Learning: Just The Next Right Step

This is a difficult life lesson to learn.  It’s so tempting to keep looking forward and plan and think a few moves deeper, trying to work out what the strategy should be and what other people should do, will do, might do in response to what you’re doing. 

And yet in some (many?) (all?) circumstances all you have to do is what you need to do and you only really need to focus on the next right thing that needs to be done.  You can only deliver the current step after all, but we can only ever live in the present and that doesn’t stop our minds racing off after all sorts.  Just try three minutes meditation and see where your mind goes.

I found myself, and continue to do so, wondering what’s happening to the journals next. Trying to choose the best person to give them to, going over and over  the instructions to think what might happen and even trying to work out what to do if something “goes wrong” – all pointless.

There’s another lesson in here about elaboration, which I’ll write about another time – but simply it’s making up that there must be something else to do, the desire to make something simple complex.  I’ve seen this in other areas but in this project it’s come in the form of questions from participants: “Does it matter if…?” It’s really really hard to accept that the rules you’ve been given are the only rules there are – it’s enormously tempting to add new stuff in (and *whispers* actually that’s creativity in action!).

If you get a journal, try to remember that your job is simply to write in the book and pass it on to someone else who’s closer to the destination and maybe record the fact on twitter or in an e-mail to this blog.  That’s all.  No, really.



Originally posted on Journal Racing

Buckingham Palace Road

I remember very little about this place except that I worked for some professional firm that was providing expert witness testimony to the inquiry into the fire at King's Cross Station (so that would make it the Spring of 1988) and I was there as a photocopier operator.

I hardly saw anyone all day, I was in the basement with a photocopier for company.  The jobs would come down from the office upstairs on a dumb waiter with a covering instruction sheet and be sent back up the same way.

I'm pretty sure it was working here that convinced me to learn to touch type so that I could get more interesting work.Originally posted on I worked here

All part of the story

An important aspect of projects like this is that whatever happens, whether it turns out according to plan or not, it’s all part of the story.  Things don’t “go wrong” they just go differently to how we expected.

So today I had a chat with Nick and he told me that he’s now got theatre work until June.  Which is fantastic! Not only that but it sounds like some really interesting theatre.  However, it does mean that things will have to work differently than we’d thought and so we’ll have to see how it turns out.

Our intention had been for Nick to start training and for me to get started on collecting material properly in April or May after I get back from a trip across the USA.  I will still do this, but it’ll have to be something else.  And what that something else will be will depend on where we are at that time.  All part of the story…

Originally posted on In the Blue Corner

Learning: Prototyping

I’m thinking about how I do what I do and was going to launch into what I’m already learning from this project, but then realised that there’s something that should come first, because it’s the reason I’m doing it this way in the first place.

I try to work on a cycle of “Have an idea – try it out – see what happens – see what ideas it evokes – try one of them out”… etc  If I’m lucky, along the way I will get to make something useful that people want to take part in, or pay for. 

What I used to do, when I worked in a big organisation was have an idea and then say to people around me “Have a think about this and tell me if it will work” and if enough people thought it would work we’d do it.  Of course there were lots of other people having ideas and asking me whether I thought they would work too.  The result of that was that we did relatively little except think and have meetings about whether things might work.

There are two main reasons why I can’t work like that any more.  One is that I don’t sit in a big organisation with lots of people paid to do thinking.  The other is that I just don’t believe that thinking that much before you do something will tell you as much as just doing something.

That’s why I treat everything as a prototype for something else. 

We’re often told that we have to have a vision and to hold onto the delivery of that vision no matter what.  I see it a little differently. 

The trap I try to avoid is thinking that the something else you’re working towards is more important than the thing you’re doing right now.

Tuttle started as a prototype for a social coworking space.  It turned out that it worked very well as a meetup in it’s own right and branched out into our consulting work, my own social art practice and arguably paved the way for C4CC.

So when I started thinking about this year’s American trip and got the idea from Al to also have journals travelling the country alongside me, I had a choice between thinking really hard about how to do that and just trying it out here beforehand to see what I learned.  And now I feel like I’m learning lots, more quickly than expected, that I’d otherwise have had to wait for until I was on the road myself.

What’s the alternative?  I could have written the instructions and then run a workshop (subject to people turning up) to simulate the exercise and run through what people thought might come up.  But how long would it take to set that up? And would the thinking really improve the experience?  Or is the point of the exercise the things that we learn along the way?

Originally posted on Journal Racing