Tag Archives: purpose

Discover Your Meaning

The 2015 Meaning Conference is just poking its perfectly formed nose over the horizon. 12th November still feels quite a way off but it will be here in no time. I’m going to the conference again – this will be my third consecutive year as a paying guest. It’s an enjoyable and useful experience, and if you like you can read about my visit to the 2014 conference here.

My attempt to capture a sense of Meaning 2014 -based on my own reflections and some tweets I spotted. I sketched this on the train on the way home.

My attempt to capture a sense of Meaning 2014 – based on my own reflections and some tweets I spotted during the event. I sketched this on the train on the way home.

I bought my ticket for 2014 as soon as I left the 2013 event, and I bought my ticket for this year, as I left the event in 2014, only this time, I did something a little different. This time I bought two tickets. My question for you today is simply this – would you like to discover the meaning of meaning for yourself? Or to put it another way, would you like a ticket to Meaning 2015?

For me a big part of my meaning is paying it forward, I simply enjoy giving. I’d like to give away my spare ticket for this event, and if you’d like a chance to receive it – all you have to do is ask. Leave a comment here on the blog post and I’ll put everyone who asks for the ticket into a hat and draw a name at random. This offer will also be in my newsletter and I may offer it in other places too. The draw will be on Thursday October 1st. Once I’ve drawn a name I’ll be in touch with that person and if it’s you – you will have 48 hours after I get in touch to claim the ticket or I’ll draw another name, and so on until we get a confirmed winner.

Do you want to discover the meaning of meaning for yourself? What are you waiting for – just ask.

Update: I’ve been informed by several people that they’re having difficulty commenting on the blog. Sorry. While I try and figure out why, feel free to contact me in any other way you want if you want to be in the draw for the ticket and I will collate all the requests. Cheers!

Boring small print alert! You’ll be responsible for all additional expenses including transport to and from the event which takes place in Brighton. This give away is for a free ticket – the rest is up to you.

I Before We

Over the weekend my attention was drawn to a list. Not one of those top 100 most boring people in HR lists which cause so much angst and hand wringing, but a simple list of thoughts and ideas to live by. It was written by Stephen Waddington on the occasion of his 45th birthday, and is made up of a thought or idea for each of those 45 years. I really enjoyed flicking through it, here are a few of my personal favourites, and I encourage you to check the whole thing out too.

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I find myself agreeing with a lot of Stephen’s thinking, and not all of it. One idea in particular is causing me discomfort.

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Banish personal pronouns, we not me, and us not I. At first glance this feels like it makes perfect sense. When I worked in big organisations I spent a lot of time thinking about how I and the people I worked with could be a great team. For example, when I led a sales team I insisted that our targets were aligned so that if any member of my team failed, I failed too. They could cross the finish line separately as individuals, and as their manager, I needed them all to succeed in order for me to, too. This method of setting targets was not the done thing at the time, and I had to work far too hard to make it happen, and happen it did, and succeed we did. All of us.

Since setting up my own business, I have continued to work mostly in large organisations, helping people make work better, together. We not me, and us not I. As time passes, and I think more intentionally about well being, and more deeply about the craft that is my work, It becomes increasingly clear that this aspiration, this hope of making work better together, cannot be achieved until first and foremost, I am in the best place to be of use to you. As my customer, you pay me to facilitate and consult with you – you have every right to expect me to be fully present, at my best, and I believe I should expect the same of each of you. To that extent, for us to do something great together, I, indeed every I in the room and on the project, has to come before we.

What Does Meaning Mean to You?

I was at Meaning 2014 in Brighton yesterday, along with around 299 other curious folk. This was my second time at the conference, I enjoyed my previous visit and had booked for this year immediately after the 2013 conference finished, something I’ve never done before. I couldn’t stay for the whole day this time, and at one point I’d been dithering over whether or not to attend. I’m glad I stopped dithering, here’s why.

On my way to the event I bumped into Andy Swann and his friend Ed. Turns out I’d been walking in completely the wrong direction so as we corrected my approach, we enjoyed a brief conversation on life, the universe and everything. On arrival – I went straight to the badge stand. Last week the conference organisers tweeted requests for badge slogans and I had responded with a couple of ideas…thanks for listening 🙂

Meaning Conference BadgesAs people milled around chatting and having coffee I was fortunate to share a few minutes with Neil Mullarkey. Among other things, Neil co-founded The Comedy Store Players so the art of improvisation is something he has lots of experience in. I was fortunate to experiment with improv with Joe Gerstandt and an enthusiastic crowd in Illinois recently, and I am keen to learn more.

