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Archive for the ‘Authenticity’ Category

Battling Negative Body Perceptions by Designing Life-Giving Experiences of Self

Posted by Plish on September 25, 2015

A friend of mine who is an art teacher, shared a recent experience.

Her class of 1st graders had just finished their Mondrian artworks and they were placing them on a rack to dry.  As one girl approached the rack, she slowly, and respectfully, placed her masterpiece on the rack and kissed it gently.

A gentle acceptance of beauty…

She saw the creative wonder that came forth from her hands, from her soul, and she appreciated it, and loved it…

Why can’t we do that with ourselves?

We are amazing, creative wonder-filled beings and yet we often focus on the negatives, focus on what’s wrong with ourselves, our bodies, and we let that negativity define us.

Today, while sitting in a hospital waiting room, I read this article in Brava Magazine:

Our Bodies Ourselves

Learn To Love What You See In The Mirror

Women have an especially hard time seeing themselves as they truly are in today’s culture.

  • Do you know any girls six to eight years old?  Almost half of them would rather be slimmer.
  • Know adolescent girls? Odds are that they’ve dieted and thought about weight loss even though they were normal weight.
  • Eating disorders are 400 percent more prevalent than in the 1970’s
  • It takes seeing only 11 images from the media for women to have feelings of body dissatisfaction, and anxiety over their weight.

11 images…

This article has some heartfelt and practical advice for overcoming negative body images.  It’s about redesigning your perception of your self.  It’s about seeing yourself as more than what media images, and the culture at large, will have you believe you are.

Know you are more.

You are Beauty.

You Are Light.

Share YOU!

Some years back, a friend, an artist, was going through multiple challenges. She saw herself as unattractive and overweight, and couldn’t see herself otherwise.  She couldn’t even appreciate her own art, the works of her hands.  Her self-perception was crippling her ability to share of herself.  She thought she was a no one, and was in a depression.  I wrote the following song for her.  I feel it compliments the article in Brava.

So many faces
the woman, the lover, the poet, the artist
You look into the mirror
ask “Is it really me?”

For every drop of rain that falls
every tear that touches sky
every breath mingling with stars
why should there be any doubt
of who you are?

It’s clear to me
so many faces, so much love, so much beauty
Mystery is not defined it’s experienced
and loved in silence…

For every drop of rain that falls
every tear that touches sky
every breath mingling with stars
why should there be any doubt
of who you are?

You
Just be you
Just be you
Just be you
just be you…

***

We are not defined by what others say.

Let’s design ways to help people, especially women, see themselves as they really are.  There’s a wonderful program synthesizing yoga, community and service, at Eat, Breathe, Thrive.  Check them out!

I’d love to hear your ideas for fostering self-acceptance, especially pertaining to disordered eating and negative body image,

Posted in Authenticity, Design, Healthcare, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Making Lightning – The Creative Spark in All of Us

Posted by Plish on August 7, 2015

The sky went from sunset blue to thick blackness that the windshield wipers swiped at with futility.  The rain pounded the the car and an uneasy, queasy feeling filled the air as a tornado warning was issued.

I drove the rest of the way home and parked.  To the west the worst was already breaking and salmon patches of sunset backlit clouds.   To the north the blackness churned and lightning crackled from cloud to cloud as the thunder rumbled without pause.

(Mouse over and Click the play arrow and continue reading on the other side)

***

CREATIVITY!!!

It’s in you!

That same power.

You’ve experienced those shocks that startle when you touch a doorknob on a dry day.

This is bigger and can change the world.

Lightning bridges gaps – tremendous expanses of space.  It’s possible because of the difference in charge, a difference in potential.   Lightning finds its way.

But you need to provide the stuff for creativity to happen.

Observe, read, smell, taste, listen, touch, dream!  Understand the challenges you want to solve and then look at them from a different perspective, and then another, and then another!

Allow those differing perspectives to mix  together and the clouds will rumble, the sky will flash, creativity will happen.

