Start at home
I’ve got a spiral staircase outside at the lake, it adds a whole different dimension to the look and feel of the place. Why would anyone ever create such a thing? The first spiral staircase was built in a convent chapel in France in the late 1800’s. The architect died suddenly and after the builders had completed most of it they realized that there was no stairway to the choir loft. Because it was a small chapel a standard staircase would not fit and a ladder wasn’t appropriate for the Sisters due to their long robes. In true religious form, a miracle took place. A shabby looking stranger straggled in and said he would build a staircase. He asked for total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. As soon as the staircase was finished the carpenter was gone.
It’s not earth shattering, take a look around at where you’re at, what you have, the space you have and create a new space for your thinking. This might be in the form of:
time ~ a specific amount or time of day
head space ~ clearing out your thoughts to make room for different approaches, solutions, ideas through meditation, exercise, hang-gliding, or a different environment
assumptions ~ identify your assumptions by writing them down, test their validity with others, and throw them out or embellish them.
Starting where you’re at seems like a common sense thing to do and it is. Recognizing where you’re at and acknowledging how things are will give you the freedom to push beyond.

2. Go deeper

Create tension in order to get to the soul of the matter. Tension isn’t always wanted or needed for innovation. In order to push down to the next level of thinking it just may push you farther than you’ve every gone. Create tension through:

Physical limitations ~ take away the coffee, the chocolate, the sugar.

Social experiments ~ make the world your lab and smile at the people you walk by on the street, communicate with silence at the dinner table, talk with the person next to you on the bus or in the elevator or at the grocery store. Collect the reactions you receive and reflect on them, with the people you’re smiling at or talking to.

Spiritual intimacy ~ host a salon with people you know from different and conflicting political, sexual, spiritual and value bases. Together explore the tension.

Taking steps to create tension is usually not something we tend to do because it’s uncomfortable. It’s also valuable and important in going deeper.

3. Embrace Nature

When was the last time you got outside and had a look around? This picture is a natural left-handed helix, made by a climber plant. What else have you missed when walking, driving, biking? We’re very removed from nature in our human built environment. A few easy ways to get in touch:

Plant trees every summer ~ dedicate them to friends, family or a cause.

Take a silent walk ~ no talking, no thinking, when your brain starts to chatter quiet it and remind yourself to listen to nature, watch the trees, the sky, the snow, the bugs. Take deep breaths and soak in the sun, wind, fresh air.

Head to the wilderness ~ collect rocks, branches or twigs. Bring them home to use as inspiration and/or to give away or to create a centre piece.

Nature inspires writers, inventors, musicians, architects, lovers. Give yourself the gift of connecting with something that is beyond what we can create. Through the wonders of nature become inspired.

4. Know where you’re going

A slinky always made it to the bottom of the stairs, not always the way that you wanted it to walk down the stairs, in fact most of the time it kinda fell all over the place, rolled half the way and it just wasn’t what we wanted or expected. But it pretty much always made it to the bottom of the stairs (sometimes with a little push or nudge). What’s the bottom of the stairs for you? If you see where you want to go it’s more likely that you’ll end up there. It may not be via the path that you planned but you’ll get there. Staying focused is not always an easy task especially for those of us who are distracted by shiny things. So here are a few things to consider:

Write it down or just know what it is ~ know what your vision is and play with it. Look at it often change the words, find the best words, the most outrageous statement, the kindest thought. Keep it with you in your wallet and/or mind at all times and visit it every day.

Take action ~ if you do nothing, nothing will happen. All those great ideas are wonderful but if you leave it at that you’ll stay at the top of the stairs.

Nudge yourself ~ motivation is a tough nut to crack. Keep your eye on the prize, have fun, turn things upside down and be a slinky. There’s more than one way to get down the stairs. Play seriously, no really seriously play. There’s a whole movement afoot called Serious Play, check it out.

Push yourself to embrace your vision, nobody elses and you’ll Spring to Excellence!

Friday, December 12, 2008

One Question, Eight Answers

"It is better to answer one question eight different ways than eight different questions one way." – Plato

So I asked: What's the best thing that’s happened to you in the last week?

- Bought a leather couch, bed, chair (Leather bed?)

- Had a party yesterday celebrated being awarded an award. Oh and I went home every day at 3:30 this week (What would happen if this was the norm not the exception?)

- Connecting with the coaches, connecting with other colleagues…the best thing, sitting down with my husband a couple of times this week for an hour and talking (Home is where the heart is)

- A good friend started working after 15 months of shenanigans from employer (Through others’ success comes joy)

- Kinda a sad thing but a happy thing. On December 10th it was the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s death but I had a fantastic day. Out of the blue a friend asked if I could go to Lord of the Dance with her, it was amazing, my mom was Scottish and Irish. Then also played our first volleyball game and had drinks after. It was exactly what I had wanted, to move on in a positive way. (Death frees us for new life)

- I got to go to the gym a few times this week because I had the time. (Having time or taking time?)

- I just had an interview, went quite well...The best thing that happened to me this week was that I caught a glimpse of Karen. (Just a little dash of ego)

- There’s been lots of good things, good moments with each of my kids. And I got to go dancing last night so of course that was a good thing, I blew a hole in my ballet slippers and I found $1.89. (When was the last time you blew a hole in your ballet slipper?)

My Interpretation:
1. Leather bed? What we say and how we say it does make a difference.
2. What would happen if this was the norm not the exception? Balance is different for each one of us, do it your way every day and celebrate it.
3. Home is where the heart is. Connect with family and friends.
4. Through others' success comes joy. Ask about successes.
5. Death frees us for new life. When faced with death, mourn and grieve, reflect and remember, celebrate and move.
6. Having time or taking time? Choose how you spend your time, it will make all the difference in the world.
7. Just a little dash of ego. Recognize that puffy chest and down the nose look, everybody else does.
8. When was the last time you blew a hole in your ballet slipper? Let your hair loose and have some fun!

Your turn:
take one question,
engage 8 others
for answers,
take action.