Exploration: It’s HUMAN NATURE

Let me start by saying this:

I love YouTube

And yes, you can quote me. There are amazing things I’ve found while (you saw it coming) “exploring” this site – music, poetry, funny videos, pranks, and the list is endless…

Anyways, I was in the library last Monday listening to music, when I was interrupted by one of those annoying ads, …except this one wasn’t. That rarely happens, but I’ve had moments where I was able to come across an ad clip that redirects my focus, or takes me to a world I haven’t explored before.

This clip was one of such. And it’s beautiful. The clips begins, accompanied by beautiful orchestration playing in the background, with these words:

“I think it’s human nature to want to explore, to find your line and go beyond it…”

It speaks to the heart of all of us who identify as dreamers, it speaks of the ART OF POSSIBILITY.

And it ends with these words:

“The only limit is the one you set yourself”

I said somewhere on this blog, that:

“Possibilities are endless…hence there is no limit. When next you hear someone say “the sky is the limit”, I give you permission from now on to give them a open palm slap across their face…”

At only a minute, enjoy the clip below:

Tired Already? So am I!

What’s really the point of having dreams. aspirations. hopes. goals?

Like, can we just stop already?

Friedrich Nietzsche (I think I’m a little obsessed with this guy!) once said:

Hope is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

This speaks of the disconnect (or so it seems) between the doing, and the waiting – the expectations we have for those beautiful dreams to come true.

I admit, it is frustrating. And especially when you’re THIS CLOSE.

However, like my mother always says to me:

It’s only a matter of time.

But, that’s exactly the gripe I have. Why do things like these take time?

I got reassured again yesterday by my mother, and also by the woman who will soon be my Supervisor – as I intern as a Health Education/ Social Science Researcher on health issues, mostly diabetes, among Mexican Americans –  to “believe in the beauty of [my] dreams”. The future belongs to those who do after all, if consideration is to be given to the words of Eleanor Roosevelt.

It’s that time between the conception of those dreams, and the eventual point when they come to life that’s the cliffhanger. And the suspense is killing me, I admit. I liken dreams to babies (oh precious sweet little creatures!), and please don’t picture this: but for my dreams, I am the pregnant woman…waiting to give birth. Same for you as well for your dreams!

It’s only a matter of time! In the meantime however, the deeds that will help bring those dreams to reality will have to continue… (no matter how arduous they may be at times!)

I’ll end on this note: with a song of course!

In the words of Elvis Presley. I would scream this on the top of a mountain – arms spread wide, mouth open wide, eyes upwards to the sky, all that jazz – only if I had access to one…

Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true…RIGHT NOW?

…Curiosity

Again, I’m sure there is the curiosity…what does Curiosity landing on Mars have to do with this blog? (pardon the pun!)

It’s about possibilities! It’s all I could think of while I was watching the live feed. And I’ve talked about possibilities a lot on this blog, here, and here.

Possibility is like the main organ, if I may, that keeps a vision or a dream alive…kind of like the heart!

Possibilities are endless…hence there is no limit. When next you hear someone say “the sky is the limit”, I give you permission from now on to give them a open palm slap across their face (Nah, not really! But you do get my point!)

The Geekery

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 01:32:54 PM GMT+0800

NASA’s Curiosity rover has landed on Mars! Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the “sky crane” maneuver. When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon — about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crater. The time at JPL’s mission control is about 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 PDT (early morning EDT).

(From NASA)

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Change Happens…Accompanied by Growth

I’ll make this short…or at least attempt to 🙂

Believe it or not, Change Happens is actually the name of a Non Profit Organization here in Houston. I was opportune to take a tour of their facility today. It was arranged by my Coordinator in Justice For Children, the organization where I currently intern.

Anyways…

The building is located right there in the middle of Houston’s Third Ward…it’s pratically the only good-looking building in the area. Third Ward if you don’t know is grappled by the infestation of drug and pretty much everything else that is to be expected of a community of such reputation!

