Tag Archives: engagement

The Moment Everything Changes…

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There are several constants in Life: death is one, thinking another, taxes a third. A fourth one seldom acknowledged is the constant of change. Here are some thoughts about change and the effects change brings…

* Each and every moment is a time of changes; some are so minimal, we don’t notice their shift; others can be more dramatic – in either a pleasing way or a way that destroys our world experience.

* The bottom line is that change happens all the time – some might call it entropy – but, whatever we call this “IT”, its influence in our life is often (and easily) ignored.

* Many elderly people I’ve worked with have all say the same two things: they never thought they’d be this old and how fast time has passed. Time changed them, they got older (too quickly). They aged moment by moment until one moment they reaslised they were old(er).

* A recent series of BBC 3 programs was about how people’s lives radically changed due to illness or trauma. One was about traumatic brain injuries, another about being disabled in an instant. Each taught me valuable lessons about how people, fellow human beings, are affected by life traumas and how they choose to deal with them.

* One thing that empowers us to deal with change is our innate resilience, the ability we have to manage and cope – how we choose to be affected by what’s happened and what we’ll do about. Another thing we have is the power of choice, the ability to decide how we want the events that have occurred to affect our lives.

Changes transition our life experiences and challenge how we’ll deal with the “what next(s)” we face as a result. And here’s where the beauty, the power, the magic of the human choice to do something remarkable, happens. We can do nothing about the past, it is already gone, some say dead; what nexts are the now, the future and they remain within our power to choose what we’ll do with them.

Sometimes, getting to a place where we can make choices to deal with what’s happened takes a little time, Love, exploration and the opportunity to share and in a supportive environment of listening. A kind compassionate, understanding ear can prove an incredibly powerful way to re-evaluate what’s happened and how to deal with it.

Anyone have any thoughts, feelings or comments on this? If so, please feel free to share…

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Artists, poets and mystics occupy the threshold between life and death, between creation and destruction…

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I follow The Re-Enchanted Life.com and part of a line in today’s post is the title of this post because it touched a very positive and curious nerve in me.

Whilst Creatives (read artists of all types) fulfil an essential part of all societies. We may be considered too “weird” to fit in the norm, the structures of serious life and yet it’s our very presence and contributions that make the magical difference. We connect the serious with the beauty-filled options of life via creativity and creative expression. We provide many of the things they enjoy, appreciate and (distract) away from the serious…

…when we think about and or enjoy music, paint, sculpture, the written word, the spoken word, singing, cinematography, buildings, design et al., we are in the realm of the Creative’s purpose, a place that meets chaos and then makes something real from its potential through interacting over a threshold where life can birth something solid from something until then, only ephemeral.

My grandfather was passionate about many things – most a complete mystery to me – among them was his passion for books. He would share about how amazing they were; using a desk, a fountain pen and paper, someone created a book; through them, taking the time, the effort, the risk to express themselves; using their brain, their mind, their hand and arm, they downloaded their thoughts and ideas and stories, observations and dreams, and they’d place them on paper.

That is a Creative at work: taking the risk to express, through whatever medium, they, like the mystic, face the threshold between the liminal and the solid and choose to be curious to see what happens when they engage and translate that relationship. Much like Michelangelo looking for the angel in a block of marble, the Creative risks all by gathering their talent to produce, to work, then sees what happens next…

How’s this topic about transitions? A Creative’s role is always about transitions: they follow their creative processes and their work is always about transitions from the virtual into the expressed. It is always the case when we ask curious questions about “what if…?” – the very phrasing is about creating a transition, a change as a result of asking, exploring, then implementing.

Creativity: How and Where to Find It!

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Benn’s note: I was so pleased to receive this blog by email recently that I felt I had to share it! James at ShareAsImage.com has crafted a really excellent blog post on the topic which I’ve reblogged below.

What John Cleese, Stephen King, Paul Simon and Anthony Trollope Can Teach You About Creativity

Anthony Trollope was one of the world’s most creative writers.

In the 1800’s he regularly released novels over 700 pages in length, multiple times a year, and wrote whole series so long in length that Lord of the Rings looks like a short story.

And, he did all of this while working a full time job for the British Postal Service.

According to Stephen King in his book On Writing, he was able to stay so creative for one simple reason – his process:

“He wrote for two and a half hours before work. This schedule was ironclad. If he was mid-sentence when this two and a half hours expired, he left that sentence unfinished until the next morning.”

If he finished a book in that time too, he’d simply write The End, set it aside, and start writing his next book.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s insane! How can you be that creative, that often?” And, you wouldn’t be the only one.

The truth is, a creative process is all you need to be more creative. In fact, it’s the only part of creativity that you have any control over at all…

The Creative Process

John Cleese is a comedy legend – you might remember him from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda – but he’s also a keen psychologist. And, not too long ago, he did a lot of research into the realm of creativity.

And in this research he came to the conclusion that:

“Creativity is not a talent, but a way of operating”

That is to say that you creativity isn’t a feature only a few people have. It’s something you can unlock.

For example, in comparisons between people who are deemed intelligent, such as Engineers and Writers, and those who aren’t, there was no difference in I.Q that suggests the smarter you are, the more creative you are.

