Grey Matter (Governance)

 

Decision making is hard, dear readers.

And sometimes implementing an easy decision really is the wrong thing to do, while implementing the complex decision turns out to be the right one. Unfortunately for all of us, life is not quite so simple as those black and white principles, and even Luke Skywalker is probably going to realize that going grey is the most pragmatic solution. But don’t take my word for it, read this theory about why jedi and sith are likely old news, and that by Episode IX’s end, we’ll likely see a new type of force user emerge victorious.

I hold that this theoretical decision making on Skywalkers part will come down to good governance. We cannot have light without dark, and if you increase one over the other, the secondary element must evolve in kind. But when we combine elements of light and dark, the contrasts give way for subtle shifts in grey and a much stronger range of tonality.

I personally believe this applies to how governments should operate as well. Well as much as I can say in 1000 words or less.

When public funded institutions conduct their public affairs and manage public resources in a responsible and effective way, they are enacting good governance. Those actions cannot be conducted only out of selfish needs nor can the patrons be so altruistic that they never stand up and fight for their people.

But what is governance anyway?

According to wikipedia, governance refers to

all of the processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through the laws, norms, power or language.

That means working with many different people of many different functions to organize and operate all of those functions in a way that benefits those people.

Not Just A Liberal’s Fancy-Free Dream

What this means to me is that we HAVE TO work together to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, and that decisions are made which always put safety and welfare FIRST and which are for the aid of as many constituents as possible. Good government operates as a sum of it’s parts, the light, the dark, and everything in between. The grey matter of the body.

As an example of support by representation, The Canada Council for the Arts exists primarily to ensure the Canadian people are given a range of public art projects regularly, by investing in the arts through grants and services which bolster the broad range of cultures which make up Canada.

That and they help to raise awareness for the arts too.

But this is just one example of many types of programs which exist in modern day governments, and which are key to the success and development of our communities in a state of global communication.

Programs exist for the disabled, for impoverished, for sports, and for education.

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But, and I hesitate to share this, there is this notion out there that a great many conservative supporters like to say fairly often – creative types are bleeding hearts, and successful ones are supposedly so far removed from the real world that they cannot see the forest for the trees – but I strongly disagree with this notion.

And I don’t share this point lightly, because it is true that we can’t all be movie stars and music geniuses, a great many of us live our lives in the working class, and that ain’t so bad. But good governance should see through classism and recognize the issues at hand first and foremost, no matter what voice an issued is raised with.

Ashton Kutcher – Smart Cookie and Model Citizen

I originally planned for this post on governance (inspired by the Postconsumers response to the OECD index) to be about how artists can uniquely contribute to our communities in the voting process, and where supporting local initiatives and pitching in in ways other than with our pocket money DO make a difference… But then I ran across a tweet about Ashton Kutcher this morning.

In case you aren’t familiar, Ashton Kutcher got his start as a professional model before eventually breaking out into television and film as an actor, and then working his way into investment opportunities as a venture capitalist. He’s been involved in numerous startups over the years including Skype, Foursquare and Airbnb. He’s a smart cookie, though he plays a dummy on TV.

Probably the most impressive thing about him though, is that in 2009 he established an international human rights organization called Thorn with now ex-wife Demi Moore. It’s goal is to address the sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking on a global scale. I mention this because in the tweet that twitter user shared, the author acknowledged how ludicrous it was that Kutcher had to defend his profession as an actor before he could address a US senate committee on the successes of the software his company has developed to fight human trafficking.

He then explains how his technology will helps save thousands of lives, and how investing in it is necessary for us to commit to good governance.

I’m going to share a clip of his speech because I cannot do it more justice than Mr. Kutcher did himself.

theories Summarized

When we practice good governance, we are using our grey matter appropriately. And my hope is that by recognizing all human beings have the capacity for light, dark, and grey actions in-between, that creative professionals are not limited by their hearts, rather their strengths of language allow them to communicate what good governance is. At least, that’s the theory anyway.

Tim!

Better Than Your Parents Had It (Education)

Another post on the OECD index and inspired by postconsumers.com timotheories? Wow, haven’t you farmed this land enough yet?

Well… No, dear readers. Technically I still have to cover off the following – education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. So we’re only a third of the way in! Plus, I could write at length about all of these topics and how they relate to being a good global citizen as well as a participant in your local community (and how it relates to the arts). This is a good thing, the website is called timotheories after all, it’s all about the curating the arts and connecting seemingly disparate theories together while having fun.

And this one is sure to be a good post. Education is one of MY FAVOURITE TOPICS. Ever. Period.

The Parents Broken Dream

One of the things I’ve learned as I transitioned from being a child into an adult, and as I recount experiences I’ve had with parents, my own and others, is that every parent wants to provide their children with a life better than they had growing up.