We (2 other interns with myself) approached the door, and pressed the intercom, the door was opened for us and we sat in this serene reception area, with two marble angel sculptures adorning the corners to our right. “It looks like church”, one of the intern remarks.

And then we were directed to this conference room – named Gabriel – where we watched a video that summarized what Change Happens does. The founder, one Rev. Leslie Smith took it upon himself to start a rehabilitation project in the neighborhood – and it’s been 20 something years since then. He is said to have named the two conference rooms in the building after Angels (the one on the 2nd floor was named Michael)

Now what do they do? In summary, since I promised to not make this too long, they are involved in the community by providing outreach services – like helping families to apply for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc; helping youth prevent engaging in risky behavior – teaching abstinence , prevention programs; Mentoring Programs for juvenile offenders to transition into the community; Homeless Services Programs, where they provide housing for homeless individuals, and help them transform their lives such that they can apply for jobs, etc; HIV Prevention and Education; Summer and After School Programs for the kids…

Now what really attracts me is the facility itself!

As we continued our tour from the Gabriel room, we walked into the LIBRARY! Yes, they had a library which contained a lot of books, and a reading section for the kids. By now, I had already started noticing on the walls that there were artworks, only I didn’t know that they were going to appear everywhere…even up to the  third floor. We were shown the classrooms where the kids studied, and there was a transparent window, where they said parents could peek to see, smile and wave at their kids and stuff…

Especially in the break rooms, the artworks there were specifically from Haiti where the founder goes about twice a year…and these are original artworks from painters and artist there!

Another thing I loved is the open space of the facility. We were told that because everyone was really involved in the field, they don’ really need an “office” as much… I love that!

I’m excited about this today because I have a reassurance that my vision is doable! Read the about section if you’re not familiar with it. It is very similar to my vision, and to witness the beauty of something that started from two crack houses, which were renovated, energizes me! They started their offices there – 20 years ago! And today, totally a different story!!!!!!

That’s what growth is about…and GROWTH happens to be one of my core values. I believe we never stop growing! Growing for me is accompanied by these other supporting values; knowledge and learning – which is what I’ve tried to spend the most of my life doing! It’s the end of the first half of the year, and I’m somewhat proud of myself that I’ve read about 20 books, some of which are completely antithetical to beliefs I’ve held strongly for a while – all for the sake of growth. I’m also grateful for opportunities to grow, like this internship for example, and even something as simple as attending some local event, volunteering, etc! It’s not something I take for granted! Life is a learning field, and I’m willing to learn as much as I can before I pass on to the great beyond! – hoping before I do, I get the chance to use what I’ve learned to impact the world in some way.

And to understand why this tour today is huge for me, Change Happens is directly connected to most of my core values: Growth, Service (which I wrote about here –>), Creativity, Balance…

Don’t know if this is too long already…but I’ll end with what would be my theme song for this CORE VALUE of mine – GROWTH!

Baby steps Ayokunle, baby steps…and soon I’ll get to that PLACE I LONG TO BE!

What A Daredevil’s Taught Me About Dreams.

– 11:50 PM

I am not in bed, as I should be. I actually really was, but then I woke up. I just can’t go to bed without saying something (and I’ve said a lot) about the magnificence of the day. Let me show you a glimpse…

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, you will in a minute! This amazing story that will forever go down in history happened just a few hours ago! And, I just thought I should write something down to preserve the freshness, for as long as this inspiring coffee is still brewing within my soul. At least to create some sort of permanence before we move on to the next big thing (don’t we always?)

This post is by all means related to the last post I wrote about possibility. It is as Art, and it is endless. Read here —> It is that same spirit of possibility that this daredevil, Nik Wallenda, exudes when he decides to walk across the Niagara Falls on a rope – 1800 feet from American terrain, crossing over to Canada. Which he did! Might I add, in 25 minutes! The first man in world history to do that! – cross directly over Niagara Falls, on a highwire! I mean, look at the guy! Just watch as he makes his strides towards the finish line:

He defied the odds! He’s living completely in that realm of absolute possibility. His next mission, which he said he already got the permit for, is to do the same defying walk, but this time across the Grand Canyon. Yes, the Grand Canyon! And then, what?

