Thursday, 18 June 2015

Do I have to put up with this nonsense? A blog about interrupting

I started off being polite then when no one listened I lost it! 

Ever imagined or dreamed that you are doing something really amazing. You see yourself achieving something winning a prize or completing a goal that you set yourself. Getting recognition, wealth and gratitude for it? That is good but... 

In reality you are total idiot a buffoon. As you step up to the stage you trip, just as you are about to deliver that crushing performance, you lose your notes, or your words. Or are you caught in a state of ‘continuous partial attention’? constantly running to do the next thing or answer the next digital ping? Time to stop!

Time to practice Interruption. The art of stopping in your tracks and recognizing when you are heading for a catastrophic moment. Change direction, do it differently. Go a different way, read different stuff, say different things.

How can you do this? how can you positively interrupt yourself, change a scenario?

Begin by going home a different way tonight, have another alternative conversation to the one you were going to have. Make it about the thing that you want talk about. Find the people who will listen to you. If they won’t then INTERRUPT THEM! Haven’t got an invite to their meeting? Then just turn up, set up your presentation, tell the media. They will INTERRUPT you but other people will start to listen to you. Society will judge you but that's good. Ask yourself some questions at the critical moment. Just that moment that you were going to do the exact same thing that you always do. That moment that you normally give in to convention, STOP.

On your way home? Stop at a different cafĂ©, read a  different newspaper or book. Make sure you consciously do different things every day. Listen to someone else’s news. Or watch a random TED talk. Not one about stuff you know about. Go see a band or play you’ve never heard of. Write a different soap opera, invent your own plot and ending. Learn a new skill or piece of music, or a poem or a song.

It’s about being present, in the moment. There’s a lot of chatter about mindfulness at the moment but that’s a bit polite and nice. No! Interruption is where it’s at!  I’m not talking about rude interruption like Kanye West on Taylor Swift. Instead, take note of Martin Luther King, or Ghandi no one could ignore them could they? King had no platform, Ghandi had no platform. They interrupted the status quo by creating their own. 

Remember punk? When they couldn't get heard they didn't carry on courting the same old dinosaur record companies they made their own! Music for example Young Fathers, the maker revolution, crowd funding, Bitcoin. They are all examples of interrupted ideas that challenge the obvious, the mainstream. They will be the new economy that takes over when the old one is asleep. Kodak caught napping by digital cameras. Record companies rendered obsolete by streaming music. What next? what will you contribute?

The key is to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT – INTERRUPT YOURSELF –do these things and You will find that you start to think differently. 

Then you will find the power to INTERRUPT their story if you aren't happy with it. When you get to the door of people who don’t want to listen to you, don’t fight them. DON’T GO IN. In the film Jaws the shark ate people because they went on a long flight to the beach where the sharks were. 

Hacktivism activism, action is the key to change. You can change everything. Yes it's scary, setting out in a new direction, saying a big no to the norm. But it will change your life! Taking that first powerful step is awesome. I remember marching against the war in Iraq looking around me at all those people and feeling at the same time proud and scared. Exhilarating feelings. 

Interrupting, avoiding habitual patterns, might well be the key to avoiding technology that targets you for advertising. After all you'd want to hear new music for the first time that is like nothing you ever heard before. Not just music based on recommendation from Amazon or some other monolith. 

Basically go to a different space, or place to work. Or open an alternative set of doors, behind which you will find a set of people who are ready and willing to listen to you. In the book 'Roots for Radicals', Edward Chambers describes how Saul Alinsky  founded the Industrial Arts Foundation. And then reformed the Bronx. They did it by talking to people for 30 minutes. Then only worked with people who would listen to them.

Ask yourself the question, “why do I need anyone’s permission to do this?”. I ran a session at a conference last year on ‘permission’. The need for people, grown adults to have permission to act on their ideas amazed me. Their fear of acting without permission staggered me. The reaction of ‘leaders’ to requests from their people to do something differently left me stunned. It was so negative!

Start today interrupt yourself, you don't need permission. Break those old long running habits now. No longer stand on the edge of the crowd looking in. Form your own crowd, your circle that want things that you want. If that circle outgrows its usefulness start another one. Vote with your feet, don't stay and be bored by people who aren't worth listening to.

There is something very scary about doing new and different things. But when you find the power to do them they become very exhilarating. Be your own leader not a follower. Find that power and you will never let it go.
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