Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Curse of (in)Sight!!!

In General Mish-Mash on May 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

“I see!” said the blind man. But he could not see at all, he merely understood!

Earlier this month I visited the MONA (Museum of Old & New Art) in Hobart. An amazing venue!!!

It is owned, – lock, stock, & barrel – by David Walsh. His collection is extraordinary but perhaps not as extraordinary as the man himself.

Subversive ... David Walsh outside his $150 million Museum of Old and New Art.

David Walsh – F**k the Art, Let’s Rock n Roll

In one interview David Walsh identified with the angst faced by the character of Salieri in the Peter Shaffer play, Amadeus, also made into a  film directed by Milos Forman – with F. Murray Abraham playing Salieri (and winning an Oscar for his performance).

Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) transcribing Mozart's Requiem

Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) transcribing Mozart’s Requiem

Central to the film is “Salieri’s Curse” – the curse for Salieri is having the gift of understanding the supreme beauty of his art (music), yet being denied the talent to create anything that approaches the beauty he sees/hears/understands. And then being witness to the celestial talents of his young contemporary, Mozart, is a torturous punishment. (You should note that this characteristic of Salieri is fictional – created by Shaffer).

Anyway, the issues faced by Salieri in this play (and film), resonate with David Walsh (according to the interview). This curse seems to lie in a space that hosts a shadow. The space between understanding and talent, the idea and the reality, the conception and the creation  … (forgive me TSE – ref  Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Men.)

And within that space and from that shadow emerges the need to destroy the very beauty he covets – at least that is the result in case of the (fictional) Salieri.

David Walsh cultivates a far more generous and constructive outcome from the shadow. He has given a gift to the world and, in doing so,  releases his own artistry in the shape of his amazing MONA and the collection it houses.

Opportunities or Obstacles

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Today I was happily (?) strolling down George St, Sydney and I was accosted. Accosted by words screaming at me … up to 85% off. Generally this sort of sign has no effect on me – except when behind the screaming words is either a bookshop or a cd/dvd outlet.

This time it was Dymocks! Not my fav bookshop in Sydney but the chances were I might be able to find something of interest on sale.

I managed to walk out with 3 new volumes to help squeeze me out of my already confined work space at home. 3 new volumes to render the inevitable questions about book collection.

Why? Why do it? Why buy more books? You haven’t read all the books you have, you never will!!!

Fortunately, I have gleaned a new answer to this – for which I have to thank Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  His book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is amongst the partially read volumes of my library.

Click the swan to find out a bit more of Taleb's Black Swan theory

Part One of Taleb’s book has the heading Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary, or How We Seek Validation.

Taleb’s assertion is that Eco’s very large personal library (some 30,000 volumes) is not an “ego boosting appendage but a research tool”.

The unread books are hosts to the surprise of what we don’t know, the potential subversives to what we think we know, and the positively confrontational for those things we know that we know (but we are wrong!!).

The unread books form the antilibrary. It is has far greater value and opportunity than the library (the books that have been consumed). And as I get older and wiser – the antilibrary simply grows in size, in stature, and in value. The one thing about which I can have certainty about is the knowledge that within the antilibrary is the antidote to any arrogance I may hold about what I “know with certainty”.

So, today I have added 3 volumes to my antilibrary and each of them has the potential to completely upset and revolutionise my current outlook. What a magnificent purchase – especially at the markdown price!!  (For the record: I spent $AU20 marked down from $AU155.)

Here are the books I bought:

Told: The Art of Story by Simon Aboud

Consumer Behaviour by Haydn Noel

Tommy’s War: The Diaries of a Wartime Nobody by Thomas Livingstone

And look at the prices of these on Amazon, makes me realise that:

– books are expensive in Australia!

– I am not so good at finding bargains!

Building Social Business

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm

This article was published in the May 2011 edition of club life: , the monthly magazine produced by ClubsNSW.