One of my friends called me, while watching him as he moved closer to the finish, and said “That’s something you would do, Ayo”. And I replied him, I’m not that crazy. The guy is definitely my hero! I’m far from a daredevil, but I’ve been known to do stuff that seems daring to my mates…simple things like jumping over stuff, parkour-ish. Nothing much, but they always scream though, well especially my good friend who called. He screams like a girl too (Sorry Idee, love you man!) But man, I am really short of words.

Now, I did make a promise in the About page that everything I post here will have something to do with my experience at LeaderShape, and so far so good. You probably are wondering how this relates, but I’ll show you in a minute. Like I said, this ties to what I talked about on the last post – the art of possibility…and interestingly enough, on Day 3 of LeaderShape, the theme was “Challenging What Is, Looking to What Could Be”. It screams of the glorious nature of the world of possibility. Here is a quote I found in my LeaderShape manual:

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. – Patanjali

Such is the promise that is made in this world of possibility. It is indeed a new, great and wonderful world. There are no barriers. What really amazed me about Nik was that, being aware of the fact that there were definitely going to be challenges to deal with, for example the mist, the roars of the waters below, the loneliness he’s prone to feel while he’s on the rope in the middle of an expanse of water, fear possibly of the likelihood of failing, the wetness of the rope which might cause a slip; he remained calm and he proclaimed that being on the rope was to him “a blessing”, “an opportunity”.

This world of possibility begins with the pronouncement of these words, reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream”. And for two years, he fought against comments that tried to discouraged him. Officials who were supposed to be responsible for handing him a permit bluntly denied with comments like: “Not in this lifetime”, but he kept fighting, and still did not give up his dream! He has this to say, and I quote him loosely:

“People say I’m insane all the time, but they don’t get it, I love what I do”

His goal was to inspire others to dream, and not give up. And that, he’s certainly done!

On Day 3 of LeaderShape, we learned about the key dynamics of a powerful vision, which are:

It is vivid – something pretty clear

It is challenging – pretty much speaks for itself doesn’t it? Tough! Not easy!

It’s service directed – it’s a selfless act, for others.

It is expandable – it is something that can be built upon

It is compelling – there is no way you’ll be able stop people from talking about it! It resonates.

And if you analyze Nik’s vision, it certainly encompasses each of these key dynamics. I’ll end with this:

It’s tough and challenging, but we can all start to #WalkTheWire…one step at a time. Like he said, the first step is very very essential. It’s pretty much all that matters!

Culled from Wikipedia: As he was taking his first steps over the water he told reporters “It’s a beautiful view… A dream in the making.”

…Something he’s been dreaming about, like most of us,…since he was young (20 years to be exact!)

– 1:00 AM

Possibility; It’s an Art

The dictionary defines Art thus:

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

It describes Possibility as:

the state or fact of being possible; anything that is possible

Combining both terms, as “The Art of Possibility” what we get is this:

The production, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance of anything that is possible!

Now ain’t that something? But the question is, what exactly is this art of possibility? I believe from the analysis above, it has to do with the fact that you can produce what is beautiful, because in the strictest sense, anything is possible.

Everything I talk about on this blog will relate back to my experience at LeaderShape, and this for me is definitely one of the highlights of that experience. Without it, this blog would definitely not be in existence. And I’d assume it’s a good thing that it is in existence. You can read the About to get a grasp of what I’m speaking of.

So enough with the preamble….