It’s in you.

Be YOU!

 

Posted in Authenticity, brainstorming, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, observation, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Some Thoughts on Earth Day – Design a Better World and Walk the Talk

Posted by Plish on April 23, 2015

So often we get caught up in fighting for  causes that we don’t notice that in our zealousness we can betray the very the cause we’re trumpeting.  We can talk about the need to take care of the poor and not actually help the people in our own neighborhoods who are struggling to find food or shelter.

The same thing happens with the environment.  People talk about the importance of cleaner transportation yet people are trading in their electric and hybrid cars in record numbers and replacing them with SUV‘s.  Automakers talk of the importance of electric or hybrids but won’t find a way to make one more affordable than a gas car.  Company owners/CEO’s, actors and politicians talk about their commitment to a greener environment and don’t blink at burning jet fuel as they go from one environmental event to the next.

We have technologies like YouTube that can reach millions with a minimal impact on the environment, yet virtual meetings, press conferences and the like seem like a rarity in the world of environmental concern.

Walk the Talk!

Posted in Authenticity, Design, environment | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing and Curating Perceptions of Vodou (Part Deux)

Posted by Plish on November 8, 2014

At the end of my last post on the Vodou Exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum, (you might want to click the link and give it a read if you want to come up to speed,) I mentioned that I’d visit the exhibition again  and see if my thoughts changed.

I did.

They didn’t.

Friday night was an event in which Chicago’s Haitian community welcomed the new exhibit with delicious verve (See Figure 1 below).  It was a great opportunity to speak with artists and others about the exhibit, to get their opinions.

Many of theirs were similar to mine.

However, I did do something different this time. I spent more time looking up at the banners, and I spent more time on the artifacts that didn’t appear to be from secret societies.  (I didn’t just look, I studied, read, worked at really trying to understand.) In the end, this lightened the experience considerably, but did it dispel the overall dark vibe of the exhibit?

No.

What will help?

My suggestions for event would be the following.

  1. Change the banners that are used for publicity.  They contain Secret Society Lwa.  Do something lighter.
  2. Tell a story with the exhibition.  Start with the misconceptions you want to dispel, the points you want to get across. Then start dispelling and telling the story of Haiti and Vodou. Explain the day to day in Haiti and where Vodou fits.  Show how it interacts with other religions – perhaps even how families often practice Catholicism and Vodou simultaneously.
  3. Build an elevated area that is behind a red curtain (or make the curtain look like a forest covered mountainside. )  Entitle that section: “Inside Vodou’s Secret Societies”.  Maybe put a small disclaimer at the beginning saying small children might be disturbed by what’s inside.  Put those Secret Society artifacts (an example of which is in Figure 2 below), behind the curtain and out of the main stream of the exhibit.  Make sure it’s not somewhere in the middle of the exhibit.  The Secret Societies are not mainstream and mixing these artifacts in with the everyday artifacts mischaracterizes what many people experience in everday Vodou.  However, Secret Societies need to be referenced in the everyday exhibits- after all, they did indeed impact Haitian life. I also believe that ‘hiding’ the Secret Society artifacts will do another thing: people will slow down.  When people are in fearful situations, they tend to move more quickly. If you want people to move slowly and observe – hide the dark stuff.
  4. Children are noticeably absent from many of the videos and explanations.  Of the Haitians I spoke with, all of them had non-intimidating memories of Vodou as a child.  They remember the brightness, the music, the activity on Holidays.  If a child can feel it, adults will too.
  5. Move explanations closer to artifacts and make them readable without having to bend neck or body.  Bring banners closer to eye level.  Create exhibits that allow the most visitors to stand straight and tall.  Haitians wanted this (and still do!) and Vodou helped them.
  6. Include more ways for people to interact and touch.  Granted, the artifacts at the exhibition are were used in Vodou and as such, are not open to touching.  But, there are other ways to help people to hear, taste, feel, smell, touch.  Drumming is key to Vodou.  Let people make virtual drums (or real ones!) Get innovative!
  7. Provide more of the beauty of Haiti! More green, more color, breezes, salt water aroma, music, you get the idea.  Vodou is about the interconnectedness of all things, life, death, sky, earth, plants, water, etc.  Set more of the context, not just socio-politically (which incidentally, this exhibition did a better job of doing.)
  8. End the exhibition showing how Haiti is growing (albeit slowly and painfully at times) and what challenges lie ahead.  Reiterate how Vodou has been a misunderstood part of the process, that Vodou comes from the heart of the Haitian culture and it’s been responsible for establishing a spirit of  (and physical!) freedom in a nation.  Show bright artwork that comes from Haitian artists, even those works from those mounted by spirits.

