Inspiration

Do The Work.

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IMG_4100The biggest I lesson from undertaking the book project “Life Bridge” is that there is no substitute for doing the work.

Planning and having a concept will only get you so far.

Doing the work involves stepping out into unknown territory, the journey itself being its own reward.

Opportunity favours the prepared mind, and opportunity also comes to those who would create serendipity through putting themselves in the place of possibility.

Fear of failure, fear that your work will be inadequate, fear that your efforts won’t be accepted are all redundant obstacles. Do the work and smash through these.

The irony of this situation is that the work involved defining an idea of the human bridge. By building the bridge, I would also define the thing I was hoping to realise.

What’s holding you back?

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Barometric Reading

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Matt: "That's hot!"
“That’s hot!” At the beginning of the 9 City Bridge Run journey in San Francisco in 2009.

I can almost hardly believe that I am still yet to deliver on this idea of a Human Bridge.

I have learnt that when I fail to deliver on something it is worthwhile listening more closely to myself. Performance is the best barometer of capability. While that sounds elementary, also like a barometer measuring weather, having an accurate measure of capability allows us to ask why to determine what is causing the change or in some cases the lack of change.

Admittedly there are many things I could have done prior to this moment to have delivered on this idea of a Human Bridge. Those things I could have done include cancelling the idea entirely and putting it behind me as a failed undertaking.

The Human Bridge is only an idea, but it is an idea. Everything begins with an idea, but what is important is the execution. There is an irony that I have not delivered to date on an idea which is based on the concept of collaboration to frame the idea of a human bridge. That irony is that I have failed to adequately grasped the idea to bring the participation of other people into the project.

And that failure, that being to have failed in grasping the concept up to this point, is the only failure that matters. Cancelling the idea as a failed undertaking would have been an unacceptable failure because it would have surrendered to the difficulty of building a human bridge.

There is no “bad” reading on a barometer. It is a relative measure of air pressure. I need to learn to adjust my behaviour to match my capability so as to best influence performance.

I can’t change the weather any more than I can change the reading on a barometer simply by walking around with an umbrella as if willing it to rain. I need to adjust to the reading of my capability, and use that as a guide to adapt to improving my performance.

I’m beginning to learn how to read this metaphorical barometer. It shouldn’t be too much longer before I can work out how to deliver on the task to deliver on the idea of a Human Bridge.

Grasping Vs Hustling

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IMG_1461Hustling. Along with words like innovation and entrepreneur, it is overused and misunderstood. It sounds so good. How many posts on Instagram champion the word hustling as a person would wear a mask?

I haven’t really used the word much in the past. I’ve been reflecting on my performance to date, and now I’m thinking I should embrace the word hustle more. Let me explain.

Firstly, performance is defined by my impact not by my effort. In the past, my effort was admirable, but my impact was often questionable. This can’t continue. Something has to change.

I’ve been reflecting on the book Life Bridge which is in the process towards production. There is still a considerable distance to travel, but also considerable progress has been made.

Looking back, I realise that much of my effort has been more grasping rather than hustling.

Grasping reflects a sense of desperation, almost begging. The difference between grasping and hustling is the belief in the outcome.

Hustling is not about pleading. Hustling has to be grounded in a strong conviction that the value you offer is worth more than than what people currently have on offer. Hustling is not delusional. Hustling recognises the freedom of people to decide, and that they will recognise your value to contribute to a given situation all things being equal.

Before I turn to explaining more about the status of the book Life Bridge (tomorrow), I needed to acknowledge what had changed in my thinking. This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the confidence that the ideas you are bringing into the world have value and should not be ignored.

Why Continue?

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IMG_3582It’s a binary choice.

Do or don’t do.

It is not a question of trying or not. That is a distraction, because the reality is that many things are exceptionally difficult for all sorts of reasons, and we must try in order to finally do.

I have felt the weighty obligation to those who have supported me to continue. My continuing is not transactional, but I am very aware of the responsibility I have to my supporters.

I suppose it might have been possible to shrug my shoulders in the past many years along this Quixotic journey and to say that I tried. I have helped crowdfund a promising book which was never delivered, and the would-be author wrote a note to say he was done trying. So I know what that feels like, that is I know what it feels like to be left with nothing.

And yes, there is risks involved in delivering a project. But I don’t think it is enough to pass this risk entirely on the consumer. In this case, I believe the consumer has every reasonable right to expect an outcome. The problem being in this case is that time has marched on a considerable distance beyond that which might have been anticipated.

So I made a choice to continue. That was a very early decision. The reason I thought it worth to continue was that the reason for championing this cause was important enough to invest my time into, even if that came at considerable inconvenience.

