A different kind of art

I just want to sleep. My brain says no.

I’ve watched this every day this week, and it’s playing now while I write. It’s my favourite instrument at the moment. A blend of percussion, melody and bass. He’s not busking though. If you look at the context and the ending, you’ll hear that he’s interpreting.

Bouncing around in my head this week (and on a sticky note under my monitor) is Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” concept. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Tw0PGcyN0 if you haven’t seen it).

My current role has me developing continuing professional development for L&D professionals.

And I’m doing Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery course online, this week we’ve been considering working out loud, and sense making.

So at 2am this morning (as it often does), my brain decides to synthesise these four things. Here’s what I ended up with.

Excellence, and persistence


Learning and Development is about excellence. I’ve played one of those terrapans. It didn’t sound like the guy in the video. He’s clearly played thousands of hours to refine his skill to the level it is.  We need to do the same with our skills. We may not ever reach this guy’s level of excellence but we must keep working at it, and inspiring those around us to do the same. We must keep learning, every day.

Learning and Development is about persistence. If you listen to the final seconds of the video you can hear a brief comment. “I think that was the one. Yeah, that was definitely it”. This wasn’t their first take. They practiced, planned, tried, and failed. Then they’d waited, and tried again, and tried again I’d say. You could hear them smiling when it finally had all come together.

Narrative and metanarrative


The first time I watched this the sounds captured me. The scale it was played in, the combination of notes, the rhythms. The second time I watched it I was tracking the techniques (could I possibly reproduce them?). But then as it finished it dawned on me that there was another level to what was going on. I played it again, and rode the train.

This is the role of Learning and Development professionals. To design and create at multiple levels. For the individuals there’s the narrative of what they need to do their role – skills, knowledge, connections, attitude. And there’s the metanarrative of their profession – what are the new developments, trends and key challenges. There’s the business narrative – where does their role fit into the bigger picture of delivering business outcomes. And there’s the industry metanarrative – what’s happening in the broader field that might impact them at a business and role level. There’s the metanarrative of their career – where are they heading, what will they need to get there, how long do they want it to take?



This piece is part of a broader cultural movement trying to create and subvert culture through taking the arts into public spaces. Pop-up concerts, installations, flash mobs, street galleries (see great article on this https://medium.com/@shaykoren/the-cultural-movement-we-need-c28301d7cfec#.4t66mfyyl).

For me, the notion of beauty, in learning design, in language, in visuals/images, in connections, shapes my approach to learning and development. I’ve been reading Social Leadership by Julian Stodd and his headspace of humility, kindness, equality, fairness has resonated with me as elements of what beauty means.



I can only imagine being in that subway. It would have been transformed.

This is why I do what I do. To create space for transformation.

  • Transformation for people (note, not of people. In the end, it’s something they have to choose).
  • Transformation for professions – every second presentation I see is about the changing world of work, professions need to transform.
  • Transformation of businesses – if L&D aren’t doing this, at every level, then we are rightly on the menu rather than at the table.
  • Transformation of society, of the world? Perhaps.

It seems a long way from an eLearning compliance module, a face to face soft skills session or my unending email inbox but … do I want anything less? It has to be something good (and beautiful) to get me up in the morning after an interrupted night’s sleep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s