Wielding money as an artist wields paint

National Currencies

Money is such a big topic, I’ve been looking around for a metaphor that can free us, shift our understanding so that we can relate more powerfully to this vital resource.

As I look around me, I see many people who believe that money limits or enables the things they do with their lives. My view is different. I see money as a symptom, rather than a cause.

If we are afraid to step out and do what we are called to do, money steps in to protect us, usually by its scarcity – we can’t do what we “want” to do, it seems, because we haven’t got the money.

If we step out boldly, confident in making those dreams happen, money falls into line, either working well, or proving not to be necessary.

Money is always a symptom, never a cause.

I’ve been playing with the metaphor of money as being like air – we certainly need air to be creative: a lack of it stunts our creativity rapidly. What if we thought of money as we think of air, something we trust so much that we cease to think about it, breathing it in as we need it, breathing it out as we’re done with it, ready to take the next breath when it comes, knowing it will be there?

This goes some way towards freeing us of the “money as a limiting resource” idea, but I feel it misses something, relegates money to being a one-dimensional thing, a “have or have not” commodity, when the possibilities are so much more exciting.

What if we thought about money as an artist thinks about paint, and wielded it just as consciously? What if we saw that money has infinite facets and nuances and aspects to it, as paint has endless variety of colour and shade and texture?

Think of how an artist selects paint, going to an art supply store – shrines of sacred creativity, hushed and full of awe and vibrant life – and looks through all the varieties on offer. It is a creative act in itself, perhaps testing samples on paper, between fingers, revelling in the colours and the gloss of the fresh wetness, the jewel-like shine of light and highlight reflecting back the point-sources from the light fittings in the store, or the natural light filtering in the windows.

Imagine how artists explore fellow-artists’ supplies, the excited discussions when a new variety is found, poring over palette and canvas and tube.

Artists care very much about this raw material, and are very conscious of the quality they bring into their creations.

Then once the paint is selected, look at how they wield it. Art is not just about the paint, but about the subtleties of where and how it is placed on the canvas, how the colours interact, how the shapes form into what we perceive as images.

Think of how the artist feels as they work, and how that feeling translates intangibly into the result; the work of art holds the energy of the artist and the moment of creation, translated through atoms and molecules and shapes and textures, and the miraculous play of light on it all. In inspired works of art, the artist connects with their deep self, and the deeper consciousness of the universe, and transfers that energy into their work.

What if we consciously transferred our creative energy into our lives as we spend?

My point is that life could be magnificently enhanced if we poured this level of conscious awareness and connectedness into how we draw money into our lives, and how we spend it, thinking of it as an artist thinks about their art, as a creative act, a means of creating our lives and our world. What are we doing to earn it, and how conscious are we as we do those things; where are we looking for it, who holds the supply we tap into; and how do we spend it, what sort of activity are we supporting with our life-giving supply?

What if we considered that money holds and carries energy, of the hands it has passed through, the things it has paid for, the creations or destructions it has enabled, the intentions of the people it has supported?

Another thing: an artist trusts the supply of paint. The foremost question in creating the work of art is not: “Do I have enough?” but “How am I going to use it to express myself, my heart, my joy, my sorrow, my deeply felt sense of the world?”

If we saw money as the artist sees paint, what would alter, how would the world change?

Shaping the world

Who we are, what we do, what we say shapes the world around us. Every pound or dollar we spend feeds someone and starves someone else, through our choices of where to spend, and what to buy. Are we supporting someone who loves their work and their place in the world, or encouraging someone to stay where they are when they would be better to move to something else?

The modern world is about infinite choice and immediate feedback. The cross-section of “likes” on a Facebook post tells us vast amounts about the landscape of our world and our place in it; what we “like” is a feedback loop that shapes what we see. The way we move through a crowded street impacts the way the people we brush against spend the rest of their day; fully, deeply connecting with our family and friends shapes the quality of their lives, and ours.

My working world has been, till now, a world of books; but with the exploration of the last week, a new vista is opening. My work is all about message – my own and my clients’ – and getting that message out into the world. That isn’t changing. The medium, however, is more fluid than it was.

The timescales involved for getting a book written and out into the world, read and integrated and responded to make books a specialised endeavour. They make sense as part of a total package, a body of work with depth and breadth; for immediate impact, however, our choices are wide open: YouTube, blog, social media, conversation, live speaking, workshops, radio interviews, television. If your message is important, then let’s get it out as fast and as clear (and often, as brief) as we can.

