Abraham Maslow made the concept of hierarchies of progression in systems popular via his work on a hierarchy of needs. Below is a theory about the hierarchy of different types of readers.
Only reads when critical to survival. This type of reader regularly denounces the benefits of reading. They are often too busy to read and can’t see any value in spending time to read.
Wants to read more. Understand reading provides pleasure and opportunity. Asks for book recommendations and has good intentions, but doesn’t make the time to start reading. Often afraid of the commitment of finishing a book.
Reads semi-regularly for pleasure and social acceptance. Doesn’t have any focus to the books that are being read and doesn’t process what they read outside of themselves.
Takes time to engage with others on meaning of books and reads with a purpose. Is excited about what they are reading and want to share with others the excitement. Starts thinking deeper about the meaning of the works and are curious about how it relates outside themselves.
Assembles content from multiple sources to create new works and/or actively applies to daily life. Reading enough to find common strands among multiple works. Actively connects ideas, thoughts, works and people to push boundaries of changing things well outside themselves. Is able to put read works to practical use.
So where do you sit? Are you okay with where you sit?
Last night I was completely irresponsible and kept my son up until one in the morning on a school night, hacking on 3D printed models and laser cutting a toy box for them. Today on a road trip across town it reminded me of the countless hours my father spent with me building computers and helping me setup BBS systems, not to mention all the other physical tinkering projects that were not technology related. It made me realize, nearly every advantage I have in life I can directly tie back to the awesomeness of my parents. They weren’t perfect (and still aren’t), but they prepared me for the future in ways they probably don’t even realize.
I regularly feel I am failing to prepare my children for the future. To help me do a better job I have decided to put down the invaluable teachings of my own parents.
Dad thanks for teaching me:
Nobody ever said life was fair. I must have heard this ten thousand times growing up. I probably hated hearing it 9,999 of those times. This taught me that there are somethings in life you can control. There are somethings in life you can’t control. Spend your time focusing on the things that you can influence, not the ones you can’t. Dwelling, sulking, pissing or moaning about the one’s you can’t is just wasted time you could be spending to stack the deck in your favor on the ones you can. It’s something I now tell my own children regularly.
Shit in one hand and want in the other, see which one gets fuller faster. This taught me a few things. Most importantly it taught me sitting around and “wanting” something is about as useful as shitting in your own hand. If you want things in life, you are gonna have to get off your ass and work to make them happen. Secondly as I age it has made me realize that material “stuff” isn’t all that rewarding. So constantly thinking about all the stuff you “want” is probably keeping you from the things that ultimately matter the most.
If it’s worth doing. It’s worth doing right. I hate when you are right. Which is most of the time. This taught me so vividly to have pride in the work that you put your time into. Don’t half ass life. If you can’t care enough to do it well, you probably shouldn’t be doing it all.
To be insanely curious. You let me know that quitting was bad, but not trying was infinitely worse. It was okay to tear things a part. It was encouraged to take risk in the pursuit of finding something new. Ask questions about everything.
To swim in the sea of knowledge. You did this by example. You are the most voracious reader I have ever seen. You taught me that if I am idle and there is something to read, read it. Learn from it. Everything is worth learning from. Recently my kids thought I was crazy for checking out 10 items from the library. When I told them we used to leave with fifty plus items on our trips they didn’t believe me that you could even check out that many, but because they are curious, they asked the librarian who confirmed it’s still possible.
Place matters. Explore your surroundings. I love Arizona. I never understood why you wanted to be a cowboy. Why you had an affinity for the wild west or what motivated you to move here and never leave, but your steadfastness in taking me to off-road, hike, camp and explore everything from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the top of the ski resorts in this beautiful place has made a lasting impression. I now worship the sun and crave to be in beauty of Arizona as much as possible. Spending time exploring the United States every summer in an RV taught me to appreciate home even more. I was never left wanting to know what the other side was like. You showed it to me regularly, while teaching me to love Arizona for its own uniqueness.