As long as you have a base level of intelligence, you can be as creative as anybody else on the planet.

Which is great news.

But how do you unlock this creative potential hidden deep inside of you?

Well, Cleese points out there are 5 ways you can become more creative if you arrange them correctly.

These are:

1. Space
2. Time (Again)
3. Confidence
4. Humour

Now, there are no guarantees that any of these will give you your big idea instantly. As is the case with anything creative, there are good days, and there are bad days.

You could sit around for hours and get nothing, or you could sit down, sip your coffee and be hit with a freight train of original ideas.

As the man himself says:

“This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.”

But what all of these steps will do, more importantly, is get you into an open mind. Which is the breeding ground for all creativity.

Open Your Mind…

There are two types of thinking when it comes to your work:

The open mind
The closed mind

The closed mind is where you spend most of your day. It’s where you complete tasks, think logically and get work done. This is your productive state of mind.

The open mind is where you need to get to if you want to be creative. It’s where you can be playful, curious and free from pressure. It’s the state of mind that lets you connect the dots, find clues and create solutions.

These five steps you’re about to learn about will help you get into that open mind more easily.

Step #1: Space

Pressure is a creativity killer.

In that, if you’re under the usual stresses and strains of day to life – your boss peering over your shoulder, super tight deadlines etc. – you’re not in the right mind set to be creative.

Because, understandably, your focus is elsewhere.

When your focus is on being more creative then, space can be a physical space – like a desk or a park or an office – or it can be mental space, away from the pressures and strains of daily life.

Or, it can be both.

This space doesn’t need to be clean, either. Some of the worlds most creative minds, from Einstein to Twain and Zuckerberg all boasted messy creative spaces.

All it needs to be is removed from your usual workspace, where you’d normally find yourself in a closed mind.

Think of places like:

* Parks
* Coffee shops
* Home offices
* Train Stations (Where Paul Simon penned Homeward Bound)
* Beaches

When I’m thinking of blog post ideas, or I’m stuck at a particular point, I like to go to places I’d feel comfortable meditating or reading a book.

Try choosing a spot that makes you feel like you’re in a bubble, where you’re sealed off from the outside world – and the stresses and strains that come with it – and you have your own ‘me’ time where you’re in charge and free from distractions or interruptions.

Step #2: Time

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?

It’s a simple rule that says the work you have to do will expand to fit the time you have to do it in.

Which means a 10-minute task can take four hours; if that’s the time you give yourself to do it in.

And understanding this law is important for creativity. Because while you need to give yourself a space to work on your big ideas, you also need to give yourself a timeframe to work to.

As Cleese himself says, “It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”

Because if you were to just sit and ponder, for an unlimited amount of time, the urgency to solve the problem – or reconnect the dots – is lost.

This is why deadlines are important.

Take a look at some of the more high-pressure creative industries, like Advertising. If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, you’ll have seen just how much pressure these guys are under.

George Lois, one of America’s greatest visual advertisers, famously stopped saying ‘No’ and started saying ‘Now!’ to projects with tight deadlines, because he could laser focus his creative in a short space of time.

And he created some incredible campaigns under those deadlines, like this one:

So when it comes to sitting in your new space, give yourself a defined amount of time to be there.

You need to know that your time in your space will definitely end at a specific time or after a certain amount of time.

It could be that you define yourself one hour every day, or that between 7:30am and 9:00am is your creative time. Either way, it’s important to know that when your reach this time limit, normal life will resume.

Step #3: Time (Again)

If you’ve ever tried to meditate, or spend some quiet time alone, you’ll know exactly what I’m about to say:

As soon as you sit in your quiet space, and begin to think, your mind starts to wander to your normal every day problems.

Phone calls you need to make, the emails you’ve not sent, that tweet you’ve not written and the fact you’ve not decided what you’re going to have for lunch yet.

Because, it’s easy to think about these problems. They’re what you’re used to thinking about. They’re habitual.

What’s important in this step then, is that you give yourself the time to think beyond this. You have to strap your mind down, work through these thoughts until your mind begins to quiet.

Now, for some of us, this can be a short process. After a year or so of mindfulness, I can quiet my mind in minutes. For you, it could take a little bit longer. The more practice you have at it, the quicker it will come.

The second part of time, is giving yourself enough time to think beyond the first solution that comes to mind.

When you’re faced with a problem, it’s easy to take the first solution that comes to mind. Because you have an answer, you’re busy, and it works.

But as research from Mackinnon has shown, thinking longer on the solution – even in the face of your first answer – can lead to more creative and original solutions. Because, if nothing else, you have another dot to try and connect.

So, unless you absolutely have to, you shouldn’t take your first solution. Take the second one. Or the third. Or the one that seems the most original and creative to you.

A good rule here is that if it seems outrageous to begin with, it’s probably original enough to work.

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Step #4: Confidence

The opposite of creativity is fear.

Nothing will stop you conjuring up wonderful, magical, out of the box ideas as much as the fear of making a mistake.