I’m not sure if this is one of those impulses ingrained in our brains OR if it’s a social conditioning similar to the idea that we need to have a good education and a stable job in order to have a good life, but it’s out there in the ether as a theory for success. I mean, life is hard, one minute you are living the dream and the next you are blindsided at 4pm on some idle Tuesday but an event that never crossed your troubled mind.

You can thank Baz Luhrmann for that tidbit. Back to my point.

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The economic privilege of the baby boomer generation is well behind us, dear readers. Baby boomers grew up with all kinds of benefits (free educations, established unions, more vacation time, company cars and trips) that generation x, millenials, and whatever comes next can only dream about. This is a major consequence of rising house prices. House prices in the 1970s and 1980s were incredibly low and the earnings on selling those houses has been significantly more lucrative for those families than what singles and young families could hope for today. On top of that, many retiring boomers are leaving behind debts and living on reduced pensions without any savings to back their lifestyles up.

If addressing gender and ethnic privilege are key tenements of politics today, we need to add in generational privilege as well. Skiing (spending the kids inheritance) is a thing of the past.

Investing In The Future

I hope you can see where this post is headed, and if you’re a futurist, like me, than you’ll appreciate the witticism, of that heading. For those of you without the blessing and/or curse of a dry sense of humour, investing in the future is never done. It’s an act of commitment to a process, not an effort towards a goal.

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This is incredibly important in the face of a changing world creative cuties. When you make art you are expected to focus on the details, to see the bigger picture, or to pull from both camps. Effectively learning when to use your macro and micro lenses takes time, and an investment in the process, but as you gain skills you will gain confidence and see how your contributions to society are relevant.

This article from Forbes goes over it quite well, but I’m going to summarize it quick for you –

  1.  You need an authentic and personalized network of contacts. Yes social media connections factor into this bucket, but I’m referring to mentors and professionals you rely on for key advice. Who is your career expert? Who do you go to for construction and mechanical advice? And who is your health guru? Do you have someone you can go to for general advice? Spending time each day reaching out to these people is important – it gives you a support system. Plus it feels good to help others and will teach you invaluable things about people.
  2. Live outside your comfort zone, always. Whether it’s learning to wake up early, going out to a social event once a week, or finally starting that book of songs you’ve been dreaming about for years, tapping into your vast potential yields some fantastic dividends.
  3. Get your secondary business going. Maybe you weren’t expecting to have two jobs, maybe you hate the idea of doing more than your 40+ hour work week. But let’s be honest, you are more than your job and you definitely have skills that are being underutilized. You need to make practical use of your cooking skills, your computer programming skills, your animal husbandry (awesome word choice timotheories!), I could go on. You’re not out to get rich and famous, its to continue to develop your skills and to challenge yourself.
  4. Active and critical thinking. This one comes naturally to me, I can’t help it. I think a lot about a lot of different things. If we could visually showcasing what thinking, reading, and using our minds does for our mental capacity, I’d get compliments on my brain all the time. This is not arrogance, because we all think. But we need to think actively about the future, goals, how to improve relationships and solve problems. Don’t settle for your situation, think about how to change it – then go for it.

theories Summarized

In brief, education is important. And while I suspect your instinct was that I was headed towards a post about academic learning and certification, I should be clear and state that that kind of education has absolute value, but it’s not the only way to invest in the future and given how economic dynamics are changing, we need a new game plan. That’s my theory anyway.

Tim!

One Hit Wonder (Communication Is Key)

Communication is a pain in the butt. Well, that’s what I used to think a long time ago. Being an artist, I was set up to be a recluse, because artists were outcasts. And it was a loneliness I chose.

That was what I told myself anyway.

When you are in your teenage years, and even early 20s, it can be incredibly convenient to look at the world in black and white. If you don’t fit in, it’s because you shouldn’t, so rebel, rebel, rebel. Hell it’s a rebel yell.

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You know, I know adults who still do this. Walk around with a very limited view of things and an expectation that you either accept the “truth” they are hawking or they judge you and separate themselves from you. It’s a result of seeing the world the way you want to, and not the way it actually is.

I’m going to share a nugget with you, all you cute and wonderful and dear readers of mine. The truth is that nobody cares what you do with yourself and your time. People aren’t trying to get in your way, they are doing what they can to live their life (exist), escape their life (survive), or fulfill their life (thrive). I like to call it the EST models of life.

You want to thrive, trust me.

This is why it’s so incredibly important to follow the basic principles of communication. Anyone can do it. That’s right, we are reviewing another one of the key 10 skills to invest in. Artists can learn these skills, and everyone really should.

Communication is key.

Let’s recap. In a time when texting, email, and social media are the new favourites, try to use the phone more often. It saves on countless back and forth. And speaking of back and forth, be concise in your emails. Respond to calls and emails as quickly as you can, and when you can’t do that, set up a regular time to respond to your contacts.

