Friday, 26 March 2010

has lots to say, but taking time to try and say it right

It's funny how an intense week makes me feel a little less-than awake, but no-less alive.

It's been a good week of family, work, friends and faith. There seems to be the wonderfully steadfast and yet tingling freshness of life going on, and yet some or less-welcome familiar things are hanging around too.

So I guess I have a lot in my head, a few things on my heart and the hope of some space in the days ahead.

How are you doing?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010




Hope you are well.

I've had a wee bit of a housekeeping moment and if you are reading this on an RSS reader, or in Facebook it might not appear here much longer.

That's where it's at.

Grace & Peace,


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Hard work

We miss a lot of that out.

I was watching Chuggington with Beth the other day. It was the one with the ice cream maestro "Frostini" and his quest for an innovative flavour for the banquet. Anyway - being a train, he couldn't mix the ice cream by hand. He had a machine to do that.

He had a machine to do some of the hard work. It responded to his instructions, but ultimately, the machine took the strain.

So we watch films or tv - and in the interests of plot movement, time saving or generally staving off boredom for those watching in on the lives of the people involved - we don't see the full story. We miss some of the hard work out.

My earliest memory of this comes from Blue Peter: "here's one I prepared earlier". Or perhaps "here's one we took time to make in a more intentional manner".

Then it's the A-Team and the inevitable montage (with purposeful music) where some form of battering ram/armoured car/flying fortress/tank was made from a few sheets of steel, the sweat from Murdoch's head and the power of Mr T's stare. Willing suspension of disbelief aside, we were whisked through the hard work in a few seconds and amazed by their Maker ability.

I get it. I do. I understand why it's like that. It's entertainment, right?

Just ask anyone trying to start/grow/maintain a small business in these days: we don't build an armoured car in a few hours, no matter how strong your glare is. We don't learn to play the violin in a few time-elapsed minutes. We can't grieve and find some semblance of *normality* in a few seconds, no matter how soothing the soundtrack.

I think about the weeWeir growing up and learning to do pretty much everything for the first time. She'll need to work hard at many things. I hope to encourage her not to skip the hard work, sure find ways to improve how she works, but many things in life are about the journey more than the destination. About learning how to as much as arriving.

Or should we just find the shortest route possible and do things as easily and cheaply as we can?

Maybe I'm reading this wrong and the storytellers are trying to let us see the hard work. Maybe it's my perception that's wired the wrong way!

What's your take?

Friday, 19 March 2010

difficult is simple

Okay, time for a statement of the bleeding obvious.

There's often times in life when we experience inertia. For me it's when there's something difficult on the horizon. Something that might take fair bit of effort to make happen.

It struck me the other day that anything that is difficult is often really simple.

What makes something simple?

Take some time to understand the situation, make a list of these little thing, put them into priority order then:

Do little things. Do them well. Do them excellently.

Difficult becomes simple.

Nothing earth-shattering in that, but it helped me with some stuff this week. What else would you say makes difficult things simple?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

shifting sands

There's been plenty of coverage of the news that Facebook has a smidgen more pageviews than Google. The first time in the history of everything that has happened. Big. Deal.

Or is it?

I might not be a classically trained marketer, but I think it's amazing how the ability to self-publish, share and interact though these new digital channels is changing our culture - and the way we consume (products and ideas). Mostly for the better, I reckon. How about you?

So what about Facebook & Google then? For a long time, Facebook was a walled garden - that's all changed now. Much more of what's happening on that platform is now available to those outside of it. (cue rush to check privacy settings).

My thinking here is not that platforms are what it's all about. It's about being where people are - and interacting where they are. Facebook might be winning the social platform race for now, but nothing in this world is a certain.

When I set up my blog here, I plumbed it in to publish into Facebook Notes automatically. The idea was to share the content with people who might not be into reading blogs frequently. Then I noticed something about a year ago. People started to comment. Which was great. But there were two places with different comments - Facebook and the blog...

Which can lead to two different sets of conversation. I remember Mitch Joel deciding to stop publishing into Facebook and pulling people towards the blog so that the conversation happened there. But may folks just won't follow the link as they like the convenience of doing it all in once platform. Not saying that's right, but it's what happens, isn't it?

So, what would I like? Some way of aggregating comments between publishing platforms. There must be a way to pull the comments for a post into Facebook!

Anyway, it's all sand and it's all shifting. Don't build your house on it.

