A different kind of now

In contemporary life it is easy to to get caught up in thoughts. And get stuck in our heads. Our thoughts tend to either focus on stuff that has happened or fantasies about the future. It is also easy to fuel emotions that these thoughts are connected to. Especially negative emotions connected to events perceived as negative.

Aliveness arrives in living in the here and now. And not giving a rat’s ass about what happened before or what could happen later. Instead, experience what is in front of me and build from that.

Our culture is obsessed with both history and future. Mostly future. We’re also obsessed with the idea that the future can be predicted and possibly even controlled. The reason is quite simple. If you can guess correctly, or use power to influence where things go, you can get ahead. And that supposedly should make us feel better.

Getting ahead as a cultural idea is a sad thing. Because it implies that some should fall behind. Our culture also “tells” us this is the way it should be. The real sadness occurs when we understand on a personal level that “winning” also is accepting and maybe even enjoying that a fellow human being is losing. On a purely human level, this makes very little sense.

Personally, I’m in the middle of an ongoing series of here and nows. Each day. But, I also fall into the trap of thinking about the future, and also activating the coupled emotion of worrying. Will I find my way in this new adventure? Will I be able to sustain a living? Will people like me or not? What happens if I don’t succeed? The questions just keep coming. So, I need to keep myself in the present as a way to strengthen the sweetness in my emotions. And keep the “voice of our culture” from poisoning me. I have developed a few practices to help me with this. That work. Not all of the time, because after all, I’m still human.

For too many people “now” is just a passing moment on the path to “winning”. I’ve come to experience a different kind of now. A now that is alive. A now that is life.

Confessions of a middle-aged man

Today I turned 55. I am told that with favourable genes and some luck I can live to be 100, or even more. That is truly mind-blowing. So what to do with the remaining +45 years? What has come to mind the last few years is to develop my ability to be alive. To really live on this amazing, wonderful planet of ours. To be as rich of “aliveness” as possible.

Today I therefore also turned a page. After roughly a decade of active inner work I’ve come to the point where I no longer can or will pretend I belong in the life I was born into. This never was my world. I understand that fully now. I sensed it early on. I never really fitted in. But was smart enough (or maybe not…) to understand what was expected of me. So I tried. And tried som more. At times it was ok. Sometimes even wonderful. But most of my life I’ve carried the melancholy of not feeling at home in this world.

Today I can see that things started to shift more distinctively in me during the pandemic. Work gradually slowed down, and eventually more or less ceased. I found myself seeking other types of perspectives and conversations. I studied new and different things. I learned and practiced well-being at new levels. A beautiful love relationship came to an end. I also found myself re-connecting with nature. In forests, on fields, at sea. Walking. Floating. Talking. Listening. Meditating. And feeling at home. At last.

Today I start to more intentionally build my new life. The home in me. The foundation is in place, but I have no idea what the rest will look like. I’ll be making insane amounts of prototypes. Iterating ideas for love, work, income, how and where I live, and more. Most will probably not work, and take me back to the metaphorical drawing board. I’ll probably be frustrated a lot. And impatient. And giggle. And cry. And enjoy being fully alive in committing myself to do the work. Which in essence is to figure out how I can create and sustain a parallell existence to conventional lifestyles, that works really well for me. But also honor my desire to fruitfully co-exist with other types of existences that people chose in life.

Today my wish is that you’ll support me in this transition. I wish to keep my bonds to the people I love and respect and learn from. A few have for some time seen where I’m headed, others may think I’m further down the path than I really am, some may be a little surprised, and yet others may not really care. For me it is beautiful if we can live in different worlds and still co-exist and have connection and mutual respect. You don’t have to believe in my process. Or my reasons. But please don’t judge me. What I would appreciate is if you could be happy for me. That would be awesome. Just as I am happy for you.

Today I am thrilled for my awaiting adventure. Much love.

Jan

A text about my texts

I write for myself. Not for anybody else. However, I have for roughly 30 years chosen to share my writing and offer it to the world. As it is. On different platforms, in different channels. This is done in mutuality with all those generous people that share their writing. And that I have found inspiring, thoughtful or simply entertaining. 

My writing is not put into the world with any agenda. I don’t want anyone to do anything with what I share. Or think what I think. That is none of my business. I am simply sharing what I do, feel and sense, and think. Use it in any way you like. Or not. (Please note that this is true even if I once in a while may come across as advocating for something.)

At times I get positive feedback about my writing. That is nice, but not the purpose of it. I sometimes also get suggestions about how I should write differently so I can reach more people, or connect better with them. But this is meaningless as my purpose is only to write for myself. 

That said, I am fully aware that I publish texts that can be challenging to read and get a sense of. This can be true of an individual text, but also the whole body of my writing. And honestly, I continuously try to develop my writing skills. But I am an amateur. And an ideas person with a really broad range of interests. So, anyone trying to figure out what the “red thread” (Swenglish expression) is in my writing will probably struggle. I have no idea myself. I just write what I feel like writing. And to be overly clear, my writing is not part of building a personal brand, it’s just me writing.