To tell stories. I still always wish you would write a book. I am secretly hopeful you have been writing them and hiding them all your life and will leave them as a surprise to us someday when you are gone. This is because you are the most masterful story teller I know. You taught me my own imagination is more powerful than any computer or Hollywood masterpiece. That our ability to construct characters, worlds and stories with passion and emotion is quite possibly the thing that makes us most human.
If two people are the same, one of them is obsolete. When describing teams in work, play or sports you brought home that trying to be someone else is just stupid and useless. That we each have our strengthens, talents and backgrounds. That they are unique and leveraging them is what provides value when working with others. A basketball team doesn’t need 5 Michael Jordans.
Mom thanks for teaching me:
To have a sense of humor. You tell the funniest, raunchiest and most playful stories and jokes. You taught me that a life without laughter is a life not worth living. That if you can’t laugh at yourself or with others, that you will be miserable. Discipline and seriousness are important, but without playfulness you have nothing.
To be proud of who I am. You let me know that if someone doesn’t like you for who you are that it’s their loss. If you have to change who you are to be accepted, you aren’t really accepted. Even when you are nervous and feel inadequate, being yourself builds real relationships. I forget this all the time. I am so grateful I married a woman that is frighteningly authentic and keeps me from not being me when I should know better. Constantly reminding me that being vulnerable and transparent builds deep relationships.
To be empathetic. You showed me everyone deserves a chance. That we can’t know where someone has been or what they have been through. Give them the benefit of the doubt and extend them the grace you wish people would give you. I can’t count the number of times you went out of your way to make my friends and others feel accepted and taken care of when the people closest to them refused to forgive them.
We all make mistakes. You let me know that while there may be consequences for your actions, that at the end of the day you would always be there and be accepting. Sharing your own mistakes in life openly and letting us always know that making mistakes is part of living a full life.
Family matters. Damn we can all hate each other sometimes. You let us all know (and still do) that regardless of how pissed we may be at each other that we are all family. That having deep connections with each other is far more important than the petty shit we end up being mad at each other for. You are the ultimate mediator, always trying to force the family to reconcile its differences.
To Embrace chaos. Maybe it was the raising of twins, but you always thrived on events that were chaotic. Birthdays, events and gatherings in our house were always one step away from chaos, but it never felt that way because it was normal. Our family was loud and vibrant. Animated and passionate. Full of laughter and mischief. It has taught me to adapt to about anything life throws my way.
Not to judge people too quickly. You had a knack for finding the best traits in strangers and new acquaintances. Other parents would be focused that the kid smoked, had tattoos, wore pink hair or had a foul mouth. You looked beyond that and got to know them first. You understood they were insanely good at music or wickedly smart. You always saw potential and not faults first.
I am sure I missed a whole lot of other things you have taught me, but don’t think it is because I didn’t find them valuable. I just haven’t had enough sleep to be mentally astute. Mom and Dad, I hope that I can teach my kids half as much as you have taught me.
So what life advantages have your parents taught you? What are you looking to instill in your families?
We consume too much. We have lost our ability to do things in moderation. We continue to enslave ourselves in the name of consuming more stuff. It has to stop.
This isn’t a matter of over consumption of natural resources. It is about losing a piece of our humaness. We are more focused on consuming than creating. This imbalance is making us emotionally, physically and spiritually miserable.
There are two steps to restoring balance.
Start creating. That’s right. Make stuff.
Support other creators. Give them moral support and financial support. Stop consuming faceless/nameless stuff and start valuing the relationships of creators.
“When it takes a constructive course, conflict is potentially of considerable personal and social value. It prevents stagnation, it stimulates interest and curiosity, it is the medium through which problems can be aired and creative solutions develped, it is the motor of personal and social change.”
Some benefits of cooperative relations:
Collective and inclusive solution making.
Building on each others strengths.
Negatives surrounding competitive relations:
Deutsch’s Twelve Commandments of Conflict Resolution:
Know what type of conflict you are involved in.
