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Archive for August, 2017

Pol Kurucz hr1

Normal-hr-1 From the Normals-series by Pol Kurucz

A couple of days ago, I was standing in line in the supermarket. In just five minutes time, the mother in front of me was instructing her two lively kids: “be normal”, “be silent”, “behave”. She probably said it 2-3 times in that short period.

I smiled, but also felt some push-back at the same time: why limiting these kids in their normal expression so early in their life?

My wife also invites me from time to time to “be normal”. That invitation provokes protest in me. I think that is because I associate normal with boring, not exciting, not special.

Do we want to be special because we want attention? Normal does not get attention. Being normal – not special – seems to be an insult/attack for my identity. Maybe it is my shadow. My shadow as in “what I do not want to be”, or “what I do not want to be labeled as”. Like not wanting to be labeled as “stupid”, or “manipulator”, or “dishonest”, etc.

The older I get, the more I become aware how distracted I get by putting energy in ignoring my shadow, in proving that I am not stupid etc. A similar energy loss btw when trying to prove the validity of my non-shadow label, role or title. But that is another post.

How can I integrate normality in my identity? Should I? Should I integrate that normality? Should I even try to focus on my identity? In an interesting podcast with Raf Stevens (in Dutch), André Pelgrims says that:

“Ego is the urge to build up identity”.

Have we spent the majority of our lives in building identity? Have we never matured? Have we not integrated what needs to be integrated? What/why is there to be proven?

Mind you, in all this, the focus is still on ourselves trying to “build identity” (with our without shadow) rather than the motivation to accomplish on the outcomes we wish to create.

The identity builder is a noise generator.

Do we humans create, design, make, blog, tweet, facebook, etc because we are hungry for attention, we want to prove something, or because we have something new to say, a new insight to share, a novel hypothesis to be tested? Or do we just inject noise into the stream to get our part of the attention?

I recently met somebody who planned to hire a cheap student to create and post her regular noise. Her “Professional Noise Creator”. Addicted to attention. Addicted to taking space from others. It’s a power game. As articulated so clearly by André Platteel of Your Lab in this great blog post (in Dutch):

“Often when we try to find space we look for it outside ourselves. Then we are busy creating space outside of ourselves. To check out whether we can create freedom of movement. Whether we can get more space/freedom from others. Whether we can dominate another in a strategic game and lock them in them so we can get more freedom of movement. That whole game is based on the idea that we are independent of others and the world. Where we are fearful all the time that our space is being suffocated or taken. That’s why we tend to take as much space from the other. And have a feeling of freedom and power.

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Stairway space in Gaasbeek Castle - June 2017

“I know that game very well” continues Platteel.  “Played it so long when I was a marketing advisor. Using smart marketing tricks to make your own commercial space as big as possible at the cost of your competitor’s space, using smart marketing tricks. When all the time you try to be smarter than the others. I started to notice that in the consulting, it is not only about taking as much space as possible, but also to assert power. When it is not about listening to one another, but about being (perceived) smarter, more concise, faster, fitter, stronger. In fact taking more and more space at the cost of others.”

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Petervan Productions 2017 – Blue Sky, Parasol, and Flight – June 2017

I believe the desire to be special (and thus not-normal) has to do with the desire to be visible. A lack of visibility seems to give me less power.

Banksy

If invisibility is a superpower, than maybe also anonymity. I have these moments where I want to disappear in complete anonymity, like a monk in a monastery, detached from any social contact. The antonym of anonymous is “named”, “known”, “identified”. A desire to be un-named, un-known, un-identified. Without identity. And do-my-thing. Without the need for attention and visibility. But even that is a make-up, a mask.

Just the act of saying “I want to disappear in complete anonymity” is the superego acting in the background. Because it assumes I am special, famous, non-anonymous. And I have to escape it. It’s an “evolved” form of narcissism: feeling superior rather than feeling special.

