Thursday, 28 January 2010

Will 2010 Be As You Like It?

‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” says Bill Shakespeare’s character Jacques in As You Like It, Act II Sc vii,

To what story, what climax, what denouement have you renewed your commitment, passion and determination this year?

The evidence is clear that if you set your goal then commit to it by focusing on completing specific actions towards that goal, then you have a very high probability of achieving it. It gets messier if you can’t do it on your own; if you need others to commit and focus on it too.

How can you get those others to want what you want? How can you get them to “buy into” it; to play your game, run your race, act in your theatre; accept your rules and judgement?

Typically you cast yourself as the master puppeteer: as lord of the dance; you pull the strings. A lot depends on your skill and alacrity at manipulating strings: at management.

No wonder then that managers have such a major influence on businesses: by some reports over 70% of employee behaviour is determined by the actions of managers (I wonder who determines managers’ behaviour).

So if your marionettes are not responding as planned, do you become an even better puppeteer: do you contrive with the latest tools, systems and processes to increase control by adding more ‘invisible’ strings?

Or do you seek to breathe life into your marionettes; into their wooden minds, hearts and limbs; risk letting them influence the dance, the narrative, and the score? Do you risk letting them be the stars?

Will they want to stay with your small show? Will they perform like you? Will they covet your role?

Do they understand the play? Does it speak to them? Do they relate emotionally to their roles and to each other. Are the roles shallow, 2 dimensional or are they ‘character’ roles.

Does the play have a universal quality that appeals on multiple levels to different players and its audience? Or is it a cheap circus that abuses its talent?

What are you playing at?


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Poetry at Work.

Last week lone-sailing Seascape, my 12 foot, clinker-style dinghy; hushed breeze rushing, bow splashing and wake boiling, I slipped and sliced, suspended on chrome-smooth sky-tinted surfaces, ruffled, disturbed, even annoyed by mercurially agitated warm humid breezes. Mind in neutral, senses wired for sudden shifts, body and boat commune, response-merged pursuing purpose.

Then suddenly I plunge into turbid work-waters, seeking uncontrived rhyme, rhythm, and reunion. Instead jolted by proudly, profoundly prosaic hard harsh habits, I struggle to rescue the dream from resigned remembrance and to surface, to breathe.

Now thankfully buoyed by miraculously new-found and re-found relationships, carried by the tidal flows that touch and disturb even dammed work-waters, I find poetry resurgent enough for shade and sustenance.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Life and purpose renewed

I just returned from our regular Christmas pilgrimage to the New Zealand bush: dating back to the late 1970s when a group of friends purchased 150 acres (60 ha) of rugged bush country on the Tutaetoko river near Opotiki. We call the place St Jude’s. How we arrived at that name is another story but coincidentally perhaps St Jude is traditionally the patron saint of lost or impossible causes.

In many ways, St Jude’s bush camp is an unlikely cause; a collaboration for recovery: respite, reflection, reconnection, recreation, rejuvenation and inspiration; therapeutic activity, friendship and durable relationship spanning life’s changes; a materially very simple environment cut off by high-ridge, river and rugged terrain from electricity and mobile phone; the moist musk fragrance and entrancing sounds of New Zealand bush unfiltered, unframed, unmitigated; an antidote to the disconnection of contemporary life and work.

The pace is easy but the essence of life and relationship strong and obvious in the activity of provisioning, cooking, hospitality, construction and adventure. Firewood must be collected and cut and fires tended to produce hot water and food. Food safety, fresh water and waste management are everyday issues. Provisioning, cooking and eating are communal in the the high-gabled, open-walled, wharenui style communal shelter: rustic corrugated-iron roof and fireplace and crucially, long table.

The river rules: its course changing with each winter’s rain; its soothing chuckling waters made turbid torrents by summer-storms cutting camp from road and storm winds wreaking havoc amongst poorly pitched tents; overseen by the deep-gullied bush that dispassionately disorients and injures unwary adventurers.

But, in the shelter, on warm breathless nights, open-laughing faces glow by unflickered candle light and the coals of the cooking fire. Beyond, in soft darkness, campfire-lit figures reflect, intimately cocooned by the benign brooding milky-way come down to the ridge-tops.