Chinese whispers and emerging strategies

spor ivann

If you wrote me a letter, to tell me who you are, would I recognize that person if we met?

If you were able to shadow me for a day, would you see the connection between my words and my acts?

Or do we play an internal game of chinese whispers? To me at least, what starts as a perfectly well-defined intention, might go through tiny alterations through my acts, and end up as something totally different.

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Using my Ipad for instance. I grab it to get some information on a project I really want to do, I just check the news, then Facebook, then my mail…..you know. I would tell you that it is important to set goals and focus on them, my acts will tell you that what truly is important to me is checking out what my friends are doing. Or looking for antiques at eBay or catching up with the news.

Nothing wrong with that. As in chinese whispers, the word coming out at the end more often than not is a perfectly normal word, it is just totally unrelated to the initial one. How fun it is to hear everyone saying, “I thought you said” or “really, that’s not what I heard” .The surprise is fun when playing and disappointing when living.

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In business language we call these surprises an emerging strategy. We may print our strategies on glossy paper and publish them on our webpages, they still are just words. Our true strategy is the one emerging from our choices, priorities and acts.

Happily there are times when our bodies are wiser than our minds, what we do is what we really should do, and will take us to a surprising goal we will be happy to reach. The emerging strategy might be the best possible way. How would we know?

Just now I am backtracking my internal whispers, trying to recognize the first whisper. What is truly important to me, will my acts take me there? Or do the innocent, perfectly normal, diversions take me somewhere else, perhaps the place I should be?

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What you do is who you are

A couple of times every year I see A Weird Person in the mirror, she has a mix between a lampshade and a crow’s nest on her head and looks very surprised at what she sees. That is when I call the hairdresser and tell her I need to cut my hair, now.

Even so, having got an appointment early yesterday morning, I was running late because I was doing the beds and tidying up the kitchen.

frossen bilComing out I discovered that my car was ready for a part in Dr. Zhivago, being transformed from black to pearly, glittering, frosty magic. How beautiful! I went inside for may camera before removing the ice. Then I saw the rubies in our rose hip hedge, I was so happy, and of course had to grab some shots. As I did I felt my whole being filled with wonder and joy, as I often do when I stop and stay in the moment of something beautiful.

rubinnype 2I was late for my appointment of course, which is bad, because others will be kept waiting too. I apologized and settled for a lovely talk with the sweet hairdresser who loves dogs, nature and christmas as I do.

Soon my hair was done. I was back in my garden just in time to catch the sun as it was raising, turning the hedge into gold filigree.

gullhekkOf course, we tend to think bigger when we try to define ourselves. I know for sure that I want to be a person that does good deeds, that take part in building a better world. I find the truth is that any “big deed” consists of tiny, everyday choices, that adds up to a life. What we do show our true priorities, even when our schedule tells us something else is important.

The challenge, to me at least, is to create a life where the things I just have to do, no matter how “busy” I am supposed to be, add up to something making life better for all of us. At least as long as I do not have to put getting my hair done as my top priority.

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Doing nothing

IMG_5851 (1280x853)Working from home today. It is 11:17 and I have not done a thing.
I woke up, showered and dressed. That’s nothing. I stripped the beds, did the laundry and hung the sheets on the line to dry in the sunshine. Not really a thing is it?
I cleared the breakfast table, and tidied the kitchen. As my husband had made breakfast, that is not really anything at all.
I walked the dog for an hour, and stood for a while watching band practise at the school yard. Philosophizing on the strange fact that even a thing that started ugly, may end up as innocent and meaningful activities. The young boys in uniforms are not marching to war, they are just donning uniforms, playing war music and heeding their leader to add joy and fun to this sunny day.
Then the dog and me went home, scrubbed the garden furniture ( bird droppings), had a coffee (me, that is) and I posted on my Bible blog.

I still have not done a thing, my account is still unbalanced, and my reports are still quite unfinished. The important projects are totally unplanned. Which makes me think. Except for watching the band and doing my blog, everything else I have been doing today are things I sooner or later will have to pay others to do for me. If I live long, perhaps even the shower and dressing bit. So is this true: do I work to be able to  pay others to do the work I do not appreciate being able to do today?

I do not. Sometimes though, my mind, and people around me think that is a way to live. Then I’ll have myself listen to my heart. Realigning my priorities, just now, by going outside to hang the next load of laundry and really smell and enjoy the first sunny day for ages. In a moment, by opening my job mail, while all the time hearing the dogs content sighs and snores as he dreams of his long walk.