With the above changes, I believe the exhibit would better accomplish its goal of dispelling misconceptions of Vodou.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’d do!

Consul General of Haiti, Lesly Conde

Figure 1. Consul General of Haiti, Lesly Conde

Secret Society Lwa

Figure 2. Secret Society Lwa

Yes, I even spent more time looking at the mirrots

Figure 3  Yes, I even spent more time looking at the mirrors.  This was one of the more mellow looking mirrors

Posted in Arts, Authenticity, Conveying Information, creativity, curation, Design, Education, Experience, Information Visualization, Politics, prayer, Religion, Spirituality, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing Delighting Moments – Sing “Hello” to Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja

Posted by Plish on October 14, 2014

This video is the definition of delighting customers.

It’s no secret that delighting customers is extremely profitable. But it can also have another side effect.  It can create a better world.

Enter Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja.  This “Singing Doctor” has sung to more than 8000 babies as they entered the world.  His expression of joy, at a time of joy, brings joy to healthcare practitioners and patients alike.

Says Dr. Andrew-Jaja, :”Each of us has to find a way — in medicine and other walks of life — to communicate a cheerfulness to those we work for and with, and it keeps everybody happy.”

Or, as Disney says: “Every leader is telling a story about what they value.”

It’s the commitment to a value that empowers someone to stand firm in those behaviors that may elicit judgment.  This Doctor values the joy of a new life being born, and thus creates an environment of joy, anticipation, and excitement through song.  Everyone present can’t help but be touched.  In fact, people even make musical requests ahead of time!

What is truly amazing about this, is that if someone were tasked with designing a more delightful birthing experience there would no doubt be suggestions around the check-in and discharge processes, the use of the best drugs, pleasant and calming aromas and colors in the patient rooms, etc..  Perhaps someone would suggest music in the background.  But, few would suggest that the doctor lead everyone present at the birth, in a chorus of “Happy Birthday!”

Delight is a phenomenon of the Now.  It is about presence.  If you want people to experience delight, delight must be present.  Presence is best mediated through personal interaction.  I’m here, with you.  You’re here, with me.  We are together. This is what we are experiencing!  This is ours, this is yours.  Own it. Revel in it. Be free to experience it.

Research shows that delighting customers starts with putting employees first.  By doing this, delight is made present in  employees.  This pool of delight can then be freely experienced by others.

Remember this video.

Think of what it represents.

Joy. Courage. Family. Life. Love.

This is delight!

Now, make that present in your day.

Posted in Authenticity, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“What Can I do? I’m One Person.” How About Build a Country? That’s Innovative Design!

Posted by Plish on July 4, 2014

Courtesy of History.com

Today is the 4th of July.  I sat down and re-read the Declaration of Independence.  Read it for yourself.

Brilliant Simplicity.

The Beginnings of something great and glorious.

Empathy

Introspection and Self-Knowledge

Reflection on the Human Condition

Keen understanding of the current situation in the country and the world

Knowledge of other domains, other political systems

~Courage~

This is great design!

This is Innovation!

(Reflect upon what these individuals did.  They began building a country and a way of government that the world had never seen before!)

