There is information for you if you are attuned to listening to it. You might not know where you want to go and that is okay. Let go of where you think you should be and just figure out the next step.
Instead of trying to figure the big moves, just think what is the next thing you need to do?
Where your attention goes, your life goes. A slightly different take on James Redfield’s quote, ‘Where Attention goes Energy flows; Where Intention goes Energy flows’. Nonetheless, putting your attention in the right place (you) is an important part in being well in this world and with others. Looking in does have its challenges and cultivating healthy strategies for introspection and growth are key.
If your work or creative practice requires extensive amounts of working solo or navigating decisions on your own, it can be all too easy to get stuck in your own head. Madeleine Dore from Extraordinary Routines also reminds us that rest is also a choice,
“IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK INSTEAD OF A STEP. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to take no steps at all.”
One way to help you take the next step can be through writing. From to do lists, blogs and books; writing helps make sense of things.
Here are my top 10 reasons you should write.
A regular writing practice has helped me to distil and crystallise my thoughts on many topics. I have been able to find a voice that represents my values and putting it out there no longer scares me. After all, you can choose to read it or not and sharing becomes less of a big deal the more you do it. Writing helps me to look in while looking out. In many ways the work of looking inward supports how I show up in all areas of my life. How can I remain open, willing and attuned? I repeat this question often when navigating my own healing and looking after my businesses. There is something inside of me that always knows the truth when I take the time to listen in and work through the uncomfortable unknowing. When the world feels exactly right where it needs to be, I know I have tapped into my truth.
“If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition… you are not understanding yourself.”
– Bruce Lee
And for looking up, by definition it means to become better. I am always up for that, plus the view is always great when you do.
As always, I love to hear your thoughts, please get in touch. You can also sign up to our newsletter below.
I think we are all feeling the strangeness of 2021. I accidentally wrote an email out to everyone at Tribe saying we should say good bye to 2020. Many of us are saying last year doesn’t count, but it does. And most likely in ways we don’t yet understand.
We have somewhat transitioned out of the high alert state and into life with normalised constant threat and high potential of change. Life with both feelings of normalised loss and at the same time, new levels of appreciation of things that used to be taken for granted. The constant stress of playing out the worst case scenarios is exhausting. With burnout hovering over or perhaps already landed for you, this year has been full and dull.
According to Adam Grant,
“We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing. Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
Psychologists find that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them. Last spring, during the acute anguish of the pandemic, the most viral post in the history of Harvard Business Reviewwas an article describing our collective discomfort as grief. Along with the loss of loved ones, we were mourning the loss of normalcy.”
Simultaneously, I have had countless conversations with people expressing how they have found new levels of awareness and a better pace for life since Covid. Usually that is quickly followed up with how bad they feel about saying that when they know many people have suffered so greatly. I have caught myself saying that too. I liken this to hitting rock bottom and the perspective that gives you- the only way is up.
I purpose going against the cultural norm of numbing and leaning into meaningful acts. Adam describes this as flow- that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. Grant goes on to site a study of flow;
“During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness — it was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.”
Finding flow is becoming increasingly more challenging. We have a million things pulling at our attention all of the time. It takes a huge amount of discipline to stay focused. But a distracted mind is the enemy of flow.
I have noticed that when I am feeling a bit low, I check my emails more often and I scroll through my social channels in a mindless way. Now when I catch myself in this state, I take a moment to try and think about what is really bothering me. Sometimes it is easy to figure out, sometimes, all I can do is change my habits. I notice that behaviour now and stop. I find something more focused to do- even if that thing is to sit and do 4 mindful breaths. I disrupts the bad habit, one tiny task at a time.
This can come in many forms and probably why I crave playing cards or board games from time to time. They create a contained task that my mind can concentrate on. No need to think about the ever growing to do list or what I forgot to do or what I need to think about putting on my to do list. Although finding an effortless state and flow are different, it is a good place to start.
Csikszentmihalyi describes eight characteristics of flow:
Flow state is losing yourself in the moment; when you find your abilities are well matched to an activity, the world around you quietens and you may find yourself achieving things you only dreamt to be possible.
