synthetic authentic

Category: Quote


“Regret is a major component of the lived life. You have to look back. My regrets are like the stars, they are numberless and all the more beautiful because of their distance from me. I suppose that if you don’t regret things in life it means they haven’t touched you in some way.”

Heidi Thomas, Screenwriter

The year is winding to a close and soon enough I will be reflecting on 2019 and no doubt I will find a bushel or more of regrets lurking close to the surface. Thinking of them as celestial beings receding into time and space is comforting, but they will still be there winking at me causing the occasional physical twitch. I need to remember them as part of a lived life. Better to have lived and lost/failed/disappointed than not to have lived at all?

P.S. Mr Record Keeper – you say that I already been here, but that was Regrets and it was in September 2012, so I’m allowed.


“There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic. When you stand outside a door and push the button, something has to happen.  Someone must respond; whatever is inside must be revealed. Questions will be answered, uncertainties or mysteries dispelled. A situation will be started on its way through unknown complications to an unpredictable conclusion.  The answer to your summons may be a rush of tearful welcome, a suspicious eye at the crack of the door, a shot through the hardwood, anything.”

Walter Stegner: Crossing to Safety

I don’t know how I was put onto Stegner who is no longer living, and this book in particular which he wrote in 1987 about an earlier time.  But it’s catapulted to very near the top of my all time favourites. The above quote is just one of a dozen that caused me to pause and to marvel.  It’s at once exciting and depressing.  Exciting to know that there are more authors to discover and books to read  Depressing that I don’t have much “reading” time left. 


I was at the Memorial Concert for George Harrison at the Royal Albert Hall. It had the great and the good of music there – Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr…but the song that was played right at the end of the concert in honour of George was sung by Joe Brown, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”.  Joe Brown is not the stellar name that perhaps Eric Clapton is or somebody like that but a much respected man of music.  He was the man that was chosen to close the concert because he was a great friend of George Harrison’s and it appeals to me because though I admire the people who are out in front and getting all the attention I always look on a film to see who the character actors are.  If it’s a band I’m looking at the drummer or the bass player or somebody like that.  The people who are not front and centre are of more interest to me than the people who are out front getting all the adulation.  And George Harrison was that person in the Beatles.  He was the quiet one. And Joe Brown was similarly not the “look at me, look at me” guy and I like that.

The people who don’t draw attention to themselves are the powerhouses.  Without the people doing the important work at the sides there wouldn’t be a whole.  So the stars are important but unless they have got people doing the work, playing the bass at the side and playing the drums at the back, being the doctor or the midwife or anything like that you wouldn’t have the story being told and you need these people and they need recognition.

I regard myself as being the jobbing broadcaster … and I think it is what I aspire to be, a jobbing broadcaster.  You put me in a broadcasting role and I will do it and all I am doing is the mid-morning show on Radio 2 and it is not the Breakfast Show.  The Breakfast Show is the star role.  I’m the star’s best friend.  I’m the best man at the wedding, as it were.  I’m very happy in the role.  I don’t wish to be in the spotlight I wish to be standing beside the man or woman in the spotlight saying: There you are.  Didn’t you do well?”

BBC Radio 4 – Inheritance Tracks, Ken Bruce on Sept 22, 2018

Well said Ken!  In all my years I have never heard a celebrity say something like that, and I love his clarity and honesty about who he is, and what he does.  It’s not that he has no aspirations, he is a successful radio host on British National Radio after all.  But he is a man who is comfortable in his own skin. He knows what he is good at, and how he is made up.  I hear contentment, appreciation, and a willingness to play the supporting role to get the job done.  That’s my kind of guy.


DecayI have recently been caused to think about decay * and in so doing I have been reminded of my general preference for things that are slightly past their prime (with the exception of food – over-ripe fruit makes me gag).  In an age that is fixated on the new and “perfect”, the patina of age is under-appreciated.  I have come to realize that I rather like the weather-beaten, the well-worn, and the slightly crumpled.  Faded glory perhaps.

* admittedly a different train of thought, but very worthy of your next five minutes:





To be part of a community which lives simply and is filled with joy, blessing, and purpose.


To foster community through listening, reflecting, communicating, encouraging and serving.


To live a joyful, present and authentic life that is filled with blessing, encouragement and service to others.


“The word that is too often missing from leadership studies is judgment.  Everybody involved in the business is desperate to appear scientific: academics because they want to get research grants and consultants because they want to prove that they are selling something more than just instinct.  But judgment is what matters most, and it is hard to measure.  It takes judgment to resist getting carried away with one quality (such as decisiveness) or one measure of success (such as the share price).  It takes judgment to know when to modulate your virtues and when to pull out all the stops.”

Schumpeter – The Economist June 8th, 2013

We know that even wise and experienced leaders can make appallingly bad choices with catastrophic results.  This is often because their judgment has been clouded by an untempered ego, they have ignored the warning signs, and they have sought and received unreliable feedback.  These problems seem easily remedied but many organizations are ill equipped to help their leaders take such measures.


Barry Schwartz, Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, makes the following statements about wise people:

  • They know when and how to make exceptions to rules;
  • They are good at improvisation, necessary because problems tend to be ambiguous and ill-defined;
  • They possess and use moral skills in service of others; and
  • They are made and not born.

A propos the last item, he believes that they gain wisdom through experience.  In a work context, they need encouragement to try new things, permission to fail, and opportunities to find wise mentors.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that all of these things are close to my heart.

Schwartz says that practical wisdom of this kind is less common in our culture today because of our over-dependence on rules and incentives to protect against error.  Each time something goes wrong, we layer on more rules to ward off disaster and we tweak incentives in the hope that employees do the right thing out of self-interest.  In doing so we reinforce the notion that employees cannot be trusted to do the right thing on their own accord.

Relying on rules and incentives takes discretion out of the hands of employees.  It also gives them fewer opportunities to practise wisdom, and discourages them from acting wisely.  Is it any wonder then that low morale and mediocrity is so pervasive in our institutions and corporations today?


Alex Osborn, co-founder of legendary advertising firm BBDO, is credited with inventing the concept of brainstorming – the synergistic process by which a group can produce more ideas than all of its individual members working alone.  This idea has been embraced wholeheartedly by corporations worldwide since its introduction in 1942, and continues to be widely used today.

“There’s only one problem with Osborn’s breakthrough idea”, says author Susan Cain in her book Quiet.  “Group brainstorming doesn’t actually work.  One of the first studies to demonstrate this was conducted in 1963.  Marvin Dunnette, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, gathered forty-eight research scientists and forty-eight advertising executives, all of them male employees of 3M, and asked them to participate in both solitary and group brainstorming sessions.”

“The results were unambiguous.  The men in twenty-three of the twenty-four groups produced more ideas when they worked on their own than when they worked as a group.  They also produced ideas of equal or higher quality when working individually.”

“Since then, some forty years of research has reached the same startling conclusion.”

I find it astounding that this myth was debunked fifty years ago and yet corporations still insist on using brainstorming and focus groups for idea generation today.

Susan Cain continues: “The ‘evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,’ writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham.  ‘If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.’”

I couldn’t have put it better.

Susan Cain.  “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”.