The article delves into the increasing levels of scepticism about NSW Registered Clubs. There is a lesson for all companies in this – the lesson is about ensuring corporate behaviour is congruent to the expressed values & purpose of the corporation. The body language of an organisation is the tell-tale sign for the consumer.

Bulding Social Businesses

Wond’rin if we’ve changed at all …

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Look at this excerpt from a 1978 interview with Bob Dylan while he was in Australia.

Rock Express: What do you think characterises the Australian that you know?

Bob Dylan: Well, in Brisbane, I noticed that everybody has a great ability to laugh.

RE: What about elsewhere?

BD: Elsewhere I find it … it’s very …[pause] … I don’t think it is a place for explorers.

RE: You mean you don’t consider it a land for explorers because there isn’t much to discover?

BD: No, I find you have to have permission for everything.

RE: Creatively?

BD: No, just a general feeling in the air, I can’t explain it. It’s like a feeling when all the windows are closed and you can’t open them.

A pretty astute observation about Australia circa 1978, don’t you think? But what about now? Have we changed or are we still hampered by a need for compliance and permission?

Linchpin or Lynchmob

In Mish-Mash of Books on May 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I am nearing the end of Seth Godin‘s book Linchpin.

 Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Godin provides a very interesting slant on some big issues – leadership, art, … even the structure of our brain. In fact he blames the deepest and most primitive part of our brain – our lizard brain – for our failures in creativity and leadership. Of course, schools also get a bit of a shellacking for their role in helping the “lizard” train conformity and compliance to the “human”.

An interesting, instructive, and entertaining take on a human characteristic that continues to trip us up. The story here connects well with the writings of Russ Harris (The Confidence Gap; The Happiness Trap) on the level of personal development.

The Confidence Gap: From Fear to Freedom

It also fits nicely into the business framework painted by John Vamos. In his publication, Elephants and the Business Laws of Nature, Vamos replaces Godin’s “lizard brain” with an an elephant that represents the deep workings of our brain. Vamos’ book that instructs the reader on how to systemise business behaviour to counter the effects of an uncontrollable, rogue subconscious (The Elephant).

Each of these writers places a high level of importance -maybe even an imperative – on acceptance and acknowledgement of the outpourings of our “lizard”. Being mindful of the lizard;s activity then allows us to move on, do what needs to be done to create art; give gifts; take risks; lead; earn confidence; or manage a business.

Not fighting the lizard, not trying to control the elephant, will help unravel the mish-mash … or at least enable you to work amidst the mish-mash.


In General Mish-Mash on May 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Over the last few months – maybe even years – I have tried to link a heap of concepts & theories. Concepts like leadership, authenticity, art, value, humanity, complexity, creativity, & and a whole bundle more. Now, having a list of concepts that link to each other creates a large number of combinations and permutations to consider – if you have 10 principles then there are 2^10 = 1024 ways of creating a group of these principles. Once the group has been identified, there are another multitude of ways you can connect and order them.

It all ends up in a mish-mash. Hence the title for this blog.

Now, last week I attended the Asia Pacific regional conference of The Leadership Circle.

For me it started to unravel the mish-mash … I hope this blog will help me to progressively untangle my world.

The founder of The Leadership Circle (TLC) is Bob Anderson. He was also the keynote speaker for the conference. A key point in his address made reference to what I have, for a long time, called Paradox Problems – the problems we face that cause real dilemmas because they are problems, as he put it, that “can’t be solved but must be solved!”.

I think his tag for these sorts of problems is much better than mine. He calls them Adaptive Challenges. A more constructive nomenclature because this name provides a possibility of, and a path to, solution. Adaptation, creating a new consciousness, is where the possibilities reside. Indeed his suggestion is that the only way to meet these challenges is by changing consciousness, creating a new operating system.

I extracted two wonderful quotes from this section of Bob’s talk:

Firstly from Albert Einstein: We can’t solve the problems we face by using the same thinking that created them.”

Secondly from Bob (I think): An organisation cannot perform at a higher level than the level of consciousness of the leadership.