We are about to turn a European country into a guerrilla buffer zone. That seems to be the (lack of) plan. Pretty despicable by all sides, and the worst-case outcome for Putin who I assume still favours that outcome to an overt NATO alliance war.
SWIFT may be a symbollic gesture. It is still a more meaningful gesture than the symbollic words and bluster offered so far. All nationalities weighing up economic priorities are sharing the shameful hesitation that Putin was counting on. And denying the early moral support “swift” action would have offered to the people of Ukraine.
This is the overt and globally supported economic action. Whatever is covert as forces and weapons on the ground is not what is putting hope into hearts and minds. SWIFT is the tangible actions that fearful Ukrainian people can see. Ironically slow is this response.
Enough of the powderpuff words that us armchair patriots desire. Time to test the hypobole of contingent planning, not just the rhetoric of resolve.
I am constantly distracted, when I want to be. My early years school reports concluded it was a trait to tame. But these days it is quite intentional. Or at least with my adult brain, I kid myself the same. Because we are each distracted whether we like to be or not.
As I continue to stretch my understanding of projects, and of people, and the paradigms that connect them both, so the distractions constantly bombard my mind. Not that I am unusual. It is the natural tendency of all of us. Part of our innate complexity, the brain’s counterpoint, constantly optioneering. It is only the awareness of this fact that we get to change.
We can train a warrior-like discipline. Learn to control urges and withstand pain. But there is more to this than will-power, at least if we want to be more than just a summation of sub-routines to repeat and engrain.
This is what we can do when meditating. We are taking interest in distraction. Even if that interest is just intending means to not be distracted. Or, we may be learning to positions ourselves behind distraction, sitting along-side it, or taking perspective from it. We may simply be learning to confront it, or finds ways to calm it. Both ancient practices and modern science are informing us we need to spend as much time outwardly focused as we do inwardly aware.
This is also what we do when we communicate. We invite, or attempt to initiate, distraction. We are presenting new perspective to another. We are receiving new perspective from another. We may be sharing or discovering new perspectives with each other. Meditating is one example of an active means of understanding this. Communication is an active way of doing much the same beyond our individual minds.
A distraction reaction, in action
By way of example of this in practice, I offer an observation I wrote in passing in a post on LinkedIn today. At the time, I had been reviewing some documents for work. On my mind were preparations for exams for my MSc in January. Yet my eyes and hands conspired to click onto LinkedIn. Subconsciously, my brain was asking for a dopamine hit to feed the addiction that now claims us all. So this was itself a distraction from the tasks upon my desk.
This is most pertinent to those who say yes too much. It’s important to find yourself doing so, and consider why. If being helpful is your curse, consider what you are not able to do because of all you have agreed to do. Crucially, check if the things you cannot now do are actually more important. Even more importantly, be honest with yourself and challenge your answer. Because behind all of this may be fear of that bigger thing. The more important thing. The thing that is harder to say yes to, maybe closer to your goal. Being busy serving others without clarity of why this is your best path, may be taking a heavy long-term toll.
Chances are the one thing someone has asked you to do that challenges you the most, is the one thing you find reason to say no to.
Saying no more often is step two. Step one is saying yes to those rarer opportunities that you doubt you can do, and that people less regularly request.
Step three is finding your own yes. Then its other people that think twice about saying no, to you.
It was only from responding to this post, and then returning to a specific query I was fielding, that brought both items together. The recurring project problem I was looking at was one part feeling obliged to say “yes” to even more formal reporting, when their better perspective could be offered by doing more, and reporting less. Which therefore required them to find constructive ways of saying “no”.
Learn how to channel your distractions
This is what we do in every moment of every day. We manage distraction, demands of attention, but in doing so we encourage a lateral connectivity. Each brain is wired slightly differently, nature makes this inevitably the way. We are the aggregation of our experience, and no two are therefore the same. The machinations of experiences creating happenstances that a more mechanised and optimised singular focus would not.
We also have much going on within the brain that is intentionally acting without our awareness. There is no conscious decision-making in temperature control or heart-beat, but nor is there is cognitive function of reading, or recoiling from something hot. We may not even need the brain at all to regulate the gut. We are however, a rarity of biological sets of processes to have some illusion of awareness at all. It is this awareness that enables each of us to compare. To be situationally aware. And by our abstraction of the real, both mull over internally but also externally share.
