Authoring the Future Economy

An Seattle Times article described a community event that they described as being about resumes and job hunting. Instantly, I thought of the wise words of Phill Briscoe, Gerald Grinter, and John C Erdman.

What if there were an evening at Town Hall in Seattle with these three writers (who are also architects and designers of the economy of the future)?

What if such an evening also included Deborah Drake’s collaborative book “Burn Your Resume?”

What if it were not an evening, but a half-day conference at a place like the Albers School of Business at Seattle University?  That may seem like a fantasy right now, but all the writers linked here should hear from me that the content they share at TwD and in writing is, in my opinion, what university students and the public could be offered at a half-day conference at a place that is a laboratory and greenhouse for the new economy.

The Madness of Art

Can’t you see the beauty in it.
Blank in its formless shape a potter begins to mold her creation.
Whisking paint across an already smudged canvas he screams…
Can’t you see the beauty in it!
How can you not. My god!
Pounding, Slamming, Crying out for understanding.
What do you want of me says the singer?
Forcing the melody to a page of lines from the clouded head of creativity.
A hum too faint to be audible becomes a chorus of the first line.
Meanwhile out back in the garage the high pitched whistle of white hot light whispers.
Forged from rusted steel, iron and sweat.
Can you see the beauty now?
Maybe you if you stand back…over there…
How about now?
I understand this madness all too well.
Words coming so fast I can’t think.
The artist knows of this madness.
A madness that can’t be squelched.
Like water from a fire hose it comes through them.
There is no relief from this stream of the unconscious pursuit of the perfect.
For there is beauty in the ordinary that makes things extraordinary.
It comes and it comes and it won’t stop.
No amount of sleep, drugs or therapy will make it end.
It only dulls the din of wanting out of his head.
A self expression so pure only the artist knows the madness of art.
Can you see it now she cry’s.
Backed into a corner slumped down, brush in hand… it is done she smiles.
The torch of molten creativity has faded like a boiling tea pot removed from the flame.
The madness of art stops…only to be torn down and begun again.
Can’t you see the beauty in it!?

 Spoken Words by Gerald Grinter

(S)wordmaster

Being a force for good in the world is the aim of those who train in Aikido: the art of peace. How can a martial art increase peace in the world? It is the interdependence between training partners. No nage (nah-geh )without uke (oo-keh). Bringing energy, receiving and blending with it, and putting it out into the world for good. In Aikido, it looks like ending fights. Actually, when practiced well, it looks like preventing fights…. Sometimes it looks like “rondori” – multiple partners training together.

Peace. The “low level” peace of stopping, or not starting, a fight, the practice of which forms persons to be peace-hearted people. Peace requires strength, heart, courage, and diverse skills in the world.

Aikido derives from sword forms of martial arts. There is a lesson here for those of us whose art is the word.

Writing and speaking are art forms, like Aikido, that require interdependence between partners. Communication is a loop between two, or among more than two, people. Uke and Nage and Rondori…. The same concepts exist in the world of Aikido and in the world of words…. bringing energy, receiving and blending with it, putting it out into the world, sometimes with multiple people at a time.

Aikido is being an embodied force for good in the world. Writing and speaking provide the opportunity to be a voice for good in the world. A different kind of force for good in the world.

Masters of the sword honor their gift in the world by being careful to not cut people. Masters of the sword are careful when to use the sword… And how…. And where…. And why… And with whom.
Masters of the word honor their gift in the world by being careful not to cut people.
Being my kind of force for good — for peace — in the world is the combination of what words to use, where to use them, when to use them, how to use them,  with whom to use them, and why.

I am the aspiring word master whose life has been formed and informed by many forces, including a swordmaster named Jeff Sensei, his teacher named George Ledyard Sensei, and their many students, one of whom is my beloved son and teacher Carson.

Sins of My Father

It’s been said that the apple never falls too far from the tree and in this case I see the truth in this.  I had a chance conversation with friends recently.  Nothing too earth shattering was talked about, just more or less the events of the day.  I find it incredibly amazing how at times we can sometimes get a glimpse into who we are from the simplest of comments from friends and family.

I am a caretaker by nature, or so I thought.  They say our friends know us better than we know ourselves and in this case it was a picture perfect bulls-eye.  One of my friends just said it, so matter of fact that it felt like I was naked for the whole world to see.  She said, yeah, you are a caretaker.  That was it.  No more no less.  So why was I so ashamed by this?  Was it because I knew it was true.  I’ve heard this all of my life actually in some shape or form.  People say it like it is a bad thing.  I get that I was an easy target for those in need to take advantage of me and how I, in my own way used this for my own validation sometimes.  But, how did I get here?  Where did this all come from?Father holding a child's hand

I took a day or two to sit back and reminisce about my parents and grandparents and how I fit into all of this.  I knew this gift had to come from somewhere.  As far back as I can remember my father was this man, same as I.  I grew up with his tales of dragging my grandfather home from bars drunk off his you know what, only to watch my grandmother pick up were he left off.  Taking care to keep up appearances.  From the outside everything looked perfect.  Over time, her bitter resentment was turned on my father in the form of verbal jabs and rants about how he should take care to not repeat the sins of his father.

When I was young I watched my father care for my mother as breast cancer punished her for years.  Through her remission and until her last breath after 28 years of marriage.  Then his second, who struggled with diabetes, depression, other defects and as she too has lost her life 15 years later.  He is now in his third and I see him care for her as gently and the ones before them as they struggle to care for one another as they get older.  I often wonder how much a man can take and somehow think that this is his gift to the world.  To always be there for someone, to make sure they have what they need.  To do those things that aren’t visible to the trained eye and yet so subtle that you never realize that it wasn’t there in the first place but you miss it when it’s gone.