Narcissicm was well described in a post by Umair Hague about why America can’t learn from the world (be aware I take the sentence out of its original context, which is a bit of manipulating or content-mixing of course):

“Narcissism. The belief not just that one is special — for we all are unique, different, remarkable. The belief that one is superior, above, beyond. Better in fundamental ways. That is never true. Not a single one of us is better in any fundamental way. The genius is poor at loving. The lover is poor at creating. The creator is poor at managing. And so on. We all have flaws. But the greatest flaw of all is to be blind to the grace and beauty of the idea that we all have flaws — and so to believe there is nothing to be learned from anyone else. Trump is a narcissist, sure — but he is only a reflection of American narcissism in this way.”

The first job of a leader is to learn. Only then can a leader do their second and third jobs — care and love. Leadership is nothing more — and nothing less — than realizing human potential. You can do it as a parent, boss, friend, partner. You probably do. That is what care and love are in concrete human terms. The difference between them is that care brings a person towards their potential, and love expands that potential.”

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Art Academy 12 year old kids playing with tissues – June 2017

Feeling special, feeling superior. Being part of the ego-tribe. Even worse is the word contempt: the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.

In that sense I am also a reflection, a feedback loop of society. It’s the only thing that is great about Trump: he makes you more aware of your own shadows of narcissism, contempt and bullying. The ways you definitely do not want to stay in life. Being aware of these shadows, and finding a way to accept them, to integrate them I your whole being, and focusing on that other – different, better – palette of songs to sing. Breaking out of that rigidity of defence and taking others’ spaces.

To quote André Platteel again:

“Then there is no rigidity anymore of values that we can hang on to. Then there is nothing to be defended anymore causing us to exploit our power in a false way. To make another smaller and feel more free ourselves. Then it is not needed anymore to hide and feel our more expanded selves. Or to blow yourself up to make yourself bigger than you are. But just be, who you are in this moment.”

Maybe that’s when being normal becomes exciting and a source for internal happiness and stillness? When identity is not a burden anymore?

Also surprised what thoughts a simple invite to be normal can provoke? Share your surprises and insights. Please.

petervan-signature

I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

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delicacies

Edition-95 of Delicacies: As usual, max 5 articles that I found interesting and worth re-reading. Handpicked, no robots. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

If you can’t get enough of these and want more than 5 articles, I have created an extended version of Petervan’s Delicacies in REVUE. If you want more than 5 links, you can subscribe here: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/petervan

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delicacies

Edition-94 of Delicacies: As usual, max 5 articles that I found interesting and worth re-reading. Handpicked, no robots. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

If you can’t get enough of these and want more than 5 articles, I have created an extended version of Petervan’s Delicacies in REVUE. If you want more than 5 links, you can subscribe here: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/petervan

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Petervan Productions 2017
My own painting “Dancing Girl in Flemish Fields”
Through a Pikazo Van Klee filter

The summer slowly comes to an end. It is now almost ten months (!) since the start of my long-term sabbatical as Petervan Productions. It also means only four months to go. If you are interested in my developing story, my Jan 2017, March 2017 and May 2017 updates are still available.

A quick update:

Last months I have not been productive at all, at least not from a “work” point of view: begin May, I loosened up a bit my strict work schedule and decided to let my day agenda dictate by the weather – if good weather go out, if rainy do focused work – and since then we mostly only had sunny days 😉 So indeed, I did a reasonable amount of cycling (nothing excessive, short trips, 1-2 per week), and a lot of BBQ and wine in my garden to keep the balance right.

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Bike ride: Corn fields south of Brussels – June 2017

The biggest distraction from “work” was our house move on 7 August, with significant prep work, and still now a number of boxes to be unpacked. So don’t expect too much from me for the remainder of the summer either. I did very little on the performance, but I have composed the music for the opening part of it.

Artschool

For the end of the academic year, I created an installation called “TOKOMA”. Here is the video and a link to the poem that goes with it. Everything is self-made, including the music and the poem.

