Discipline makes Daring possible.

April fool

April fool

Tomorrow is April Fool’s day.  A day when we expect to read, hear or see things that have been designed to take us in, to make us think that something false is true.

We know it’s coming on the 1st of April, so we turn on our ‘hoax’ antennae, we take things with a pinch of salt.

But a healthy scepticism is something we need all year round.  More than ever now that AI can synthesise information from everything that’s out there in a convincing format, and an image like that above can be created digitally.

Healthy scepticism, not a blanket disbelief, just the willingness to question what we are told a little more deeply, to seek corroboration from trusted sources and our own experience, our own sense of what is likely.

Here’s a lovely tip I picked up from Elaine Morgan’s “The Descent of Woman“:

Whenever you are presented with some generalisation about what all or some human beings are like, change whatever collective noun is being used – ‘Households‘, ‘Teenagers‘, ‘Single mums‘, ‘Men‘ for a role or individual you are familiar with: ‘Our street‘, ‘My neighbour’s daughter‘, ‘My sister Julie‘, ‘My football team‘.

Then see how likely the generalisation feels.

And another lovely one from Kelly Diels:

Who gets off the hook if this is true?

Or the age-old one:

Who benefits?

Whatever makes you pause to think before swallowing is good.

Enjoy April Fool’s day.   Even if you do get taken in.   For what it’s worth, I’ve always thought it’s better to be the one who trusts, than the one who sets out to deceive.



Some people like to push the idea that ‘tech’ will be the answer to all our woes.

And they’re right.

Just remember that ‘tech’ isn’t necessarily their tech.

Breeding deep-rooted perennial wheat and rice is ‘tech’.   Wind-powered ships are ‘tech’.  Permaculture and agro-forestry are ‘tech’.  Line-fishing is ‘tech’.  15-minute cities are ‘tech’.  A circular economy is ‘tech’.   Flint knives are ‘tech’.   Bark-cloth is ‘tech’.   All of these technologies have been used in the past and are being used right now.  We don’t even need to invent them.

But the ‘tech’ that will really save us is our imagination.   If we use it to design ways of being that will work with our planet instead of against it.

We’ve done that before too.

Discipline makes Daring possible.


HT to Dave Foulkes for the prompt.

A recommendation

A recommendation

If you’re interested in both what it means to be human, and how even in the sciences, we are trapped by our biases, I highly recommend the Radical Anthopology Group at UCL.

They run ‘London’s longest running evening class‘, for free.  You won’t always agree with them, but you’ll certainly learn something interesting and new.

Sign up on eventbrite for upcoming talks, and watch previous ones on their Vimeo page.

I’m going for this one next.



‘De-growth’ is a word bandied around like some kind of bogeyman, to frighten us into accepting the status quo for a little longer.  As if giving up on fast fashion, disposable vapes and bottled water is the end of civilisation, the dawn of a new dark age.

The irony is that we already spend much of our time in ‘the safe and just space for humanity’.  We just don’t recognise it.

Take a look around at all the things people in your area already do to make life worthwhile for themselves and others: repair shops, special riding schools, non-league football clubs, befriending groups, charity shops, quilt groups, allotment gardeners, art clubs – the list is endless.

What these all have in common is that they are regenerative and distributive, mainly focused on enriching lives through human interaction rather than extracting value.

All we have to do is make those kinds of activities the drivers of our economy instead of profit for profit’s sake.

Then growth can be good again.



Throughout our time on earth, far more often than we realise, people have self-consciously created societies defined not according to some positive criteria, but by negatives.  Not who they wanted to be, but who they didn’t.

Protestants defined themselves by the beliefs they rejected.

Pirates organised their own ships in direct contradiction to the way things worked in the navy.

My friend Carl French created The Endless Bookcase to be everything a traditional publisher isn’t.

Sometimes it’s easier to describe what you’re not than what you are.

It has the added advantage that it allows you to envisage possibilities that are truly new.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

What are you not?

Never be ashamed of reading fiction

Never be ashamed of reading fiction

I’m never ashamed of reading fiction, and I read a lot of it, usually multiple times – everything from detective stories,  myths and legends, 18th-century epistolary novels to sci-fi and historical romances, with children’s fiction and classics along the way.

Fiction teaches me at least as much, if not more than non-fiction.

I put myself in another’s shoes, see things from multiple perspectives, hear the same things said in a plethora of different ways, experience new and different worlds I’d never encounter in real life.

Non-fiction is great, I love the new information and ideas it gives me, the different ways of interpreting how the world works.

But it’s fiction that gets me practicing the empathy and imagination I need to apply my information and ideas wisely and humanely.   Almost withour realising it, because I’m having so much fun.

I’ll never be ashamed of reading fiction.

Long may I be able to do so.

Human capital

Human capital

According to the minister at yesterday’s funeral, if you were to turn an average human body into usable products, you’d end up with goods worth about £10.

The minister’s point was that trying to put a monetary value on a human life is silly, impossible, even blasphemous.

But we do it all the time – when we set a wage or salary level, when we decide how much support to give someone in need, when we decide that non-earners are not worth saving in a pandemic.

The irony is that it’s the infinite potential of living human beings that gives money capital its value.

For tens of thousands of years, we lived perfectly well without looking at the world through dollar signs.  We could again.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

An injection of capital

An injection of capital

In looking for an injection of money capital that would break their employee-owned business model, John Lewis Partnership is in danger of squandering a far more precious form of capital – the goodwill invested by partners and customers over decades.

Goodwill that other department stores  and supermarkets just don’t have.

Goodwill that could help them out right now, if they had the courage to ask.

Once you decide to be like every other player in the market, there’s no reason to for anyone to invest in you rather than anyone else for the long term.  And every incentive to join in a short-lived asset-strip.

Hold firm John Lewis and Partners.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Thinking together

Thinking together

“Think for yourself, but not by yourself.”

My ear caught the phrase on Radio 4 this morning and I was intrigued.  It’s from Julian Baggini’s new book “How to think like a philosopher”  (on my shopping list already, of course).

I don’t know about you, but I am all too often guilty of thinking by myself.   Working things through on my own, running off down blind alleys, diving into rabbit holes, only to end up at a conclusion I could have looked up.

I’d have got there much quicker if I’d talked to other people.

It’s not that other people necessarily know more than I do, it’s that they might, and even if they don’t, going through my thinking out loud, to a group of people with shared values and different perspectives is bound to clarify my workings.

Luckily, when you run your business with a team, you have that like-hearted thinking club ready-made.  Encourage everyone in it to think for themselves, then do your important business thinking together.  You’ll like the results.

Discipline makes Daring possible.