Pushed to the edge

My old mentor would talk a lot about desire. He would say, you only fully pursue what you really desire.

What he was hinting at was that what you do is the signal that you have chosen that action, as a priority over everything else – even if it’s not a conscious choice, it’s a signal to the world – this is my highest priority, a reflection of my desire, at this time. This creates a feedback loop, you then react to what emerges from your choices.

It strikes me that, perhaps we are stuck in the wrong feedback loop.. one of broken systems and equally broken reactions.

I read an article by Steven Sinofsky yesterday about the future of work. ➡️ You can read it here

He was walking through some of the changes and actions that need to be considered around operating a company post pandemic. A lot has changed, not just in the practical realm but also in the psychological.

There was one part of it though that really got my attention. He wrote:

“The inability to sit in a room for hours on end and “hash out” a strategy while still needing to execute has shown that in fact strategy, for lack of a better word, can arise absent any strong centralized approach. Company after company just figured out what to do and delivered. Line people created new ways to work with customers. Video, email, messaging solutions to everything just appeared. Whole new offerings and approaches materialized and were lauded by executives wondering how this happened. Necessity has proven this can work.”

Steven Sinofsky – Creating the Future of Work

I must have been contemplating this in my sleep as I woke up thinking about how, when we were all pushed into a corner, with no other option than to respond with building something new to meet the needs of the situation, we just do it.

In the pandemic, It didn’t matter what kind of company it was, or how they may have previously approached creating new things or solving problems. What needed to happen, just happened, because there was no other choice but to act.

One of the interesting outcomes from COVID is that many companies, even ones that you may have imagined would be economically crushed by the situation, responded, and came out even more resilient that before.

I recall having a conversation with the owners of a small wine and tapas bar who had turned their main social space into a production line of “pandemic survival kits” – which of course contained wine & tapas (essentials). Their business revenue was up 50% from three months before, when they were open.

They were up against a wall, and they responded.  

The same story came from my local produce and pantry store – they doubled their customer base during the pandemic by offering delivery, which they kept after things opened up again. Now they have a business that is double the size of what it was pre-pandemic. I asked them why there didn’t offer delivery beforehand, and they said – we needed to be forced to figure it out to make doing it a priority above managing all things business as usual.

They needed to be forced to make the change that doubled their business. I’m sure that there are countless stories like this in big and small organisations alike.

There was also the opposite side of this. Business and lives significantly adversely impacted by COVID because the systems and governments that are set up and in existence (including being funded by citizen taxes) failed to co-ordinate and respond. When pushed against a wall, they broke.

Why is it, when it comes to transformation, in business or in life, do we need wait until things break, to make the choice we know is best?

If you want to create a life, you must pay attention to your desires. Yet, why is it that we need to be pushed into a corner to act on the things that are truly going to create growth.

Building on the edge.

Statements like “it’s time to build” are not as simple as they sound.

We all know it’s time to build. You simply can’t be alive and plugged into the internet in the past two years and not have noticed the absolute failure of the systems and organisations around us all.

No part of the world was spared the demonstration of just how broken things are. Everyone knows, we need better ways. Better healthcare systems, better community systems, better ways to work, better technology, to be better at listening, acting, and collaborating.

Yet, someone has to actually say – “it’s time to build”, and whole chunks of time need to pass, and still for so many, this isn’t enough reason to top the list of desires and act. This isn’t a judgement, but it is a fair observation.

Think about this on a personal level. How many times have you allowed situations which you knew would be detrimental to your emotional stability, continue until the point that something breaks?

Why do we need wait until things break, to act?

This is the behaviour that’s playing out when you see a mass sell off when the markets move. It reflects a group of people who did not fully consider and make active decisions around how much risk they can tolerance when they bought into their positions.

Do we need to wait until the coral dies, before we invest ocean conservation? Do we need to be censored before we choose decentralised technology?

Do we need to see iphone videos of people dying on the street before we think there is a reason to act on the issue of excessive force with police?

Do we need to wait for the eight women to say she was assaulted before we believe the first one?

Do we need to wait until we break to reach a break though?

Does necessity need to be the mother of invention, or can we make creativity the mother? Don’t we get to choose this?

A call to action.

So here we are. Post pandemic.

We all see how the systems failed. We can’t unknow it, but we can choose to ignore it.  

Right now, we are at time in history where there is such an abundance of opportunity to join and be part of the building of new systems. It doesn’t matter your interests or your skills, there is opportunity for everyone.

Finance? Cheek out DeFi. Medicine? Biotech is booming. Consumer goods? There is a new universe of goods being built in the metaverse. Supply chain? Pick any industry they need you. Environment? Insert one of 20 options here. Social & Equality? Have you investigated joining a DAO?  

+ + + the list is long.

We all have a choice to make.

Do we want to wait until everything falls apart, until our personal and professional selves are up against a wall? Or do we want to do something different? To use this unveiling and huge inbound feedback as a call to action.

Let’s break down “It’s time to build” to its most simple form. What does it take to build anything?  

To build anything, starts with action. One single action, followed by another, and another, until there is momentum.

So here is my call to action. Do one thing.

Just one action, that addresses what you know to be broken.

Maybe it’s changing your risk position, maybe it’s helping your neighbour setup their Metamask so they can participate in a new marketplace, air dropping an NFT to someone new to crypto, speaking up about something uncomfortable, walking away from what isn’t working. Just do one thing.

Then watch what emerges and do another.

A note about the art:

Wassily Kandinsky: Yellow, Red, Blue (1925) – I love how Kandinsky spoke about the importance of authenticity in art. This painting – with all the feelings of life – captured in yellow, red & blue illustrates how the profound and the simple intersect and create something new and beautiful.