Fresh thinking requires courage

Everywhere I look I see evidence of thinking stuck in tramlines.

Going round and round in circles. Failing to break out of existing patterns.

We’ve almost never been in such great need of fresh thinking. But why is it not happening?

However, before we go looking ‘out there’ or pointing a finger, we need to know it starts with us.

We need to muster the courage to look at ourselves and see what’s getting us stuck. Where is my thinking just going round and round in circles?

Am I prepared to look at what prompts me to always see things in a particular way? Or to recognise the filters that affect how I hear what others might be trying to say?

Lessons from the valley

Recently, Steve took the tractor and flail mower out to clear tracks along the green paths in the valley.

It’s astonishing how it changes my perspective as I walk. Not only am I more confident in striding out, but I see more. Flora and fauna that have been obscured by the long grass.

Also, when we have heavy rain and large volumes of water are gathering in the brook, we need to periodically check the water gates for debris collecting on the mesh. If we don’t, eventually the mesh gives way because of the weight behind it. Backing up like a dam.

It’s like that in our lives. Stuff happens and we usually deal with it. But sometimes the kind of experiences we have do leave a residue that we need to recognise. And be prepared to work through.

This week I have been aware of a number of experiences, some going way back, that have unexpectedly cast their shadow. I have been going round in circles. Bumping into familiar objects as I try to navigate forward, wondering why I am here yet again.

And in thinking about these things I am reminded again of Dory’s advice in Finding Nemo – you have to go through, not over…

Courage to move beyond

It’s not only in pushing through our blockages where courage for fresh thinking is required. It’s also where we have to hold lightly those good ways of working that have served us well, in order to be open to the new.

Fresh thinking is just that. And daily we face choices about stepping out from our comfort zones. Being prepared to take risks. To embrace the unfamiliar and unknown.

But just responding as the situation, or thought, arises is hard to do. The pullback to where we feel secure and comfortable is often greater than the momentum for change. It takes an earlier decision: to choose our orientation, to set our compass, to be ready to seize the opportunity.

I’ve been particularly aware of this recently as I have been challenged by one of John O’Donohue’s Homecoming Blessings:

At the End of the Day – A Mirror of Questions

What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Who did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?

From the evidence – why was I given this day?

John O’Donohue, Benedictus – A Book of Blessings, Bantam Press 2007

Fresh thinking requires courage. But it’s worth it.

Thanks for reading


This week

Being prepared to write in the moment, in reality, can be challenging (and feel exposing). This week has certainly been a journey. Thanks to all those who have walked alongside – I don’t think we can do this stuff on our own!