Spaces in Between – Part Three

I was on the train home from a celebration last Friday when I stuck these words on Facebook:

‘Forget neat and tidy. It’s the gaps, the spaces in between which leave room, for you and I to grow.’

I confess – these words are not entirely mine, there’s a heavy borrow in there from the wonderful lyricist Mr Neil Peart. I’ll quote him fully later.

I also confess to being a little drunk at the time of scribbling, though thankfully nowhere near as smashed as the guy Keira and I saw earlier that day being helped across the road at the traffic lights. ‘There goes the drunkest man I’ve ever seen’, said Keira. He was wobbling all over the street. Anyway, where were we…

Ah yes, spaces in between. My friend Nigel Bird contributed to the flow with this:

True. The solid properties of matter are illusionary – matter is made out of atoms, which are 99% empty space, yet we see & experience it as being solid. Everything is just space with a few particles spinning around. And energy. Space and energy. Thats what it all is.

A few more likes and comments followed and then I walked up the hill to home and bed. The End.

Except not this time. On Saturday I awoke and scribbled Part one of Spaces in Between, then Ian Pettigrew and I had a useful exchange on Twitter about frameworks, models and spaces. On Sunday Part Two followed and here we are on Monday in the home straight.

Forget neat and tidy. It’s the gaps, the spaces in between which leave room, for you and I to grow.

Those gaps are full of:









And much, much more besides

I guess this Friday to Monday meander has been as much about the acceptance of the randomness of change as it has anything. As human beings we’re all unpredictable, flawed and a lot bit out of whack. We don’t often fit the mould, and yet a lot of time, effort, energy and resource is expended trying and failing to get us to fit. I understand that sometimes people need and appreciate a framework, a model, a lens through which to operate. And not always. Sometimes we just need to recognise the differences, appreciate the differences and let those differences help us to do our best work.

Heather Bussing puts it like this:

We have mixed feelings about most things, most of the time. Our culture and our brains like to label everything as either good or bad, black or white. But when we do that, we leave out all the other colors, feelings, and possibilities for insight. Things are not inherently good or bad. They just are. The way we view things is entirely dependent on whether what is happening is what we want. But when we can put that down, there’s a chance to see more clearly. Then whole new options begin to open up.

And Neil Peart puts it like this:

We are secrets to each other
Each one’s life a novel
No-one else has read.
Even joined in bonds of love,
We’re linked to one another
By such slender threads.

Just between us,
I think it’s time for us to recognize
The differences we sometimes fear to show.
Just between us,
I think it’s time for us to realize
The spaces in between
Leave room for you and I to grow.

Have a great week.

Spaces in Between – Part Two

I’ve just finished reading Wool by Hugh Howey. It’s a nerve jangling, thrilling tale of a not so distant future world that I don’t want to live in. You can read a review of the book here and check out the official Wool web site which uses the wonderfully no win strap line, ‘If the lies don’t kill you, the truth will’, as its forerunner of impending doom.

There’s a passage in the book where one of the leading characters, an engineer named Jules, manages to persuade the powers that be to turn off a vital piece of mechanical equipment for a few days, in order that she and others can strip it down, do some maintenance and make adjustments on it and reassemble it. Once reassembled, the machine will be more efficient than before. It’s a big risk – this piece of kit is very important, yet Jules wins the argument on the basis that a) it will run much better after it’s been worked on and b) if we don’t maintain it then one day it’s gonna blow. Those aren’t her words, I’ve just always wanted to write that phrase.

The work is undertaken. The pressure is on. Things are taken apart, polished, adjusted and reset. Tolerances are checked and double checked before nervously, the machine is reawakened. In its rebirth the machine performs so well that Jules and her fellow mechanics need a few seconds to realise it is active. What used to rattle, now hums.

Clearly Jules and her team are skilled engineers, but the great thing about machines is that you can recalibrate them, take them apart, replace worn cogs, adjust tolerances and make them more efficient. And for a machine to be efficient, the spaces in between have to be carefully managed, exact and precise.

Neatly stacked

Tightly packed





And I may be wrong, I often am, but unless I’m in some Truman Show-esque joke, you’re not a machine, are you?

Mechanical efficiency. Human effectiveness. There’s a world of difference between the two.

Heroes – Gandhi

Today’s Heroes post is by Claire Boyles. Claire has added a delightful twist to this series by kindly contributing her own original artwork as well as a great story and some great questions. I’m getting loads of feedback from people who are really enjoying this series, I am too.

Be The Change

So simple, so profound a statement, and probably the cause, inspiration and motivation of countless individuals across the planet that HAVE become the change that they wanted to see.   For me, Gandhi was the embodiment of that phrase.  I admire him so much, to stand against what he knew to be unjust, in the face of real physical danger, not only to himself but also his family and friends.  That takes great courage; “Be The Change” is something that is at the very core of my own life values.

“It was during his first year back in India that Gandhi was given the honorary title of Mahatma (“Great Soul”). Many credit Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature, for both awarding Gandhi of this name and of publicizing it. The title represented the feelings of the millions of Indian peasants who viewed Gandhi as a holy man. However, Gandhi never liked the title because it seemed to mean he was special while he viewed himself as ordinary.” Extract from Biography of Gandhi by Jenifer Rosenburg.

It is this view of himself, as an ordinary man, just one of the population that made him so powerful, because he led by example, by the choices he made he WAS the change, and he showed others that it was possible, that they too could BE the change that they wished to see.  The things Gandhi did were acts of non violent protest against what he saw to be injustice, and led, against all odds to India gaining independence from British rule.  He inspired others to take simple (not easy) actions.

What does “Be the Change” mean to you though?  For me, it’s a reminder to take personal responsibility, if I experience something I don’t like, I have the power to change it- either create something better, or move away from it; non participation.

My childhood wasn’t idyllic, far from it. As a result, I wasn’t particularly impressed with what the world had to offer me.  I saw much pain and suffering, in people around me, in our own “western” society, but also the starving and oppressed millions and billions around the planet.  As a young adult, I felt I didn’t want to be part of that.  One day in my early twenties I had an epiphany; if I wanted to change the world, which I most definitely did then one way of changing the world was by changing ME, because I am part of the world.  I’m only a small part, but every single human is a part of what makes our society; it is our individual choices that affect it as a whole.

The changes I made were focused on making myself happy, healthy and wealthy, on becoming a responsible member of society, so that I could be part of changing it to the positive.  I went from being homeless, unemployed and unemployable to creating a career in HR, working for some of the biggest companies in the world, buying my own home, and 3 years ago setting up my own business.

I haven’t quite had the same level of impact on the world that Gandhi has had, not yet at least but it’s not over yet…

How can you “Be The Change” in your own life?  It doesn’t have to be huge grand actions; it’s the small lasting changes that create the most effect in our lives.  Remember, the way to move a mountain is one shovel at a time.   What shovels can you move today?

What changes do you want?

What one positive action could you take that contributes towards creating that change?

If Not You, Then Who?