In this edition:
✍🏼 Left turn at Albuquerque - by Danu Poyner
🎙 Still Curious Podcast - How low points in life can open up surprising new pathways with Kathryn Harris
🪧 Notice Board - events and announcements
🍬 Snackables - assorted awesome links
📩 Subscribe to get the Grokkist Scholé Supplement in your inbox every two weeks.
✍🏼 Left turn at Albuquerque
As for many people, the experience of the pandemic stirred a great restlessness in me. I had been going from strength to strength professionally and personally the last few years and was ‘doing well’ by the usual standards, whatever that means.
I had taken a circuitous path to get where I was, but I had no regrets, having lived long enough already to learn that being out-of-sync earlier can often give you an edge later on.
But I couldn’t escape the feeling I had missed a turnoff somewhere and was now hurtling fast down a highway towards somewhere I wasn’t sure I wanted to be.
If you’d asked me which highway I’d rather be hurtling down, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. It was more of a feeling than a destination to reach or a problem to solve.
I felt… not quite bored, not quite burnt out, but… stuck.
With clarity of hindsight, I can now say that I felt a need to:
- work in a psychologically safe environment
- find more people I can vibe with
- stand for something I care about and make a difference through my actions
- figure out a way to make a living that feels more like ‘who I am’
That’s the positive framing. In reverse, it probably tells you that I was feeling lonely, out of place, unfulfilled and unsafe. And yet that’s also what I was calling ‘doing well’... 🤔
I was living with that cognitive dissonance and carrying it in my body, bottled up. The pandemic just came along and popped off the cork. Now that the pandemic is over (at least by popular consensus), many of us are once again finding ourselves picking up pre-pandemic rituals of work, and wondering why. There’s no putting the cork back in the bottle. Or, to quote Harry Styles:
You know it’s not the same as it was.
In the conversations I’ve had with oodles of people over the past several months, this kind of stuck energy comes up often.
Often the conversation starts like this: ‘gosh the stuff you’re doing sounds so inspiring, I wish I had your creative energy…’
It would, of course, be easy to say ‘well, what’s stopping you?’ Social media is full of productivity pr0n from twitter bros along the lines of ‘12 life hacks to stop wasting your time and start achieving your potential 🧵👇🏼.’
Remember when one of those power posts made you sit up and take notice, finally setting you at long last upon the path that completely transformed your life for the better?
Yeah, me neither.
Stuck energy isn’t about what’s stopping us. We’re talking about highly capable and resourceful people who already know how to do stuff.
What keeps us stuck goes deeper than that, to how we see ourselves in relation to the world and our web of social relations.
It’s about a lack of confidence that comes from not really knowing who we are, where we fit or what we can offer. And the fear that we might have left it too late to find out.
The human spirit is a fragile thing, and the truth is that many of us have a great impatience for fragility in others and in ourselves.
People are like plants. They want to grow and if you put them in the right conditions, they will.
Our social systems of work and education however are largely uninterested in seeing the real human beings who populate them, let alone providing the kind of conditions that real people need to thrive. They are impersonal.
Instead, our social systems are interested in securing and renewing a stable, predictable social order that minimises risk and prevents catastrophe (as seen from a particular perspective). Which, to be fair, they mostly do.
But what they guarantee instead is a mediocrity of the soul that makes all of us less than we can be.
It has become clear to me therefore that my efforts here constitute an overall project of two parts:
- to help get people unstuck from traps set by our existing systems of work and education
- To assemble a community that can re-imagine and co-design strength-based systems of learning and productivity that help people flourish
I will be focussing my efforts around these two themes in the coming months. Thanks to all those who have been sharing their time, energy and ideas with me. Keep 'em coming.
And as always, if something today resonated with you, feel free to leave a comment on the post, reply to this email or hit me up for a chat.
Reply to this email to express your interest and I'll be in touch with more info.
🎙Still Curious Podcast
👋 Still Curious is currently on mid-season break, returning early August. Meanwhile please enjoy this classic episode from the back catalogue...
My original idea for the podcast was to interview curious people from all walks of life about the work they do and how they came to be doing it.
Over time the project has evolved to be less talking-about-work and more about illuminating the rich inner and emotional lives that people lead and exploring how this informs the way we make life decisions and go about our professional lives.
This episode probably marks the beginning of that shift in emphasis. Kathryn and I were already friends when we recorded this but I came to understand so much more about her through this conversation.
It sparked fresh clarity and purpose in me about the power and importance of creating space for conversations about the moments that do most to shape who we are.
In this episode
- How low points in life can open up surprising new pathways.
- Finding a love of geology and the natural environment.
- A path that through dropping out of music school and waitressing in outback Australia to managing multi-million dollar groundwater projects.
- Finding a search party waiting after getting lost in the wilderness.
- What it’s like to be an environmentalist working for an energy company on coal seam gas projects.
- Filling your own cup and the dangers of putting too much of yourself into work
- The importance of a nurturing environment for learning, and what it’s like to be a mum to a curious little boy.
- Diversity and inclusion in the energy sector and the challenges of moving from being a specialist out in the field to being a manager behind the desk.
🪧 Notice Board
Events and announcements
🍾 Old School School Symposium
The Old School School music video has been getting great reactions (including 220k+ likes on TikTok so far!) Join Nathan and I next week for virtual drinks and discussion about what's in the video, your reactions and what's next.
When is it happening?
- 🇺🇸 New York | Tues 19 July 7pm – 8.30pm (EDT)
- 🇳🇿 New Zealand | Wed 20 July 11am – 12.30pm (NZST)
- Convert the time for your city
🧑🏽💻 Help Wanted: social media, digital marketing and engagement
I'm looking for someone to help me create and co-ordinate Grokkist's social media, digital marketing and engagement activities. If you're curious to learn and experiment alongside me on a hands-on project, drop me a line or let's have a chat.
Assorted awesome links
Things I Have Drawn is an Insta account where a dad turns his kids' drawings into surrealist photography. Delightful and unsettling.
Cult Tennis is a series of mini-docos about weird and interesting aspects of the world of tennis. This one is about a real guy who faked the existence of his entire professional career, and how he did it. In other news, might be time to re-watch Catch Me If You Can.
This one's been doing the rounds - misfit achieves traditional success! School didn't suit him and he avoided maths. Particularly notable for insights into his thinking process and for his observations on self-discipline and willpower (he thinks they're overrated).
An insight into living with long covid. Personal reflections on living with long-term illness and disability which other people don't understand or take seriously, including developing the 'sick-hacks' that are necessary to pass as a well person, and what this costs.
A panel of entertaining professional musicians deconstructs the live vs recorded versions of Silk Sonic songs to understand what makes them such a vibe. (An Evening With Silk Sonic was hands-down my favourite jam of 2021)
Grokkist™ is a self-funded social enterprise that celebrates the joy and excitement of sharing knowledge for its own sake, accessible to and for the benefit of all.
We're building a community of learners, educators and practitioners who are curious, creative and committed to finding and designing learning experiences that set the soul of fire. Learn more at the Grokkist website.