Our life’s work

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” — Leonardo da Vinci

When I look at my output online, I’d be lying if I wasn’t a tad impressed with my efforts (be away with you that damn ego…!), but, there’s a niggling doubt, I could be wasting my time.

For a start, if I were to aggregate the number of blog posts, there’s more than a few books lurking in the shadows. Ditto my recordings on Soundcloud and Audioboom. And then there’s my photos on Flickr and Instagram.

But in the end, does any of it matter?

If you think about the TED phenomenon, I’m quite sure that absent the platform that many of the speakers wouldn’t have been known so widely; but to my mind, it’s the ethos of TED that makes the talks come alive. In case you’ve never dug down in the TED weeds, here’s their mission statement:

“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

And without wanting in the slightest to conflate my work with TED speakers, I suppose, in the end, that’s all I’m trying to do — change attitudes.

To what?

  • How we see the world
  • Reinvent the meaning of work
  • Our materialistic worldview
  • Our herd mentality to the industrial paradigm
  • To look to the past for insight

But most of all, to awaken our innate genius.

I’m under no illusion that any one of these topics could potentially consume the rest of my life; but the way I see things, there’s no point railing against the system if I’m not prepared to take a stand. If that sounds bellicose then I make no apologies. I expect and have always accepted that in voicing an opinion I’m putting myself in harm’s way. For the record, I’m absolutely sure that my career, such that it was, was affected by the fact that I wasn’t prepared to keep quiet in the face of inequity on whatever level.

There have been many moments over the last few years where my inner critic would chide me for thinking that I had anything worth saying, but what’s kept me going is the fact that I care. And I don’t mean in a superficial-show-me-the-money sort of way but in a way that means I’m willing to jettison a safe (supposed) career in law to pursue something far more important.

If this sounds a bit pompous, again, I don’t really care. No I mean it. I don’t care if you think me naive for positing that little old Summerhayes, based in some little backwater in Devon, England, thinks he might make a difference. You see, given what I’ve witnessed over the last 30 years, particularly in the workplace, if I can effect change so that we see our work and our life through a different lens then I know I’ll die happy.

In terms of the future, content-led or otherwise, I’m still possessed of this deep sense of awe that I’m able to share my thoughts, ideas and work with (potentially) the whole world. In that sense, it’s the most amazing opportunity of my lifetime. And I suppose, in the end, that’s all that matters — to know that I may make a difference.

One final thing. If money was no object, what would you do with the rest of your life? Would you still be doing what you’re doing today, and, if not, what’s stopping you? In my world, I see too many people who artificially separate their lives into work and leisure. All that does it set up a life of regret. Instead, with the rise of portfolio careers, we should be doing much more of what brings us to full expression and a lot less of the mundane work that we think we need to do.