Perfect or imperfect?

Let me share a story with you

Allow me to start the conversation through a story especially as daughter loves stories:

A long time ago in India, a group of disciples (monks) were watching their master make chapatis.     The master would take a small portion of dough and roll it out using a rolling pin. Then he would place it on a hot griddle (pan) and proceed to cook both sides of the chapati. As it cooked he would smile and say, “Perfect.”

The disciples were puzzled.  Each of the chapatis was a different shape, some of them were burnt around the edges, and none were perfectly round.  Finally, one of the disciples said, “Master, how can these chapatis be perfect? Chapatis are supposed to be round, and they are not supposed to be burned!”

The master took the last chapati of the griddle and handed it to the young disciple.  The chapati was more oval than round, and it was burned around the edges. “Perfect,” he repeated.

Is the world perfect or imperfect?

It occurs to me that you and I hold an idealised picture of how things are supposed to be.  In our everyday lives, you and I constantly attempt to fix reality.  We want it to fit into our concept of “perfection”.  How does this leave us?  If you are like me then it tends to leave you disappointed, frustrated, annoyed , ungrateful, joyless and exhausted.

Is it possible that the world is neither perfect nor imperfect?  Is it possible that the world simply is and as such it is beyond any labels we choose to apply to it – including the label “it”?

It occurs to me that the world, the universe, works the way that it works.  It unfolds as it unfolds. It dances to the tune that it dances to.  It occurs to me that the world is indifferent to our ideals, conceptions, and preferences as regards what should be and what should not be.  Just consider the weather!

Which begs the question, “Which stand is more powerful: the world is perfect just as it is and as it is not, or that the world is imperfect?” That is to say, is the stand of the master more powerful than the disciples or vice versa?

It occurs to me that, perhaps, the more profound question is this one, “What would be our experience of living if we dropped all labels and simply worked with reality just as it is and just as it is not?” Is it possible that our experience of living would be transformed?

The Art of Asking: asking in a way that creates a wonderful world

When you and I are first given our part on the stage of life, life shows up as wondrous.  We live in possibility. More accurately, we are infinite possibility.  Nothing occurs as unreasonable, unrealistic, naive, silly.  We are not present to criticism. Nor have we suffering rejection. Slowly and surely possibility is driven out of us and its place is taken up with right/wrong, good/wrong, appropriate/not appropriate, success/failure. And our house of being is filled with shame, guilt, duty, obligation..

Today, I’d like to get each and every one of us present to possibility once more.  What is possible in the music business if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and simply ask?  That is the answer that Amanda Palmer shares in this fabulous TED talk. I challenge you not to be touched-moved-inspired-uplifted.

This talk gets me present to that which is much neglected: asking/receiving can be a source of contribution when our asking shows up as giving.  The kind of giving that generates possibility – a possibility that enables connection and mutual contribution – and enables a transformation in our experience of living.

Is it possible that the defining act of leadership is generating possibilities that call to our fellow human beings, engender connection, and create an opening for people to join together and co-create a world that works for us all, none excluded?

Am I willing, are you willing, to put in that which is required to play the game of possibility, transformation & leadership?  What am I pointing at?  The courage to connect with our deepest call, the courage to respond to this call, the courage to be vulnerable – to share that which calls us and ask for our fellow human beings to contribute.

Put differently, are you and I willing to generate the courage to ‘play BIG’ and give up ‘playing small’? To choose to be ‘extraordinary’ and risk criticism, even abuse, rather than stay comfortable (and dead) in the ordinary?

The Bus Driver’s Gift

Our default way of being-in-the-world is to deny our freedom. Which freedom?  The freedom to choose.  Whilst I can talk about this philosophically, I prefer to point this out using a story.

The Bus Driver’s Gift

One afternoon a bus driver was taking 40 children home from school. As the bus made its way down a steep grade, the brakes failed. The driver was unable to steer the bus to the left because of a high embankment or to the right because of a steep cliff.

As the bus hurtled down the hill, the driver recalled that there was a narrow gate at the bottom which led into a field. He decided to try to steer the bus through the gate and into the field, figuring it would eventually come to a safe stop.  He hoped that no cars or other obstacles would get in his way before he got to the gate.

When the bus reached the bottom of the hill, the driver saw the gate approaching fast. But to his horror, he noticed a small child sitting on the gate, waiving at the bus.

It was too late to change plans now. If the driver tried to avoid the gate, 40 children would die. He cried out in anguish as the bus slammed directly into the game. The innocent child died instantly in the collision, but that bus and all of its passengers were saved.

Emergency vehicles were the first to arrive on the scene, followed shortly by relieved parents and grandparents. Many of them wanted to show their appreciation and gratitude to the driver who had kept the bus under control long enough to save their children. But the driver was nowhere to be found. They asked the police officer where he had gone.

“They’ve taken him to the hospital,” the officer said. “He’s suffering from severe shock.”

“Well that’s understandable, ” they replied.

“No, you don’t understand, ” said the officer. “You see, that little boy on the fence was his own son.”

To be human is to be be free, condemned to choose

We play little, we find excuses, we pretend that we are merely ‘victims’ or ‘passengers’ in the game of life. What this story does is to remind us of a truth that we’d rather not see nor face up to. Why?

Because with this truth, comes responsibility: responsibility for the way our life is, responsibility for the way our community is, responsibility for the way our organisations are, responsibility with the way life is.

Stuff happens, that is simply the way the universe works.  Sometimes, even often, we don’t get to choose what happens.  And always we get to choose how we will respond to that which the universe puts our way.  This is the essential truth that this story brings alive for me.