Reimagine the Shape of Progress

For years I understood that it is only with boundaries that we can build sustainably. In this entertaining and passionate TED talk, Kate Raworth, confirms a lot of my believes about the world economy, and she challenges me to think further.

I love her donut model.

I am touched by her challenge that we at the beginning of the 21 century are the one that has the responsibility to create a future in which everybody can thrive. And she created a beautiful new design category for me: Regenerative and distributive. I am going to play with this category in my next design.

Let me know what you think.

Move your boundaries

“I move boundaries” was the answer I had to give a stranger when he asked me what is a unique attribute I had.

Boundaries are important. Especially personal boundaries. They keep us safe. The keep relationships healthy. They help define us. But they also limit us and hold us back.

The challenge is to know when to keep your boundary in place and when to allow yourself or someone to step over it. Or you could move your boundary. Moving your boundary is something different than crossing it or not keeping it in place. To move your boundary is to expose yourself to an experience you have not have previously.

Stepping over a boundary implies that you can step back. That is to be assertive and keep the status quo. Not having a boundary or not keeping it in place is unhealthy. Moving your boundary is an internal stretch. It asks that you test your assumptions and replace ineffective assumptions with ones that are more in touch with  a new reality. One that includes the experience that you explored.

Kio Stark gives an inspiring talk on talking to strangers. It is good to be friendly, and it’s good to learn when not to be, but none of that means we have to be afraid.

She highlights the difference between perceptions and categories. Categories lead to bias. Perception is the use of  our senses to connect with the individual. When you connect with a stranger in this way, you move your boundary. “So, here it is. When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life and theirs.” Now you have an experience and a story to tell. You have moved your boundary.

How about it? Are you willing to explore? Tell  me how it played out for you.

Still exploring




Dealing with Manipulation

I don’t know about you, but experiences around this issue leave a bad taste in my mouth. So I thought I need to deal with it, as I am not sure I have a satisfying strategy to deal with manipulation and manipulators. Please join me in thinking through this toffee.

To start off, what is manipulation? A definition is: “To change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose.” In a sense we all manipulate. We manipulate our budget to pay all our bills; we manipulate our appointments to fit them into a day. What I am referring to is the interpersonal manipulation.

My current thoughts around this topic start with an understanding of boundaries. My experience is that manipulators do not have or respect boundaries. Not their own or other people’s.

Boundaries are healthy. Because we set boundaries we can build the life we want. Take a brick for example – at the start it is a fluid lump of clay, but it is baked into a solid form. No house can be built with unstable clay, but baked it can stand for years. The simple difference is boundaries have been established.

Not referring to psychopaths, which is a totally different story, but normal manipulators very often do not want to take responsibility for their own life and try to get what they want through other people’s lives and effort. In essence they are too lazy work for what they want. (This is not the same as using others strengths in a team effort).

I have also experienced that manipulators do not have the ability to delay gratification. They want their needs met with the least bit of effort from their side.

The ability to say no to yourself and others closely links with healthy boundaries. The simple ability to say no is the start of delaying gratification. For most of us, to deny yourself immediate gratification in order for a greater future benefit is probably one of the most difficult things to learn. This influences everything, from our eating habits to the way we spend our money and especially in our relationships. It seems manipulators have no desire to learn this lesson.

It reminds me of the two year old maturity that thinks the world exists to gratify their needs. This is acceptable in a two year old, but not in an adult. The truth is, we are part of the world and we need to contribute our uniqueness to create the greater good.

This links very closely to our understanding of power. Manipulators crave power over other people. But they miss the liberating truth that power is no were else but in ourselves. When we seek it from others it turns into might and force. Two inter-human dynamics that often evolve into parasitic systems. This also accurately describes a manipulative relationship.

I know I group manipulators under the tic category (aka parasite). In nature parasites have a useful function. They are supposed to kill the weaker specie (Unfortunately they can also kill the strong). So although I would like to deal with them more efficiently, I also acknowledge that they constantly kill my weaker boundaries and challenge me to exercise my personal power to say no to them. But I suspect there is more to it. What do you think?

To find our own inner power is a wonderful journey on its own. I have touched on it in my blogs “The authority of decisive mistakes”. It might help to also understand that this inner power is not something you must deserve or must find. It is something you must unleash. Your mental map around your own power needs to be created (or recreated) in such a way that your given genius can come to it full right. No one will do it for you. It is your responsibility.

Dealing with manipulators then seems to stands on two very strong pillars.

  • Healthy boundaries and
  • Knowing your own inner power.

The question then is, do you know your inner power and have you set your boundaries and do you keep them?

Useful sites I came upon are:

I hope it helps.

Still exploring


Inverted U

Performing under pressure has become a much needed skill. A skill that some of us have naturally and others need to learn.

