Clarity First Newsletter, November 23, 2018


Clarity First

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

This week the Producer’s Guild of America nominated “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, the film about Fred Rogers, for its Best Documentary award. The power of his message of love and his calm, deliberate delivery provides such a welcome and comforting ballast to the hate and vitriol coming from the White House.

And this week the U.S. celebrated thankfulness. I’m a fan of gratitude, but let’s be real. If we are ever to be a truly “great” people, true thankfulness needs to start with truth and reconciliation. This Thursday, as they have every year since 1970, Native Americans gathered on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, MA to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. “Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

I’m pretty sure that Fred Rogers would agree that racism and oppression hurts everybody. Happy Friday.


Purpose, Values
We need Mr. Rogers now, more than ever. The good news is that NPR has some tape.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson contributed to the latest buzz around Mr. Rogers by re-broadcasting an interview he did with NPR’s Susan Stamberg about her relationship with the wise teacher. In the seventies and early eighties Stamberg would call Rogers on mic and ask him to help us get our arms around challenging events, like the Iran hostage crisis, the Challenger explosion and Three Mile Island. “He just gave people — young people particularly, but all of us could learn those lessons — tools with which to handle the big emotions,” she says.

At the end of this radio production both Hobson and Stamberg agree that we need Mr. Rogers now more than ever. I couldn’t agree more. This article has links to archival recordings of Mr. Rogers on NPR. And, if you haven’t seen the film, you’ve run out of excuses. It’s streaming and is on DVD now.
Article: When Bad News Broke, This Public Radio Veteran Turned To Mister Rogers


New Economy, Systems Thinking
What got us here won’t get us where we want to go.

This paper by Otto Scharmer explores “the underlying system of thought that has led to our current economic, ecological, social, and spiritual crisis and proposes new ideas and leverage points for a green, inclusive, and intentional ecosystem economy.”

His framework is based on two ideas. The first assumes that “Western capitalism is evolving in three distinct phases: 1.0, the free market or laissez-faire capitalism with a focus on growth; capitalism 2.0: a more regulated European-style stakeholder capitalism with a focus on redistribution; and capitalism 3.0: an (as-yet-unrealized) intentional, inclusive, ecosystem economy that upgrades the capacity for collaboration and innovation throughout all sectors of society, with a focus on ecosystem innovation.”

The second identifies seven key dimensions and categories of economic thought “that need to be reframed in order to move the economic system from the 2.0 to 3.0 stage”. Required reading.
Paper: Seven Acupuncture Points for Shifting Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Ecosystem Economy


Systems Thinking, Collective Leadership
Why good people are divided by politics and religion

Wikki says that Jonathan Haidt is an “American moral psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions.”
He says that our ‘moral emotions’ help explain why America is experiencing an existential crisis.
TED Talk: The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives


Organizational Health
In a workplace, psychological safety is the belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking.

“A fearless organization is one that provides psychological safety. But as more and more consultants, managers, and commentators are talking about psychological safety, the risk of misunderstanding what the concept is all about has intensified. In a workplace, psychological safety is the belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking. People feel able to speak up when needed — with relevant ideas, questions, or concerns — without being shut down in a gratuitous way. Psychological safety is present when colleagues trust and respect each other and feel able, even obligated, to be candid.

“Most workplaces don’t meet this bar — and their performance suffers accordingly.” Amy Edmondson describes three steps leaders can take to create psychological safety, the prerequisite for greater innovation and growth.
Article: How Fearless Organizations Succeed


Design Process, UX
A collection of tools to bring human-centered design into your project.

18F is an office within the General Services Administration of the US Government. Their mission is to partner with federal agencies to improve the user experience of the government. No kidding. “The 18F Method Cards are a collection of tools that describe how our teams put human-centered design into practice. We’ve gathered them here and created simplified instructions to help other organizations and federal offices adopt human-centered design into their own projects. These cards are focused on design in the context of digital services, but can be adapted to non-technical design projects as well.”
Website: 18F Methods


Corporate Responsibility
When it comes to sustainability, companies may be doing better, but the world is falling further behind.

“The truth is that creating a sustainable society on a full planet is the hardest problem humans have ever faced, and in order to succeed, the world needs more from corporations than keeping their own doorsteps clean. It needs real creativity, problem-solving skills, and an ability to scale. It needs real leaders who can maximize their contribution to solutions and share those solutions with others. To be sure, it’s a very tall and challenging order, but it’s not impossible. Here are a few companies showing us the way.”
Article: Sharing Is the Key to Scaling Sustainability


Personal Development
Thich Nhat Hanh offers a short teaching on perception and the value of remaining calm.

Monastics performing a mindfulness practice song, “Breathing In, Breathing Out”. J.D. Warrick. CC

“If we are not calm, if we only listen to our hopes or our anger, we will not be able to receive the truth that is trying to reflect itself on our lake. We need to make our water still if we want to receive reality as it is. If you feel agitated, don’t do or say anything. Just breathe in and out until you are calm enough. Then ask your friend to repeat what he has said. This will avoid a lot of damage. Stillness is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness is strength.”
Article: Don’t Always Trust Your Perceptions



Joanna Connors’ Wiki page says only that she “was born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, United States, and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. After moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1984, she was drawn to the Chicago blues scene, eventually sharing the stage with James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and A.C. Reed. By 1987, she had started her own band, and recorded her first album for Blind Pig Records in 1989.”

It says nothing about the fact that this woman absolutely wails on guitar. It says nothing about the fact that when she covers a legend, she makes that legend’s song her own.

For example, a lot of people have covered Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues, but…

Here she is rocking Magic Sam.

In the same show she channeled Jimi playing Little Wings.

And here she is paying tribute to Led Zeppelin.

Doncha just love rock and roll?


Image of the Week

The image of the week is named War Room, (detail) (2018), Gouache and collage, by Julie Speed.
“The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) presents Marfa-based artist Julie Speed’s most comprehensive museum exhibition to date, Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The exhibition’s title, rooted in fantasy, refers as much to Speed’s own world and artistic process in Texas—where she has been making art for decades—as it does to the world in which her painted characters live.”
Article: Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon, on View at the El Paso Museum of Art


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