We live in rather interesting, intriguing, complex, uncertain and wonderful times. We surely do. We live in times of extreme negatives juxtaposing themselves with extreme positives. We live in times where the Social Web has become that amplifier of (global / local) events, of our passions, of our emotions, of an unnerving polarisation of opinions and beliefs, where tolerance, compassion, empathy and caring, some times, all shine for their absence. Just like in the real world. Where did we leave all of those characteristics behind in our human nature? Have we forgotten what makes us all, human beings, unique in this world, where we have been given an exclusive, uncompromising, cherished opportunity to enjoy and celebrate it accordingly? Where have we left behind our innate social nature? Is there any hope left? Please do tell me there is. Please. Do.
In times where the world seems to keep rejoicing on narrating rather painful and excruciatingly demoralising extreme negatives, I just can’t help but for the rebellious and hippie 2.0 side of me to come out and fight back in search of extreme positives. I guess there is a reality out there that we may not be able to escape, tame nor mitigate, even, in terms of the amount of pain and suffering one might get exposed to, or suffer themselves, but the thing is that I am starting to feel it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight back. There is hope. There needs to be hope. Otherwise, what’s the alternative?
I do apologise to those folks who may be reading this blog post today, as I am fully aware it may well not be the article they were expecting. I know this is the kind of philosophical reflection that’s very rare to see in this blog, but I just couldn’t help fighting back. Please bear with me. I need to get it out of my system. Then things will be back to normal, the new post-normal. Like I said, having seen the unnerving (That word again!) increase of extreme negatives we all keep getting exposed to in our daily lives, I want to strongly believe there is a different way. A much different way. A better way. For all of us.
And there is, apparently. Phew! I am really glad there is. I surely needed this extreme positive to compensate. I guess serendipity just decided to do its own magic once again, right when one needs it the most. Earlier on this week, and coming through my Google Plus stream, I bumped into this absolutely delightful, energising, refreshing, inspiring, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking YouTube video clip, that I am sure that once you all watch it through in its entirety it will restore your own faith in humanity. It surely did for me. If anything, because of that strong sense of hope permeating throughout the entire clip of the true potential we can achieve with that amplifier effect that is the Social Web.
In an age of polarisation, balance is key. It will always be. And although I certainly realise that video contains lots of kool-aid about us, human beings, it’s also undeniable that we are more than capable. Yes, indeed, we are capable of the most horrifying things, BUT, at the same time, we are more than capable of the most wonderful things. And that’s the reason I wanted to share this blog entry across to perhaps use it as a gentle reminder for us all about what we are here for. Remember? We live in rather interesting times. For real. We should just seek each and every single opportunity we may have to make a difference, to have an impact, to share, not through those negative experiences, since they are always the easy way out, but focus more on the positive ones. The ones that allow us to understand the negative being turned into a positive.
Those experiences that the Social Web has helped us treasure over the course of time with that amplifier effect of what we could all achieve if we just put our mind and intent into it. That’s just what the Digital / Social (R)evolution is all about. And, if not, judge for yourselves. Hit Play, sit back, pump up the volume, watch AND enjoy what we are capable of. Today:
See? There is hope. We, too, can do better. Much better. All of us. No exceptions. I guess we just need to be reminded every now and then that right when an extreme negative happens there is another extreme positive in the making just right around the corner. And perhaps that is the intent of this reflection in this post, that, whether we like it or not those negatives may always be with us all, as part of our daily lives, but I guess it’s also going to be up to us to decide how we are going to amplify them, or not, by making a much smarter, sharable, responsible and thoughtful use of the digital tools at our disposal.
Welcome to the Social (R)evolution!
Happy birthday, mum! [I love you very much!]
There are plenty of times, throughout our very own lives, when we bump into some wonderfully inspirational reading material(s) that, while going through them, reading them at a slower pace, with a smile on our faces, savouring each and every single word of that written piece, letting your mind go wild into deep thoughts of how profound the impact of that article may well be not just for you, but equally for those around you, that you just don’t want to finish it off any time soon, you get to realise, at that stage, that you may be reading perhaps the Top 3 article of your working lifetime.