A friend had recommended Neil to me so having the opportunity to meet and talk with him was lovely. A key element of improv is accepting the offer of someone’s words, and building on them, something referred to as ‘yes, and’. As we parted, I offered Neil my ‘I don’t have to be perfect’ badge from last year’s event, he kindly accepted. I then enjoyed a few brief conversations with friends, before Kev Wyke and I joined the throng filing into the theatre for the start.

Meaning Conference currently revolves around short ish talks – around 20-25 minutes a piece. A good format, as you are either left wanting more, or you know you’ve not got long to wait until something else comes along. After warm introductions from Tom Nixon, who came on stage to the most dramatic opening music I’ve ever heard, we were off. 

First up was Mark Stevenson who promised us ‘the future in 20 minutes’. He was fast and funny, and as well as humour and speed he told tales of DNA sequencing and how that is now being used experimentally for cancer reduction. Mark suggested that technology falls into three categories. The stuff that existed before you were born, sewers, textiles, cars – you take this stuff for granted. Then there’s the stuff that appears before you reach the age of 35. This stuff is exciting and useful and you get to grips with it. Lastly, there’s everything that appears affect you are 35, and all this stuff just serves to make you grumpy. He told of solar power becoming rapidly affordable – and the tension between green energy, the utility companies and government. He spoke of 3D printers printing 3D printers and much more besides. Through the lens of the classroom he showed us how little some things have changed, and argued that we are educating people to be fit for the past, not the future. This was a barnstorming opening session which for me, almost went too fast. I hung on – just.

Ben Dyson was up next, to talk about Positive Money. Positive Money is:

‘a movement for a money and banking system that works for society and not against it. We’re campaigning for the power to create money to be used in the public interest, in a democratic, transparent and accountable way, rather than by the same banks that caused the financial crisis.’

I’ve been following the campaign for a while now and whilst I am not in any way an economics expert, I do know a little about fairness and I think what Ben and his team are progressing is important for us all. Ben shared with us that economics as it is currently taught is underpinned by rational choices – and we all know we don’t always make those. Only 3% of all money is cash, the rest is simply electronic exchanges, it isn’t real. Banks create this money out of loans and they are incentivised to do so. Here are a few more of the startling stats that Ben shared.

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For the first time in 170 years Parliament is holding a debate about money creation. On Thursday 20th November a backbench debate hosted by Steve Baker (Con), Michael Meacher (Lab), Caroline Lucas (Green), Douglas Carswell (UKIP) and David Davis (Con) is going to take place. If you are based in the UK and are reading this, and you think a fairer, more transparent money system matters, please drop your MP a line and encourage them to take part in this debate.

We then heard from Stefania Druga. Stefania is the founder of HacKIDemia, an international organisation that supports learning by doing and playing. She was here to tell us a little about a fascinating project called AfriMakers. AfriMakers ‘enable makers in Africa to develop sustainable projects and use making to solve local challenges and create an exchange of best practices between locals.’ Here are a few lines Stefania spoke which resonated powerfully for me:

Afrimakers – necessity = creativity and improvisation
Making stuff – in Africa it’s a necessity
Connect through values – everything else works
15 stones in the room – Zen Buddhism you can’t see all 15 – they are there you can’t see it all so question stuff
Change = Time*(work/people) Equation – time is the key – give it to people.
Let’s play together – recognise difference don’t impose yourself on others
Our desire to help is not always helping

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I enjoyed good conversations in the breaks and over lunch, and then I had to depart, so I didn’t see the rest of the day unfold in real life. Looking at Twitter, it seemed to unfold in all manner of interesting ways. An enjoyable event – well done to everyone who helped make it happen.

One last thing for now – I am curious, what does meaning mean to you? I invited people to respond to this question and I added their thoughts and ideas to a rough sketch note. The note grew through my time at the conference and on the train home. Here’s where this cocreated thinking got to, and if you’d like to add something about what meaning means to you in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

What does meaning mean to you

PS – I bought my ticket for the 2015 event last night 😉