To me that sounds worth the effort and at least one way of approaching 2022; an antidote to some of 2021’s languishing.
Have you heard of the 100daysproject? There are 2 simple rules;
#1 Repeat a simple creative task everyday for the duration,
#2 Record each day’s efforts.
This is my fourth year doing the hundred days project and each one has taught me so much. I first heard about the 100 days after reading The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. From a young age, I have always loved doing art and have managed to keep it sacred—something I do for myself. It is for pure pleasure and processing thoughts and feelings.
One day my daughter had a new pal around and she was proudly showing her all of my artwork and her friend thought they were amazing and asked if I was an artist. My daughter looked at me and I didn’t know how to respond. I mulled this over and realised I would like to explore this further and would commit to the 100daysproject to see how I felt after 100 days of creativity about calling myself an artist.
So I began, one pen drawing a day. No pencils, as I wanted to learn that mistakes didn’t matter. It was great, each week brought more confidence and doing it with others really helped me be accountable. It wasn’t linear—there were moments when my confidence dipped and I would want to make excuses to stop. I had to wiggle my way through finding my own practice, not care what other’s thought but also be fuelled by the community and public sharing. Within the small group of 100daysproject through Tribe Porty, we encouraged each other and on the days I didn’t feel like making the effort, I showed up for them. It quickly became something I looked forward doing at the end of the night.
The practice became a meditative ritual and also led me to find the local community in 100 Days Project Scotland.
Now reaching the end of this year, it has been once again, transformational.
By the end of the 100 days, I called myself an artist. I maintained that art was for myself and no anyone else but the encouragement was also welcomed. it felt good and I was hooked.
This time I tightened my brief a bit. Again using pen but stuck to portraits and played more with lines. I really enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of drawing so many lines. By the end of the second 100 days, I was confident enough to do even paint a large mural. Here are some drawings and a picture of part of the mural. One drawing also ended up as a tattoo on my arm.
This year was different because I started experimenting with drawing on the ipad, something I never thought I would like but I do and in love with quite quickly.
I set myself a goal to get some printed and even went on to create Capturing Dani a website and shop with prints and postcards. I received commissions and now draw illustrations more than on paper.
This year I decided to combine the creative process with gratitude and would draw a part of my body and give thanks. After almost two years of chronic pain, multiple exploratory procedures and fatigue. Every day has been a surprise- nothing has been planned and I have changed the way I see myself.
Just over halfway through, something changed how I looked at myself. I found a new level of acceptance of the good and of the imperfections. I looked at myself the way I would look at a body in a live drawing class. Admiring the curves and not viewing with critical eyes.
We have quite a few new people at Tribe and our first social gathering (outside) this week. And it feels good. But it is different then it used to be so in some ways I feel like we are starting over but I guess that is change. So how do we embrace change that builds resilience? When change makes us better, it’s because we have learned how to turn a challenging situation to our own advantage, not merely because change happens.
BBC’s, The Collection, Why embracing change is the key to a good life, writes;
How we handle change is the essence of our existence and the key to happiness, particularly in our current times of uncertainty. Since humankind has existed, many great artists, writers and philosophers have grappled with the notion of change, and our impulse to resist it. “Something in us wishes to remain a child… to reject everything strange,” wrote the 20th-Century psychologist and author Carl Jung in The Stages of Life. For these thinkers, a refusal to embrace change as a necessary and normal part of life will lead to problems, pain and disappointment. If we accept that everything is constantly changing and fleeting, they say, things run altogether more smoothly.
We all know cognitively that change is nothing new and inevitable. Yet, by nature, change feels unfamiliar so we often try to resist or desperately try and make sense of it. Pain is often the agent of change, which is why we fear it. It is hard to see beyond the pain to the opportunity of anew – but that is the only good choice. The alternative is resisting change, a futile and ultimately more painful option. Not to mention missing all of the opportunities for growth. Change takes practice and the more you accept it, the better you get at it. So in theory, we should all be a bit more practiced right about now.