Yes, you know, that kind of impact; that single masterpiece that will slap you left and right to wake you up, to transform your working life for good, for better, for everyone’s better, to show each and everyone of us not only why we do what we do, but also who we are for what we do. Every single day. Well, I think I may have just bumped into such crown jewel and, in case you may not have read it just yet, I would suggest you stop everything you may be doing on the side, right now, while multitasking, and read what I think is probably one of the most truly inspirational readings you would be doing this year, perhaps even in the last few years altogether. Please allow me to point you all to what I would consider an indispensable read for all of those knowledge workers out there, who would need to go for a little bit of a reminder of their own identity, as workers. Please go and enjoy reading “The Labor Day Manifesto of the Passionate Creative Worker” by John Hagel.
John, along with a bunch of really smart collaborators, has put together what I would consider some seminal, foundational piece of work on defining not just the concept of the (traditional) knowledge (Web) worker (Driven, in most cases by passion, creativity and collaborating with others sharing their own knowledge openly), but that one of the Workplace of the Future at the same time.
To go ahead and reproduce the entire Manifesto wouldn’t probably be a smart thing to do, but I think I’m going to take the liberty of grabbing a few bits and pieces over here, so that you folks can see what I mean with foundational piece of work. The purpose, if anything, is more along the lines of paying a tribute to a genius piece of writing that is already hanging on my wall, right across my laptop, to remind me, everyday, why I come to work and why it matters. So I have decided to quote each and everyone of those mantras, highlighting some of the keywords that I have felt identified myself with all along, for years, and which I am hoping they would serve, as well, as a small teaser that would encourage you to read the rest. It’s also an exercise I want to do for myself to internalise each and everyone of those principles, so that on those weak moments that we all get exposed to every now and then, I can remember, treasure, rejoice, reabsorb, restart, and re-inspire myself to keep pushing the limits forward, because that’s what we have been rather good at all along. We just didn’t realise it till now. So here we go:
- Live our lives, not someone else’s: “We are the arbiters of meaning in our own lives“
- Blaze new trails: “There is no established path to greatness […] We challenge the status quo, and in turn, seek out things that challenge us”
- Prioritize learning over efficiency: ”Mistakes, while the enemy of efficiency, are the fuel for learning”
- Share knowledge freely: “We see each person’s enormous potential to contribute to our global knowledge base […]“
- Recognize that institutions exist to serve people: “ We don’t exist for institutions, they exist for us”
- Quit jobs that we hate: “There are too many interesting things to do in this life to waste time on things that don’t matter” (This is one of my favourite principles from the whole list put together!)
- Escape the trap of wasting time by being busy: “Being overscheduled, even with the best things, will cause us to miss the important things that can’t be planned, and will rob us of the most valuable opportunities of our lives”
- Live life for the adventure: ”Life is as amazing as we make it”
- Stay on the edge: “The people who change the world are out at the edge of their field, pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.”
- Continually reinvent ourselves: “We know that passion is the key to personal growth”
- Never settle: “Never. Ever. Not even once […] Let us join forces and help each other along the way to become better, far better, than we ever could alone“
I am really hoping that such a teasing exercise would help you drop over John’s Manifesto, but at the same time take the pro-active approach of leaving a comment or two, singing up for it, making that formal commitment that you would be living your work life from here onwards embracing and celebrating each and everyone of those principles, so that we, together, can continue to up the game into bigger, greater, more meaningful things. In short, the workplace of the future. Our workplace.
I am sure at this point in time you may be wondering whether there are any examples out there that would be fully embracing and breathing the true powerful inspiring spirit of this Manifesto itself, you know, moving from the theory into the practice, and since we are talking about this in the context of business and our working lives, I thought it would be worth while sharing, perhaps, a couple of examples that have certainly made me think, a lot, about plenty of the key messages from John’s masterpiece. More than anything, because both of them truly show the potential of what we could achieve together. As one.