This is where much of the psychological, philosophical, and neuroscience debate still rages on. There is still plenty of room too for the debates of ethical, moral, theological, and physical. Objective, subjective, or existential.
For me, these are each fascinating discussions and debates. Some have been ebbing and flowing for 2,500 years. It is the cause of much of the distraction I now welcome every day. For it is this awareness of the perspectival, the conflicting, and the nuanced, that keeps me at my desk. Typing away.
Relate better to your distractions. Learn when to say “yes”, and when to say “no”. It is just part of the happenstance we may invite but not intend, in our human way.
My meditative practice this morning turned into a lingering abstraction over breakfast. A trap of thought I needed to write down in order to unwind. As a release of tension, or as indigestion. Both may suit. Consider this a musing. A diary entry or placeholder. A journal entry that escaped.
That he was almost right. Almost complete. But his schema fails at the boundary cases of his paradigm. Space and time, or more correctly spacetime.
The Big Bang sits as a beginning. A paradigm that sits within itself. From which spacetime emerges and is contained. It is the beginning of change and of matter. Dynamics. The temporary. The paradigm of the transitional.
Physics now wrestling with the remainder. The parts of the indivisible whole that remained when we categorised what is beyond categorical. The whole. Or the hole. The subset of a meta physics, that which has relative place in time.
Infinities of possibility. Itself an analogy of the paradigm within which we are trapped. A hint at the boundary case we cannot escape. But within which we are thereby condemned to have or to be.
To even ask what is beyond is to fall back into the trap. To not ask is to be blind to possibility. To ask what sits amidst us in the dark. Or what pulls our light in. Or what is parallel to all universal norms. All notional paradigms each informed by the limitations of our constraints. Of course we fall with Newton. A course outlined by Galileo. Our relativity necessarily coordinate and squared. Why would subatomic reality care for our boundary case of space and time? Revealing one or other but never both. The coordinate translation is our prison. And ours alone.
But that is fine to work with. I’m not sure I understand the fundamentals of anything at these extremes. Nor is it my place in space or time to download all preexisting code and add a few lines of my own. I’ve tried, and failed – so far. I’m asking much more limited sets of questions. Contained within a prison of one mind, amidst a sea of others. Each translating one to another our singular experience in shared space but across a human expansion beyond one experiential time. A unique gift to one repeating closed system that connects to others. By memory and abstraction. Change is our construct. Whether intended or not. I’m just asking the simple questions within that one paradigm.
And with that thought I feel ready to spend a day or two with Heidegger, Vygotsky, Popper, and Jasper. Starting with Being and Time. And the pollution of all these musings I have uttered, which I now need to unwind.
If England had won the European Cup Final in 2020, people may well have died. So says the findings of the Baroness Louise Casey report into the events surrounding England fans shameful scenes around Wembley stadium last year. BBC article here. What a sentiment that is. Conclusions based upon “up to 6,000 people planning to storm the stadium at full-time to celebrate as the gates opened”.
The report suggests there were preparation failures. Failure to plan for “foreseeable risk”. Indications that additional strain on resources from Covid19 related issues played a role. But ultimately concluding that a large number of people’s behaviours were fuelled via externally sourced chemicals (alcohol and cocaine I assume), not internally generated excitement for an event. No great surprise there, perhaps. At least not to anyone who has visibility of what normal is deemed to be for many revellers in 21st Century Britain.
The report’s recommendations are mainly behaviourally focused:
Empowering authorities to act more strongly
“a sea-change in attitudes towards supporter behaviours”
Better communication between agencies
increased awareness of the unique challenges of such major events
My own view on these recommendations is they represent a misunderstanding of social psychology. They also mistake unpredictability of behaviours and the possibility of control. In this mis-placed behavioural assessment, I think we just invite rhetoric without real change. Much as other reports into other incidents fall into this same trap.
