Embracing Dangerous Methods


  • Sometimes you have to do something unforgiveable just to be able to go on living.” – Carl Jung

Carl Jung, born today in 1875, created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and extraversion and introversion. The film, “A Dangerous Method” is a biopic about both him Jung and the other titan of psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud. It is less about their treatment of psychological breakdown and more about Jung’s quite literal embrace of it in the form of his patient which he characterises with the comment by the patient, Sabina –

  • I’m very interested in the myth of Siegfried: the idea that something pure and heroic can come, can perhaps only come, from a sin, even a sin as dark as incest.”

The Generous Sceptic

Seth Godin books


Happy Birthday Seth.

Today Seth shares his birthday with the world in a most generous fashion. He is crusading for “giving away” one’s birthday. Rather than seek out the tradition gifts, he wants people to think of it as an occasion to give, but not to the birthday boy or girl, but to a cause more needy. In his case, he is promoting the worthy “Charity: Water” which provides drinkable water to people without it around the world.

Another aspect of Seth’s generosity is his generous intellect. It is why he is listed in my “Thought Leader Roll” (see bottom right side). Especially his embrace of failure and doubt which is central to my explorations here. He is for me what he himself describes as a “Generous Sceptic”. A person who is willing to spend the time to think deeply about what’s ahead for you and what’s going to be difficult.”

He lists 3 ways to respond to a Generous Sceptic…

  1. Listen to them and give up.
  2. Fight back against them (confusing them with the ungenerous skeptic)
  3. Completely understand their point of view. ‘To act as if you agree with their skepticism and explore it all the way to the bottom.’

I haven’t always agreed with Seth, but have always tried to follow #3. And I have always admired his generosity.

Embracing Foulups

Gapingvoid - fail early


An entire evening of celebrating – failure…

  • The latest issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review reports on a recent trend of TED Talk- and Ignite-style events in which entrepreneurs share their shortcomings and failures. The events—I’ll call them “Foulup Nights” here, but the real name is saltier—launched in Mexico City in 2012 and have since taken place in more than 100 cities, according to the founders. The events are “a chance to reflect on bad decisions, missed opportunities, episodes of poor execution, and pivots that never paid off,” Greg Beato writes. “Unlike TED, a conference series that focuses on ‘ideas worth spreading,’ [Foulup] Nights showcases ideas worth shedding.”

Mark Athitakis reflects on the lessons of the many stories shared at Foulup Nights in his piece “The Value of Sharing Mistakes”…

  • Make it collective. In a tough situation, there’s safety in numbers..
  • Make it upbeat. As Katie Bascuas recently reported, there’s research to support the idea that failures are motivational.
  • No humblebragging. If you want your story to be taken seriously, be sincere about what the mistake actually was.

Best Failure

Government failure


And the award for “Best Failure” goes to…

While the USA bemoans that it fails to be the “best”, the UK government is actually embracing the “best” of their failures. The Independent article “Failure – a target that Whitehall can actually hit” describes their failure

  • The Cabinet Office minister in charge of carrying out Whitehall efficiency savings [Francis Maude] will say that accepting failure is the best way to encourage innovation and cut bureaucracy. Tech start-ups in California thrive on a "fail fast" motto that helps them learn quickly from their mistakes and go on to achieve success, the minister says. The ‘fail fast’ culture is said to free companies and individuals from caution and fear of things going wrong, and instead fosters creativity and innovation. Mr Maude has even sponsored a civil service award for "best failure", which will be given to the best team in the public sector that developed a project that failed before going on to transform it into a success.”

Embracing the Problem


The first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one.”

While you are chowing down on the hot dogs, swilling the Budweiser and watching the star spangled fireworks, invest 3 minutes to (re)listen to Jeff Daniels classic monologue. It should be required watching every Fourth of July.

Happy Birthday America. Another year older and ideally another year wiser.

Embracing the Mess

Messy baby


There’s an eating fast, and then there’s fast eating. So fast and furious that the whole escapade is a total mess. And for youngun’s, that might just be a good sign according to Today’s article “Why a messy baby may be brainier”…

  • “Next time your baby mashes his bananas, apple sauce AND carrots all together — not to mention all over his hands, hair and the high chair—don’t fret about the mess. Your little one just may be getting smarter in the process…Lynn Hall, now a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told TODAY Moms in an email. ’The easiest way to know which things are made of the same stuff is to touch them, smell them or eat them. And if kids are in a situation where they have a lot of practice touching and eating non-solid foods, then they know it’s okay to get in there and figure it out.’”

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to convince my wife that this process carries on well into middle aged adulthood…

Embracing Fasting

Ramadan fasting


Ramadan Mubarak!

The Muslim world is now in the heart of its holy month of Ramadan. A ritual of many dimensions and traditions but most people know it for the extended duration of strict fasting. Not just food, but no drink.

Such a period of failing to eat and drink for a prolonged time might seem to be brutally masochistic (note: a number of exceptions are granted to children, elderly, ill and other individuals for whom such fasting could be dangerous). But actually closer examination indicates that this period of weakness might just make one stronger. Not just in the spiritual sense, but in physical health as well. The article “Science of Fasting: How Does Ramadan Affect the Body?” describes…

  • “The practice of fasting isn’t unique to Islam. For Hindus and Jains, single-day fasts mark auspicious occasions. Over the forty days of Lent, Christians undertake a partial fast. On the night before Yom Kippur each year, Jews begin a 25-hour period of fasting and prayer. Mormons are encouraged to fast for a day each month… A 2008 study conducted in Utah found that people who fast on a regular basis lower their risk of contracting coronary disease. In 2014, a follow up study found that fasting instigates metabolic changes and lowers “bad” cholesterol levels, which in turn can reduce the chance of heart disease by as much as 58%.”

Article talks about other benefits…

  • ·Shared adversity bringing the community together especially in the breaking of fasts
  • ·Cleansing and de-toxing
  • Pause and reset
  • Break food habits

Another fan of fasting is Nassim Taleb who advocates it in his [bible] of embracing failure, “Anti-Fragile”…

  • Among other things, the role of religion is to tam the iatrogenics of abundance – fasting makes you lose your sense of entitlement…There is the this antifragiity to the stressor of the fast, as it makes the wanted food taste better and can produce euphoria in one’s system. Breaking a fast feels like the exact opposite of a hangover.”

Maybe that is why many “de-tox” regimes are mainly mini-fasts to counteract the hangovers of excess.



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