Abstraction Distraction

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When I was a kid, I loved photography. Loved the way the camera mimicked the eye. A machine that imitates the body. Camera is to eye like computer is to brain. Composition particularly intrigued me; the way you framed a photograph defined its aesthetic and the context shaped its tone. You could explain your point of view to the ‘reader’ of the picture.

One of my favourite exercises, set by my photography teacher, Mr Brenker, was to find an ordinary still-life object and abstract it using composition – however you chose…focus, zoom, aperture settings. It was fantastic to make a beautiful, unrecognisable “new” image of something familiar. It is possible to get so close to a subject that you can’t tell what it is anymore.

And so the same phenomenon occurs when we deal with people… sometimes we’re so close that we can’t tell what we’re looking at. We can make better sense of the world by taking the photographer’s approach. Zoom in, zoom out, focus and refocus or change the change angle for a clearer understanding of the situation we are in.

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The Selfish Mentor

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A mentor should actively seek gain from their mentee relationship (I’m not convinced that mentee is a real word, makes me think of manatees…). Anyway, one of the first questions a new mentee asks me is, “so, why do you mentor?”

The correct answer seems to be about giving something back. I’ve used this reply. I’ve talked about helping others but, in truth, I’m a Selfish Mentor.

The Selfish Mentor gives of his time only with an expectation of something in return. I’m aiming to develop myself too. And I know that I’ll get great , if I give great too.

Mentoring develops a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Both mentor and mentee come together out of self interest and, as they grow together, enrich themselves and each other.

Selfishness builds a richer, more fulfilling relationship for both parties. The giving causes taking…and the giving given, allows for taking.

And that’s why my desire to gain moves me to give the mentee the best I’ve got.

Lessons from the Orthopaedic Zone

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Last summer, in less than a mouse-click, I snapped my fibula and tibia and dislocated my ankle at roughly 45 degrees to my shin. Now, I’m a big fan of experiential learning but I have to admit, as a I lay screaming, the idea of reviewing David Kolb’s axiomatic model of reflection, the Cycle of Learning, wasn’t on my to-do list. I did come to learn, not long after, that there is indeed a website for everything. http://www.mybrokenleg.com does exist.

When Christopher Hitchens invoked the Nietzschean phrase, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, he professed serious doubt about cancer and it’s treatment making him stronger. Ha, but a broken leg…nothing really, in the scheme of things.

Did it actually make me stronger. Doubtful. Though it did give me a lot of time to think. Mostly, I lay calmly and thought about the calming effecting of laying calmly. Nice feeling, if you can get it.

I try to recall that restfulness now that I’m upright and mobile and occassionally stressed to the eyeballs. I have to admit it is difficult to remember. I’m not sure I have any lasting lessons from the orthopaedic zone. Or maybe there is this…sometimes unexpected things happen and then you get up, get moving and get on with it.