paradox and the Do Lectures

Many years ago someone told me that the reason they supported the NFP organisation I worked with was that they had had a bad experience with us. I do a double take, did I hear that correctly??? He went on to explain that he had come to base his life on the reality of paradoxes: you get more satisfaction from giving than getting; to truly own something you have to let it go; seeking acceptance from people actually drives them away, etc etc. He therefore found it liberating to be generous towards an organisation that hadn’t treated him well. Hmmmmm.

Paradox has been deeply informative for my own view of the world. In particular, I accept that apparently contradictory ideas, when held together, can offer insight and wisdom that are denied us when we hold dogmatically to a particular perspective, irrespective of its apparent right-ness.







One of the things I appreciate about the way David, Andy and the team designed the Do Lectures ( in Wales this year was the bringing together of things that rarely end up in the same space.

  • An international gathering of acclaimed achievers, sharing their stories while being accommodated in tents (not hotels). Eliminates the pretention that typically accompanies such events when you are bunking down in sleeping bags and lining up for simple but exception food with enamel plates.
  • CEOs, activists, film-makers, inventors, adventurers, entrepreneurs … Do-ers of all kinds sharing the microphone.
  • An event that unashamedly showcases a smart little country (Wales), while being genuinely international.
  • High tech threads (via speaker selection and social media savvy) and earthy, high touch culture.
  • … and the list could go on.

To illustrate this, in one session we heard from Zach Smith (co-founder of Makerbot industries – a 3D printing device likely to be part of the manufacturing revolution) and designer and photographer Nick Hand who rode his push bike around the coast of the UK seeking out and interviewing artisans along the way ( ). The question about which approach, high-tech localised manufacturing or the super skilled handcrafts of the artisans is ‘better’ misses the opportunity to retain the best of the past and embrace the future by holding both stories together in tension.

Our world is in constant flux. Wise people remind us that the thinking required to solve today’s challenges cannot be the same thinking that created the challenges in the first place. When I caught up with fellow Do-participants Ross (@RossHill), Sam (@sambe11) and Derek (@dwinter) last week we talked about the difference in approach when the motivation is not so much to ‘save the world’ but to get on with creating a world with the attributes we understand as good. The Do Lectures, like many other gatherings these days, is part of a groundswell that is not just imagining what a healthy 21st world is like, but is already living it. This is not happening by reacting against the dominant systems, but by just getting on and doing, believing that the intuitive innovation and resilience of the human spirit will create pockets of life and energy that grow organically.

Haven’t been as inspired by a group of people collectively and individually for a long time.