I’m going deep into time today….History and Future!
There’s a word that I rarely used until fairly recently when a business friend of mine brought it squarely into my conscious vocabulary. This business friend has invested years of study into the design of a problem solving framework. It offers a fun and playful approach to deep and thorny issues in transitioning anything from corporate change to family priorities.
Wikipedia describes this word “Iteration”
An iteration is the next thing that comes out of the last thing! Ad infinitum.
And if you ask me, the cycles keep speeding up. It is the act of repeating a process with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration”, and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. (By the way, I call it the Flow of Fruition!) Going back to my friend, he refers often to the knotty concept of emergence in a 21st century world of continual iteration.
Our lives and modern world are filled with vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It becomes more and more obvious to me that nothing seems to be sacred in a continual evolution of comment and challenge, response and recoil, adaptation and compromise.
Even when something is sacred (like faith, hope and love) we still attempt to credibly repackage and re-vamp! We haven’t yet had the verb “re-pimp” but that will probably be the next thing!
Learning; recycling mistakes
Let’s take learning to sew for instance.
It is a fine motor skill refined through iteration after iteration of one common mistake after another. Each is repeatedly corrected until basic skills become fluency and fluency finally turns into mastery.
1. First you thread the needle clumsily. Later, with accurate eye-hand co-ordination
2. Then you learn how to make the essential knot or anchor of the first stitch. Without this, your stitches are merely fleeting, temporary and pointless.
3. You might carelessly lose the thread a couple of times until you ALSO learn to keep enough margin threaded through the eye.
4. You start to handle the fabric, needle and thread with dexterity, without injury or force.
5. You create a useful object, secure attachment or decorative feature without ugly distortion or puckering.
Simple! Yet not easy
What teaches you all this? Only painful first hand experience.
Such as the frustration of seeing the needle’s eye pop through the fabric too many times without its coloured train of thread!
The bloodstain of a tender thumb-prick.
Or the unwanted creases of a sweaty, crumpled sample
The legendary treaty
Last Monday something both historic and fresh caught my attention. An exhibition of The Magna Carta is currently showing in The British Library on the 800th anniversary of its signing in 1215.
A piece of art was commissioned and created as a 2015 anniversary memorial to the original landmark document in its 800th year. (Those of you who have read my book Disentangling Genius know that I have both a fascination for people who have found their niche and those who still need to i.e. all humans generally! Especially the artistically inclined.)
So on Monday, when I discovered the current exhibit by Cornelia Parker, a British sculptor and installation artist, I was intrigued by this major piece of work and it’s embedded (or I should say embroidered, symbolism). This encounter continued to play with my thoughts throughout the rest of the week. Every time I saw the pamphlet left on the dining table, that I had picked up in the British Library, I was conscious it had something to say to me.
The original Charter was a necessary and wise restraining order of the most corrupt King’s rule, England’s people had endured. The clergy, noblemen and commoners worked quickly to protect their individual rights and freedoms which were very fragile in thirteenth century England. As a result of oppression, cruelty and the whims of a weak and cowardly ruler this bold step hastened the establishment of personal freedom and legal justice under the increasingly threatening and tyrannical rule of King John.
Our value as citizens established and re established
Cornelia Parker has re-created the digital Wikipedia page about the historic Magna Carta as a 13m long fabric. The commissioned embroidery has been completed by over 200 people. In an intriguing twist, the majority of the piece has been completed by prisoners, punctuated occasionally by one word or phrase contributions from many representatives of the Magna Carta’s legal clout such as civil liberty campaigners, judges, barristers, diplomats and Members of parliament. I love the fact that the original charter has been reinterpreted intricately in embroidery as a piece of communal creativity by incarcerated lawbreakers alongside those who represent the arm of the law. It is as if it were for them an act of contrition and reconciliation.
I want to ask you today, what would it take to create the next iteration of YOU?
What will be in keeping with the old and what will emerge as a new development?
What is your commentary?
And what new medium of the old version will you be exhibiting?
How will you reinterpret your personal history meaningfully for yourself and the masses?
Did you see the viral clip this last week of the American barrister who recognised her captor in the dock as a middle school peer during the issue of her verdict?
Just imagine yourself some years down the line, the presiding judge as one version of your future self. You are delivering a verdict to the accused who is another version of your future self.
What is going on between them?
Maybe you can start reinterpreting your history and re-designing your future!