“All that you touch you Change. All that you Change changes you. The only lasting truth is Change.” – Octavia E Butler
Today we had our first social gathering since before the first lockdown. It was so nice. Everyone missed that community feel of our coworking space. In some ways we felt more united, all having experienced our own disconnection and struggles over the past 17 months. I would like to think that a show of solidarity and support in different communities has emerged; perhaps even a broader sense of equality and empathy. Now is the time to reflect and find the opportunities from change. Let’s not go back to being disconnected, isolated and self interested. I am hopeful that we can find a deeper understanding of our humanity, discover new priorities and be driven by our values in order to change and heal. Remember that change isn’t always out with our control.
Focus on your values instead of your fears. Reminding ourselves of what’s important to us — family, friends, great music, creative expression, and so on — can create a surprisingly powerful buffer against unexpected change.
Social lunch helps too.
If you want to see more or less of something, take action, make the changes you want to see. In our behaviour, we tend to be making an implicit distinction between getting other people to change – and changing ourselves. We often think more about how to change others or complain about others rather than making the changes ourselves. Sometimes because we don’t give ourselves permission and sometimes, well, because it’s easier to point than do the inner work. We might know we may have to develop in certain ways, but for now, our focus is on altering others. However, we miss an important insight: changing how you behave to others can be the fastest way to alter how others behave towards you.
Here is a brilliant video by School of Life which illustrates how and why you should be the change you want to see and how mirroring is the best way to change yourself and others.
Would love to hear your thoughts if you want to share, email me.
Tribe is slowly picking back up and gaining new members; more and more people are needing community and a creative space now more than ever. It has been such a long time for so many of us who have been cooped up in a small flat or sharing a kitchen table with a partner. Taking never ending zoom calls and not seeing another human in the flesh has taken its toll-not only on our wellbeing but on our creativity and productivity.
Over the years, many people have asked advice about how to turn their extra space into a coworking space. Beyond the basics, desks, seating, good wifi- the community part is an art. The people are what makes spaces special. And the people part is the hard work. We are all different, with different needs. One of our hot deskers was telling me the other day that he comes to Tribe because it taps into the creative work. He has structured his working week in such a way that he does his creative thinking work from Tribe because the space and the people in the space encourage that kind of work. This is such music to my ears as this is what we set out to create with Tribe.
There is no shortage of designer spaces to work from around the globe.
A few folk have made some assumptions that coworking spaces will be exploding in the near future. We have certainly seen a new group of members, not just freelancers but people unable to do their work from home for practical or emotional reasons. The pandemic has forced us to change our model and reduce the size of our event space due to no events taking place for so long. This is true for many other coworking spaces as well. According to Deskmag’s 2020 Coworking Trends Europe, “While the supply is often shaped by the demand, this is less the case during this pandemic. Example: Legal measures such as distancing rules often have shrunk the desk capacity, especially in open workspaces. The prohibition of physical events have negatively impacted community oriented activities despite their demand.”
This has definitely been true for Tribe but the recent ease of lock down is building confidence for our members to return.
We will continue to adapt and respond to our community and challenge the definition of what workspace is, from where work is done to how it’s done, and then keep our spaces creative to reflect that.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
– Charles Darwin
If you have any questions or want to book a free trial day, please get in touch.
I just completed some training for business advisors and entrepreneurial support professionals who want to learn how to help the businesses they support to understand, define, measure and improve their environmental, social and governance performance. The training programme was delivered by Scotland CAN B and was called the Impact Economy Advisors Training. Scotland CAN B is an initiative launched in partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab (the non profit organisation behind B Corp certification) to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative and business for good ambitions of one country.
During this course we covered a variety of content including: connecting to the local and global context of the future of business, frameworks for impact, including the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and Scotland’s NPF (National Performance Framework), and how to apply them in a business context, in-depth understanding of the broad range of impactful business models and legal structures, and using a selection of comprehensive and cutting-edge impact measurement tools. Although we are a small business, we are big on supporting our members and our focus on social capital aligns with Scotland’s mission to create a resilient wellbeing economy.