Three of these recommendations are based upon the temporal interface between prior planning and real-time adaptability. Visibility of a plan is best supported by the shared nature of its creation. This is communication in advance, the sharing of expected range of possible outcomes, and the collaborative nature of what is to be implemented. The empowerment element here then offers a change to the constraints, or better awareness of what they are, and what the systems of control are thereby intended to manage.
But none of these measures are relevant unless the planning is backed up by training and practical empowerments at ground level in real time. This is what the High Reliability Organisation (HRO) reflects. Increased visibility of the bigger picture based upon clarity of goals, clarity of roles and responsibility, and empowerment of those closest to the situation to act. It is also empowerment to act whilst accountability remains at the senior positions that have overseen the development of both plan and the control environment that contain all. Itself an expectation on leadership to serve, be authoritative rather than just have authority, and a shared understanding that pushing upwards rather than demanding more downwards, requires more understanding of layers of leadership intent on serving, not being served.
The “sea-change of attitude” of fans is a nonsense. It is a wishful remark with no actionable end. The only attitude that can be managed is the attitude of authority to be more cohesive, collaborative, and accountable for the functionality of control. I am all for addressing wider changes of attitude. But this is a societal level aim, and cannot possibly be targeted simply in the name of an event.
Projects of control to support change
These same sentiments can be examined at other scales. I look at the Grenfell aftermath with the same concerns for what is now being challenged. I look at the sad, sad, story of Arthur Labingo-Hughes. Sitting alongside a ridiculous fiasco of failed safety controls behind Alec Baldwin’s “it just went off in my hand, guv” defence.
We can always find someone or something to blame. But for me we keep coming back to a failure of control. A failure to adequately contain, and the permission of authority to look away. Not because of the event, but because of the manner of constraint, empowerment, colloquial interest, and evasion of accountability by those not motivated to think beyond themselves.
Every single one of us fails this test each time we look to an individual entity to shoulder the blame. If we are serious about a “sea-change of attitude” that puts us all in the frame.
I think we should be expecting more challenge to the infrastructure of control, when it is shown to have failed. Otherwise, what trust should we have that controls are now better placed to adapt. We should be asking “what is now different” so that it will be better contained, when it inevitably happens again…
I performed this practice “eyes open”. I now know this to be a less unusual practice than I had thought (see this article). But this morning was my first attempt. Prompted by the moon. It was pitched in my vantage point and it seemed a waste to deny its call.
Seeking to extend loving kindness was a pleasure against this view
As I finished I took this picture. I am reminded of how different one’s perceptions are in mind, compared to the static picture. All I had in my view was a brightly shining moon. Yet, it is but a spec in this photo. What also caught my eye were planes that crossed the sky, and a steady stream of birds all heading the same way. Both do make a showing in this picture, but each will take some effort to find.
There are many perspectives one could take from just this one picture. Was this a full moon? No. It was 97.65% visible. A waning gibbous. Sitting 405,483.58 km away. None of that was known until just now. Details here.
As I prepared to begin my practice it was not the distance of the moon that my mind was bringing into view. Instead my metta practice was overcoming my inner critic that wanted to flag some jobs. In response, I was first to receive some loving kindness – this always starts at home.
Each of these critical views in perspective, my metta continued with Second – directed towards my closest other. Third – directed toward a neutral other. Fourth – a friend or loved one with reasoned opposition in view. An enemy (if one has any). Fifth – the reach to others as far as one may go. This last was the real change – now without eyes wide shut.
I typically have friends, acquaintances, remembered strangers and places in mind from far away for my fifth level of directed metta. New Zealand and Australia. USA and Canada. Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil. Turkey, Jordan, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan. And many places in between. My carbon footprint has much to explain. Today however, my fifth were the ones sat in aeroplanes. Strangers passing across my moon.
To whom my loving kindness was aimed perhaps matters little, but technology offers a retrospective helping hand.
And then what of those high flying birds? What were they and where were they going? Crows, magpies, jays, wood pigeons, buzzards could be claimed as normal fly-by guests. Woodpeckers, gulls, sparrow hawks less often but regular too. I assumed them to be crows, but this picture suggests a smudge of something passing through.
This is the spec in the top left, which I thought to be dirt upon the window but zooming in is perhaps a migrant on the move.
