Most of the mail I receive is from impersonal feeds – mainly from journals.
A letter from friend or family makes the day worthy of celebration.
But every now and then there is a welcome post from one of my favourite bloggers eg Michael Robert’s Blog; or Mainly Macro – both of which specialise in economic commentary which I tend to skim very quickly – and another 4 I picked out for special mention in a recent update of my blogroll also focus on specialised subjects – as do, indeed, 99% of the blogs I know about…… I’ve occasionally wondered about this – once in 2014 and again last year in the post A Musing Decade when I asked
What exactly do I mean when I say the blog is one of the longest-running “of its “kind”? Simply that the majority of blogs specialize in a particular topic - whether political commentary (yawn), book reviews (a popular subject), economics (ditto), Brexit, EC Law etc
Mine, however, darts like a butterfly to a variety of flowers.
One blogpost which arrived this morning is always worth a close read – namely Canadian Dave Pollard’s powerfully-named “How to Save the World” and indeed is one of the very few other blogs which defies classification and which could be grouped in the “perennial” category I tried this week to claim for my own blog.
Having said that his blog defies specialisation, I then found myself immediately putting Pollard into categories by calling him both a “survivalist” and “radical non-dualist” (admittedly the phrase he uses to describe himself) And his blog certainly encourages such a labelling by grouping the people he follows into “others who write about collapse” and “radical non-dualists”
His latest post was a typically thoughtful one sparked off by a recent interview with Frederic Laloux whose book “Reinventing Organisations” (2014) I summarised some years ago.
I would normally be pretty cynical about books with such titles – after the fiasco of the “reengineering movement” in the 1990s - but Laloux’s book looked to be a sober taking of stock of the literature on organisational excellence. And, unlike most business books, it clearly rated the notion of self-management very highly…..Laloux has been fairly quiet in the 6 years since his book was first published but, as this site and videos show, he has actually been very active
Pollard’s post poses ten important questions which Laloux is now raising for the 2020s
Frédéric is now asking himself and others to consider ten “revolutionary” questions to deal with the terrible crises now facing us, and the growing likelihood of large-scale collapse. All of these questions apply at both a personal and societal level:
· Accepting unhappy truths: How can we recognize the wilful blindness we each have to “inconvenient” truths, and how can we re-train ourselves to appreciate and accept what is true even if it is not what we want to believe? It takes some intellectual courage, honesty, openness and patience to move to such a mindset.
· Sitting with not knowing: How can we learn to admit we don’t know, and that there are no simplistic answers, so that we can then create a safe space to just sit with not knowing, with incomplete understanding, with uncertainty and ambiguity, and let possibilities emerge as we learn more, think more, and interact more, instead of rushing to resolution?
· Admitting our powerlessness: How can we allow ourselves, especially if we’re in positions of authority, to admit that we are simply unable to solve the complex predicaments we are facing — that they are larger than all of us. That also entails breaking the co-dependency between “powerful” decision-makers (parents, bosses, preachers, and presidents) who thrive on that power and the fame and self-satisfaction it provides, and the “powerless” rest of us (who are often content to let the “powerful” shield them from any sense of obligation to make any decisions or take any actions to address what is happening).
· Moving to blamelessness: How can we train ourselves not to blame complex predicaments on others’ actions or inaction, and to acknowledge that we’re all doing our best and that no one (and no group) is “responsible” for the crises we face? This requires letting others, and ourselves, off the hook before we start to work to address these crises. And it requires the terrifying acknowledgement that firing the boss, or the president, will not fix the predicament that has seemingly arisen under their watch.
· Overcoming the fear of failure: How can we enable ourselves to push forward and not be paralyzed by the fear of what could go wrong and the potentially awful consequences? This need not require either exceptional courage or indemnification, but rather a collective shift in what we define as failure and how we assess others’, and our own, value, intentions and actions.
· Giving ourselves permission: How can we move past waiting for the permission of “authorities” to take whatever action we (individually and collectively) feel must be taken to address big scary issues we care about? [And do that while still recognizing that others are scared, conflict- and confrontation- and risk-averse, and that’s OK.]
· Appreciating that waking people up isn’t enough: Now that many people are aware of the existential crises facing us, what more will it take to get all of us actually working on addressing these crises? It’s been a decade since Al Gore showed us beyond all doubt that merely waking people up to the reality of an “inconvenient truth” is not sufficient to lead to any meaningful action.
· Understanding what we long for: Personally and collectively, how can we come to a better appreciation of what really matters to us, what on our deathbeds we will be most proud, or rueful, about, and why it matters, so that we can’t not act on achieving it?
· Consciously and continually reassessing our role and purpose: How can we keep considering, every day, what else we could, individually and collectively, be doing right now that would be more useful, more joyful, more “on purpose” than what we’re currently doing? And, of course, then, why aren’t we doing that?
· Reimagining our future as the journey of a lifetime: How can we overcome our resistance to thinking and acting on plans for a better future, when it seems so scary and hopeless, and see our future instead as a great adventure? If we’re inevitably into the sixth great extinction of life anyway, why not approach it with gusto and give it everything we’ve got? What have we really got to lose? What’s really holding us back?
Asking these questions, first at a personal level, and then collectively, in our communities, in our workplaces, and as citizens of a world in collective peril: It’s a lot to ask!
We might well add an eleventh, meta-question: How can we learn
to craft great questions? Great questions can help us, personally and
collectively, engage in the conversations (the word conversation literally
means “turning with”) needed to help the system (at whatever scale/scales
possible) to self-correct. In other words, sometimes it’s enough just
to ask the right question.