We are also proudly a social enterprise, which ensures our profits are reinvested back into our community with no shareholders. Tribe has a small board, small team and have a managed to be sustainable and not reliant on grants. We also have lots of ideas and always want tot do more and find ways to build community capacity. But we struggle to find ways to connect beyond our members, especially now that our community facing events we have run in the past are not happening due to covid.
For the past 6 months, we have been working with a service designer to come up with ways to connect and support our community post lockdown and during these strange times of distancing and restrictions. We have our long standing members who are back, members who have not come back and new members who only know us they way we are now. We interviewed a few members and they came up with some great ideas. Most of them are exploring ways to engage with other local shops and food outlets.
Some ideas include;
If any of these sound good to you or you have any ideas of your own, we would love to hear from you.
I started out saying YES, learned how to say NO and am finally pretty good at knowing when to say both.
It is my 7 year anniversary of starting Tribe Porty. May 2014, I embarked on my journey of trying to create a place for good people to do good things. I spent 11 months researching and applying for the building warrant and start up grants, renovating and engaging in community consultations. I said yes to everything and everyone. “Yes” builds bridges, “Yes” opens doors. Yes is a great way to start.
I then quit my job (that I really liked) and committed to making my vision a reality. I spent another 9 months renovating and working with the team of TEDxPortobello volunteers. TEDxPorty launched the same time as Tribe Porty and kickstarted our bigger vision of doing and seeing things differently (the theme of our fist TEDx). Over the past 7 years, we have welcomed thousands of people by providing space to work and create and we have hosted hundreds of classes, events, and workshops. We have worked with approximately 400 different freelancers, entrepreneurs, charities and social enterprises. We have renovated this tired, old building into a hive of activity, from global conferences, bike maintenance, wood workshops, music lessons and so much more. I have met so many wonderful people through Tribe, it has enriched my life beyond my imagination.
In 2018, we nearly lost our home and scrambled to save Tribe and our home here at Windsor Place. We managed to take over the long term lease of this privately owned building and once again started renovating and designing spaces to suit our ever growing community. At this time, we also launched Tribe Women, now rebranded as Keystone, an online business programme for enterprising women which combines business teaching with wellness rituals. We sold out two years in a row and have enjoyed building this powerful network.
More recent times have been challenging but the pandemic has really exemplified how strong our community really is. Members have supported Tribe and have also checked in on one another – a commitment that has genuinely demonstrated unconditional kindness by supporting the constant growth and improvement of ourselves, each other, and our wider environment. This level of showing up for one another is what it is all about and also drives the team and I to work hard for Tribe.
Although the improvements, renovations and upgrades never cease, I have also learned how to say no. I say no to things that do not fit within the values of Tribe. I no longer exhaust myself convincing people how great we are. I don’t need to. If we aren’t right for you, that is okay- we remain great either way. This might sound a bit arrogant but promise it’s not.
A big heart felt thanks and a YES!, with both arms in the air, to the past, present and future supporters, champions, members and community.
We are still here and stronger than ever.
I recently spoke about the book, When the Body Says No, by Gabor Mate on the monthly book review club, 5 Things. I highly recommend 5 Things (@andyirvine on Twitter) – here is April’s video recording to check out. There were two other books and speakers, Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad and Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein.
From my own personal health traumas, to the pandemic, all the way to the climate crisis, there is a lot to feel right now. Life is hard, right? How many of us are teetering on the edge of burnout or lack energy?
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the path to success is paved with relentless work. Achieving isn’t good enough, we are striving to overachieve. But lately, working hard is more exhausting than ever. And the more depleted we get, the more effort it takes to make progress. As Greg McKeown rights in his new book, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most,
“There is an ebb and flow to life. Rhythms are in everything we do. There are times to push hard and times to rest and recuperate. But these days, many of us are pushing harder and harder all the time. There is no cadence, only grinding effort. What could happen in your life if the easy but pointless things became harder and the essential things became easier?”
