Aside

Courage Camp: Yes is the Answer

15 Aug

At the end of June I attended Courage Camp, in Avignon, France. In many ways and (to be truthful) quite unexpectedly, it was the start of something potentially transformational. I’ll share more and put it into a more professional context another time. What follows is my very personal reflection. Courage is a practice, and sharing something as personal as this here is part of my own process.


The answer is: Yes.

I’ve been thinking about the symbol I created to represent my personal courage and encapsulate the experience I was having at Courage Camp, in that time and place. And indeed, it was an at-the-moment manifestation of the internal movement that Courage Camp was provoking. The provocations continue, were I to be honest.

When the original idea was pitched – that we were all to develop our own symbol of courage to paint in semi-permanence on the wall – I had a notion about sowing seeds. Growth and renewal. Nurture and harvest. You know, all that crap. I did some sketches and felt settled on the idea.

But as the moment approached, I allowed something else to reveal itself.

  • Why was that particular song playing over and over in my head?

  • Why did the phrase I often use suddenly seem even more apt than ever? You can’t push the river.

  • Why was a blog post I wrote three years ago suddenly in mind? When you get to the fork in the road, take it.

  • Why do I so often say no to being courageous? What am I afraid of?

  • Why is David’s ghost hanging over me today?

Believe me when I say this is not like me. It is not. I closed my eyes and listened… Yes is the answer.


I lost David in December 2016 – truly a brother in every sense of the word but genetic. We’d been friends since we were 12. He died in a traffic accident in Uganda, while working on a documentary film about refugees from Sudan. He was the most courageous person I ever knew. He was also funny as hell, incredibly creative, and a real pain in the ass much of the time. He was a Yes Man.*

Want to take a road trip? Yes!

Jump off this cliff into the water? Yes!

Walk on the wrong side of the fence? Yes!

Go to Africa to make a film?

* I am very aware on the non-gender neutral term here. Since I am using it ironically to reflect off the original negative connotation of “Yes Man,” please forgive the anachronism. 


So, the symbol is a Y, of course. Yes.

Courage Symbols

But it is also a fork, and inflexion point, a decision to make and from which there is no return. Blue, the river flows and spills forward and down to the sea to be taken in by unimaginable vastness. I leave my mark on the wall. I may return to look at it again, but the moment will be gone. Yes is also a kind of impermanence.


There is an apocryphal story about the first time John Lennon met Yoko Ono. Yoko was already a known artist in the London avant-garde scene of the mid-60s (talk about courage – a single Japanese woman travels to London in the 1960s to be an artist!).  One the installations was a high-ceilinged white room with a nothing but a tall white ladder in the center. Above the ladder hung a magnifying glass. John climbed the ladder and used the glass to look at the black spot floating on the white ceiling: YES.

It made an impression. In 1973, he wrote Mind Games, the title song of his album of the same name. It is a beautiful piece, one of my favorite Lennon songs.  As the soundtrack in my head, that song left its mark on me that day in Avignon. The proof is on the wall.

Yes is the answer. You know that for sure. / Yes is surrender. You’ve got to let it go.


Addendum:

Mind Games was the first album that John Lennon produced on his own. To be honest, I think he covered up several beautiful songs with overproduction and unneeded flourishes. It’s my opinion to take or leave.

I have been playing Mind Games (the song) on my guitar for many years, and so I include my own version of it, recorded just here and now (18 July, 2018; Geneva), on my phone with my travel-sized Martin guitar.

I encourage you to listen to the original if you are unfamiliar with it. John Lennon’s was a beautiful voice, instantly recognizable and unlike any other. I believe he, too, was a Yes Man.

Me? A work in progress.

Aside

What’s Next? Shall we find out together?

11 Sep

Friends and Colleagues,

As many of you are aware, I’ve been consulting as the principal of In The Learning Age Consulting for two full years now. It has been a rewarding, busy and learning-rich adventure. For the first time, I find myself without my “next project” after I get back from my trip to southern Africa (S. Africa, Botswana, Namibia. Yes, I am very lucky!).

I have purposefully and steadily relied on my network of friends and peers to help find meaningful, interesting projects. Now, I am reaching out to you again to rely on your collective eyes and ears. Looking forward to what’s next with great anticipation!

I’ll be back at my desk in Portland on October 3, looking to jump into my next project, program or event. I am happy to work on engagements large or small, full- or part-time. My work includes:

  • Learning Design/Instructional Design

  • Training Program Development

  • Needs Analysis & Discovery

  • Social/Informal Learning Frameworks

  • Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and Practices

  • Continuous Improvement and Performance Support

  • Change Frameworks & Implementation

  • Workshops, Speaking and Keynote Events

Wishing you the best for the autumn (or spring for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere),

-Ben

Aside

An Open Letter to My Readers

31 Aug

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Starting in September of this year, I will be free to engage across a variety of learning and organizational development projects through my own business, In the Learning Age Consulting.

The time is right for me to set my own course, pursuing my own professional goals by assisting those who want to lead in the way people work, learn, engage, change, and continuously improve both their own skills and organizational capacities.

I have a loose but active affiliation of experienced L&D professionals, instructional designers, graphic designers, trainers, writers, project managers and editors/QA professionals who I can call upon as the demands of particular engagements dictate, so no endeavor is potentially too big or too small.

I encourage you to review my website (very much a work in progress), follow my blog, and engage with me on Twitter and Scoop.It page. And, when the time is right, contact me directly to see how I can help you create and implement learning designs, scaffold change efforts, plan professional development programs and attract/retain the best talent.

Without my community of support from folks like you, I’d be adrift. I hope that this new venture will allow us to work together.

Thanks for all your encouragement,

Ben

Aside

Sorry for my absence

9 Jul

A note to my readers: I have been drawn away from my blog – and much of my life – by personal matters for the last 8 weeks or so. I am now prepared to dive back into my professional pursuits, and I thank you for your patience and sticking with me through my posting lull. I plan to update this blog regularly moving forward, and as always I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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