Monday, 15 March 2010

why don't you...?

One of the strongest memories I have of summer holidays from school is a TV programme called "why don't you...?". Do you remember it. It was usually on about 9.25 and it was on either BBC1 or 2. This was before the days of widespread multi-channel TV, kids.

In all honesty, the only thing I can really recall is the theme tune - and one particular lyric: "why don't you... just switch off your TV set and do something less boring instead". (you can see the whole title sequence here on the BBC site).

Just think. We, the viewer, were being invited to switch off the programme. Before it started. Now that wasn't the point of it. But it's something that's reverberated around my head for all the years since. Just switch off the TV and do something else. Sometimes, there's things worth watching, however it's very rarely that I'll put the TV on just to see what's on. So when reading what Seth had to say here and his reference to Clay Shirky's keynote on Cognitive Surplus, it reminded me of that song. And the invitation.

I think about what I do with an evening and often, as with many of us, it's doing things around the house, preparing for a future event or doing a book. While I might not feel like I'm working towards an MBA in my evenings, the time spent keeping the family in clean clothes or clearing up after myself (!) means there's more time for other things.

More recently, the acquisition of a Wii has brought a mix of entertainment and exercise into the house too. Which can't be bad.

Or can it?

I agree with Seth. My one caveat is the importance of rest. Finding the unforced rhythms of grace is so crucial. We can't run forever like we've got a limitless source of energy. We need rest. Not sloth. Just times of quiet, or space, or refreshing our senses.

What are you up to tonight?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Authenticity: listening to sport.

Okay, here's a thing.

I've listened to sport on the radio for years. Back in the days before there was obscene amounts of money in the game of football, there was much less coverage. So, rainy Saturday afternoons playing with Lego, I'd have BBC Radio Scotland - and Sportsound - to keep me company as I built something fun with bricks.

And during summer holidays, there was Test Match Special on Radio 4 Long Wave. Yes, I listened to cricket on the radio now and then. I'd never really *seen* cricket, but picked up the lexicon a little and it was always interesting background chatter.

As I got older (and particularly when I'd passed my Driving Test and was able to scoot about on my own, Radio 5 Live was a frequent source of, well, everything. News, Sport, Chat. Okay, so not everything.

However over the last 18 months I've been less bothered by sport. I'm still interested in what's going on, and who is winning. But it's not so much the match that I am interested in (other than international Rugby). I've realised this week that what I'm facinated by are the way people conduct themselves. How people (in particular those who coach or manage team) interact before and after a game.

I have found myself checking news websites - and even contemplating buying a newspaper! - so I could check out what they had to say in the pre- and post- match content. It's what's said, and what's not said, that I'm interested in. When Jim Jeffries came back to Hearts, I'd just added a couple of twitter feeds relating to that club. The stream of information is much less about the game, but about what is happening in the meantime.

Sure, there's a whole thing about marketing, about putting out the stories you want people to hear and all that.

However, more often than I think we are told by our mediators (ie the news agencies), there's some straight-talking being done and - I hope - a lot of authenticity.

So, I'm really not so bothered by what is going on when you're playing the game, but tell me how it made you feel, what you liked and what you want to do differently and I'm all ears.

Over the past few years, I've stopped listening

Friday, 5 March 2010

Just Be It.

Two quotes that came via Seth Godin.


Arianna Huffington: "Self expression is the new entertainment, We never used to question why people sit on the couch for seven hours a day watching bad TV. Nobody ever asked, 'Why are they doing that for free?' We need to celebrate [this desire to contribute for free] rather than question it."


Tim Cook at Apple: “This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of... We say no to good ideas every day.” Cook then pointed out to analysts that every single product the company makes would fit on the single conference table in front of him. “And we had revenue last year of $40 billion".

Ties back to two thoughts Chris laid out nearly two years ago:

1) What are you here to do.

2) Just Be It.

(my paraphrase)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Lens: What am I nurturing?

I'm reminded of the tension of parenthood.

Often we hear that people "weren't brought up to behave like that". Or "he's not normally like that".

A recent experience of being around other parents and children (a good thing) left me thinking about how we protect our children from evil. From injustice. From suffering. It's because we love them and want the best for them right?

And protecting them from self-obsession.

How we bring the reality of life, how to handle feelings of rejection and being lied to are all influenced by our worldview. Our worldview is shaped by our lens. And our lens is formed by our surroundings.