Some of us seem to thrive under pressure. We like the adrenaline rush, the challenge of thinking on our feet and delegating the detail. Only to find ourselves crashing against a wall. Not the wall of the project that creates the pressure – which we are handling. The walls we often crash against are the personal, family, relationship walls.

Sound familiar?

There are a few theories that try to explain this interaction between performance and pressure.

The most common one is the Inverted-U Hypothesis. This theory states that performance increases as pressure or the challenge of a situation increases, up to a point. After that specific point, performance decrease as pressure increase. We fade away.

Another theory, the Catastrophic Theory, is similar to the Inverted –U Hypothesis; it only differs in that it states that some people’s performance does not decline gradually but catastrophically falls. They crash and burn.

A third theory that I think is relevant is the optimal zone theory. This simply states that each individual has a zone in which he/she functions optimally. Why these theories?

Simply to share a tool with which you can enhance your performance. Knowing yourself and the level of pressure under which you can function optimally is one of the keys to achieving flow. Being aware of warning signs will help to managing the pressure.

A myth of the self help, motivational world, is that our potential is unlimited. Because our ego wants to feel all-powerful, it easily grabs on to this myth and pushes us past our zone. Lettings us crash and burn or fade away.

The truth is, our potential is limited, but no one has ever truly reached that limit. It is far beyond the quasi-humble belief systems and mind maps we create to keep us in mediocrity. By acknowledging this and by accepting that we actually develop and grow our potential by creating boundaries for our self, we will be able function in flow much easier. Then we allow pressure to extract the gold in us. Then we use pressure as a servant to our own happiness.

Under pressure


Rebelling against the truth

The truth is greater than our experience of it. This insight is essential in our journey to know our truth.

In the proses of seeking truth we naturally draw boundaries around the insights we perceive of our experiences of truth. Through this boundaries we capture those liberating experiences that set us free. These boundaries are normal and natural. They are valuable mind maps  we form to make sense of our world.

What tends to happen is the reluctance to test these boundaries once they have formed. Mostly because perceptions of the truth are inherited. Our parents, our culture and institutions in our society hand us these ready made boundaries around segments  of the truth.

This acceptable up to a point. What usually happens is, we rebel against these hand me downs. Whether it happens in adolescence or in a mid life crisis, we come to a point were we question our given reality.

This rebellion is actually healthy, but is mostly seen as unacceptable. Either by society or by our own inner ethical stance. In my mind this is perceived as unacceptable because we tend to jump to the conclusion that the rebellion is against the sacred truth.

In fact – What is seen as rebelling against the truth, is actually rebelling against the boundary that was set around that piece of the truth that we needed to come this far. I would like to suggest that we see the rebellion as a sign that we have grown past the usefulness of this mind map of the truth. That the truth actually wants to introduce more of itself to us and that it is the truth that initiates this rebellion.

Rebelling against the boundary is our spirit becoming uncomfortable with the space that was allowed by the boundary.

Like a child that has out grown her shoes and need her mother to buy her a new pair. So rather than forcing the spirit into a shoe that is to small for it, go shopping for a new pair.

Embrace the rebellion. Use it to explore the truth in all its beautiful nuances. See, taste and smell every flavor and then choose your new boundary.

Just remember that the truth is greater than our experience of it, so do not set those boundaries to strong. You will be needing a new pair of shoes shortly.

In Rebellion


A Map of the Mind

“The time of great explorers and emperors has passed, but there are still a few precious territories to discover. We can explore our own boundaries and the boundaries of our lives. ” – Garry Kasparov

Most people live in a world given to them. Very few are willing to do the hard work of creating their own world. They find it easier to complain and criticize. This laziness also make them the target of those that know that there is money to make out of lazy people.

I find the laziest thing most people struggle with is the willingness to think.

Our mind is an awesome organ. If you could link up all the blood vessels in you brain in a string, it would circumvent the earth four times. Amazing is it not?

Our brain is a connection making machine. It constantly connects impulses to know information, trying to make sense of what we experience. It builds intricate networks between concepts, memories and expectations. This process can be seen as a map forming in our brain of any given concept. We have maps of everything we know. From maps about religion to maps of how we tie our shoes. Layer upon layer, one brain map on top of another.

The challenge comes when we accept these maps as the only reality we have. The fact is, reality is so much bigger than our experience of it. Even our own reality (the one in your head) is bigger than our experience of it.

For me this opens up a whole new world to explore. Why do I think the way I think? What lies behind this thinking habit? Does this way of thinking lead to what I want? If not, how can I change it.

Like Marco Polo or Livingstone we can start an adventurous exploration into our own mind. The good news is there are guides along the way. Get a good Life Coach, read a book on the subject, start journal-ling. But start to explore your thinking boundaries.

Yes, it is hard work. But nothing worthwhile comes easy. And when you pay for something. even if it is with your own blood, sweat and tears, then the value of that thing has no measurement.

“The secret then is to pursue these challenges instead of avoiding them” – Kasparov

Happy hunting