Today I was reminded of the Stephen Hawking quote that featured as part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony 2012.
Look up at the stars and not down at your feet … try to make sense of what you see … be curious.
This quote, alongside my beloved image of Alice on the home page, is a great reminder of my passion behind Infinite Curiosity. When asked about my research work I often talk about it in terms of curiosity, or more bluntly as just plain nosiness. For me it seems only too natural to be fascinated by what makes my world tick but I know that is not necessarily the case for everyone.
If you could follow your curiosity wherever it wanted to go where might it take you?
With all this talk of resolutions, goal setting and what 2013 might bring I was reminded today about the assumptions we make and how we are not always as good as we might be about challenging those assumptions. In my workshops I have often introduced the Ladder of Assumption as a useful tool., developed by Argyris and Schon it highlights our tendency to see the world as we are rather than as it is.
I find it such a powerful reminder that we need to check in with our assumptions from time to time and recognise them for what they are. We need to ask ourselves:
On what basis am I making this assumption?
What leads me to think this might be an appropriate assumption to make?
How might this assumption be challenged?
What might the consequences be for my assumption being wrong?
I find the metaphor of the ladder a great way of checking in with myself about conclusions I may have drawn all too hastily. Watch out for those snakes!
Twelfth night is already upon us and the decorations now sit in a large heap; funny how bare it makes the house seem for a couple of days. They may be brash and sparkly but there is something delightful in their capacity to transform, I love the magic they weave and the memories they often carry.
Every year I have great intentions for how the house will be decorated, something just so, visually appealing and tasteful. And every year reality intervenes and compromises are made. It is one of the four tensions talked about by Otnes et al (2009) in their fascinating chapter on ‘Tinsel, Trimmings and Tensions.’
Where this used to fuel my anxiety I now accept it as part of what happens, something I try to acknowledge in my consultancy work too. I find it interesting that in my more creative work I am very open to the fact that where I end up is seldom where I think it will be, actually I usually regard this as a good thing. This may in part be the case because others are more accepting of it there too, being creative seems to give a certain licence to have change built into the process.
I’ve been doing lots of photography today, looking at colours in particular. I did a short spell on my accounts, some e-mails, a bit of reading, some cooking…you get the idea. As the day progressed I was intrigued how one activity prompted something else, how the distraction of doing my accounts helped me come back to my photography assignment anew.
It all put me in mind of an old RSAanimate favourite that I revisited this evening. If you are interested in learning and how the brain works I can really recommend The Divided Brain. It moves away from the old debate about Left Brain/Right Brain and builds more on notions of the Intuitive and Rational minds and how we have come to privilege one over the other. Enjoy!
Having spent most of the day filing (ugh!) and using that as a means of reviewing last year I was really struck by the many directions my curiosity had taken me in. One of the joys of working freelance is that I can generally go where my energy and interests take me. My research led me to examining mergers and acquisitions, exploring the use of the visual research methods and looking at double binds in relation to learning. Through my consultancy and coaching I have worked with theatres, galleries, dance companies, festivals and individual creatives. I have been improving my photography, learning British Sign Language, and even doing some drawing. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had.
That said it feels like 2013 is the time to focus in on a few areas that I can work at exploiting in more depth. I do not imagine that it is going to be an easy year in the arts and cultural sector; the full impact of the Arts Council’s latest restructure is yet to be felt, more local authorities are announcing cut backs, and the public sector will continue to contract.
I am keen to find some practical responses to these ongoing changes that I can share with other like-minded enterprising individuals. If you are going through a similar process and haven’t already come across it I can recommend Business Model You. It works well for me because of its visual, one page format. I have found it a really powerful tool for pulling together and testing out my ideas.
Here we are at the beginning of 2013, and as I emerge out of the fog of flu I can finally start to focus on the year ahead. This is not about resolutions or predictions; it is simply a chance, in this quiet space before the phone starts to ring again and the e-mails pile up, to think about the direction I might want to take.
I like Seth Godin’s approach that suggests taking stock, more of an inventory. Thinking about what I gained in 2012 and what I need to improve on – opportunities I may have missed that I need to revisit. All in all it feels like there is a more of a need for a move to action than ever.
I have also played with my cosmic ordering cards and several things came up – being mindful of my connectivity and how I use my energy, managing negatively toned emotions and the barriers they create, and using my dreams more creatively.
I was encouraged by one card to take a good look at myself in the mirror and ask the question
Every so often I come across a little gem that makes me think anew or challenges some of the assumptions I hold, often without even realising them. Wreck this Journal is one such gem. I actually bought a couple for friends for Christmas last year and loved it so much I had to have one too.
I am always more engaged when I’m having fun and when I’m looking at things differently. Wreck this Journal has lots of little suggestions, like collecting and sticking in those irritating little stickers that have appeared all over our fruit and veg these days. It also encourages you to throw it out of windows, drag it through the dirt and tear pages out. I was fascinated by how uncomfortable I felt doing some of these exercises.
Books are important to me, I probably have way too many of them, and they are all precious. I do not write in the margins, fold their corners or break their spines (I know that says something about me!). I have enjoyed throwing all that aside with this little book and Keri does warn at the beginning that ‘you may grieve for the perfect state that you found the book in.’
I love her notion of creative destruction being liberating and I now carry it around with me to follow its various instructions randomly when I have a moment.
At the moment my favourite page is ‘fill this page with circles.’ Let me know if you have a favourite page.
Keri’s website is fun and thoughtful too, it’s well worth a visit.
The other day I was meandering around the LIFT website to see what this year’s programme offered. Partly, because I was intrigued about the range of work and partly (admittedly a little selfishly) in that it might provide some good photo opportunities for my OCA coursework.
In doing so I came across the heading “An Adventure Map,” I was hooked, my imagination was sparked as were memories of childhood stories and buried treasure. I loved its playful nature and it seemed to chime with a number of other conversations I seem to have been having for the last few years about adults and play.
When I run development sessions I generally talk about my approach and the principles that sit behind it. The usuals are in there about contributing, listening, taking personal responsibility and so on. I also like to include irreverence and fun. I don’t know if this makes sense to other people but it seems to me that there are times we can take ourselves too seriously.
I know I learn best when I am absorbed, when I am encouraged to look at things differently, when there is an opportunity to be quirky or take on other perspectives. I like to get all my senses involved and feel as well as think. In essence I often learn when I am being playful.