What George Bernard Shaw said about circumstances and how it connects to ‘N’

16 people x 16 cities.
PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS BLAMING their circumstances for what they are, said George Bernard Shaw. “I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the ones who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”

Sixteen of us are making ‘N’ Phnom Penh happen. (See 16N). For real. A theater, of sorts, a collage of ideas. The theme is ‘Normality,’ the agenda’s being writ. Intentional. Specific. On its way.

‘N’ Phnom Penh, the kickoff in a series of 16 to come in cities around the world (preferably with one N in them, 2 Ns is better), is a week away now. I’m lucky so many are showing up to vote on days based on having already committed to ticket-getting. Some of them, I haven’t even met.

Just sixteen people, though. Sixteen is the magic number for high quality conversation spacemaking, I learned from Origin, Beauty and BKK SELF. I’ve made a promise to my guests–that there will be 16 of us, that there will be high quality conversation, that there will be designed moments for connections. Now, I have to just get things in a line, and press the button, and you know what? The people… who come, who trust DK to hold the space and to make the thing that is the thing. The people! ‘N’ Phnom Penh guests. We haven’t even gotten started yet, but I already know. They’re really where the magic happens. And now, I’m fully committing. To my guests, for N Phnom Penh and ‘N’ elsewhere. I’m gonna show up, really show up, for ‘N,’ for all of you. Which is exactly why there are so few ways to join (invite only) and why there are only 16 invited. Funneling attention, closing some channels, clearing the riffraff. For only one end goal: designed moments of true connection. In other words, high-quality.

IT ISN’T SO EASY TO LOOK AT A THING AND CRITIQUE IT WHEN, upon deep inspection, you see, *gulp*, your own reflection.

The thing I was critiquing was the Culture of Maybe. Of how, when you really stopped to think about it, people were going all crazy about saying they were gonna do something and then totally not doing it. I would go all high ground and say, “Well, there’s this thing. It’s integrity. In business, in all functional relationships, you have to show up for the thing you say you will! It’s… trust!” Yes, I complained. A lot. I had an autoresponder on my email for a while that an old friend said was “a disconnect” and “obnoxious.” I mean, really, it’s okay to be obnoxious and stuff, but when you’re writing people about how you feel like no one’s really connecting and talking deeply and then the next thing is they get an autorespodner from you saying, “I don’t care about your ‘sorry for the late reply’,” well, it um, grated on some people. I can see why. I wasn’t clear. And I certainly wasn’t doing the work to show up for others, either. Meaning, not just in a passing way, but in a real, focused, and intentional way. But you know what? There was a reason for that. I’d become, in a word, flooded.

The culture of maybe and the reality of overwhelm

BACK IN THE 1990s that I love to go on and on about to with the young people who are on their devices not-making appointments and not-making real life conversations, well, we just didn’t have that many options. We didn’t have things like ways to stay connected with people we’d met on foreign travels or even a state away for summer camp. Besides letters and the old telephone, which meant you had to call someone’s parents and they had this big awareness that you were doing that and it was really hard, a big deal, because it meant something.

Calling. Writing.

That was HUGE. Well, maybe it’s because we were teens ourselves back then, some of us, I mean, those of us I talk to about this the most, I mean. And we just didn’t have other ways to talk, meet, and exchange little bits of “Hey, I think I wanna talk to you some more.” Now it’s like, “What’s your preferred social media?” And people like me, people who used to call and write, well, we kind of think it over and sometimes shift and that’s howcome I’ve been wishy washy about this. Deleting whole accounts and thinking that would help me focus on the quality conversations. But you know what it really did? It made me think, “This is stupid.”

I mean, why do I have so many loose ties, and so very few quality ones, anyway, in the first place? I got all crazy about the importance of relationships, and started reading a ton about these things in various places, and even wrote my whole ramble about it at DK’s profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn was trying, wasn’t it, back in the day? But what happened? LI claims, claims!, “Relationships matter,” but when you’re on it, you sure don’t feel like LI cares about you.

Waking up and switching stuff off, to focus

SO WHAT TO DO. There’s just too many ways of meeting people now, and even more ways of connecting with them. Staying connected isn’t the problem. The problem is CURATING the connections you REALLY want to have. Where, over time, and with intention and specificity, (see? This is a design problem!), you can engineer high quality exchange.

That, at least, is the theory.

‘N’ is already teaching me things. And more important, the people I am meeting by chance and circumstance here in Phnom Penh, are teaching me things, too. (Thanks for that, PP.) —DK

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