I started doing my video writing blog because my publicist suggested blogging more regularly. It seemed to me that blogging daily would mean I did less of my “serious” writing, so I chose video instead. The first few were awful. Then I got a little better. Now, when I look into my handheld iPhone, wherever I happen to be, I sink into a place of connection, look into the lens and let go. I talk about what’s happening, in my work and my life. Life. For me, it’s about taking a snapshot and revealing life, truth, in a soundbite, short but real.

This isn’t stuff that would make it into a novel or a self-help book – not without being refined beyond recognition. It’s  immediate, about struggling mid-process, or responding to something in the moment. And in the background, the message of my approach to life comes through – the essence of who I am. Regardless of what I say, that truth comes through.

We might be less guarded, less thoughtful, when we dash off a Facebook comment or a tweet than we would be writing a book. In fact that doesn’t matter. What matters is, do we care, are we loving, do our actions match our words?

In this immediate life, our thoughts are read by those around us; who we are is what shapes our world.

Big Bang Restaurant Oxford

Wrapped in the warmth of a beautiful welcome at The Oxfordshire Project yesterday, I met an inspiring group of people who, each in their own way, are changing the world. Ben Molyneux, founder of the project; Katie Read of Read Publicity, taking books and their authors out into the world; Susanne Austin and Ben Jackson in the field of eco construction; Placi Espejo, working to incubate new businesses; Paul Mabbutt, Managing Director of ethical business leader Jennings; Shaun Fagan at Black Dog New Media and many more.

Today, though, I’d like to talk about an unexpected stand-out of the morning, venue restaurant owner Max Mason. The event was held at The Big Bang Restaurant in Oxford’s Castle Quarter, and listening to Max talk about the events he is planning over the next months, bringing together all the restaurants in the quarter, was like watching an unexpected firework display. The list of events relating to Movember; his passion for the Castle Quarter Christmas – beautiful! Poetry in schedule form!

Talking to Max later in the day, he described his vision for the future of this area of Oxford – not just his own corner, but effervescing out into the surroundings and wider world.

It reminded me that whatever we are doing, wherever our heart and vision and purpose lead us, we can use that place as our platform from which to inspire, to energise and revitalise, to make the world and its people sing.

If you want to see passion in action, I recommend a meal at The Big Bang Restaurant in Oxford. Tell Max I sent you.

And if you’re in business in Oxfordshire or nearby, get in touch with Ben Molyneux, and catch his particular vision for changing (to begin with) this part of the world.

Hate and Love

Let’s consider for a moment the idea that creation and destruction, hate and love are not opposites, they are the same. Contrasting sides to the same coin, one implicitly holding the fact of the other.

It gives us a beautiful way forward through the things we are resisting, if we see that the things we want to change hold the absolute truth of the things we want to create.

I love being with people who are angry, who are taking huge grief and spinning it into wild destruction, either outwardly or within their own lives, because I see so clearly the bedrock of love and connection that is witnessed through the destruction.

They could not be as they are without the seeds of huge passion, huge love, huge hope, even. Somewhere in their anguished attempts to hurt and revenge is a vision of something entirely different, entirely opposite. They see the possibility of wild, enormous love, and ache at its apparent absence in their lives and in the world.

These are the people we can learn from.

It is numbness that saddens me, the world of small lives, where imagination is stifled in favour of conformity, where people are taught to toe the line, as if a row of identical workers could create the world we see as possible. They can’t. At best, they can keep us on our current trajectory, wherever that may lead.

My vision is to listen to the impassioned, to admire them, love them, hear what they have to say. We may need to wait through some ranting, some fearful scenarios, some recounting of woeful wrongs; and these we can learn from, also, if we’re truly listening for the nuggets of gold that pepper the diatribe.

My experience is that once people who haven’t felt heard feel heard; once those who haven’t felt respected feel respected, once they experience someone who can stay with them, accept them, love them, something alters – their ideas shift and come to the forefront; their anger becomes possibility and love, and something totally new opens up in front of them, something that will benefit us all.

Let’s play with the idea that passion is good, always, that it just needs channeling to become something wonderful, beautiful and new.

It may be that the coin needs flipping, but really, how hard is it to flip a coin?

Effortlessly creating world peace

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: Making Projects Easy – Deconstructing the Art of Effortless Creation

Chapter 19 In case anyone’s interested, here is my simple strategy for creating world peace…

You know that little voice inside you that tells you what is right for you to do and what isn’t – and I don’t mean “right” in a moral sense, something you could argue about or discuss, I mean it in the sense that it feels right, you just know it.

You know that voice?

It’s my theory that that voice always leads us perfectly; and more than that, it fits us in with everyone around us, so that when others are following their voice, and we are following ours, the world fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and everything falls into place.

We don’t need to think about what other people are doing – we only need to pay attention to ourselves, and what we are doing.

