Field Notes — Wild Potential
Leading where there are no maps
What follows are some field notes gathered through my journeying over the last few years — they’ve helped me alight on the idea of wild potential as an organising principle and rallying cry for building stronger communities, growing brands that matter and transitioning towards a flourishing world.
A bigger sense of what is possible
We live in a time of transition. The old rules no longer apply. We have crossed a threshold into a new place — where there are no maps to guide us. The idea behind these field notes is to encourage a more mindful, whole-hearted, life-centred exploration of this new world we find ourselves in.
Wild potential is a way of experiencing change, purpose and your own potential differently — stepping into a bigger sense of what is possible. It means reigniting your imagination, reconnecting to a deeper sense of yourself and a longer view of time.
Practically it manifests as:
- A series of practices to support more mindful, connected and purposeful leadership.
- New ways of seeing the world and our relationship to it seeking inspiration from nature’s life-centred operating system.
It has the potential to support action in the following ways:
- Navigating times of transition & change;
- Becoming a more conscious, purposeful leader;
- Building resilience and supporting wellbeing;
- Creating long-term value through your culture;
- Developing richer collaborations; and
- Unlocking ideas with improved creativity.
An invitation to see with new eyes
“In order to even begin to understand what’s going on in the world right now, you have to be open to the idea of unlearning almost everything you were taught”
There is an innovation lab which is 3.8 billion years old, it has created the conditions for life as we know it through a constant process of evolution — trial and error. In this time 90% of all organisms on earth have died without viable offspring, but not a single one of your ancestors going back to the dawn of life on earth has suffered this usual fate.
In these terms, you are unique, a miracle, the pinnacle of this most extraordinary unfolding of life. Surely then your potential must also be limitless, boundless, wild? But with this potential comes responsibility and what happens next is up to you.
- Notice your interconnectedness to and dependence on the living world;
- Tap into the awe and wonder that it brings; and
- Work with it to create purposeful and lasting change.
If not you, who?
If not now, when?
13 ways to your wild potential
Below are 13 themes and ideas I am working with:
- Create a change that is bigger than you
Times of transition mean doubling down on purpose not banishing it. What are you in service to? Dig deep to answer that question and then ruthlessly commit to making it happen.
“If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime then you are not thinking big enough”
2. Get into your place of genius
The origin of the word genius doesn’t relate to individual talent but instead to the place where magic happens, from the Latin — Genius Loci, or genius of a place. If you expand your thinking in this way, how can you create the conditions for individual and collective magic to happen? How can you make that a part of your daily practice?
3. Build a change ecosystem
Trees share nutrients through their root systems, when one tree is depleted the other trees step in to support it. They create an interconnected network so that the whole system thrives. How can you be like those trees? Can you design an interconnected ecosystem and use it to deliberately create change?
4. Ditch collaboration as you know it
Collaboration is not a process but a commitment to create a change that is greater than sum of your collective parts. How can you work with people with whom you can positively collude to make it happen?
5. Become a storycarrier
Your brand is not your logo but the culmination of every single action you take. When you think like this being a storyteller isn’t enough — anyone can learn to tell a good story. Instead you need to become a storycarrier, it involves not just speaking your purpose but owning it. This is no time for faking, be authentic, embody the change you want to create in every single thing you do. Own your limp.
6. Be famous for 5 miles
When you widen your circle of engagement to create an ecosystem you realise your deep interconnectedness to place, the people in it, the land, the community. You need to pay attention to more than your shareholders and go beyond stakeholders. Instead you need to nurture the placeholders at the heart of the community you serve. Dig in to the place you call home. Don’t try and be famous for 5 minutes, try 5 miles instead.
“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
7. Work in cycles
Change is not a single-speed activity. Just like in nature, work seasonally, life is not a perpetual summer’s day. Sprint. Let go. Rest. Repeat. Learn to sustain yourself, then when the time is right show up with everything you’ve got.
“The Times are Urgent, Let Us Slow Down”
8. Adopt long time thinking
The decisions we make impact beyond our lifetime. Can you commit to create a change so big that its positive ripples are felt by future generations? This long-time thinking requires us to break free of the confines of traditional business thinking and build true legacy for your work.
9. Start with gratitude
It is radical, it subverts everything. It breaks the negative feedback loop that feeds off our endless pursuit of happiness that lives outside of us. It builds trust and builds positive feedback loops with those we work with. Think of the wonder of this wild world we live in, why wouldn’t you be grateful for that?
“Gratitude is liberating. It is subversive. It helps us to realize that we are sufficient, and that realization frees us”
10. Awe and wonder
It is an antidote for these complex times, it helps us understand what is important. The good news is you can get from the simplest of things, watching the sunset, the magic of the dawn chorus — slowing down, noticing. Sometimes that is all it takes to remind us of the extraordinary world of which we are a deeply interconnected part.
“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart”
Robin Wall Kimmerer
11. Live life on the edge
Great ideas don’t happen around a flip-chart, they happen on the margins, our discomfort zone, and only when we truly commit to take action. How can you mash up your influences, seek new inspiration, work with people and ideas that push and challenge you?
12. Create beauty
You are an artist, we all are, whatever work we do in the world. Great art needs a careful balance between imagination and creativity with discipline and commitment to do the work. Show up everyday and learn your craft.
“The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible”
Toni Cade Bambara
13. Be more human
To achieve the immensity of the challenge ahead of us requires us all to show-up more fully as humans.
- Emergence not control
- Generosity not scarcity
- Empathy not apathy
- Resilience not rigidity
- Creativity not conformity
- Gratitude not fear
- Participation not isolation
- Human not robot
You create change not by big acts but with thousands of everyday acts of humanity.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It’s not what you do but the way that you do it.
Real change doesn’t happen around a flipchart.
Your purpose isn’t hiding on the internet.
The best way to learn this stuff is to see it with your own eyes and feel it with your own heart.
So turn off the internet and head outside.
Head to the park, or the woods.
Be quiet and notice.
3.8 billion years has come to this moment.
You are unique — a heartbeat in an ocean.
Your wild potential is limitless.
We don’t have long.
Make it count.
Learning journeys towards a more soulful, inter-connected, humble relationship with ourselves and the living world.