I drive long distances to think. The side of my brain that is focused on safe driving allows for my creative side to think uninterrupted for long stretches of time and distance. I drive with a pen and my journal on the seat next to me. Yes, I do pull off the highway to write down notes. There is a kind of sorting out of thoughts that takes place for me as I drive.
Today I begin a 50 day road trip across the country.
This trip is more open ended. I have destinations, but no absolute route to take, and with that, the time to wander, and time to think.
Here’s some of what I’ll be thinking about.
1 – Is all money invested in a community good for the community?
This is really a question about what relationship should wealthy investors have to a community?
My question concerns what do small communities that have yet to be discovered do when big money comes calling. It seems that in many places the pressure to become a community that is consumed by outsiders is in tension with preserving and nurturing future generations who appreciate the culture and character of their community.
2 – Are marketing businesses the only ones making real money in social media?
The question comes after a lot of reflection on why my major investment (for me) last year in making my book a best seller failed so significantly. Part of this question is the realization that 1. just having a relatively large number of Facebook and LinkedIn friends does not translate to sales, and 2. even if your book can be purchased from Amazon, you are mostly anonymous there.
I also notice that almost everyone who contacts me through LinkedIn is trying to sell me marketing services. In a conversation with one fellow whose pitch was particularly appealing, I asked: “My market are people and organizations in transition.” He said, “I can’t help you.” My response was, “Yeah, I knew that.” I knew it because marketing is almost totally focused on structural titles. Rarely is any of this strategic involved in significant change. Strategic in the sense that there is a relationship that provides the context for significant change. This is the principal problem that my Circle of Impact leadership model addresses.
Structure dominates, because structure to us humans is what water is to fish. It is so dominant we don’t know it is there. And yet by elevating structure over everything else, we have diminished the role of values and relationships with people. This is a problem because it produces organizations and communities that resist change.
In addition, this is a question about size. If you seek to be big, you will find it easy to diminish the role that people have in your organization. There is question of scale involved here.
With that I wonder about whether social media, in all its bigness, brings real value to my work and life. I don’t know. It is a question that I will think about as I travel.
3 – Therefore, is “scale” the enemy? This question is prompted by a blog post on the IndieWeb by Allan Jacobs.
It is also prompted by E. F. Schumacher‘s Small is Beautiful, by Leopold Kohr‘s The Breakdown of Nations and Pierre Clastres‘ Society Against The State and Archeology of Violence.
The real question here is about size. Is small preferable to large? My mind is changing on this.
In my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative To Ignite Change, I wrote the following in the Epilogue.
“My challenge to you is to do something today that you did not plan to do that makes a difference in somebody’s life. Start to become a Circle of Impact Leader today. Start small. Act locally. Be patient. Find the joy in doing things that create impact. Keep a record of what you are doing. Create a story. Your story. It is the story that you tell yourself about why the personal initiative you take matters. Once you start, and you begin to pick up momentum, then begin to dream big about what is possible if you organize and scale your impact.”
I am rethinking this suggestion. Why is it important to be large, to scale, to grow big? Why not be small? Not small minded, or insignificantly small in impact, but rather small in terms of the optimum size for connection and relationships that matter.
One of the reasons I’m rethinking this question is its relation to #1 above.
These questions are also related to the Two Global Forces in my book.
“Two global forces are at work in this change, pushing and pulling against each other. The first is the pull to centralize global institutions, particularly those in finance and governance, into one integrated system of operation. This is the apex of the 20th-century hierarchical organization, where centralized control for planning and management efficiency is a prime organizing principle.
The other force pushes back through networks of relationships that distribute decision-making and management in a decentralized way. The scale and spread of global collaboration through networks of individuals is solving problems in the developing world, which a generation ago was not possible. This collaboration evolution creates an environment where we both lead and follow. Instead of a pyramid of hierarchical authority, imagine a web connecting people together from every direction for sharing solutions and new ideas and creating change.”
These are three of the topics that I’ll think about as I drive across country.
Along the way, I’ll take time to talk to people. Some meetings are scheduled interviews, others are random conversations that come standing in line for coffee, and then there are those with family and friends that maintain relationships of meaning and commitment to one another.
I’ll do book events. See below. And I will spend time with family and friends in a variety of settings. Follow me on Facebook to see where this road trip takes me.
If you would like to talk about any of these questions, email me, and we can talk while I drive between destinations and events.
Book Events during my trip.
Saturday afternoon, May 25 – BARNES & NOBLE – Ft. Collins, Colorado
Saturday afternoon, June 8 – BARNES & NOBLE – Biltmore Park, Asheville, North Carolina
Friday, late afternoon / early evening, June 14 – BARNES & NOBLE – New Hope Commons, Durham, North Carolina
Saturday afternoon June 15 – BARNES & NOBLE – The Streets at Southpoint, Durham, North Carolina
Tuesday evening, June 18 – Page 158 Books – Wake Forest, North Carolina – Presentation & Book Signing
Saturday afternoon, June 22 – BARNES & NOBLE – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Saturday afternoon, July 6 – BARNES & NOBLE – Wilmington, North Carolina