But we’ll go over this in more detail because I have at least 200 words left to write. Ever heard of the 7 C’s of Communication? No, well it’s a fantastic way to keep your communication on point.

  1. Clear – it’s important to define you purpose for communication, and keep the number of ideas to a minimum. For example, one idea per sentence. In a three line email, that’s a maximum of 3 ideas, capiche?
  2. Concise – Get rid of all the filler words in your life. And don’t repeat yourself. Ever.
  3. Concrete – You have to explain why people should care, that means using some MF emotion, passion, and keeping focused.
  4. Correct – Oh this one’s a lot of fun. Make sure that you keep your communication error-free. And don’t use big words to make a statement. You can use relevant words, but don’t swim in pomposity.
  5. Coherent – Remember when we were talking about clarity in point no. 1? Well you need to keep all the points in a communication relevant, otherwise people get overwhelmed. One topic per meeting, phone call or email.
  6. Complete – Your message needs a call to action (when required) and details to keep the audience informed.
  7. Courteous – Be friendly in your communication. Tell the truth and be open-minded. The book How To Win Friends and Influence People comes to mind.

And there you have it, I’ve just given communication to an artist who needs it. No greater gift for you fine folks on a wisdom Wednesday. That’s all she wrote though folks. I’m out of theories for the moment. I’ll see you tomorrow with something rather timely.

Tim!

Living With Less (Becoming A Minimalist)

Remember that “2nd ever” timotheories interview I did with Andrew Wedman a while back?

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about Andrew’s outlook on life and business. His attitude is pretty straightforward – do more with less. As we make our way through this stressful season, it occurs to me that a lot of my normal stress revolves around managing the stuff in my life VS the people in my life VS the pursuits of my life. Christmas just escalates it.

Each of these areas can be managed, thus today’s post is in dedication of the pursuit of purity!

We are all faced with the challenge of whether to pursue more material and social wealth than we currently have. The challenge isn’t openly shared, as this topic isn’t the right type of macabre for most and the simplest truths are often the most difficult to see. Simply put, if we made this widely known, retailers and publications would be bad at their jobs.

People only really learn when they are ready to. I can say this confidently from personal experience.

As Art Buchwald once said,

The best things in life are not things.

Or to put it more bluntly, Tyler Durden said,

We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

Let me elaborate.

I was fortunate to grow up with the environment and opportunities I did. We all choose to either blame others or our situation for our stock in life OR we accept our beginnings and work to change what is possible, accepting responsibility for our own life.

For instance, I learned some interesting things when I was growing up. Because my parents determined that one of them should stay at home during the day while my sister, two brothers and I all made our way through primary education, I learned that there was a difference between material wants and basic needs of life. This was because while my parents owned their home outright, and we had enough to cover food, utilities and school costs, there wasn’t a lot of money in the bank for extras.

That didn’t mean I missed out on simple pleasures, but I simply had a stronger appreciation of them when I did have sweets and toys. Now what I didn’t immediately realize as a youth, but figured out years later was that it may well have hurt my pride and felt embarrassing when we couldn’t afford to go on trips or we didn’t have a collection of stuff to entertain ourselves with and had to interact with those who did (and judged), but there is an incredible burden that comes with having too many objects in your life.

I learned this by the process of moving away when I was 23. I first moved from home with my family of 6 to 1 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend at the time, then moving into a larger 3 bedroom a couple of years later with my girlfriend and sister, then having more room after my sister moved out.

Where the lesson came in was when I lost my job, and decided to move back home.

I had a lot of stuff at that point. A whole house of stuff. While my sister and one brother didn’t live there any more, moving home with enough stuff to fill a 15′ x 25′ room was tough. And that was after I got rid of a dining table, a living room suite, a bedroom suite, lots of old art, and countless trinkets.

Sharing space with people while having personal objects to watch out for is problematic. You’ve invested money into those possessions and you have to protect your investment, but who really has time to enjoy and manage 1000s of objects, no matter what they are?

It becomes a burden.

This is why it is important to define your space and dedicate your efforts to a specific area of life. As soon as you do this, you realize what is important to you, and having hot topic technology or whatever doesn’t pull at you as easily.

Heck, I collect movies, music, and books, and people sometimes question my collection. That’s a good thing. No one in their right mind should collect as much of that stuff as I do. I do it because I need to to accomplish my goals. The truth is this, of course I cannot possibly look at all of these things simultaneously or even regularly, but I’ve set up my space so that those objects serve as a directory of ideas and reference for my art. Because those objects fuel my life purpose they provide value for me. But if I started collecting trinkets, kitchenware, clothes and sports equipment (for example), then I would lose my focus.

Check out this article from the blog Becoming Minimalist for more information on the concept.

Thus end’s today’s post on managing objects. Do you think you too much stuff? Is your stuff preventing you from making your art? Leave some comments and let me know what you think of this theory.

Tim!