At times I discover myself trying to write for others. Sometimes after the text has been published. This is almost always bad writing because I lose my own voice when I try to please others. But I allow those texts to stay published as this blog also doubles as my own record of my thoughts, feelings and sense making over the years.

With this I invite you to enjoy (or not) my writing in any way it suits you. Not only here but in my social channels as well. Oh, and I tend to switch between writing in Swedish and English, and that’s just the way it is ;)

Thank you.

Jan

An exciting and engaging challenge!

Svensk version här.

This fall I accepted the position as chairman of the board of Impact Hub Stockholm. Together with Jesper and his team we are embarking on an expansion journey that will be ongoing for a number of years.

The first step on this journey will be a physical move of the Impact Hub Space, directly after the new year, to Jakobsbergsgatan 22 in Stockholm. This is made possible though a unique collaboration with Skandia Fastigheter, and the furniture company EFG. We will be almost tripling our space and I will of course have my new home base there. If you are curious about joining our movement, and being part of Sweden’s best community for purpose-driven organizations, please get in touch.

Our webpages are currently being updated with our new offerings, but don’t let that stop you from initiating a first contact. Top location, top space, top community. Hearts, brains and business. Personal and human. Zebras rather than unicorns. That said, there are no special requirements. We see ourselves as an open development platform where we together with our members co-create solutions to current and future societal challenges. Big and small.

The future phases for Impact Hub Stockholm are just as exciting. We are part of a global community of about 100 Impact Hubs in the world. We are after 10 years in Stockholm more than ready to spread Impact Hub to other places in Sweden. During 2020 we will start to explore collaborations with property owners, businesses, municipalities and investors.

The futility of hope

I have over the last years reconsidered my relationship to hope. I used to think hope was what kept me going. A necessity. And when I once in a while lacked hope I lost my energy and sense of direction. Until hope once again arrived.

Today I have no hope. And have a better and more fulfilled life. Quite a paradox.

What I do have is convictions, learnings, and visions. And capacity. And responsibility. And will. And acceptance, compassion and love.

I also have lost despair. What I have is life. My life is best lived in the present. Living in future and in the past with hope and despair has mostly brought me unhappiness.

I have come to realise that hope puts our fate outside ourselves. Hope is an emotional expression that something outside ourselves will sort itself out in the future. And make our life/lives better. The fallacy of this is that instead of strengthening us, hope makes us powerless and puts us in the hands of others. Hope puts our faith and expectations in leaders, groups, or communities. Not in ourselves. It also generates a lot of disappointment, because hopes so often don’t materialize.

Sure, we humans need to collaborate, but my point here is what mindset we chose to have when we collaborate. I’m suggesting that hope is something rather useless and meaningless that we should rid ourselves of. And instead dig into whatever current realities that concern us with presence and openness. We get the outcomes we get as a result of what is there and what we put in. Outcomes are neither good nor bad, fair or unfair, just consequences. This way one shouldn’t get disappointed and can find more fulfilment in the work itself, and the relationships with our collaborators. And in the long run most probably get more and better work done.

This talk by Alan Watts captures this theme much better than I ever can. I suggest you listen if you are curious to explore hope more.

There Are No Mistakes In This Universe

I have recently rediscovered Alan Watts. Just love listening to his wise talks. This talk is so profoundly relevant to our dire times. In society, in our environment, at an individual level. Do listen. Maybe as a reflective meditation.

2018 ==> 2019

So there it is. The wrapping up of this wildly interesting and challenging year. At least for me. I’ll be honest. This is the year I almost went bankrupt. It is the year I realized some of my friends aren’t my friends. This is the year I realized som of my friends REALLY are my friends. This is the year I fell deeply in love. But also had to let it go. This is the year I fully discovered universal love, the way of the universe and other “magic”. What an experience. This is also the year I managed to shift the main focus of my work towards serving needs connected to sustainability and humanity.

From the depth of my heart I am deeply grateful to everyone that has encouraged and supported me throughout this year. This includes some very brave and challenging clients that have entrusted me difficult work. I love that.

For 2019 I have a mixture of concerns and hopes. Hopes of a very special nature that best can understood by reading this thoughtful piece by Margaret Wheatley. My concerns are much the same that I have carried for roughly two decades. The loss of our connection with this planet that keeps us alive, and also the accompanying loss of our humanity. My dedication for the years to come is to stand on the right side of these issues. To be part of solutions, and not problems. To participate in guiding us towards better emerging futures. I have no idea if we can pull it off. But I feel I have an obligation to serve this cause and do my bit. As Winston Churchill once put it:

“It is not enough that we do our best: sometimes we must do what is required.”