Who are you?

What is the stuff you are made of?

Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness

The 4th of July is not about what the government did, it’s about what people did!

Start designing…

Happy Independence Day!

 

Posted in Authenticity, Design, Human Rights, innovation, Politics, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Society, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How to be Interesting (and Innovative, and Creative, and…) – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on June 10, 2013

Howtobeinteresting

 

What really struck me about, Jessica Hagy’s, “How to be Interesting (in 10 Simple Steps)“, was both its simplicity and profundity.

Through the use of her trademark simple, ‘index card’ sketches, and wonderfully succinct text, Ms. Hagy shows the reader what it takes to become an interesting person. What I found particularly wonderful was that you can replace the word, “Interesting” in the title with, “Innovative”, “Creative”, “Designful” or any other type of change agent type term and the book would still be apropos.

Therein lies the profundity of the book.

One could be tempted to simply quick flip through the book – after all, it’s just pictures, right?

Wrong.  Just because I said the book was ‘Simple’ does mean it’s ‘easy’, per se.  I purposely took my time with this little gem.  It deserves the 3 R’s: Reading, Reflection, Re-Reading.  That process of reflecting takes effort and if someone really wants to grow, it’s never going to be easy.

Being interesting, an innovator, a designer, a change agent – all those require stretching the self.  This book is a great reminder of that.

If you want to be more, create more, experience more,  share more, make-the-world-a-better-place-more, this book is for you.

Enjoy!

 

PS When you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

.

 

 

Posted in Authenticity, Books, creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Directions in Innovation and Design – Insights from IIT’s Design Strategy Conference

Posted by Plish on May 18, 2013

I was at the IIT Institute of Design’s Design Strategy Conference this week.

This is, no doubt, one of the best, little known, innovation and design conferences.  Every year I get to meet people, learn, think, dream and be empowered to do and be more.

Thoughts*…

Carl Bass gave wonderful insights into software for crafting, and some interesting business challenges that the proliferation of apps has created. ( Hint- He gets more letters from people complaining about a $3 app than a $5000 software package)

Kim Erwin emphasized that innovation is about more than making things reality.  Her book, Communicating the New, promises to provide vital insights into an often neglected and yet vital aspect of the innovation process: Communication.

Mark Tebbe provided insights into how tech will impact business.  Ultra-personal, social, local, mobile, sensors, wearable, 3D printing, brain extending, photo and video capturing, nano-generators, flexible displays, voice control, robotics, virtual education…an empowering and amazing world is being co-created as you read this…

Stepan Pachikov – the founder of Evernote.  Time machines, virtual and real. It’ll happen. He said so.

Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute shared a feasible way of creating a new energy era without impacting the economy in a negative way. It’s possible…

Laura Hartman and Connie Duckworth emphasized that humans living in poverty or challenging conditions, are indeed, capable market partners. ‘For Profit’ and ‘Not for Profit’ companies can work together and do amazing things to educate children and adults and build economies to the benefit of all.  The key messages? Walk in other’s shoes. Think like an insider and outsider. Play to strengths. Create impact then scale and  larger scale will create additional impact.

CC= Catherine Casserly=Creative Commons. #tryopen  Dream of what we can do together. Share.

Brian Love (and a team of students) and sharing the craft of crops.  Yes, growing and developing crops is a craft. What was especially powerful were the tools that enabled communication and mutual education.  Check out betterat/ – a platform for mentoring and personal growth.

A wonderful reflective talk by Vijay Kumar. His new book, 101 Design Methods, is a must have in any innovation library.

Confused and depressed by too many choices?  Barry Schwartz shed light on the Paradox of Choice (great vid-check it out!).  More choices is not necessarily a good thing.

Then there’s the story of Detroit, Gary Wozniak, and the vision driven people who are innovatively re-designing the once bustling, dynamic locus of the automotive industry; converting empty space to food and providing employment for those that aren’t easily employable.  I encourage you to read the story of Recovery Park.  Support it if your heart leads you to.