Become aware of the causes and consequences of violence and of the alternatives to violence, even when one is very angry.
Face conflict rather than avoid it.
Respect yourself and your interests, respect the other and his or her interests.
Distinguish clearly between “interests” and “positions”.
Explore your interests and the other’s interests to identify the common and compatible interests that you both share.
Define the conflicting interests between oneself and the other as a mutual problem to be solved cooperatively.
In communicating with the other, listen attentively and speak as to be understood: this requires the active attempt to take the perspective of teh other and to check continually one’s success in doing so.
Be alert to the natural tendencies to bias, misperceptions, misjudgements, and stereo-typed thinking that commonly occur in oneself as well as the other during heated conflict.
Develop skills for dealing with conflicts so that one is not helpless nor hopeless when confronting those who are more powerful, those who do not want to engage in constructive resolution, or those who use dirty tricks.
Know oneself and how one typically responds in different sorts of conflict situations.
Conflict avoidance/Excessive involvement in conflict
Compulsively revealing/Compulsively concealing
Finally, throughout conflict, one should remain a moral person, ie: a person who is caring and just, and should consider the other as a member of one’s moral community ie: someone who is entitled to care and justice.
As a facilitator one of your jobs is to keep things on track. There is a finite amount of time to get the desired objective/output. Sometimes it is important to remember that interactions that seem like they are going no where are the very thing that get the discussion beyond the surface level. Don’t kill the serendipity in conversation just to stay to the minute on your time line.
Facilitators need to have strong emotional intelligence to be effective. It is important to allow people to explore outside the “plan” of your intended your agenda. Let them stray off the path and use your inuition to determine when to reel them in. Improvise accordingly to get back on track. When you facilite with emotion and are open to possibility, instead of an iron fist, you will unlock the best in those you are facilitating.
We are wired to create. It is in our DNA. We have it systematically beaten out of us on a regular basis. We are told we aren’t good enough to try things. We lose our curiousity and our ability experiment with things we don’t understand.
As the new year approaches, consider getting back in touch with your inner creator. Make something in the new year. Try out a new medium. Get uncomfortable.
Recently, I was asked to sit in on a visioning session for the Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA). The report from those meetings has been published. You can find it here.
CCA should be applauded for not resting on it’s laurels and understanding that it must adapt for the future. Taking the time to get community feedback is something so many organizations/facilities fail to do.
The recognition that the audience is changing and that educational components have to be address in order succeed is a great first step. Understanding that the facility, current partners and programming all need to be challenged to fight the status quo is key.
The report covers in detail the dynamics of Chandler’s community, demographics, business/lifestyle trents, the role of arts/culture, building on a strong foundation, preparing for the future and managing dynamic tensions.
If you care about Arts/Culture in your city, run a an arts organization or want to understand the dyanmics at play, this report is a must read.
I say it every day. I give this same story of our history. I am a nobody. Maybe you will believe it if you hear it from a famous author? It’s nice to have others saying a similar thing. The world economy is getting reset and so are it’s norms. We are moving to a place where expressing your humanity matters.
Culture is paramount for the future of humanity. The presence of strong art and culture in a community serves as an inspiration to strive beyond ones self. It pulls us out of our own head and opens up new doors and pathways for seeing the world around us. It opens up a sense of endless possibility. We are wired to do work outside of that which serves only ourselves. Being exposed to new possibility allows us to dream bigger and achieve more than we thought possible.
When we see the work of other creators it inspires us to want more and drives us to enrich our environment for the betterment of everyone. Supporting arts and culture is conducive to creating deeper tolerance of our differences. Understanding the beauty in difference opens us up for new ways of thinking. The wildest ideas often produce the best innovation. Being surrounded by diversity allows us to embrace the uncomfortable and see new opportunity in our weakness.
Places that restore arts and culture into their schools will see a much needed new found creativity and increased diversity. When we stop looking at art and culture as optional we will start building the exceptional.