I have learnt an enormous amount. It has been a baptism of fire. Mostly I have learnt lessons about satisfying customer demand.

Yesterday I mentioned that I’m picking up this conversation again here in the public domain through this blog. I made a short commentary of how the satisfaction of the book ‘Life Bridge’ is progressing.

Tomorrow I’ll write more about how I see that occurring. I am well past a point of managing expectations, and appreciate that most of these have been well and truly stretched to the point of disbelief.

Suffice to say three things, especially to my supporters.

Firstly, I apologise for the delay. I appreciate that there may be some disappointment which would be understandable.

Secondly, thank you. Thank you for your earlier trust and support. I write that in full knowledge some may be disappointed in the result to date.

And thirdly, I’m continuing. I’ll deliver. Late. It’s all on me.

Someone Who Is Different

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sunrise over manhattanWords have a power to move. Which direction that movement takes is important to consider. Too often, especially as is seen at the moment, people are polarised by the words of others. Is this reasonable, and is this right?

Jacqueline Novogratz, the powerful force behind the founding of the New York based organisation Acumen, made this comment during the week and I thought it was important to share: “Within all of the division we feel around us, what can we each do for someone else today? What conversation can we have with someone who is different? Inspired by Shaw…

She went on to share a quote from the playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950). I have had this quote in my mind for a few years, and it is appropriate at the moment having just arrived in Hiroshima.

Tomorrow, I’ll write more about its relevance, but for now I think you can glean the meaning without the need for any further explanation:

This is the true joy in life, being recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being a force of nature instead of a feverish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for a moment. I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Your thoughts? I love to hear your comments if you would share them below!

Now, Not Later.

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screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-1-39-10-am
Photo of Hans Rosling: Challenging people’s preconceived ideas (TED)

“If you could live forever, would you?” This is the opening question in an exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Larry King.

An interview between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Larry King, shared by my friend Nat, and originally posted by an intriguing personality and photographer called Hicham Bennir.

“The urgency of accomplishment, the need to express love, now, not later.” This statement was the reason for doing given by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He goes onto say that “the knowledge that I am going to die that creates the focus to being alive.”

Here is the interview here:

I thought those comments were poignant in the wake of hearing news that I listened to Hans Rosling had died.

I never met Hans in person. Maybe you have never heard of him until today. Hans was and remains an inspirational person who shaped my thinking on the journey that became the 10 City Bridge Run. Back in 2010, he wrote to me with these comments:

I wish you good luck Matt.
The seemingly impossible is indeed often possible, but be aware that the impossible is impossible. It takes a lot of wisdom to see the differance between the impossible and the seemingly impossible. We follow you with interest!
Hans Rosling (17 September 2010)

Those words from him were a source of great motivation. It was in the early days of this epic quest in which I had undertook to run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities in 10 countries. The purpose of the running was to create a stunt that might allow a conversation to be opened. That conversation was to focus on a question asking: “How might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

In fact for the last few weeks, I have been meaning to get back into this blog, because this year I intend to finally convene these conversations which now have taken a broader view beyond just child survival to consider the larger issue of the Sustainable Development Goals. I had in the back of my mind the thought that I could report back to Hans with news of a completed journey after the conversation had been joined.

Now, it is not possible to share this news with Hans, but the conversation must still continue. Hans’ legacy will be seen in many different ways. The renewed motivation to pick up this challenge is but one small expression of that.

To recap, here are some thoughts from Hans:

Here is Hans speaking at a recent TED event with his son Ola.

We can’t afford to wait until “the right time” to do stuff. And more importantly, delaying is costly when it comes to a better world. We must act now.

Thanks for the inspiration, Hans.

I’m back with a fresh resolve, continuing this journey. It’s time to be the difference that makes a difference. Now, not later.

Let’s get to work.

WDYDWYD? An Update: Part 4

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img_3111My good friend Ledy asked a fair question: “what exactly is the linkage between what and why you do what you do?”

It is a good question and deserves an answer.

In this case, I think a simple answer is best, and I draw inspiration from one of my heroes and a guiding light for the 10 City Bridge Run who frames one of the key chapters in the document features on the landing page for the 10 City Bridge Run website.

Jim Yong Kim is presently the President of the World Bank, and a thoroughly impressive individual. I have never met him in person, but I have consumed much of what he has written and spoken.

In one of his addresses at Georgetown University he describes the underpinning of the organisation which he co-founded called Partners In Health as having a preferential option for the poor.

It is a simple statement, but I think it best captures an answer which satisfies Ledy’s question.

This is the linkage between what I do and why I do it: to have a preferential option for the poor.