Clarity First Newsletter, March 2, 2018

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live.

My weekly sip from the news hose. As old ways of being collapse around us, I do find reassurance in how much we are learning about getting civilization right.

‘Frome has a buzz of sociability, a sense of common purpose and a creative, exciting atmosphere that make it feel quite different from many English market towns.’ Photograph: Jim Wileman

People who know people are healthier people.

Provisional data from a trial in the French town of Frome appears to show that when isolated people who have health problems are supported by community groups and volunteers, the number of emergency admissions to hospital falls spectacularly. One physician remarks: “No other interventions on record have reduced emergency admissions across a population.”
Article: The Town That’s Found a Potent Cure for Illness – Community

Resistance march in Philadelphia, March 8, 2017. — Photo by Joe Piette via CC 2.0

Middle America is rebooting democracy.

“More than a national movement, what is underway is a national pattern of mutually energizing local engagement. Sociologically, what we are witnessing is an inflection point—a shift in long-standing trends—concentrated in one large demographic group, as college-educated women have ramped up their political participation en masse.”
Article: Middle America Reboots Democracy

Business is not a machine, it’s a social system.

Most managers still act as if the organization is a mechanism or an organism. It’s not, it is a social system. In this article Russell Ackoff, one of the pioneers of systems thinking, traces our cultural evolution from the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, to the Machine Age, to the Systems Age.
Article: From Mechanistic to Social Systemic Thinking

Feeling vulnerable can bring a lot of creativity and make ideas flourish.

“Often the things we try hardest to hide are the things that connect us most with others, whether it’s fear, heartache or sadness…So if allowing yourself to be vulnerable could be the way to create your best and most impactful work, why do we all shy away from it?”
Article: How Embracing Vulnerability Can Power Innovation, Creativity and Change

To overcome procrastination, find a way to start your task in less than two minutes.

An utterly simple way to get started when you are stuck procrastinating.
Article: The Physics of Productivity: Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done

Belonging is a basic need. So, it’s a strong foundation for a brand.

Anne Bahr Thompson has written a new book named Do Good, Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit. She makes the case that our identity—our sense of self—is in large part defined by the social networks and the communities we belong to—and equally those we opt out of. As strong brands support clear identity, then it follows that community building is a good brand strategy. Branding Strategy Insider has published an excerpt.
Article: Building Brands On Community And Belonging

Harness the power of purpose to drive organizational health.

No less than the august Harvard Business Review has made the case that an organization’s purpose, a company’s aspiration beyond profit, is very good for business. Here are some straightforward ways to integrate purpose into everyday work life.
Article: Five Hacks to Activate Purpose in the Workplace


This clip from an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood brings tears to my eyes. In it he introduces 12-year old break dancer Jermaine Vaughn to his “television neighbor.” You’ve got to love a grown adult who is not afraid to try to moonwalk, without embarrassment. But even more, just watch how he engages this kid. There is such power in listening, and in being heard. Vaughn has been breaking since he was seven, and Rogers honors him with the mastery that he’s earned.
Video: Mr. Rogers Breakdancing

Images of the week

UK-based artist and graphic designer Anthony Burrill created his now iconic print Work Hard and Be Nice to People in 2004. He printed the first editions with wood type on a letterpress. His new solo show of the same name features two new editions, at much larger scale. “These large scale screen prints take the typographic simplicity of my letterpress work to a new and exciting place. The increase in size restates the message of my work not only in scale but also in intent. The two phrases I’ve picked for the editions are my personal mission statement, I think we should all be more inquisitive and much nicer to each other. My ambition for these pieces is that they will speak to as many people as possible, they are intended as positive propaganda to promote a happier way of living.”
Article: Work Hard & Be Nice to People: Anthony Burrill @ Jealous East, London

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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