Archive for the ‘quote’ Category

Bankruptcy of Purse of Bankruptcy of Life?

January 7, 2009

 

SterlingHayden-Wanderer During some of my reading over the holiday I ran across the following quote of actor, author and fellow sailor, Sterling Hayden from his autobiography Wanderer.  It really resonated and stuck with me.  Partly because I am a “wanderer of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in” myself, and partly because it matched many of my sentiments as I reflected upon 2008.  I was struck by how especially relevant these observations are right now so I wanted to share them with you.

 

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea-"cruising," it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

"I’ve always wanted to sail the South Seas, but I can’t afford it." What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the routine of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

                                              Sterling Hayden  1916-1986

One of the many benefits of being a snowflake is that if you truly practice being a unique individual I think you will get closer and closer to finding out what you really need and much more clearly seeing the “idiocy of the charade” that comes from conforming, fitting in, being “average” and like the rest. All very unsnowflake like!

So as we wander into 2009 it is my fondest hope that we all work harder and succeed at bringing out the unique snowflake in all of us and by so doing, make the world a much richer world for all of us to live in.

Advertisements

Carlos is a Great Snowflake

December 12, 2008

Been meaning to post this since I first heard it a few months ago on an XM (satellite radio) “Artist Confidential” interview with Carlos Santana.  I’ve long been an admirer of the man, not just the musician, and two things he said stood out to me in the interview:

“Rather than going for the light at the end of the tunnel, BE the light in the tunnel”

and when asked about being a famous personality he responded:

“Its more fun to be a person than a personality”

Now THAT is my kind of snowflake!

Good Luck Trying to Copy a Snowflake!

December 5, 2008

In a previous posting I had mentioned a favorite quote from Jerry Garcia that;

“You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”

I brought this up in a recent conversation with a business colleague in a discussion about his concerns that others were trying to compete or eliminate him by copying what he was doing.  This lead to a long conversation about how to not only be competitive but also to be true to yourself and a great frustration to those who may want to copy your work.  He said he found it to be extremely valuable and clarifying for him and so I thought I’d share the basic idea with you here.

The great thing about using the Snowflake Effect to guide your work is that you focus on being just what Jerry was referring to, the only one who does what you do.  This is NOT about being different for the sake of being different, this is about being true to yourself, your calling, your passion.  If you do that, you’ll be unique by design and essentially impossible to copy because your pursuit of your passion and getting to “just right” is a constantly evolving and changing process.

Something I’ve learned in practicing this for most of my life is that to you it all seems like a continuum and in that context it seems “the same” and there is not much change in that you are still following the same dreams, visions and values you always have.  However to everyone else, you will often be seen as constantly changing because you are trying many different things and different paths towards that end state you have in mind. 

In my past work on what I called “perfecting the irrelevant” I noted how it seems to be very common for people, organizations and business to confuse their actions, that which they do, with their value proposition, the true and lasting value of your actions.  I often cite examples such the case of ice delivery companies, none of which made it into the refrigeration business because they thought they were in the ice delivery business (what they actually did, their actions) when in fact they were in the “keeping things cold” or food preservation business. (their value proposition)  The trick is to have clarity and understanding of what your true value proposition is, as a person, and organization, or business and then be as innovative and creative as possible in ways to deliver on that value proposition.  Done successfully you are simultaneously very focused yet to most others you seem to be constantly changing and thus very difficult to copy.

Most recently Erik Duval, my favorite snowflake of all, has experienced an intriguing new form of “flattery” where someone has been copying his blog postings by literally cut and pasting them with no reference to their original source and thus appearing to be the content of this other blogger.  Unfortunately not a rare occurrence these days and very easy to do.  However I think we are now in an era where there is an inverse correlation of ease of copying with value.  In Erik’s case, ALL this other blogger is able to do is copy some of Erik’s content.  He certainly can’t copy Erik!  Erik is a snowflake and just about everything he does is similarly unique and different, yet very focused on a consistent vision and value proposition of (my interpretation only) assisting the world to be a better place through faster, better, deeper, learning. 

Good luck trying to copy that!  You might just as well try to copy an actual snowflake.

How Far Can We Go?

October 28, 2008

Had a fantastic time with Kevin Kelly today here at the Learning 2008 event when I was privileged to be his “escort” and host.  Had a chance for some very stimulating discussion with him as well as the chance to listen to him on stage as well as in a one hour Q&A session afterwards.  In the next few days I’ll post a number of other topics and observations that emerged from these various discussions and interactions .

for now the one I’ll just post the short question he posed which was “How far can we go with linking and assembling small pieces together? “ and his own answer which was “We don’t know” 

This was in reference to the continuous ramp up of piecing small things together to make larger yet single functioning things and systems.  We had a great discussion on our mutual view of the power of mashups and the expansion of this term to be a much larger conceptual model.  Wikipedia was used as an example and covered in some depth as we also had the benefit of having Sue Gardner from Wikipedia with us.  However Kevin shares a fascination with mechanical things and tools and how these too have more and more examples of being mashups.  His point was that we continue to find that these can be larger and larger and more and more functional end results that come about largely on their own, quite unexpectedly and we really don’t know what the upper limit is to the pattern.  Kevin noted how this is very similar way that living organisms evolve to larger and larger more complex species.

My favorite comment though was his observation that we are witnessing more and more examples of things which are as he put it:

Impossible in theory and possible in practice.

Sure matches with my experience and our need to focus on increasing our awareness of the art of the possible.  Stay tuned, more to follow.

Which is Stronger: Urge to Conform or Urge to be a Snowflake?

October 23, 2008

Gregory Berns has a new book out from Harvard Business Press called “Iconclast: A neurosurgeon reveals how to think differently" and the abstract reads:

“No organization can survive without iconoclasts — innovators who single-handedly upturn conventional wisdom and manage to achieve what so many others deem impossible. Though indispensable, true iconoclasts are few and far between. In Iconoclast, neuroscientist Gregory Berns explains why. He explores the constraints the human brain places on innovative thinking, including fear of failure, the urge to conform, and the tendency to interpret sensory information in familiar ways. Through vivid accounts of successful innovators ranging from glass artist Dale Chihuly to physicist Richard Feynman to country/rock trio the Dixie Chicks, Berns reveals the inner workings of the iconoclast’s mind with remarkable clarity. “

So this has me pondering the question I put in the title, is our urge to blend in, be “normal”, conform, etc. stronger than our urge to be different, unique and snowflakes?  For me I’ve always felt that being called “normal” is about the biggest insult I can imagine.  Fortunately for me I’ve never been so insulted! <g>

Worthy of more pondering and some good fodder for this week’s TWIST (This Week in Snowflake Talk) with Erik and I perhaps?

Which one wins the tug of war with you more often:  the urge to conform or to be a Snowflake?

Worth Your While

As I was pondering this I came across this recent blog post on Brain Based Biz called Your Brain’s Lazy – Jolt It! by Robyn McMaster.  She also references Berns’ Iconoclast book and wanted to pass it on to you as being well worth your time to read.  Robyn notes about Iconoclast:

“Good news is that you too, have potential to be an inventor! "In order to think creatively," according to Gregory Berns, who recently published, Iconoclast, "you must develop new neural pathways and break out of the cycle of experience-dependent categorization." He adds, you can jolt your brain to energize new feats by surprising it with new information or an unfamiliar environment.”

Garcia on uniqueness

October 7, 2008

JerryGarcia Don’t remember where I first heard him say it but this quote from Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead fame has always stuck with me:

“You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”

Jerry and the Grateful Dead were snowflake exemplars to be sure.