The first example is another manifesto, The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video, (Big thanks to my good friend Stephen Collins for sharing it along!) which is currently portrayed in another superb, rather short, video clip, that I can certainly recommend everyone to go through. It lasts for a little bit over two and a half minutes and the way it introduces itself across to everyone is with a single one liner that I am sure we can all relate to and would sign up for time and time again: Do what you love. And do it often.
“Life is simple. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion” are also some of the mantras that you will see permeating throughout the video clip, which is just perfect, because they are going to help me introduce the second example that I wanted to share with you today. This time around shared by another good friend, the always insightful and thought-provoking Dave Pollard, who pointed us out to Doing it Ourselves, where you will see a beautifully crafted, rather smart, witty and mind-boggling video clip of about 12 minutes under the suggestive heading “What the Economic Crisis Really Means – and what you can do about it“, which would sound very fitting for the current econoclypse and financial turmoil we are going through and which, once again, managed to get the Hippie 2.0 side out of me. Here is the embedded code of the video clip, so that you can see what I mean. It’s probably one of those brilliant clips that you would want to show everyone out there to explain why we are where we are, but also how we can all start reverting the tide, realign and change, for the better, on what really matters: our mere survival at this point and here is why:
Finally, in a recent article, If You Were the Next Steve Jobs…, Umair Haque keeps challenging us to think different, to tackle good old known problems with new eyes, new insights, new ways of working, of solving those issues, together, as one, highlighting what I feel are some of the most prominent challenges that Social Business is facing in today’s corporate world. Basically, finding a new purpose, a new meaning of wanting to do things different, a new way where sustainable and responsible growth becomes the new norm, our latest mantra; this time around though to stay with us for a while, a long while, because, after all, we have always known what to do, and how to do it. We just needed the trigger to ignite and wake up our knowledge workforce once again and bring them back to life; then the rest will come up rather easily, on its own… How? Well, how about by fully embracing and living “The Labor Day Manifesto Of the Passionate Creative Worker“, as a good starting point? Something tells me, perhaps my Hippie 2.0 side, once again, that we wouldn’t be that far off from where we would want to head towards to in, say, the next 30 to 50 years. Don’t you think?
In the past, you may well remember how I have been putting together a good number of blog posts on a topic that I have grown to become rather interested in, and very fond of, over the course of time around the Circular Economy. You know, that kind of economic shift towards sustainable growth for everyone, even planet Earth. Well, it looks like there is a new one out there that I got introduced to, just recently, thanks to a Google Plus post by Luis Alberola referencing the excellent work from Charles Eisenstein and his rather intriguing book “Sacred Economics“. Of course, I’m talking about The Gift Economy.
There is a lot of really good, well written, spoken, and inspiring literature around the topic of the Gift Economy. But perhaps the one that I have found the most transformational one is that one from Charles himself where he keeps talking about it in his new book Sacred Economics. This book, indeed, does look a little bit out of the ordinary, specially, when you go into the Web site and you find this rather uncompromising quote:
“In keeping with one of the main themes of the book, Charles has made the full text of the book available online as a gift. Click on the links below and enjoy. If you feel moved to send Charles a return gift, you may do so below“
Of course, as intrigued as one can be, I decided to spend about 12 minutes on watching through the promotional video clip that was put together by director Ian MacKenzie and I doubt there would be anything more inspiring that you may have watched this week, perhaps this month, or, maybe, even, this year. What an absolute delight you will be embarking on if you start watching it. As a teaser, it kicks off with this absolutely stunning, and worth while living for, quote:
“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back” – Edo
Needless to say, that I would strongly encourage you all to watch further along the video, so that you can see what are some of the main key statements that Charles himself postulates not only on the video clip itself, but on the book as well. Topics like ancient gift economies, modern capitalism, the role of money on how it’s contributed, tremendously, towards “alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth“. How money is just an agreement; how it just doesn’t have any value per se; and how scarcity is built into the money system, just as much as our traditional concept of growth.
