Clarity First Newsletter, March 29, 2019


Clarity First

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

This week my friend and colleague Curtis Ogden led me to this beautiful essay by Donella Meadows. It is an essential reminder. Typically the lines we see, between ourselves and nature, between each other, are only in our heads. Happy Friday.

“The earth was formed whole and continuous in the universe, without lines.

The human mind arose in the universe needing lines, boundaries, distinctions. Here and not there. This and not that. Mine and not yours.

That is sea and this is land, the mind thinks, and here is the line between them. See? It’s very clear on the map.

But, as the linguists say, the map is not the territory. The line on the map is not to be found at the edge of the sea.

Humans build houses on the land beside the sea, and the sea comes and takes them away.

That is not land, says the sea. It is also not sea. Look at the territory, which God created, not the map, which you created. There is no exact place where land ends and sea begins”…

Essay: Lines in the Mind, Not in the World


Cultivate a healthy appreciation for yourself — and all people — by tripping out on the wonders of the human body.

Canadian science communicator and neurobiology PhD candidate Samantha Yammine suggests that we might want to ask the “What am I !?” question a little more often.

“Reminding ourcell-ves of the intrinsic beauty of our bodies highlights the blend of sameness and diversity that comprises each of us. Yammine says, ‘So often we reduce someone to one thing: we reduce someone to a stereotype, an object, their race, their gender … and we’re not one thing. We’re many trillions of things.’”

Article: Note to Self: We Are All Molecular Masterpieces
Video: TEDx You Are A Molecular Masterpiece


How We Learn
What, exactly, makes you creative?

The short answer to what fuels our creative minds is off-duty neurons.  While on duty our neurons are focused on survival and survival alone. But when they’re not called to those tasks they generate random, spontaneous thoughts. We’ve got a lot of neurons, and they produce a lot of thoughts. This entertaining video is only three minutes long, it comes with the PBS seal of approval, and is delivered in a fresh Australian accent.

Video: The Neuroscience of Creativity


Creative Process
Innovation is not about having new ideas. It’s about solving problems and doing the hard things first.

“There is no one path to innovation. Everybody has to find their own way. Just because someone had success with one strategy doesn’t mean it’s right for the problem you need to solve. So the best advice is to gather as many tools for your toolbox as you can.”

“Here are four facts about innovation that you’ll rarely hear, though they’re critically important.”

Article: Innovation Isn’t About Ideas.


Organizational Health
The future is not created; it’s co-created. Leaders need to build teams that can both define the right questions, and then discover new answers.

Nilofer Merchant says that when we interview potential team members we often make the mistake of looking for people who can do what we’ve done already. Yet, we need people who can navigate the new waters ahead.

She says: “Unfortunately, right now, an estimated 77% of all jobs (60% in the U.S. and 80% worldwide) require little to no creativity, decision-making, or independent judgment. But if you are working on innovation, you need someone who can think with you. And by focusing on capability over experience, you increase the chances you find that person.”

She’s got a great list of the questions we should be asking people who say they want to join the team.

Article: Stop Eliminating Perfectly Good Candidates by Asking Them the Wrong Questions


Organizational Health
Embedding values in everyday behavior and organizational systems

“To shape a positive culture, many leaders focus on articulating their organization’s mission and values — the why and the how they hope will inspire their teams to deliver. The problem is that almost every company has a values statement. According to an analysis (pdf) by finance professors Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales, a full 80 percent of the S&P 500 advertise innovation as a core value and 70 percent advertise integrity. Not surprisingly, their analysis found that advertised values had no significant correlation to financial performance. However, in a follow-up study involving 679 U.S. companies and survey data from more than 400,000 employees, Guiso, Sapienza, and Zingales found that companies that lived their values in practice achieved higher productivity, higher profitability, and an increased ability to attract talent compared to those that did not.”

Article: Want to Change Corporate Culture? Focus on Actions.


Visual Identity
Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what your users say when you’re not in the room.

You know that I profess that a brand is not a logo. Instead, your logo is an empty vessel that you can fill with clear value.

Or, your end users can use it to express the value they see. What is so great about designer Viktor Hertz’s “funny” interpretations of well-known brand logos is how accurate they are. Ouch.

Article: 40 Brutally Honest Logos Of Famous Companies


Shameless Self-Promotion
Will you help me spread this letter?

Dear reader, you know that this letter follows Austin Kleon’s adage to “Write something that you would want to read.” And I certainly don’t want to read shameless self-promotion. But I do want to share this letter with people who will find value in it. One place that I find newsletters of value is another letter called the Letterlist. They curate and promote letters that I’d want to read.

You read this letter. You tell me of the value you get. Will you tell the Letterlist the same? Just follow this link and fill in the form. Tell the Letterlist why you open and read Clarity First most weeks that I send it. Thank you in advance.

Survey form: Send Us Your Suggestions – Letterlist



In 1969 Stevie Winwood sang his song Can’t Find My Way Home on the album named Blind Faith. The same name used to define the “super group” that included Cream drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton. Since then the song has been covered by Bonnie Raitt and Alison Kraus. But maybe because she and her band Lake Street Dive got their first taste of fame here in Greenfield at the Green River Festival, I really like this rendering by Rachael Price.

Video: Can’t Find My Way Home 


Image of the Week

“Photographer and American Artistic Director, Stephen McMennamy does not stop to have fun with his project Combophoto although it has existed for several years. Its principle? To juxtapose two universes or two objects that are incompatible at first to form one and disrupt our mind. Brushes-spaghetti, cat-bag, pump-spice … His photo collages, both pop and surreal, are full of humor and poetry….”

Article: Stephen McMennamy and His Weird & Funny Photo Collages


What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by me, Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a tool for transformation. Learn more.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.
You can also read Clarity-First on the web.

Leave a Comment