That the image you’re making doesn’t conform. That your boss might not like it. That your readers will all shout at you about it. That your mailing list is going to burn you at the stake for what you’ve just thought.

But in this space, with the time you’ve given yourself, mistakes don’t exist.

You have to give yourself the confidence in your own abilities, and that the ideas you create, are good. No matter how out-there they seem.

Remember, to be creative is to play.

You’re always asking yourself, “What if?”:

* What if you did this?
* What if I did that?
* What if that went there, instead of here?
* What if you mixed these two colours?

You would never tell a child they built their Lego’s wrong. Or that the picture they painted, or the game they came up with all on their own, was stupid or bad.

So don’t do it to yourself, either.

It’s okay for things to be wrong. Your ideas to get rejected. Your colours to not match. You need to have the confidence in yourself that you’ll recognise these bad ideas – trust me, you’ll have them – and that you’ll spot the good ones too.

Step #5: Humour

Humour plays one simple role:

It’s the fastest route from the closed mode to the open mode. Because humour makes you more playful, relaxed and free from pressures than anything else.

But, as Cleese points out, you see certain situations as “too serious” for humour.

However humour doesn’t make a situation any less serious; it just leads to more creative solutions to problems.

For example, my Dad works doing Search and Rescue in helicopters. He’s seen everything from plane crashes, to war injuries and people having their ribs cracked open and their hearts massaged to keep them alive.

It is a serious job.

But when they’re flying out to a scene, they’re laughing and joking. All while they’re figuring out the solution of how to approach, what they need when they get there and how they’re going to rescue the casualty from X, Y or Z.

That isn’t in bad taste. It allows them to think more clearly, with less pressure, and see more solutions to the task at hand.

So, when you’re working on a solution – no matter how ‘serious’ – allow yourself to laugh and joke and giggle and enjoy the moment as much as possible.

Creativity: It’s All About The Process

There you have it.

If you want to be more creative you need to have a process. One that lets you slip into (and out of) the open mind quickly and effectively.

Now, while this still won’t guarantee that you’ll have a million dollar idea every time, if you allow yourself:

* Space
* Confidence
* Humour

You’ll find that you can generate more original and wonderful ideas than ever before.

Spirituality and the Reasons for Transitions Mentoring

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When unclear in myself or emotionally distressed, I find I lack the awareness I need to make effective decisions. Stopping and contemplating – being still, just being at ease – provides me the space I need to feel capable to choose what I need to do.

Transitions Mentoring came out of contemplating how life works and finding ways to make a difference. One key is to engage spiritually where spirit is about the essence of the being in human being; it is about connecting where we share and explore the purpose of our lives. And, deal with the consequences of changes that affect our experience(s).

When putting aside dogmatic (religious, societal, political or personal) views and “have to-s”, “should do-s”, “musts” and “oughts”, we have the chance to meet each other and deal with what we face in the world.

Each day, we are vulnerable to the effects of change; some days are easier to deal with than others. Personally, I’ve experienced all sorts of problems in my life and understand the power of mentors for many have shared their wisdom and been there for me.

Learning to accept contemplation, learning to be, Love, care and support have all helped me to manage, and even thrive, in adversity. I know what despair, grief, shock and depression feel like. I’m still breathing, I’m still here. Something must be working.

To thrive, we need to share, to be heard, to build bridges of spiritual understanding that care for and support each other regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, age, creed or political persuasion. Caring for ourselves and each other in this way makes for a life that’s simpler than we ever imagined.

Contemplation and creating a contemplative space of stillness and allowing ease to be, is powerful. It’s about making a decision to empower your self. This is the beginning of Transitions Mentoring which explores further by listening to the story of who and how you are today, seeking clarity through utilising simple tools that empower you in the world you live in.

Making a Difference in Lives

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In September 2013, I wrote to my friend. I was completing an assignment: writing to someone I Love and care for to hone my blog writing.

Re-visiting that email, I see it as the way I wish to engage with every aspect of my life.

(And) that is just as true when I share with patients, with friends; with family.

Extracts from the email are as follows:

I thought I’d write and share some of my thoughts, rather than call.

Writing makes such a difference, it’s presence makes what’s said so much more ‘solid’. I guess it’s the bringing the virtual into the solid?

I am very touched by the extent you include me in your life; I am touched by the honesty you share with and the integrity you have when you tell me your secrets and traumas.

How you include me in your little world; what you encounter and what you go through with courage and fortitude. I hope I help as you allow me to provide an ear.

What really moves me is your honesty and your inclusion. I feel able to bring meaning; so much in life has little value beyond connecting.

Our connection means a great deal to me.

Thank you.

Honestly engaging with people is the very magic that makes Life the beauty it can be. We can all engage. Sadly, we don’t (always) and miss out on what we want: intimacy (with self and others), relationships with integrity, the security of spiritual values; balance and the confidence to face Life and the world we live inside ourselves.

Real communication follows deep, attentive Listening to our selves, to other people and being sincere in all that we do.

How we feel follows how we think and that follows the beliefs we hold.

If I choose to engage with my self, and Be at ease, my space is clearer to build Being with others.

That is honest. And holds beauty whilst making a difference in lives.