And so it's easy to see how the way I view the world will have an impact on the weeWeir. If the way I see the world is with eyes of hope, faith and love, then let that be real for her. If I see the world as doomed, failed and wretched then I'm not sure she'd want to hang around here all that much.

Lord, let my lens be clean, clear and centred on Your reality. That you love the world and gave your life for us.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Lens: The original (unaugmented) reality

A lot is being made of Augmented Reality as the next *big thing* in digital marketing/advertising/social awareness/other stuff.

But maybe this isn't all that new. While I love the overlay of information on what we can see (there's 35 examples here), there's something in the reality of a follower of Jesus that should be seeing more than just the world around us. There's a deep sense that God is in all, working through it all and showing his great love, grace & mercy to us as a result.

Lord, open my eyes to see the truth of what's around me. Let my Lens be awake to life.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Let them know it's Christmastime

This time last week, I was journeying through Wales towards England with a colleague. We were travelling on a train between two filming appointments.

What does that matter?

After spending a day and a half on public transport and meeting new people in unfamiliar surroundings, I was left realising that there are so many stories of life that we never hear.

Sure, we keep up to date with our friends and connections online. We speak with our relatives on Skype or even using the phone (!). But, as a man once wrote in a song, "there's a world outside your window".

Some examples, from the train heading south through the Borders from Edinburgh, I saw a chair at the back of the office block, by a tree.

I wondered "Who sits there?"

At one of the stations in the Lake District, a mother and father with tears and pride in their eyes sent their son on the train - but where is he going (other than the destination of the train, which was Manchester Airport in case you wondered).

As got further south and having changed trains, there was a towering complex of pipes and liquid processing infrastructure. But what does it do? What needs processed at that kind of height (I'd guess a house-and-a-half high) with that kind of infrastructure...?

Later in the day, as we joined a commuter service nearing our destination, there were conversations overheard - discussions over shopping list failures and marriage failures.

Yes, I love the intersections of so many lives that travelling by train gives, yet that so much life is spent discussing the antics of *famous* people let me wondering. Am I a snob, or is there more than spending our lives talking about other people's lives (oh, the irony...)?

Are we losing sight of the plank in our own eye as we look for the specks in the eyes of others?

When meeting people for the first time, you realise how much of their story you don't get at the first "hello". That's often the way we like it. Infact, that's often why we shut ourselves off with out headphones or something to read.

Despite spending 10 hours on various forms of public transport, I barely listened to my iPod and rarely read. I spent time listening and watching the world turning - oh and as was travelling with a colleague, chatting with him too!

A lot of thoughts came on this trip. Many of which I am still unpacking. Hopefully I can make more sense over the next few days!!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Creative Insight

Jonah Lehrer spoke for under 10 minutes at Poptech 2009, but listening to the podcast I was reminded of the value of being outside. Of not being entrenched. Of being aware of more than what is just to hand. Of being an outcast.
"Sometimes, the most impossible problems - the most intractable problems - they seem difficult and intractable, not because they actually are, but simply because we haven't look at them from the outside."
At work, we've undertaken the Clifton Strenthsfinder *thing* to understand more about our personality. Our make up. My top five strength themes were:

Belief, Strategic, Connectedness, Responsibility and Relator.
I see these play out a lot in how I have developed as a worker over the past 15 years, but one thing that I value more and more these days is stepping out of the situation to try and see it more clearly. To perhaps remove emotion (positive or negative) from it and see what might be taking place. Perhaps rationalising it a little more. That can be tricky and I'll be honest that there's a few things on the go that I'm finding it hard to be objective about!
Taking time to be outside of the bubble/fishbowl/activity gives a perspective so easily lost from the frenzy of activities. That frenzy is all well and good - and often essential. I guess this is where teamwork - and varying skill-sets - is vital.
And it's the opportunity for creativity that flows from this position of observation - and segregation? - that I find refreshing too.
But there's more.
One of the themes I took from Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" was that very few of those notable discoveries in science were made by someone at the centre of attention. Einstein was marginalised, yet his impact on scientific thought was astounding. Darwin too (like him or not) was seen as a bit of a whack-job for years.
And for me, far more importantly, Jesus lived on the margins, yet his influence was across the culture of the time. And through the cross an eternal influence.
So that wee podcast is worth a listen/watch. Really. What does it make you think about?