In Staccato managers & middle dancers was mentioned the subtle balance between fluidity and clarity. Recently I have been balancing between some other polarities : in a staccato dance between Yes and No.
During the last few weeks I have been helping some friends set up a Twitter account and start growing an online community around an artistic lab exploring the deeper meaning of masculinity. Have a look @deepdivingmen if you are interested in the question. I am… so I took a deep dive in the twittersphere in search of #masculinity #manhood #betterman #gender and multiple other related hashtags and handles.
For various reasons I had to say no to the role of performer in that physical theatre project. Meanwhile, saying yes to this type of contribution behind the scene offers me a great opportunity to put in practice some learning from my journey into digital curation and social learning.
In that process of connecting, networking and curating I continually face the dilemma between yes and no. Yes it’s relevant for the project and its – still embryonic – network, no that’s noise only. “It’s like breathing information in and out”, says Harold Jarche in Jane Hart’s essential reading Social Learning Handbook 2014. The network is meant to get bigger while at the same time it needs its own boundaries to remain specific and nurturing.
The Traffic Light tree by sculptor Pierre Vivant
Go or No Go ?
Usually I find it quite easy to say yes… opening the flow of information and letting myself go, seek, explore, observe and discover new ways. Like the “modern flâneur” Richard Martin describes with his incomparable lyrical style in his post Reaching for Meaning. But the digital flâneur in me also needs to say no, wake up, put boundaries and set up efficient filters. Or as Richard puts it : “The present day flâneur is not quite as dissolute or aimless as our antecedents”. Finding that balance in the social web is key, as it can pave the way to serendipity.
“Serendipity powers the social web” writes Angela Maiers in her article Making Serendipity Tactical: Is Randomness Part of Your Leadership Strategy?
Serendipity is a yes to the flow of information and a no to noise. In the meantime it’s a no to the “consciously prepared, overly-planned, highly-articulated life” and and yes to randomness and the digital flâneries. Here are a few extracts from Angela Maiers’ recipe on how to let the serendipity do it’s magic :
– Put Some Randomness Into Your Routine : Serendipity occurs when you go looking for it. Through the process of putting our guards up, protecting our identity, and summoning unnecessary barriers, we also condemn possibility, eliminate chance, and choose sameness and an uninspiring journey down the well-worn path.
– Get Out There : Getting yourself out there, engaging the world with an open mind and exploring the unknown leads invariably to positive experiences, new connections and new opportunity and possibility. Twitter is a useful tool for accelerating the process of injecting random online experiences into life and turning them into a source of offline fun, opportunity and possibility.
– Connect : One of the easiest ways to increase serendipity is to be a better connector. The easiest example of how to be a connector is to connect two people you know who you think can create special value together.
– Tribe Hop : The most valuable tribe is a tribe of unusual suspects who can challenge your worldview, expose you to new ideas, and teach you something new.
– Slow Down : Become a master at noticing. Notice everything, especially taking note of the needs of others and responding with empathy and compassion.
– Collaborate : Collaborators are everywhere. You will find them in the grey areas between silos. Just look up from your current business model! Make sure you seek out potential partners and “sandbox mates”.
Exactly on that same day I was reading and rereading Angela Maiers’ inspiring post, I saw Serendipitous Connections Lead You To a Better World published by Helen Blunden, who I had the chance to meet – virtually – in the “ambiguity sandbox” of the #xplrpln MOOC back in October. See how the concrete and professional situations she describes reflect directly on some of Angela Maiers’ advices about changing habits, reaching out, noticing, collaborating, etc…
Serendipity seems to be an essential ingredient to make sense and connect the dots in the social age. In my own modest experience creation is often (always?) a reaction to something/someone coming across my way. Or instead of creation should I say “transformation” ? Described as the ultimate stage of engagement and deep learning by Steve Wheeler in his presentation Digital Age Learning.
As a 5 Rhythm dancer, I believe serendipity takes its roots in the 3rd rhythm of Chaos. After the seeking in Flow – exploring the space with fluidity and grounding circle movements – and the filtering of Staccato – channelling the energy with purpose and boundaries, Chaos is the zone of letting go. In Chaos we trust our body and instincts, release our head, let our conditioning, stereotypes and prejudices dissolve. Chaos is a form of “in balance”, a moment in suspension…between yes and no.
In that unpredictable space something new (ie. a movement, an image, a shape, an emotion…) might come our way, be released or transformed – if that makes sense.