We were told at the first day of the retreat that LeaderShape’s vision had a lot to do with two major things, namely: leading with “integrity”, and “a healthy disregard for the impossible” – I translated this to mean “endless possibilities”. And to be honest, everything we did had something to do with those two terms. Now, I am a dreamer, so the endless possibility stuff attracted me, though in a very subconscious way. Now, I am also a self-conscious self-doubter, which means that I keep track of my failures, and disregard or fail to acknowledge my successes (most times, I don’t even see them at all). The failures and limitations are more glaring. Now, that chain was what the “healthy disregard for the impossible” was meant to break, and trust me it did break it.

We were told to think of a vision, and imagine that there was nothing stopping us from achieving it. We were told to dream, with no barriers…we were told to not see the sky, let alone see it as a limit. And I took the bait…

I refused to listen to the voices in my head that tried to dissuade me from dreaming. The calculating part of me nudged me to start thinking of my vision in terms of how “practical” or “reasonable” it is, but what I soon found out was that it’s unreasonable to weigh capacities in this realm of “endless possibilities”. Those words didn’t make sense anymore, everything was possible!

Having a vision allows one to be vulnerable. For me, it turned me to a little child…I was able to actually dream. Things I had told myself I wasn’t capable of doing, in an instant resurfaced, and I gained a renewed strength to pursue lost passions.

That my friends is what is called the Art of Possibility.

As with any type of art, there are techniques to be followed. Techniques are guidelines, and not hard and fast rules to be follwed. They only are there to give you a basic framework to work with, and after that, you can decide to in the metaphoric sense “step out of the box”, and break the rules. Many exciting forms of art have been produced by breaking the established rules. So what does this have to do with possibility?, you say.

Well, we’ve established that Possibility is an art, and it definitely comes with its own techniques that are meant to guide towards that realm.

It is in that light that I introduce you to this:

Benjamin Zander was one of the people we learned from and about at the LeaderShape retreat. His passion, and high energy for life is infectious. I, like most other people, thought he was crazy due to his highly optimistic approach to life. Life isn’t always that great, the cynic in all of us screams. However, in the realm of possibility, life can be…and that is what he aims to teach using humor, and other techniques.

So, on to those techniques.

Humor, as mentioned above is one of them. He calls it the Number 6 Rule: “Stop taking yourself damn too seriously”. Relax, enjoy life and when you make mistakes, throw your arms in the air and say “How fascinating”. (He’s crazy, I told you). This brings you out of what he calls the downward spiral, where you are in a rut of hopelessness and despair..no bueno.

“It’s all invented” is also another tool he talks about. This involves realizing that life consists of games that are invented, which can be recreated based on how we choose to tell our individual stories…and rather than playing a game of success/failure, where you are keeping scores, like me of how many times you’ve failed, you can decide to invent and play a new game. He calls that new game, I am a contribution game.

Quieting the voice in your head is a good one too, and it ties in with humor. I’m sure you’re familiar with those nagging voices, “you’re no good”, “stop dreaming, and wake up..smell the thorns on the roses” (yeah, they hardly point you to the beautiful things)…and it goes on. What he tells you to tell those voices is to say, “Thanks for sharing. I value your input, but I’m busy”

Others include, giving an A (which means that you should go ahead and award A grades to yourself and others, without consideration to merit or whether they/you “deserve” it or not), connecting with others in the sense of a community/collaboration, leading from any chair in the room…and the list goes on.

What this means is that you pretty much need to get the book…

I’ll end on this note, with a review of the book that captures the content of my heart , as written by Margaret J. Wheatley, Author of Leadership and the New Science, Coauthor of A Simpler Way, and President, The Berkana Institute.

The Art of Possibility makes a humane and brilliant future possible. I truly want everyone to read this book – it opens us to the treasure of our great human capacity for creativity. These practices are simple yet extraordinarily effective for tapping into the unlimited energy of the human imagination”

Okay, and now to really end for real… I hope it’s not cheesy to say that I came across this song from a commercial by Kraft cheese (get it?), and it represents all that possibility is. Music speaks for me when words can’t, honestly. So, press play, and I’ll see you beyond the skies!