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Roots in a bottle

IMG_4026I was on my way to a meeting in the charming old part of Bergen. Even as I was running late, I had my camera. Coming towards me was this old woman. Leaning heavily on her cane, labouring her way uphill.

We met midway. She paused, and of course I stopped, to see if there was anything I could do for her. Was she exhausted, was she ill?

She barely threw me a glance and bent down, poked her cane in the bushes and found a hamburger wrapping and a squashed bottle. She picked them up, went over to the trash-can outside the nearest house and threw it in.

Then she walked on.

I once had great grandparents and grandparents like that. They all taught by example how the tiny deeds always adds up to more that big thoughts. I just had forgotten. With my head in the clouds and my mind in my plans I had walked straight by a chance to keep this tiny street beautiful.

I trust I will be given more chances, and I know it is not only about trash in the bushes, but in all our doings. The one step taken is more important than the thousands just planned.

What about you? What is your tiny step today?

What do you hold on to?

IMG_3617 one valueTwo and a half years ago a man was facing the world press, holding on to his integrity and a yellow post-it-note.

Last Tuesday this note  brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.
A yellow piece of paper, crumpled, with three words:

dignified, calm, honest

I was listening, as the norwegian attorney of law, Geir Lippestad, shared how this note helped him through the hardest task any defender has had in Norway since the second world war. He defended the killer in the massacres on the 22nd of July 2011.

He told us how he did not want to.

The police called early in the morning of the 23rd and told him that the suspect had asked for Lippestad as his defender, that more bombs and more assassins were ready for action, and that the suspect would not explain  himself until he had a defender.

But why should and how could anyone defend a person that in cold blood had killed 77 people? Who would be able to listen to a person that had assassinated 69 youths? Lippestad did not see himself as that person. His decision was made in spite of what he wanted to do. Until then,his reason for being a lawyer was his belief that democracy depended on equality for the law. Until then,his core belief as a man was the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being.
It still had to be, it still was, it still is, this belief made him say yes.

After hours talking to the offender he made a break and was asked to meet the world press gathering outside the police station.

This is when he tells us about the yellow note.
“Before facing them I had to collect myself,” he said. Then he went on to tell how he sat down outside the interrogation room, trying to sort out how to present the case to the press, reassessing to himself what values he wanted to come through.

His challenge: to convey the why of his defense without condoning the why of the act.

He knew this was the start of a long process where everything he would do had the purpose of making sure that equality for the law was true in our society. He could not give in, neither to his own nor the nation’s despair.

How should he present the case, how should he answer to make that stay true? This is when he knew that whatever he said and did he had to stay calm, that what he said should be honest and true, and most of all that he should front the dignity belonging to every human being.

He scribbled three words on his post-it-note, “verdig, rolig, ærlig.” He clutched it in his hand and held on to his principles. The note stayed in his pockets for six months. Again and again he had to remind himself. Again and again he and his partners held each other accountable to these values, to this note.

IMG_3831LippestadI would not have been moved to tears if this man had told us that holding on to truth was easy. It was not and it is not. Even profiled lawyers need to keep themselves accountable to their values. Even grown men may need something to hold on to. What fills my heart with joy is that they did.

What fills my heart with strength and hope is that if someone could do this when weak and afraid, so can I, so can we.

What would you hold on to?

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Everything in the air

Where are you going?

Where are you going?

It is so fun to organize…or rather it is so fun to start to organize. Starting this blog has been like pulling everything out of my closet, putting it on the bed…and then going to prepare dinner. Only to come back late at night and discover that my bed is piled high with clothes- how come? That’s why I gave myself this challenge two minutes ago, stop fiddling about with all the menus and gadgets I could put on this blog, just start writing.
Be true to my beliefs: neither writing, organizing or life itself;is about being perfect, it is all about being centered and focused, knowing where you are going, and being willing to stop doing the things that do not take you there.

Actually that is the basic step of all business strategy and life coaching.Sooner or later you’ll have to stop throwing ideas in the air and pick one. You have to choose, you have to start clearing away, you have to focus, to know what you need to take with you. If you really want to get somewhere, that is. Of course you may keep brainstorming or piling your bed with worn out clothes. It just is not enough.