Believe In The Impossible [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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All of my life I’ve been surrounded by people who believed in the impossible. At a school for developmentally disabled children, there were therapists who believed against all odds that they could help a child catch a ball. And, one day, after ten thousand tries, extraordinary therapies on frozen muscles, endless encouragement for the child and for each other, those little hands closed around the ball at just the right moment. A catch. Cheers, celebration dances and tears erupted, this feat greater than winning a Super Bowl. The impossible became possible. And then, as if there was not a moment to waste, the next impossibility was named: ball catching could become routine!

Artists, who go day after day to the studio or the stage, their lives an impossibility of economic headwinds and community disinterest. They create. They find a way. They keep the doors of deep humanity open, mythology alive. In this age of dedicated differences and echo-chamber-information, they reinvigorate the experience of a shared story. The impossible becomes possible, even if only for a moment. And the next day, they do it all over again, refreshed with inspiration and improbability.

Teachers who walk into classrooms every single day, their budgets cut, their student load swelling, their hands tied with standardized-testing-madness, and yet they reach. They try. They inspire. Like icebreakers, they cut new paths through impossibly frozen circumstances to locate and nourish the minds and hearts of their students. To free them from disbelief. To embrace the challenge of an obstacle. To encourage discovery of self and other. The impossible becomes possible. And, the next day, they do it all over again.

Inspiration. It’s all around us. It makes people do crazy things.

 

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inspiration makes people do crazy things ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Face The Wind [it’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

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Saul taught me to look beyond the obstacle and, instead, place my focus in the field of possibilities. How I experience my life is largely a matter of where I decide to focus, what I choose to see.

Life, I’ve learned (or finally accepted), never stops throwing new things at me – challenges & opportunities. And, when looking in the rear view mirror of my life , I am generally hard-pressed to distinguish between what was a challenge and what was an  opportunity. The challenges became opportunities, the opportunities brought a basket of challenges.

The winds of change blow all the time. As Chicken, like Saul, reminds me on this Chicken Marsala Monday, the winds of change are never an obstacle. They are a constant force (called life) moving you, moving all of us, to learn, to grow. They are an invitation to turn our faces into the wind, look to the horizon and appreciate the ride.

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Protect Our Diversity

Many years ago, sitting in a Starbucks, my brother told me that I should be careful because not everyone wanted the diversity I was promoting. His warning struck me as odd. At the time I was partners in a business that facilitated diversity training and change dynamics. I was traveling to many places in this nation, north, south, east, west, and places in the middle, to work with people in corporations and schools and communities who’d come up against the startling reality that all people do not share the same reality, that equality is an ideal not yet realized, that we are a nation defined by our other-ness.

When I was in school I was taught that the USA was a melting pot, a hot crucible into which people of many backgrounds, creeds, and colors were transformed into something stronger. I was taught that we were a nation of immigrants. It is printed on our currency: e pluribus unum. Out of the many, one. Why, then, would I need to be careful? Diversity was not something I was promoting, it was (and is) our circumstance. It was an identity I was helping people navigate in their workplaces and communities.

I read somewhere that the real challenge of the American Experiment is that we have to reinvent ourselves everyday. Because we are not (and never have been) able to share a common ethnic-religious-origin story, we must strive everyday to create a shared story. We create our story. We were, at our inception, an experiment in other-ness. To insist that we were meant to be singular – white and Christian – is a concoction. Our shared story begins with the single common thread that runs through most of our ancestral paths: we came from some other place seeking freedom in one form or another: religious freedom, freedom from persecution, the freedom to pursue opportunities. What binds us, the single story-blanket under which we can all crawl, is our diversity. Out of the many, one.

There is and always has been a tension in our story creation. Each new wave of others is resisted and often persecuted by the previous wave. When, in a nation of diverse backgrounds, in a country made strong by its multiplicity, does one actually become an American? And, what does an American look like? And, how far are we from living the ideal of all being created equally? With liberty and justice for all? It’s a moving target at best. It is a worthy ideal and worth the struggle.

The Experiment, like all experiments, has had some miserable failures. It has taken some giant strides forward. It is riddled with paradoxes and often runs into a hard wall of hypocrisy. We’ve torn ourselves in half and pasted ourselves back together. We’ve had our share of hate-mongers and xenophobes. We have one now. And, we always transcend them because we do not run on fear or anger but on promise and opportunity. The conservative impulse is always at odds with the progressive desire. It provides the heat for the crucible. It provides the tension for creativity and growth.

The greatest centers of innovation and entrepreneurship in the history of humankind have all been crossroads, places where many cultures cross paths and come together. Difference is a great opener of eyes and minds. We are an intentional crossroads, a meeting place by design. Our make-up of differences might be the single reason why we have grown as a nation of invention, advancement, and possibility.

In one aspect my brother was right: I should be careful, we should be careful to protect and keep the ideal in the center. It is worth marching for, it is worth challenging the fear-mongering and stepping in the way of a leader who plays on anger to create division. We should be careful to honor and steward The Experiment forward to the next generation of diverse Americans.

 

 

 

Train Your Eyes To See

an illustration from my unpublished children's book, Play 2 Play

an illustration from my unpublished children’s book, Play 2 Play

Laundromats are liminal places. Enter a laundromat and you leave behind the known world. You step into the great  “in-between,” the land of “not here, not there.” I am in the land of “not here, not there” because Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog came in from the yard with muddy paws and blew past our usual clean up stop. As Tripper was coming in, our neighbor let out his dogs and, apparently, the perimeter needed immediate protection, which required a Dog-Dog mad dash through the house, a leap onto the bed, and loud, raucous barking. So, muddy paws met white bedspread and although the paw prints were beautifully applied, smeared, and reprinted (a perfect composition), the bedspread needed washing.