Even less than that, we don’t need to do anything right away at all. We just need to listen to that voice, and if the thing we are about to do does not feel right, we just don’t do it. Do nothing.

Within minutes, another action, another option will appear. Check that as well – if your internal voice and feeling tells you it’s right, do it; if not, don’t, and wait for the next option to appear.

If we look at all the things around us that seem to cause problems: pulling triggers, making guns, mindless consumption of resources, if we just stopped taking those actions, almost all of our current “problems” would disappear.

As for what happens next, once we start taking the right actions, the gut actions, the things we know in our hearts are what we are supposed to do… Imagine that. Imagine what would happen then.

To find out how you can have me support you in your projects, take a look at Project Flow!

Article commissioned by Business Matters magazine

The following is an article shortly to appear in Business Matters magazine – thank you, Paul, for giving me this opportunity.

Your Message, in Your Voice, Delivered to the World

Getting your book written can be fast and easy, and can have a massive positive impact on your business

Corporate social responsibility, a unique way of working, innovative ideas… What is it your ideal client needs to know about your business to become brand loyal, to love working with you, and to know they want to buy from you again and again and again?

Books are a fantastic way to let your customers know all about you. In this world of competing attention, we’re often led to believe a sound bite is all we will get to deliver. If we can’t sum up our value in twenty words or less, we haven’t a hope of being heard.

What if that weren’t true? What if you could get 40-50,000 of your words into the hands of your ideal client, hold their attention for four or five or six hours of their time, and leave them with a full, positive picture of who you are?

Let your customers know you want to make a difference

If things have been operating in the normal way of the world for your business, chances are that your customers think you are motivated primarily by money. You and I know that’s not true, that your motivation goes much deeper than that.

Money is important – very important – but it’s not the most important thing. And chances are that once your customers know what is the most important thing to you, a new bond will be formed, a new trust, a new level of doing business.

You may be asking yourself: Could I really write a book?

Many entrepreneurs are not enormously confident about writing. The creative brain is not always compatible with the confines of spelling and grammar, and that’s completely fine. There are plenty of people who can take care of that – the important thing is that you get your message out, into the world where people can hear it.

Simple book process

Most of my clients are more fluent in conversation, or in public speaking, than in writing. The process of producing their books is easy, outlined here so you can follow it yourself.

Step 1. decide who is your audience, and what difference you want to create in their lives

Step 2. decide what you want to say, in what order, and draw up a detailed plan of headings – have an interested friend or colleague help with this

Step 3. do a series of recorded interviews, where your helper asks you questions about each of the headings; or deliver the material in workshops or speaking events, once again recorded; include lots of stories to make the points come alive

Step 4. have the recordings transcribed

Step 5. have an editor transform the transcripts into correct written grammar, leaving your voice, your choice of words, your way of expressing yourself intact

Step 6. review the text and make any necessary adjustments

Step 7. have the text laid out into book form

Step 8. publish: cover design, print and digital publication

When I work with clients it takes 3-4 days of their time to plan, record and consult through the process. In around six weeks their book is completed, ready to take their full message out into the world.

7 Ways you can use your book to get your message out

1. Give copies of your book to clients and potential clients
2. Have copies on display in your waiting area, for people to read as they wait
3. Get your PR people to generate television and radio interviews to talk about your book
4. Have written and audio excerpts on your website
5. Put excerpts in your newsletter
6. Build a following on Facebook using quotes from the book, and discussion around it; link to excerpts on Twitter
7. Build a marketing campaign around the book

Jennifer Manson is a writer who works with speakers and other experts to get their message into book form easily and quickly. www.theflowwriter.com and www.facebook.com/theflowwriter

Life at full speed

It seems that all my life, people have been telling me to tone it down, pull it back, lighten up, not be so intense…

Nah, not doing it.

Watch out, world, maximum expression and speed is on its way, is here. Accelerating today, terrifying tomorrow. Get used to it.

Anyone care to join me?

The New Universe

These last few months have been a time of huge personal growth for me, letting go of the last of fear and hesitation, guided and supported and challenged by two exceptional coaches: Dave Kibby, www.davekibby.com and Saskia Clements, www.nzlifecoach.co.nz.

Part of the learning over this time has been of interdependence, and the realisation that two are more powerful than one, many are more powerful than two, and developing the skills to harness and revel in that possibility. I knew this before, in my head; now that learning has reached my body and become an integrated part of who I am.

There came a time a month or so ago when I found myself asking a question: “once we’ve got to that point beyond fear, and are looking at a world of truth, of destiny, of following our true path, what then? How does the world look different from here?” It’s a question I didn’t immediately get an answer to. In fact, it’s a question I couldn’t immediately get people to understand.

