Words on White
Thoughts written across blank pages. Meaningful at first yet now empty of meaning. They start as a thought stream, slowly re-forming into something with which to buy bread, wine, tomatoes. Slowly making meaning not only to me but to those with whom I will work.
This seemed both important and useful at the time, yet I know they are both important and important, use less and useful. A necessary, or so I think, step on the journey to a new path. A path not just me, but for what I hope to help others to discover. Sometimes we are both willing and happy to just wander, yet I find so often others (and that includes parts of me) seek help or permission or a route map or even the illusion of safety. For that is what it is – it is all an illusion, a carefully crafted one designed to keep us safe, an illusion ultimately of our own making yet so richly informed, likely even guided, by others. The Bible, the Torah, the Tao – all I guides yet only guides, for ultimately we must all find our own path to righteousness, enlightenment, that new job, whatever…
The words call out to me. They no longer capture me. Sometimes they shine a light in the darkness, sometimes they block out the very light I am seeking.
They are only words.
This is only a book.
Nothing is real.
For some time now I have talked to myself about writing a manifesto for the work I do. This morning’s prompt was “What do I really want or need to write about?” Perhaps the manifesto is forming already.
A Manifesto of Possibilities – Set your people free
The answers are out there, the people need to be free. One would think that organisations are there solely for the benefit of some ethereal entity ‘the company’, but the company is there for the benefit of its many stakeholders and without the engagement of those stakeholders it can and will only survive in the short-term.
Mindless, thinking-less, managers believe that if they only set SMART stretch targets that all will be well, without really understanding the individual motivations of the people who work for them but should be working with them. Yes, money does matter in a way, but only in the societal ecosystem we have allowed to be created for ourselves; how much more inspiring is the possibility of an autonomous response to great leadership challenge. “Set your people free” applies not only in its original context but also to those within organisations. Allow them to master their science, there art, their whatever… and in the process they will develop beautiful systems capable of spectacular outputs. We only need management, especially old-style Plan/Organise/Control management, when we feel the need to control other people. Well, I ask, do you Mr Manager want to be controlled or would you rather develop your practice in pursuit of some greater good? Inspired by Bill Clinton “It’s the people stupid, not the stupid people”.
So set your people free – ask a good question, and answer is out there somewhere, let us go and find it. The search is not aided by plans and timescales but by the passionate search of somebody doing what they can, where they can, when they.
Now I am no fan of bloody revolutions – their history too often leave rivers of blood, carnage of bodies and the survivors disenfranchised only in a different way to that for which their brothers, sisters, parents, lovers and friends have been mowed down on the liberation fields.
Yet sitting in this currently drab concourse outside the Hotel De Ville, a concourse drab only because of the recent rain and unseasonal closing of the sun hardened locals both French and English, and whose magnificence will shortly blossom as the spring sun returns to warm and enlighten the creamy yellow stonework, I am reminded of the success of the French Revolution. If nothing else it forced the chefs onto the streets and kickstarted the restaurant trade so delivered of the gastronauts. But more, the power remains with both people and the politicians. The lowliest commune has its Mairie, elected in cases by only large handfuls of locals keen to ensure that their voices are heard and they get more than their fair share of the Euros coursing through the corridors of Paris. The farmers, perhaps still the peasant class and proud of it, exercise their power to close the local supermarché, the shoppers patiently waiting to be allowed into the Glass Palace this is a harbinger of mortality to the way of life lived for so long.
Liberté – not to be controlled
Fraternité – all in this together
Égalité – we are all humans
I don’t know if it is worth fighting for, is anything, but it is certainly worth having.
We were looking for a prompt, I opened the Tao and read this piece on Multitude, leading to this possible second part of my manifesto.
Leading by following
The leader knows when to emerge from the pack. Be it wolves who, trotting along aimlessly, suddenly find a prey and must (self-) organise for attack; or perhaps the cranes croakingly winging their way like serried arrows across the southern sky needing a new leader every few minutes; or the partygoers somehow deciding when to move on and which club pub or club to go to next.
There are no rules for this, except perhaps the one “Make your suggestion and see what happens”. Often times the suggestion will be rejected or ignored, it is not you who will be set aside, just an idea and ideas are plentiful, there is a multitude in everyone’s head. We follow the will of the crowd, yes we can do also influence and guide that will. Ignore judgement as that is as someone else’s baggage and you have enough of your own without accumulating yet more from them. The time to lead is felt not thought – feeling leads (to) thinking. One minute a follower, sensing the needs of the pack, the next a leader showing the way bringing your own particular skills to the situation.