As I wait for the cycle to finish I’ve been watching people. The proprietor is wearing a Santa cap and sits at the counter scoping the patrons; he is looking for anyone who might need assistance. He jumps at every opportunity to help patrons having problems with a machine. This is his kingdom and I have the illusion that he’s created it so that he might help others. He laughs a lot. He likes his kingdom.

A young man, clearly a regular patron, is quick to help the older clients lift heavy loads (the proprietor is at the ready but recognizes this unique circumstance). They are all regulars and lifting laundry is the organizing principle of their relationship. They ask the young man how he is doing. He is humble yet delights in their attention as they delight in his assistance.

This liminal space is filled with generosity and acts of kindness. It reminds me of the game I played not so long ago during my walk about. Each day, as I walked, I counted the obvious acts of kindness. There were always more than I could count. Always. The game was not so much about tallying goodness as it was about training my eyes to see what was right in front of me. It is too easy to see the road rage, the aggression, and the selfishness. It is too easy to believe in the monsters. That stuff is there. But, when you take the time to see it all –really see it – the generosity always far outweighs the miserliness.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Canopy by David Robinson

Canopy by David Robinson

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Step Into The Dot

Kerri and I are bringing our work together in a new form: Be A Ray! More on this tomorrow

Kerri and I are bringing our work together in a new form: Be A Ray! More on this tomorrow

Raquel and I had an extraordinary conversation yesterday. We always have extraordinary conversations that serve to shake loose the penny in my mind that needs to drop. Yesterday’s penny was about the question of a universe by design versus a universe of utter chaos.

So much of this past year seems by design. There have been too many serendipities, too many perfect circumstances, too many uncanny seeming coincidences. Last year I told her I was in a fast moving river racing toward my destiny. I could feel it. I can feel it. Raquel asked if perhaps that has always been true and that I was simply seeing it now.

My response to her question surprised me. I told her that all of my life I’ve had one foot in each universe. When the tides seemed against me or things were uncomfortable, then I was convinced that I was a bobber in a chaotic ocean. When I had one of the mystic/profound experiences that have become the hallmark of my life, when the tides seemed to go my way, I found it convenient to believe in a universe of a perfect design. I told Raquel that this year I’ve finally understood that I can’t have it both ways. I am either a bobber in a vast ocean or I’m here by design. Or, more to the point, I understand that the chaos I experience is my response to the design. Both feet are in one idea. The universe-by-design (a universe of participation and co-creation) must be true in the uncomfortable moments as well as the profound. It has to be true in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. There is only one tide. It is a game to pretend otherwise.

In the past few years, the theme of my growth has been to finally see where I have been living with one foot in and one foot out – and to at last put both feet in. If you are driving to work waiting for retirement, you are one foot in. If you have a backdoor plan in your relationship, you are one foot in. If you are seeking proof of your faith, you are one foot in. You’d be amazed at what becomes visible, what you see, when you cease dividing your intention, splitting your presence, and stand with both feet in. Kerri and I call this, “stepping into the dot.”

[to be continued]

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Look Beyond The Word

758. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

According to my dictionary, an entrepreneur is a risk taking businessperson. This is not much of a definition. The word is French in origin and it meant to undertake. It was a verb. To get out of bed and undertake the tasks of the day makes us all entrepreneurs. Especially these days when risk, according to the dictionary, means that there is a chance something might go wrong. I’ve yet to live a day when everything went right. For instance, last night I opened a jar of curry powder with too much enthusiasm and curry exploded everywhere. I think there is a more appropriate definition of an entrepreneur: someone whose not invested in things going right. In fact, entrepreneurs look for things going wrong because that provides the opportunity necessary for new creation. Entrepreneurs see the world beyond right and wrong. They see opportunity. Risk has nothing to do with it.

An artist, as defined by the dictionary, is a creator of art, a performer, a person with skills or a cunning person. The origin of this word is either French or Latin. We are cautioned in the dictionary not to confuse artist with artisan. An artisan is engaged in a craft. An artist is engaged in a fine art though I can’t find any mention of what distinguishes a craft from a fine art. From the definition of artist, the phrase “cunning person” shouted to me so following the word chain I learned that cunning means crafty and deceitful, clever or cute. So, artisans, unlike artists, must not be deceitful, clever or cute though they are, by definition crafty. In the Venn diagram of artist and artisan, craftiness is the crossover. So, to sum up: artists are cute, crafty, clever and deceitful while creating something fine. Artisans are rough, dull and honest while also crafty. Can one be crafty and dull at the same time? I have a more appropriate definition for artist: someone who lives beyond the abstractions of thought. They engage with what is there, not what they think is there. In other words, someone who has made presence a priority in his or her life is an artist. Artists guide their community to presence.

Words like “risk” or “fine” blind us. They distance us from our potential because we think we need to take risks to be entrepreneurial; we think we need to do something fine to be and artist. Artists and entrepreneurs explore. They engage. They discover. They act first and then make meaning of their experiences. They master their “doing” because they are not invested in win/lose games. They step into the unknown without reservation. Artistry, like entrepreneurship, defines a way of being not something achieved.