How our very own separate selfs have contributed into building a hostile environment for us as a species, in constant conflict with nature, with ourselves, with schooling (learning), with life and how we are already embarked on a ruthless self-destructive path difficult to revert back from. And in that context that’s where that gift economy kicks in. “We didn’t earn air, we didn’t earn being born, we didn’t earn our conception, we didn’t earn a planet that could provide food, we didn’t earn the sun” is just another superb quote that finishes with a rather mind-blowing affirmation: Inborn gratitude, where life is a gift and the natural response to giving / receiving a gift is gratitude. Naturally. The one we show every day.
According to Charles, in a gift society, if you have got more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it. That’s what gives you status, a stronger sense of security. If you build up all of that gratitude people are going to take care of you, too. If there are no gifts there is no community and therefore societies become monetised. Eventually, according to him, we just can’t have community as an add-on to a monetised society. We actually have to have a need for each other, which surely makes perfect sense from the perspective of how we, after all, are social animals, with a strong sense of caring and belonging to the group. Regardless.
His description on the video about The Shift and what it would entail is just priceless altogether on its own, finishing up with a quote that I thought was worth while mentioning over here as well, since I have mentioned it a couple of times already myself on where we are at the moment: ”It’s going to be up to us, to determine at what point this wake-up plan would happen“. Remember, Awakening 2.0? Just brilliant!
Charles’ closing remarks from the video clip itself though are even much more profound ones on what’s needed to revert the tide, to aim at that significant change of how we do things, who we are as human beings, as community, and what we should be focusing on:
“[…] We have been messing around, playing with our gifts of technology and culture. And developing these gifts. Now we are coming into adulthood. And it’s time to apply them to our true purpose. At the beginning, […] it’ll be about healing the damage that’s has been done. […] We are in the business of creating miracle around Earth. […] It’s necessary. Anything even less than that is not even worth trying”
The interesting thing though is that for all of that to happen, for that shift to take place, and the sooner, most probably, the better, we may well need the current economic system to collapse and fail, big time, as my good friend, Dave Pollard, hinted out on a superb blog post under the title “Moving from Understanding and Protest to Direct Action“, where he reviewed the book and he concluded:
“If we are hugely fortunate, when the industrial growth system starts to fly apart and collapse through its own unsustainable failings (a process that’s well underway for all the attempts to cover it up), some collective of smart, generous, articulate people might start to put some of Eisenstein’s ideas to a real-life test. But I wouldn’t count on it. When things start to collapse, panic, denial, blame-seeking and reactionary thinking are more likely human responses“
Probably, but, on the other hand, recent signals are starting to come out and tell us otherwise, and with various multiple flavors that are starting to become rather difficult to hide away from the common public, regardless of what mainstream media, governments or whatever other public / privates entities are trying to portrait further. A couple of them have actually become my true favorites, mainly, because they have started to show what that Gift Economy would look like in the real, and, specially, in the context of the current financial econoclypse that we are going through over here in Europe, by demonstrating that, if there is a way, we can make it. It may take some time, it may take plenty of good effort, energy, and passion, but if there is a way that we can show and demonstrate caring and sharing for one another, specially in times of need, and I mean, serious need, we will eventually find it, embrace it, apply it. Live it.
Yes, indeed! Welcome to the Gift Economy! Where sustainable and profitable growth for everyone, including planet Earth, is now finally becoming a reality. Our communal reality. And where businesses take a new meaning in life by co-sharing that responsibility with the community to do things right and where money may no longer be the only ruling principle in town. Exciting times, my dear friends. Indeed, very exciting times …
Have a good one everyone!
[Oh, and in case you are wondering, here's how the gift economy would work… Charles' book on Sacred Economics can be read entirely online for free, but I felt so inspired watching through the video, learning tons along the way, getting really excited about it, that I just purchased a copy of the book for my Kindle, as a token of gratitude for the inspiration. It *does* work!]