If the continent is cold we may see Waxwings. That seems unlikely on this temperature review. More likely something arriving from the north, but I have no real clue.
I really only touch upon the photo surface with this perspectival ebb and flow. But hopefully the point is made well enough, that it is from changing context that perspectives can be remade. These are insights to be taken into everyday practical use. This is training, not escape. In time the brain connects these perspectives with stronger firing neurones. Pathways that build. What fires together, wires together. And therein each mind can grow.
May you be safe, happy and healthy. May your mind be at ease.
 Per mindworks.org, “Metta” comes to us from an ancient Indian language called Pali, and it translates as loving kindness. From my novice perspective it is my means to bring my mind to attention of my place in the world, and extend an empathy and benevolence as far as I can reach.
Many more blogsites have come to my attention since I began blogging. Here are two of note.
Increased visibility by looking more
visibility | b | t
Reliance on media feed seems our collective default. However, blogsites with specific interests and specialism are everywhere. It seems to me a more effective means to see more of what needs to be seen. One less filter between the subjective viewer and the objective reality they are trying to see.
v | behaviour | t
But of course there is new bias to reflect upon. It becomes more demanding of the viewer to seek out these better questions. Be more present to the issues. More vigilant to the need to seek out more. Not be overwhelmed by the task of finding the sources that the media headlines do not.
v | b | trust
This then becomes a new form of trust. There is necessary need to trust yourself. To have honed your own ability to seek answers to new questions. To self-determine the validity of the source. Take more care in the degree of trust in the source.
I have explained this in the language of enquiry I now use. Directing my interest in intended change – as a project. The sources we accept, are our own projects of information gathering. Something we are pre-programmed to do. Something we are minded to make efficient and easy. But not always therefore with necessary interest in what is truly true.
Hope is at hand
The good will of the masses is what I think sits near at hand. The doing actions of those motivated by truth. Their version of truth, but still a better truth, a more visible truth, than what media commercialism has become. I am grateful for finally finding some new windows to look through.
What is immediately apparent is just how much we do not see. What is not reported. What is not of interest to the filters. This is said with no grudge. It is just a commercial reality of life. This is not conspiracy, this is behaviour. Giving us what we want, or what is easy to see. As consumers this is our vague trust. Our happy distance from the real. I see little merit in blaming the media moguls, when it is we the public who can at any moment dictate a different tone. Dictate what it is we intend to see.
Own your enquiry
Blog-sites are everywhere. They just need to be unearthed. Then assessed for quality, bias, and reliability. But if you have the time, or the inclination, there is more than social media click-bait, derived from headline grabbing media feed, waiting for you.
I am learning this only now. Maybe you can learn this too – without having to become a blogger just to take in this view. I began this blog by highlighting two blogsites of note, to get you on your way. The upholding of law is a place where hidden behaviours are exposed. Where trust is questioned. Tested. Sought to be proved. And if so inclined, visible to us all.
If you are democratically elected to serve a community, how can you not? Yet if that service is set in the now, and the future need is not what is on the minds of the electorate you serve, what to do?
This is the quandary of every government official at all levels of leadership or management at the CoP26. My own view is we need diplomats not warriors to unravels problems that we attempt to share and solve in times of peace. We have tough discussions ahead but also need of time spent listening, learning, empathising, and understanding. Bringing our best expectations of representation and respect, and expecting the same in return. But with that comes a need to be strong in action, not words. To take the strain and persuade those that you serve, that they should take the strain too.
v | b | t
visibility | b | t
That starts with clarity of goal, vision, or simply visibility of the whole – by the quality of our enquiry not just the easy factoid to bend into truth. This clarity comes from the ground up, and from the top down. It comes from being seen to be acting as one would want the other to you.
v | behaviour | t
As leaders we then have behaviours in mind, and the manner of control. As directed by motivations. Addressing attitudes that are not fit for the purpose at hand. Addressing the goals of others so that goals are then shared rather than required by coercion or force. We take on the hard, because we know we should.
v | b | trust
That is where we build trust. By our actions and set against the better path. This starts with each of us, as self-control. By what ends we seek to choose, and with the other party’s needs not just our own. Knowing the path ahead may have unknowns. Leaders making decisions from being present to the task, and not simply to keeping decision-blame at another’s home.
