Playing BIG Involves Exercising Wo/man’s Original Virtue


It occurs to me that showing up and operating from a context of possibility requires you/i to exercise our original virtue.

I remember that when I chose not to have an arranged marriage, and did not permit my parents to force my younger sister into such a marriage, I exercised this virtue. I remember that when I made friends with folks from other faiths (than Islam) I exercised this virtue. I remember that when I told the CEO (in the presence of the European management team) that I was not willing to “lie-cheat-steal” I exercised this virtue.

What is this virtue?  Let’s listen to long dead Chinese poet:

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is though disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”

– Qu Yhan

Please note that there are many ways of exercising this original virtue. One can do so quietly or loudly. One can do violently or non-violently. One can do so impetuously or in a calm-considered-committed manner.  Irrespective, to travel the road less travelled almost always requires disobedience. I am clear that playing BIG involves travelling the road not yet travelled. And that always requires disobedience: to the prevailing assumptions, beliefs, conventions, ideas, practices….

All life is an experiment: it always turns out the way it turns out


Right now I am confronted with choice and the choice concerns work.  It is not an easy choice.  Why?  I am confronted with what is so: to live is always to live at risk.  And the machinery that goes with being human goes all out to eliminate risk.  It wants to live forever, safely.

Getting past that, I find another challenge confronts me.  To go forward as a single person – as opposed to a team – I must focus.  What is it that I can do well by myself which creates value for my fellow human beings and will enable me to earn a living?  That means giving stuff up.  And what I notice is that the human machinery that runs me does not like that one little bit.  It wants to be able to do this and that as it enjoys doing lots of things. Put differently, it does not want to sacrifice: it wants to keep all options open, to have its fingers in all the pies.

Yet, as a strategist I know that I must focus. And to focus, I must choose. And to choose is to choose one possibility and thus simultaneously given up the other possibilities that are on the table.

In the course of my struggle, I came across this quote wish has given me a helping hand.  And I wish to share it with you.

12080“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” 

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The difference between children and adults


It has snowed heavily and brought many parts of the UK to a standstill.  And it has been interesting to watch how different people have reacted differently to the snow.

Clea, 10 years old, got all dressed up in her ski clothes, searched out her friends who live next door and got busy playing in the snow.  I saw her embracing the snow literally: she was rolling around in the snow and scooping it up.  To her snow occurred as an opportunity to be with friends and play: a gift, an adventure!

My wife, Aldine, is an optimist.  So it was no surprise that even when there was a severe weather she got herself and the children in the car on Saturday morning and drove up to get to her friend Analia’s home.  She did not make it there yet she can hold up her head high.  In the end she is the one that chose not to drive at 25mph and thus face a six-hour journey.

I, being a pragmatic fellow, decided that the snow and cold was a great opportunity to do all the stuff that I had put off – like the accounts and the tax returns.  And to pick up and read a book on swarm behaviour – something that I find interesting.  My approach is best described as: why take the risk when I do not have to take the ris.  Has that been the stance that I have taken in life?  Choosing to be safe, to be comfortable?  In some areas, yes.

Looking more broadly, I notice that adult conversation (especially the media) has been around control.  The snow has disrupted the bubble of control that we take for granted and the adults have not liked that one little bit.  So the conversation has been full of complaint – primarily about those that govern us and their inability to control the world, to bend it to our needs.

Interestingly there has been more indignation and complaint around the country coming to a standstill then there has been about the banks bringing the country to its knees.  There is has been more complaint about being stuck, not being able to get out, to go on holiday then there has been about government policy that has resulted in tens of thousands of people being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It seems that the wonder of children is that they embrace the new, the unknown, and dance with life.  This contrasts sharply with adults who like to stick to the known – a world that runs smoothly, like clockwork, and renders no surprises.  Is it any wonder that so many of us adults are so bored?