Creating harmony between the urban and the rural.  Professor Lou Yongqi shared an ongoing evolving experiment, that is doing exactly that – and doing it in an economically beneficial and sustainable way. I especially loved the metaphor of acupuncture in this project: one stimulated point can create harmony in the system…

And finally, I leave you with a slide from Bruce Nussbaum’s presentation – a summary of what it means to move from Design to Creativity.  Some wonderful perspectives to ponder…

Click to see full size

Click to see full size

I hope to see you there next year!

* – Apologies to any missed presenters/presentations

Posted in Arts, Authenticity, Books, Co-Creation, Conveying Information, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Education, Entrepreneurship 2.0, Experience, Human Rights, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Social Innovation, Social Networking, Social Responsibility, Stories, Sustainability, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Innovation in Non-Profits and Churches

Posted by Plish on April 14, 2013

Through the folks over at CreatePossible, I found out about this great event called Co-Lab, for non-profit organizations and ministries.

As part of Co-Lab, there was a session entitled “The Theology of Innovation.”  It’s a great video of two people sharing the story of their church and their quest to embrace innovation and be true to their Faith (which contrary to what many  would think, and as the session presenters point out, a conflict between innovation and religious communities doesn’t have to exist.)  There are also multiple other sessions on the Vimeo Co-Lab site on Future Trends, and the future of Non-Profits to name a few. They’re worth checking out.

Even if you’re not into Christianity, it’s a fascinating insight into how people react and deal with design thinking and innovative processes. These folks even went to IDEO for assistance in this process. (Next time, just give me a call 🙂 )

Looking forward to your thoughts!

(Note on the video: When the woman speaks in the presentation, her microphone level is lower so you may have to turn up the presentation at those times.)

Posted in Authenticity, Co-Creation, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Art, Lent(?), and Innovation

Posted by Plish on February 24, 2013

artlentinnovationmichaelplishka

“Art, after all, is about rearranging us, creating surprising juxtapositions, emotional openings, startling presences, flight paths to the eternal.”   – from The Art of Possibility by Benjamin, and Rosamund Stone, Zander.

A friend of mine read the above quote and said, “Sounds like the purpose of Lenten Services.”

Brilliant!

She juxtaposed art and spirituality in a wonderful manner.

I’m taking it one step further.

The purpose of being rearranged is so that people can improve their relationships with each other, with the Eternal and with themselves.

So, if we become open and have flight paths to the eternal, are emotionally vulnerable, become aware of others and their needs, what types innovations would we bring into the world?

“Every good painter paints what he is.” -Jackson Pollock

I would say that every person creates from what she is.  If we become rearranged as mentioned above, our creations naturally reflect that which we are realizing in our lives.

Try this thought experiment:

What would a doctor’s office look like if it were designed by the Dalai Lama? How would people be treated? What would waiting rooms look like? Would people feel more nervous or less than they do now? What would it sound like? What would the air taste like?

Every good painter paints what he is.

And that’s the key.  Whether in art or spirituality (and many would say there is no dichotomy in art/spirituality) we have to be willing to be rearranged.  If we aren’t willing to be open to going in new directions, to explore, to feel the discomfort of stepping off precipices and trusting we will fly, then we won’t be rearranged, and not only will we not be elevated from glory to glory, but the world will not experience light which only we can share.

So what does that mean?

Listen to music…go to the theater…meditate…pray…taste fruit you just picked off a tree and write a haiku of the experience…sculpt…sing a song…

…Paint the world with what you are…Show the world that being rearranged isn’t a singular exercise in destruction, but an empowering act of creation…

Think of what the world would be if each person lived as a surprising juxtaposition, an emotional opening, a startling presence, a flight path to the eternal…

…Start becoming rearranged…

…now…

 

Posted in Arts, Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, meditation, prayer, Religion, Service Design, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Spirituality, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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