I’ve also asked myself why he never asks for anything from anyone.  Now I know.  He learned at an early age not to ask.  It was taken from his soul.  Through the bitterness of my grandmother who chipped away his joy to my grandfather who forced him to grow up sooner than he should have and be the man of the house in those times when he couldn’t be.  Out of fear, never sure if anyone could possibly be there for him the way he was for them.  At times I felt his resentment for my asking, only to have that which I wanted be denied not only by him but by myself as well.  I too stopped asking, as did my brother and sister.  Only now do I fully appreciate the man he is and the path he has traveled.  At times I feel ashamed for how I acted in my youth not knowing the incredible journey life laid before him only to have the ones he loved the most slip away from him.

So, as I look into my mirror I see the sins of my father in me.  No better no worse.  I understand him as I understand myself now.  Yes, I am a caretaker.  Not as good as my father yet but, I love who I am and promise to be the best caretaker I can be.  I no longer see it as a bad thing.  It just is a part of who I chose to be.  Embraced with open arms and an awareness that there is more to me than I knew before and have learned how and when to give care.

The truth is we all have a little caretaker in all of us and there are situations and events that bring it out of us.  Some don’t like to give that much of themselves and be that vulnerable and there are those of us who for what ever reason don’t want to be taken care of for fear of looking weak.  I guess what I’m trying to say is find your balance and you will know who to take care of and who will take care of you.   Until next time my name is Gerald Grinter, be well.

You can also visit me on: Conversations With Gerry for more and different post like this.  Thank you for reading my words.

 

Discovering The Art Of Working For Yourself

I have decided to write this post after watching and listening to so many of myfriends and colleagues talk about this economy we live in and how tough it is. I think in these times we find ourselves in this mindset and thought process is needed more than ever. According to the news and internet they say more people have decided to start their own businesses these days than at any other time since the “Great Depression”. I believe it. I’m watching them. People are also saying “no thank you” to major companies and going it alone after being shown the front door from another company. They are burning their resumes and creating websites. There are still a few souls out there that are still waiting for Superman to save the day. You know them well. They come home every night thanking the universe that they still have a job or their business is still a float. All of this chaos and change has taken me back to a fishing trip with my dad in Ohio. It was a hot august afternoon and we were talking about me and my summer job at “Burger King”. This was the first time I had ever worked for someone. You see I had a paper route for several years and when I was tired of that I took the customers I had and turn it in to a lawn cutting business. So I was used to doing pretty much what I wanted in the work arena. So as I was complaining about all of the things that my manager was asking me to do and the crazy hours I was to work to make the same amount of money. My father looked at me and said the words that have stuck with me my whole life. “No matter who you work for always work for yourself. Don’t think for a minute that the company you work for will ever have your best interest at heart more than you do or should”. My first reaction was “what?” How can I work for myself when I am clearly under the employ of “Burger King”? Needless to say I only worked there until the end of that summer. As much as I loved whoppers, it was tough working for someone else. It always has been for me. This brings me to my point. Is there an “Art to working for yourself?” I didn’t know it at the time but there truly is.

It is as much a mindset as it is a way of life. I’ll explain. Most of us think that the only people who work for themselves are entrepreneurs who start their own business in their basement and take it to Fortune 500 status, then sell it and go live on the beach in Maui. Well, there is a little truth to this, but we’ve also worked with who I call the bullet proof employee. We all have. They might be the slacker in the desk next to you who comes in just a little late but not so late that they fired for it, or the worker who has the cleanest desk on earth and has this insane ability to be able to do all of his or her work and probably yours too if you asked them. I’ve often wondered how they do this. They have discovered the art of working for themselves. It’s the ability to take what you do and do it in such a way that it is done the way you want to do it and in your style and on your terms within the space of the environment you are in. I know this sounds like smoke and mirrors but it’s the truth. It’s almost as if they are shaping the rules of the game to their style. So while most of us are complaining about how our job sucks. They have figured out a way to focus on a much bigger goal. Their life and how they want to live it. To do things in a way you want to do them you must first begin to think the way you want to think. This is the first step in understanding the art of working for yourself. If I could see your face right you probably have your head tilted to the side and ready to give me your “What you talkin’ bout Willis”- Gary Coleman impression.

You see for most of us our opinions and attitudes and how we live our lives have been shaped by society, TV, crazy parents and our closest friends. We have had the individuality stomped out of us from the time we were very young. And most of us still claim we think for ourselves. Okay I may be going a bit far but you get my point. We live our lives according to what we’ve been told we should do in order to not create the biggest waves. We’ve been talked out of our fondest hopes and dreams by well meaning friends and family who laughed in our faces and made jokes about our dreams at our expense just to get a laugh from the crowd. So we tuck it away in the corner of our hearts and pile all of life’s other dreams differed in front of and on top of them and mindlessly checkout and take the first option that comes along that makes us look good in everyone’s eyes. We work our jobs every day waiting for our retirement date to come and celebrate that fact we can now do what we want to do, like we’ve escaped from a maximum security prison. This is not working for yourself. And for my business owners who are a slave to the rhythm of the chaos that is your business. Those of you who treat it like you still working a nine-to-five job. You know who you are. You dread your business as much as you did going to work for the man or woman. I know what this looks like; I was there for a while myself. It’s time you learned the art of working for yourself. Owning a business doesn’t always mean you are working for yourself. Although you think you are. Okay, in theory you are. But there’s more. I’ll explain more about this in a later post.

So how does this all work? In my next post I will talk about this and how it has helped me and how to develop this mindset. There are only a few steps needed to set upon this journey, and once you start it will change your life forever. You will be able to truly say, no matter who you work for you can only work for yourself. Until next time I’m Gerald Grinter, live well, love well and be well.