McKeown describes the effortless state you feel after a warm meal, a hot shower, a walk in the forest. The effortless state is one where you are physically rested, emotionally unburdened, and mentally energised. You are able to do what matters most with ease.
This is so simple, but I think you should read it again. The effortless state is one where you are physically rested, emotionally unburdened, and mentally energised. You are able to do what matters most with ease.
Traumas are felt in our bodies and what is a trauma? A loss of safety; a lack of predictability; a sense of immobility, of being stuck; a loss of connection; a loss of our sense of time and sequence; a loss of meaning, purpose. Stress hormones really do create more energy, and that energy is either propelling us to fight or flight. Collectively we are all feeling the trauma in some way.
Collectively we can also heal. We are all connected and when you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack.
Since the first lockdown, I personally have enjoyed watching sea swimmers shrieking in the North Sea, copious social media pictures of wonky sourdough loafs and hundreds of posts of sunsets and sunrises. These small acts are effortless because they give back more than they require. They have helped people slow down, notice what they have and feel a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, being physically rested takes effort and awareness of behaviours. Being emotionally unburdened is also no small feat but if you never begin, you’ll never go anywhere. And being mentally energised is bliss and worth all of the effort required.
So what’s my takeaway? Life doesn’t have to be as hard or complicated as I make it and there is no prize for burnout. Focusing on finding the effortless state to do what matters most, feels like a good place to start.
Please get in touch with any thoughts, comments or stories.
Autonomy published their blueprint for remote working; The New Normal authored by Francesca Farruggia, Phil Jones, Julian Siravo and Alessandro Bava. Ways of working continues to change and statics indicate that since Covid, remote working is on the rise. Access to remote work is in actuality a statutory right, available to any employee that has worked in their current role for at least 26 weeks. With social distancing measures likely in place at least until 2022, many will continue working from home for the foreseeable future.
Working from home has its benefits but there are also negative impacts like extended boundaries between work and leisure becoming blurred. The UK labour force survey found that 80% of overtime carried out from home goes unpaid, compared to 60% of office work. During the pandemic, the average workday increased by 8.2% – nearly 50 minutes.
Tribe has been built on the benefits of local, community working. The value of being able to physically separate work from home, connect with others and build your professional networks are easy to demonstrate. We have, until the pandemic, mostly catered for freelancers-providing a place of work and combat isolation. We are now seeing enquiries from employed individuals who are finding working from home impossible or challenging. The meshing of employed and self-employed opens up new collaborations and opportunities yet to be fully realised.
Other perks of local coworking spaces have shown that remote workers generally prefer to shop locally. This shift represents a significant opportunity to restore the UK’s failing high streets. Tribe really hopes that once our local cafes, deli’s, restaurants, library and shops are fully open, the larger number of at home workers and the community from Tribe, will help rebuild our local high street businesses.
If you have thoughts or ideas regarding Portobello’s local businesses, we would love to hear from you.
June 1991, I can still remember the bright sunny morning, driving under the arch of the wooden Keystone Wye bridge with the feeling of delight and a new found sense of freedom. I was on my way to my first official job having passed my driver’s test two month’s prior.
Keystone was and still is a small, ex mining town in the Black Hills of South Dakota and about 20 minutes from where I grew up in Rapid City. When I say small, I mean it has a population of 340 year-round residents. Keystone’s origins can be traced back to 1883, when it was founded as a mining settlement and later became one of the richest gold-mining areas in the Black Hills.
For the three months of summer, I would drive my light blue Honda Civic Hatchback to Keystone and clock in (I can still remember the time card machine chomping down on my card— there was no way to cheat it if you were late) at 7am and chomping out at 12noon.
Even though I was just cleaning hotel rooms at the not so glamorous Rushmore Express, and getting up at the crack of dawn, I felt liberated. At the ripe old age of 14 years old (yes it is legal in some states to get a full licence at 14 years old), I was proud to be earning money for myself. I was finally grown up — I had transitioned into the world of employment; or as us Americans have been sold, into the land of opportunity. Saying that, I know now my race to adulthood was based on achieving, pleasing others and escaping some aspects of home. In any case, it felt brave and exhilarating.