Bit by bit, however, the answer is emerging; I get snatches of phrases, glimpses of visions, exhilarating, exciting ideas of how things might be. I see, long term, a world without money, as everyone contributes their unique part with joy. Resources stretch and expand because people only take what they need in the moment, trusting tomorrow for tomorrow, like the lilies of the field.

I see health as distinct from medicine, focusing on the delights of the human body in its flexibility and strength. I’ve been working with Martha Grover at Joie de Vivre, London, on effortlessly creating a body that moves easily, and is a source of joy; and here has been the reinforcement of a truth I’ve suspected, that everything is so much easier than we have believed it to be.

Things can be easy, effortless, if we only open ourselves to that ideal.

Every aspect of life has a new vision in this new universe. I know I’m only just beginning to see. Just running the thought experiment gives me a deep sense of satisfaction, of purpose, that we might have the vision ready when the world as a whole steps forward, and asks how we would like things to be.

Today’s imagining: The beginnings of education in the New Universe… in audio format here, because it’s time I speed up my thoughts, to keep pace with the changing view. (Right click and choose Save link as… to download)

Adventure – managing the gaps in the action

One of the things about adventure is that while the action, when described, sounds exciting, a lot of the time there’s pretty much nothing going on at all.

Joan of Arc waited around for a year for Robert de Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs, to give her the men-at-arms she was commanded to wait for before presenting herself to the Dauphin, the King – and by any and all standards, hers was a fairly exciting life.

We’re used to our stories being distilled down to their essence – a 22 minute sitcom; a 90 minute movie – that’s the most effective way for us to consider those stories, and integrate their relevance into our lives.

The trouble with that is, we get to thinking that action happens in a continuous stream, one event after another, with no waiting, uncertain, perhaps doubting, in between.

I tend to take my action in the inspired form: I get a clear sense of what is needed, and whether it delights me or fills me with dread, the result is the same – I do it. That’s the easy part. More challenging are those times when the voice inside me, clear as a bell, tells me “there’s nothing to do, do nothing”, or simply goes quiet and I’m left twiddling my thumbs, a menace to myself and others, searching for something to fill the time.

I’m getting better at it. Sometimes, now, I can go easy on myself: stare out the window at the glorious view; listen to music; watch a film. And at other times? Well, let’s just say I’m working on it, masterpiece in progress, hoping the artist, whoever that might be, can repair the chisel damage that happens when I have a go at sculpting life myself.

To generate greatness, significant actions are few and far between – that’s what I’m learning – and the less I keep myself busy, or thinking, or planning, or trying to do it all myself, the clearer the voice inside me, the one that dictates those significant actions, becomes.

(By the way, for inspiration, I recommend Mark Twain’s biography of Joan of Arc – he spent 14 years researching and writing it, and considered it his best work)Product Details

Why do people keep saying there are only six senses?

Why do people keep saying there are only six senses? It is time to open our minds much broader than that, and acknowledge the vast range of things we sense beyond sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch – and whatever sixth sense the speaker happens to be considering at the time.

What about the sense of where our bodies are in space, without reference to sight? What about the sense of our bodies moving? What about the sense of another person’s mood, even if they’ve left the room before we enter it? What about the sense that it’s about to rain or thunder, or the exhilarating sense of imminent lightning?

What about the settling we feel in our bodies when we have a cat sitting moulded onto our knee, or after we’ve finished a bout of laughter? What about our sense of direction, however that works? What about the prickle of premonition or deja-vu? What about pain, in its myriad forms? What about hunger, what about thirst, what about knowing we need to exhale?

What about our sense of space, or of order? What about the sense of rightness, of certainty? What about our sense of justice? What about the sense of intuition or the sense of logic? What about the sense that a loved one is with us, even when they are a long way away, or no longer in this world? What about the sense of belonging, and being loved?

Some of these things could be rolled in together, but none of them come under one of the five standard headings, unless we stretch those headings beyond “sense” as well. And there is more, so much more…

There’s the sense that we have been holding ourselves back for many, many years because in language we acknowledge limits to our world that do not need to exist.

What would you sense if you took an expanded moment of freedom to breathe into? Is there something there for you that your body, in its most intelligent sense, has known for a long, long time, that your mind did not?

What about the feeling of love for another? Where does that come under the headings of the big five?

And our other emotions: fear, anger, joy, excitement, peace, happiness, grief… ah, yes, grief?

These things we feel in our bodies, but not with the sense of touch, taste or smell. These things we feel in our hearts, our tight muscles, our headaches, our expanded arms; the lifting of our chest in anticipation; the bowing of our shoulders in pain.

In describing our world we can limit it, it’s true; but we can also open our view, widen our horizon with a few, deep, heart-chosen words.