A week ago today my dear friend Pat finished her 3 day visit to Ballinamore and flew home to Boston.
We have known each other for over 12 years and met when she was visiting Dublin for work in Peace Watch – an organisation she formed during the troubles in the north. Her team acted as independent observers during the marching season and built some amazing processes with people. She was also (until late last year) the Director of the Haymarket – one of the oldest social change foundations in America. She is now focusing on building her astrological and homeopathic business. And that’s only the external ‘work’ layer of my wonderful friend. To add more about her fabulousness (yes – it’s a real word!) would embarrass her.
Pat & I get to see each other once or twice a year and we spend it talking and listening to each other – catching up and exploring ideas and getting excited about each others dreams.
And she’s about the only person who can get me to go walking – although it was so sunny here in Ballinamore I didn’t need much urging. The photos in this post are from a 2 hour walk we took to Riversdale (sorry no photos as wordpress seems to be having a photo upload clitch – bummer).
The countryside around Ballinamore makes your heart lurge.
And during Pat’s stay I went across the road to the florist (hi Eamon & Noelene) to buy some flowers. While I was there a voice said ‘ Are you Liz? ‘.
2 young men and a woman stood at the door looking expectant. Me? I was checking for cameras – was this some strange new Irish video show?
No – it was even stranger. One of the men said ‘do you write that blog …? ‘. ‘Liz Biz?’ I said.
Well, well – standing right in front of me was a Liz Biz reader. Him beaming at me and me beaming at him – a real live reader!
As we chatted I found out that he (Columba) was from Ballinamore and now lived in Wellington, New Zealand. He was visiting Ireland and Ballinamore with his wife and heard my voice (true – how many Australians are there in this small town that also blog about Ballinamore? Uhmm – one). Small world, folks.
Columba was very kind in his comments on the blog and I was just delighted to actually meet one of my regular readers (yeh, yeh Marc – I’ve met you but your my brother).
Later in the evening Pat and I went to our wine bar – Moo – and ran into the crew again. A lovely night was had by all as we chatted away. Later in the evening some of Columba’s Irish friends came in and when we were introduced they said ‘oh you’re the blogger’. Too funny.
I delight in the image of all you fab readers living your lives all over the world – and now and again popping in to have a read of my posts (Hi Dad).
Wellington sounds like a lovely place (after Ballinamore of course) – and I think Columba could start his own blog about an Irish man in Wellington. He’s certainly articulate and thoughtful enough. Thanks Columba for starting the face to face conversation.
So – old friend and new – and 6 degrees of separation become – nearly null.
It got me mulling about the way people still do what I call either/or thinking – specifically when it comes to the whole face to face vs online stuff.
There’s a whole rake of writing about the death of conversation and face to face relationships as we all connect ourselves to the dreaded internet – where our brains become mush and we cease to relate to others because we’re online all the time.
It’s a kind of waaaay too simple reductionist approach to what I see as a wonderful patterned complexity and opportunity. To me – it just provides a whole lot more ways for people to connect, communicate and collaborate.
I’m an IT/social media geek and wear the badge proudly. I also love to meet friends (old and new) for a good old face to face chat. Even though I spend hours and hours and days online – I can still write and string multi syllable words together and even carry on a face to face conversation without dribbling.
See dear reader – I’ve always preferred the ‘and’ approach. Without this blog I would not have connected with some really fab people – some who I’ve met face to face – and some who I meet online. I would never have met them otherwise and our communication has enriched my life. And, without my face to face relationships I would not be able to make SKIL2 real – online and in the ‘real’ world.
I feel that this blog and my other wanderings online have reduced the idea of 6 degrees of separation to a much lower number.
As a result of my online wanderings (which are focused in a random sort of way – life’s always about living paradox folks) I have found and invited people to be my SKIL2 mentors. People who know a hell of a lot more than me about things like learning technology, social media, and deep learning theory – as well as reflective listening and appreciative inquiry – oh yeh – and open source learning management systems. I use my face to face communication skills to tell them about SKIL2 and then invite them to be my mentor. I had 4 at last count.
And finally – speaking of SKIL2. I received an email on Friday asking me to ring the Social Entrepreneur Ireland Award people today to organise an interview! So I’m now a finalist for one of their 5,000 euro awards for SKIL2. Wooohoooo. I’ll keep you updated.
And Hon Sang, a wonderful designer who works with my brother Marc in Singapore, has been working with me to design the SKIL2 visual brand – and it is ultra fab. He sent me 4 options and I immediately chose 2. I loved one immediately as it just felt like me and was gorgeous and patterned – I felt comfortable with it and knew it would still challenge other people.
I was really drawn to the other one but didn’t quite ‘get’ the imagery – and thought that people might misinterpret it – I felt both attracted to it and slightly uncomfortable. With Hon Sang and Marc’s encouragement I drilled down a bit into the imagery and found layers of meaning that buzzed me. And as a result the slogan for SKIL2 literally rose from the mist of my exploration of the imagery – Harnessing Imagination.
The image isn’t threatening – it was the potential for other people misunderstanding the image (and therefore SKIL2) that made me uncomfortable. And now I have found the slogan – it links the image to a clearer meaning. And that wouldn’t have happened without their gentle encouragement. Thanks guys.
The learning from that was:
- you can go with the comfortable image (idea/behaviour) and all will still be fine
- you can listen to your brother (or whomever) and take a bit of time to explore why an image (idea/behaviour) is a bit uncomfortable – and -move into a space of confusion/discomfort – find layers and depths that remove the discomfort – and create new meaning and clarity
- everything in every moment provides some layer of experience and learning – if you choose to be awake to it and are brave enough to spend some time in that itchy confusion/discomfort zone
My current mantra is – innovation can’t happen in a comfort zone. And that’s why I resisted the urge to just go with the beautiful logo and consciously moved (with support from Marc) into the itchy zone.
So – I let the really beautiful comfortable logo go – and not without some separation anxiety. And – I took time to explore the less comfortable logo and emailed back and forth to Marc as I peeled away layers and found meaning that works for me. The whole process took about 3 days. When it’s finalised I’ll post the logo on this blog.
So there you go – lots of stuff in this post and all intermingled from experiences I had face to face and online with some really amazing people.
So big thanks to Pat, Columba, Hon Sang and Marc. Old friends and new.
I send you and all my readers big wishes for a week that fills you up.