Art school is now closed for the summer holidays. As we moved places, I have subscribed for next year in the academy of Aalst. But I will miss my friends at the academy in Overijse and especially my teacher Ann Grillet.

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Some recent Petervan Productions: Globe3, Yellow Ball, Dancing Girl

I also created another poem “Strillingen”, very clumsy translated (by myself) into “Hidrations”.

Performance

I accepted a gig for FinnoSummit in September in Mexico to do their opening keynote, which should include some elements of my performance “Tin Drum is Back”. The working title for the keynote is “Deep Change in Organizations”, and is currently scheduled at the start of day-2 of the summit. We’ll probably change the word “deep” into “structural”: see my post on Good Change – Bad Change.

The event will take place in Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, a fantastic building designed by architect Gerardo Broissin.

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Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral in Mexico City

The venue comes with a concert hall with all possible A/V whistles and bells, so if everything goes to plan, I will bring with me this awesome Ableton Push device and illustrate the story with own artwork and soundscapes.

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Ableton Push Device

The House Project

As mentioned above, we moved houses. We moved to a place close to Aalst. It’s a quite recent house (20 years old) and used to be a practice of a physiotherapist, so I am in full progress to transform the practice into some sort of atelier/studio, my sacred secret temple 😉

garden

The house also comes with a huge garden (25 acres) so I am afraid that will need some of my attention too. And my daughter wants chickens, and my wife wants a kitchen garden. I have also noticed spectacular changes in light intensity in the garden, and I can’t wait to capture some of that in one of my upcoming paintings.

Astrid

Some great milestones for my almost 12-year old daughter Astrid:

Mid May, she did her solemn communion, and she was ravishing. A proud father and mother indeed 😉

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Ravishing Astrid – May 2017

End June she ended primary school and now moves to secondary school. A new school, a new city, saying good-bye to her dear friends in Overijse, and making plenty of new friends in this brand new environment. A lot of change for my big girl! She will need my and mom’s attention 😉

Other

I have written and reflected a lot, read some really good books and got some new insights.

I also got invited to a huge research centre of a very big company (can’t say who, I am under a very strict NDA – no pics etc that sort of thing, but it’s not in Fintech or anything). I was blown away how they integrate artists in their work.

And there was this wonderful visit to the Gaasbeek Castle, with a very well curated expo named “Kairos Castle. The Art of the Moment”. I was however most impressed with the botanic garden of the castle, and took this nice picture of an orange tree in open air.

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Orange tree in open air in the Orangerie of the Gaasbeek Castle

And somewhere end May, I decided to put myself on a Twitter, FB and LinkedIn diet. I wanted to know what happens if I don’t tweet etc for at least a month (spoiler: not much, but some followers kindly asking if everything was ok, thanks for that). The social media just felt very distracting and most of the time full of emptiness (“full-of-emptiness”).

I have BTW a blog post in the queue about that emptiness, about being normal/special and about titles, roles, attention, the call for anonymity etc. You see, I did not change that much ;-). Now that the move is over, a will increase again my stream rhythm and publishing sequence

So, what’s next?

During Aug –Sep 2017, the plan is to work on:

  • The house project. I want to have the studio fully ready and operational by end September
  • Produce the opening keynote for the FinnoSummit
  • Continue the research on structural change (previously “deep” change)
  • Get some blogs and reflections published

kenny scharf

Kenny Scharf Art Studio

That’s about it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for Oct 2017. Looking forward to hearing from your latest adventures as well.

Rebelliously yours,

petervan-signature

I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

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delicacies

Edition-93 of Delicacies: after a long interruption, I have resumed my curation. In this issue you’ll find some older and newer articles collected over the last months. As the summer holiday period comes to an end, I will try to resume my weekly publishing rhythm. Onwards! As usual, max 5 articles that I found interesting and worth re-reading. Handpicked, no robots. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy!

If you can’t get enough of these and want more than 5 articles, I have created an extended version of Petervan’s Delicacies in REVUE. If you want more than 5 links, you can subscribe here: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/petervan

Read Full Post »

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