This is why I become ever more determined to find better ways to bring projects into one space. To bring more collaborative effort and cooperative ideals to the more difficult challenges ahead. I found my self somewhat bemused at several LinkedIn exchanges this week. From leaders who seem intent on being anything but. I will return to all in due course, but the below reflects well enough why we need leaders who can find hope, and not simply share their own impotent despair.
Below: A written response (not addressed to me) from an MP who seems to have decided there is no point in being present to the challenges we all face.
Philip Davies MP
The above letter has been a news item and general social media fodder for a week. This MP has allegedly responded with encouragement to circulate it further on the grounds it represents the attitude of many of his constituents. It has legitimacy as a perspective – all Members of Parliament are voted for as the representative voice of those they serve.
My quote opposite was made on LinkedIn. The position expressed by this MP one I found to reflect all who seem to have taken to despair. But equally, I reflect upon this sentiment being a very human response, that I think many will hold true. We are after-all programmed to act in defence of our own communities first. But what is democracy to do when the popular and easy comes face to face with the harder position to take? On the basis of looking after your own first leadership, this attitude can become the default and convenient position for all.
One observational riposte
It’s refreshing to at least see a defeatist elitist open up. “It’s too hard. It’s their fault not ours. Why should we if they don’t?” Bonkers to think this counts as leadership or even representation. We [UK] are the 5th biggest economy in the world. We have historic connections to more of the planet than most. We hold the guilt of past endeavour to hold and overcome. But we also have means and a presence on the world stage. We are the persuaders, and the influence. The diplomats. And when needed the front foot accountability demanding bureaucrats. I don’t see much Churchill, Nietzsche, or Ayn Rand here. “We will fight them on the beaches; or spite them with our meekness” “The will of power (naps)”. Maybe he reflects the real darkest hour…the hour we chose not to choose. Reneged on service as leaders of more than one flock. Instead counting cash in a vault and doubling the locks. Be present, and be leaders. Or give way.
A blog to offer an alternative way to scare the living without disturbing the dead.
Halloween night is when the witches come. Except that’s not really the original point. Nor is it the manner of celebration many traditions choose this day to represent.
Leaders of the world step up
There are leaders in Glasgow tomorrow. But there are leaders within us all every day. I say we should each start there. Demanding less of others, and more of ourselves. Maybe then, mother nature can know we still care.
If you think this is you. There are a few words more.
Halloween | All Saints | Day of the Dead
Before the conquistadors and James Bond had their say, there was an Aztec tradition that enabled reflection upon time with forbearers. Re-engage with the sacrifices of time and toil of lives now given up. The progress they made, and unknowns they faced. Or the labours they were forced to provide. Or the lives forced to take or give up.
That was the 9th month in the Aztec Calendar. In Japan, the Buddhist tradition of Oban is celebrated in mid-August with similar ancestral homage respected. In Celtic tradition the end of summer, Samhain, it was believed the world of gods and people combined with much mischief abounding upon a fearful mortal domain. Western Christendom had means to integrate all such tradition with its own feasts around All Saints Day, and the beginning of Allhallowtide (all per Britannica.com).
Think on that hollowed out message as pumpkin lights fade.
All Saints Day v | b | t
So what then of tomorrow? A new day. 1st November 2021 is when our leaders gather in Glasgow to debate our shared fate. To decide what traditions and behaviours we can all dare to change. What sacrifice we all must forsake. What future toil we all are prepared to make. Or what further study we sanction, for further visibility of unbelievable harm. What trusts we deny, and deem the next generation better placed to palm. What risk to the future generations of selves do we therein choose to pass on? What will we all opt out of a 26th time, at CoP26? Forsake, and in our place ask the yet born to take.
Trick or treat?
Treat – more than we can chew
We are now connected. Feasting as we go. All hungry caterpillars upon the one tree. Gestating today. Digesting our yesterday. Cocooning our decisions and letting loose butterfly effects we cannot rewind.
Trick – fooling all including ourselves
Maybe it is time to stop looking to others. Look again at our past, but think upon ourselves as a living influence to the next. The global village is now here whether we like it or not.
Can we look beyond greed?
