Stories

Returning To The Ordinary World

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imageMy first visit to Papua New Guinea was life-changing. I was taken to villages on islands that were a million miles from where I existed, and found people that lived lives of contentment but without the trappings of infrastructure that we take for granted. I’m not taking a romantic view here, and appreciate that their existence is also not without problems.

Have you been there before? Not necessarily to Papua New Guinea, but somewhere where you were taken out of the Ordinary World. It changes you. That is the great thing about travel.

Being taken out of the Ordinary World happens in darker times too, when you don’t actually leave the familiar surroundings of home, but when events conspire to wreck and ruin your world. You leave and return to the Ordinary World you once knew. And again you are changed. Hopefully for the better, but not always. There can be pain and loss involved. Being changed means that things are not the same as they were before.

It is in this experience that we find the Hero’s Journey that was defined best by Joseph Campbell. You have to both leave and return to the Ordinary World to complete The Hero’s Journey. This post is about returning.

It is now more than 10 days since my last post here. A long time. Why the delay?

I’ve come to realise that I am on the return from the Hero’s Journey. The return doesn’t happen when you clear customs at the airport. It is more intrusive than that. And I think that accounts for the delay.

Partly, it was because I spent some time with my family in Melbourne. That was a very good opportunity and connect, especially in the wake of my brother’s recent death.

But I am also back from the epic quest of the 10 City Bridge Run. Ought it not to be Full Steam Ahead pushing ahead into the Design Forum to unpack this question “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” Well, the answer to pushing ahead Full Steam Ahead is both yes, and no.

Yes, it is Full Steam Ahead, and this question about child survival is being examined with a number of teams working using the framework of the Acumen Fund/IDEO Introduction to Human Centred Design online course to start giving some definition to where we should go next.

But I found it was on a personal level time to wind myself back from being in a Full Steam Ahead mode. I needed to change gears a few times. Reflect on what happened. And then finally last night, it was clear to me that I was on my way home, returning to the Ordinary World. That is part of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is not something that is behind me, and this is an administrative requirement to find my own way home after passing through the pageantry of the finish line.

There is nothing mechanical about The Hero’s Journey. And I think there is a need to distinguish a fine line between ‘The Hero’s Journey’ and ‘an heroic journey’. Both are intriguing, and often they overlap, but in reality our appetite for media fuels our hunger for a straight diet of heroic journeys, and we shy away from The Hero’s Journey because it forces us to confront questions about ourselves that are better left undisturbed. The Hero’s Journey is far more entertaining to enjoy from the comfort of the audience watching the latest instalment from Hollywood.

I’m a little sceptical of workshops that take you through this process, allowing the exploration of a Special World from a sanitised and fluorescent-lit room. Far from being cynical, I’m instead suggesting that if we are serious about story-telling and exploring the Special World’s that adventures calls us to explore, then we should open ourselves to that journey. Be vulnerable. Abandon the Ordinary World for a moment.

So what has helped me return? Three things.

Firstly, it was spending time with my family. That was important.

Secondly, it was taking time to review where I had been and where the rest of this year is likely to take me, and in doing so looking beyond this obsession with the Design Forum. I still have a lot of things to write about the trip away and the Design Forum to come, but one thing at a time.

And thirdly, it has been the opportunity to share part of this journey with friends. One way that is being done is through the 10 o’clock Club. You can join us there too. It is free, and happens every night at 10 pm in your time zone. Post a photograph of where you are and what you are doing onto Twitter at 10 pm using hashtag #10cbr . Share your journey with us. We might not know it at the time, but you could well be documenting part of your own experience throug your own Hero’s Journey there too!

Looking forward to seeing you at the 10 o’clock Club!

Shame

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imageShame: it is such a strong, taboo word. Many people won’t even open this post because of the demons conjured up by the word shame.

I amended the title of this post from ‘Home’ to ‘Home, and insights into shame’. Here is the earlier blog post.

But in fact there is nothing demonic about shame. It is just a word. And far from about conjuring, it is about being open to express your own feelings of vulnerability which is a big step needed towards moving in the direction of creativity, innovation and collaboration.

Watch the video from Brene in the post, especially from 16:30, and then reflect on that for a while. Give it some thought. You don’t have to leave a comment, but I think you do owe it to yourself to work out what this word shame means to you.

And here is the video from Brene Brown:

A Song For My Mum

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IMG_3181It has not been an easy year for my mother. For many people it has been difficult. While our family comes to terms with the loss of my brother, my mother is finding these days difficult, and so I asked Luigi to sing for her when I returned to Glasgow.

Luigi is the head chef at the Val Doro Restaurant, which is the oldest chippie in Glasgow. It has been in his family for over 80 years, and in operation since the late 1870’s. An institution. I’m convinced that Glasgow wouldn’t be the same without it.

IMG_3182It is a classic chippie. I took this photo when I was running the Glasgow leg. There were less people there the day I dropped by and asked Luigi to sing a song for my Mum.

It would be easy to draw a comparison to some British comedy tv shows, but I won’t. Luigi has a heart of gold. Francis who is the sous chef on shift is every bit as diligent, taking care with the deep fry while Luigi sings.

Make yourself a cup of tea Mum, and enjoy Luigi singing especially for you.

Son Kee-chung: Unknown Hero Making Incredible Things Possible

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IMG_2110Son Kee-chung is among the all-time world’s running greats. And he is almost unknown outside of Korea.

Why is he so significant? He smashed the existing world record in 1935 for marathon running 2:26:14, beating the previous record which had stood for the previous 10 years. After setting the record in 1935, it stood for another 12 years until one of his trainees set a new time at the Boston Marathon in 1947.

Son Kee-chung is best known for winning the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he ran under the Japanese flag because of the colonial annexation of Korea in 1910. Defiantly, at the medal ceremony, Son Kee-chung sought conceal the Japanese flag on his uniform and remains a political act of Korean patriotism that continues to be widely celebrated in Korea.

He went on to become an exceptional coach, not only training Suh Yun-bok for his 1947 win, but also ensuring first, second and third places to Korea in the 1950 Boston Marathon, as well as Hwang Young-cho who won gold for South Korea after winning the marathon at the 1982 Barcelona Olympics.

His legacy is one of inspiration. Visiting Son Kee-chung’s old primary school in Seoul that has been turned into a Memorial Centre, the Manager summed up Son Kee-chung’s legacy in one word as: “challenge”.

It is the adaption of a quote from Son Kee-chung that inspires the theme of a human bridge for the book Life Bridge which will help to illustrate the importance of our connections in overcoming challenges. Son Kee-chung said, and I have adapted the words to replace his mention of ‘the human body’ with ‘the human bridge’:

The human bridge makes incredible things possible when supported by strong commitment and passion.

I will be running the seventh leg of the 10 City Bridge Run here in Seoul on this Sunday at the Son Kee-chung Marathon event.