I look forward to joining forces with you during 2019. Starting the year, my ambition is to get a newsletter going. Please subscribe here to get the first issue. ==> Subscribe the Changing Minds Newsletter <==

–Jan

 

 

Opting for the difficult

Roughly 20 years ago I realized our current idea of civilisation could not be sustained. I imagine many have had similar insights. But also like me struggled with what do to and over time found that it is impossible to stop or redirect what can be seen as a supertanker on full throttle. And honestly maybe we also started to think that we were wrong. That this all might work out with the help of globalisation, international collaboration, technology, etc.

Today I’m glad I have at last shedded all such hopes, even if I hold a degree of openness towards possible miracles. But in general I have accepted that we are in the end state of this civilization. And this is paradoxically quite a liberation. It allows me to redirect my efforts and hopes in new, more fruitful, directions. 

At the core I am still a person that sees and needs to exist in a space of possibilities. So when possibilities seem scarce in and around our struggling institutions I now increasingly go for the outliers. For the small scale. For the local. For the community. For the human spirit. That is where I find hope and possibility today.

In a world running on steroids our old institutions act hard headed and will resist anything that seems to threaten their power and privileges. In the light of increasing complexity and uncertainty they tighten their command and control. Which is quite counter productive if they want to survive, and instead accelerates their disintegration. I’ve found this to be in line with how social systems tend to work when they get poisoned by ego, fear and power games. 

The easy (but soul threatening) thing to do is to play along. Not resist. Although it will still be tough work because those in charge will always want more from us. But the job in itself it is not so difficult. The truly difficult today is to take on the new possibilities that can be found at the fringes. Invite them and explore them. Test them. To bring people together, generate empowerment and build local trust and community. AND simultaneously defend these efforts against a variety of subtle and not so subtle attack and defence mechanisms from our institutions. 

I’m opting for the difficult. 

Tom Peters – Still going strong!

In the last couple of weeks Tom Peters has put out some outstanding stuff in the domain of management and leadership. Maybe not new new new, but put forward in the context of today’s business world and in Tom’s unique style I would like to re-enforce his message – also to a Swedish audience.

So.

Message number one – The Speed Trap – READ IT. NOW. TAKE THE TIME ;) There is so much in this paper. Read it many times. Reflect. Apply. I believe Tom nails and expands brilliantly on a fundamental paradox of our times.

You may be aware he has a recent book out, The Excellence Dividend. I’m an avid Tom Peters fan, but must confess I have not yet read it. But it certainly is on my list.

Message number two – Summary of the Summary (of The Excellence Dividend) – Download the slides. Be happy there are only seven. Tom is famous for his HUGE slide decks ;) Read one of the seven slides a day for a week. Talk to your colleagues about each of them. Make commitments. Follow through. These slides cover the essence of WHY we exist as organizations and HOW leaders need to view their part of the work.

Do carry on reading if you’d like to know a little about my special interest in Tom’s work.

Tom Peters has been an inspiration for me ever since I came across his writing and thinking. I was in business school trying to figure out why it all felt so dated. At the time my dad was an executive at SAS and had met Tom several times and had books and pamphlets Tom had written. This was really something different than the boring literature we had in class.

After university I ended up starting a mail order management book store. The first book I imported to Sweden (cutting deliver times in half) was Tom’s Liberation Management. This is roughly 25 years ago and that book has meant a lot to me in many ways.

Tom is quite popular in Sweden and over the years we sold quite a few of his books. I later moved on to other endeavours but continued to read and follow Tom’s work. One of my reflections is that he has been remarkably consistent over the years. And also very productive! And energetic! And curious!

A couple of years ago I found Tom on Twitter. This added a new experience to his work and once in a while we’ve had a few exchanges. I really enjoy his keen observations and small outbursts. In my view he is still one of the more interesting voices in the the broad field of management and leadership.

And interestingly, when I am now rediscovering my interest in leadership and organisational culture that I started exploring 25 years ago, it is once again Tom who is an inspiration when I carry that work forward. As I see it there are timeless principles and practices that are getting ever more lost in this world of tech, data, money and metrics. It is like we are collectively forgetting that we are in the service of people.

—Jan

 

Changing minds

Welcome to my blog “Changing Minds”. I’ve been at it for a while, but there have also been gaps in my writing. Quite frankly the blog is a bit of a mess. I refuse to tidy it up as I want it to be a record of my thoughts, interests and emotions, and how they have developed and changed over time. Even if it might be a little embarrassing. The topics are both big and small. Professional and personal. Serious and for fun. Specific and general. Just like life. Some of the content is fairly clear. Some of it is explorational and maybe even fluffy or silly. I would like the blog as a whole to mirror my personality.

I write in both English and Swedish. Filter posts by using the category menu. My most recent posts can be found below. A selection of my posts in English will also appear on my Medium account.