What is at the heart of our project mission is the pursuit of more. Individually a greater share. But also collectively more for the earth to have to bare. And perhaps it is this that we all need to help stop.
My greed is good?
Capitalists are not going to stop growing with individualist greed.
Adam Smith was about optimising the output from the land by the few. Labour a resource to factor into such process. The invisible hand that steers individualistic ambition to bring about trickle down growth for all. Nietzsche’s will of individual power.
Our greed is good?
Communists are not going to stop growing with collectivist need.
The early Karl Marx was about addressing alienation. The hands of the worker having no ownership of what they make. Getting too little of what the few take. The effort of all, the land owned by none but the state. Trotsky’s power of shared will.
Green is good – less greed is better
My point here is not political. Other than to say all our politics, and the nation states that hold flavours of individualism or collectivism at the helm, all amount to more of the same.
Have this at the heart of what is visible. Of the finite resource there is, it is our nation states that must thrive. Regardless of culture and ethics, political sentiment, or personal faith, it is this fact that wills us all to claim a bigger stake. Determines how we each and all behave. Trust becomes easier offered, when yours is the whip hand to extend.
Think therefore upon each of the green solutions being presented. The ways we are being offered to change our behaviours, in all that we do. They each still equate to the same.
We are being shown how to consume more, but in cleaner ways.
Enough and no more
I am not sure any of us has the right to question the needs of another. But I do think we should be able to explain what it is that we need. And what it is we intend to do with what we have. Not in any draconian or anti-establishment way, or as naïve power of love simple life ways. Simply by the questions we ask of ourselves and of each other. And the messages we therein convey.
Some of these first steps then become a little easier. And meaningfully challenging to those that drive growth without consideration to wider cost. Those seem the simplest and easiest first steps for east and west. This is not about ownership and what we can have. This is about service to the future, and what we can be. Take what you need; to do with that what you must. But once you have got there, its time to give something back.
What we give back is time at the wheel – or that spare time is what each of us chooses to steal.
Our hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains this well enough. We all need to feed. We all need to breath. We then need safety. Then kinship and personal and societal esteem. Finally, however, we then want to be the best versions of what we can be.
We are many who now sit at this final impasse. This pinnacle of existence but declining to acknowledge that grasp. Instead we keep all. Claiming time left as our own. And taking all of that to the last. Our kinship is retained because we all do the same. We then look around and wonder who is to blame. Why our self-actualisation feels unreached, as hollow as the pumpkin on the doorstep.
The golden rule for all self-actualisation stewards
There seems a golden thread of truth running through our shared history. Requiring us all to consider life from the other side. Perhaps all of those messages combine, and stand now not just in place but also in time.
Ask not what other projects can do for you. Ask yourself what project you can now do for the whole
Globally said from a golden thread
These are then projects | within projects connecting each mind to the totality of our management. Management of the one project we are all now required to play our part.
v | b | t – ask better questions for more insight
In game theory there is a game called Tragedy of the Commons. In it we are each shown to take more from common ground than we should, because the rules said that we could. The game reflects low trust, and shared bad behaviour. The long-game sees us all lose.
The solution starts with checking our own behaviour. But then increasing visibility on the whole, so that all behaviour is seen. In open sight we become compelled to do right. Trust in the shared objective becomes the shared trust in us all. The more secrets we can keep, the more compelled each feels, and entitled to cheat.
Question yourself, and therein question all others
It seems to me clear, that any of us sitting near the top of a hierarchy of needs is required to justify our time. Whether you are a Jeff Bezos or a Sheikh, a pension pot aggregator, or an executive on the make, born of privilege or humble beginnings and self-made. As individuals or as nation states. There are questions we need to ask of ourselves. Towards what, is your next project’s aim? Are you playing more than a zero sum game?
Infinite complexity, ultimate simplicity
The human condition is complex beyond measure. The systems of organisation we represent, a multiple of the same. But at the core there is a simplicity. We are mortal. We are fragile. And we will each always want more.
On this Halloween night perhaps give an extended nod to our forbearers. A moment of thanks to the shared sacrifice all have so far made. But tomorrow, the day we can all be saints, perhaps we each take stock of our time, and no more.