Like most people, I am both the same and completely different from my 14 year old self. Who we are and what we do are so connected but yet when we are growing up, we are usually asked ‘what do you want to do or become?, not ‘who are you?’. Maybe because most perceive young people can’t really know who they are; but I think it is mostly because we have based our career cultures around chasing outside things and to seek approval. We are rarely encouraged to, or shown how to go inward.
For example, have a quick search for career path and you get neatly wrapped up choices — as if we all fit into ’10’ different career boxes. At best, you will get reassured that your career path might not be linear but winding. Most career advice centres around how to get noticed, or go that extra mile and how to have a CV which stands out. This approach focuses on all of the details and misses out the big picture.
Jonathan Fields, founder of the Good Life Project has developed a business around supporting a good working life.
“Work that lets us wake up in the morning and know, deep down, we’re doing what we’re here to do. Work that sets us ablaze with purpose and, fully-expressed in a healthy way, becomes a mainline to meaning, a pathway to that transcendent state of flow, and a gateway to connection and joy. Put another way, work that “sparks” us. We call this imprint your ‘Sparketype‘ (well worth doing their free test if this is of interest to you). Your Sparketype reveals the essential nature of the work you’re here to do. Once you discover it, there is an immediate, intuitive knowing. An undeniable truth that explains so many past choices and outcomes, and empowers you to contribute to the world on a very different level. To spark your life, and ignite those around you.”
So at 14 did I know what I wanted to do because I knew my sparktype? No of course not, but I bet if I was asked what brings me joy or when do I feel most alive, my career journey would have looked differently.
Who gets asked this growing up or even as an adult? Most of the time, at least in my memory, I was told what to feel, not asked how I wanted to feel. Imagine if we were asked, ‘how do you want to feel as a student’, or ‘how do you want to feel as an employee in this company’ or ‘how do you want to feel in this relationship’? These are much better questions than what do you want to be when you grow up, or what kind of job do you want to have, or what kind of partner do you want.
The other good question we should ask ourselves, especially when we are adults is ‘Where does it hurt’? What do you need to attend to so that you can better answer the question, who am I and what do I want to do? Civil rights legend Ruby Sales learned to ask “Where does it hurt?” because it’s a question that drives to the heart of the matter — and a question we scarcely know how to ask in public life now. Sales says we must be as clear about what we love as about what we hate if we want to make change.
Jonathan goes on to say you should think of your life as three buckets; vitality, (the state of your mind and body), connection (relationships) and contribution (how you contribute to the world). The fuller your buckets, the better your life. How to fill up those buckets and finding ways of stopping any leaks is in the doing. That takes effort, awareness, intention, and I for one in up for that work. Looking after those buckets should be the challenge of life, not figuring out the importance of the buckets in the first place. How can we align our culture and education better or maybe we are in the process of doing so already? Hopefully the post industrialised society with its increased valuation of knowledge will go even further, or rather back to its centre, the importance of all living things.
Perhaps that joyful freedom and itch for adventure was ignited with that first job. That pairing of freedom and work might have been what later led me to move 2000 miles to North Carolina and again a further 3,000 miles to settle here in Scotland. I love that my working life started with that journey to Keystone and the significance of a keystone. It is the most important stone — a bridge or stone arch gains its stability from the placement of the keystone and holds all of the other stones in place. I believe my curiosity and commitment to my working life was started back then. Maybe the keystone has finally just been placed and all the other bits are now held and strengthened — that feeling of freedom and exhilaration fortified.
In some ways, that drive on US 16 represents all of me so well. Portions of that road are called the Keystone Wye and portions are known as the Iron Mountain Road. The highway runs near Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and its eastern line extends to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, near the edge of Badlands National Park.
I no longer think of my career as a destination but more of a mix of the new, the sacred, the wild, the unknown and most of all, the beautiful, long, winding road.