A row of metal lifting racks
A row of metal lifting racks
rack, bar, weights, sun. All I could ever need

More than 20 year ago I read a line in an interview with the bodybuilder Milos Sarcev that stayed with me ever since. He said, “a true bodybuilder can work out in an empty room.” This was before calisthenics made that seem more self-evident, of course. What he was talking about was what bodybuilders call the mind-muscle connection.

It’s that mind-muscle connection I want to talk about. Because it’s at the heart of what has always made gyms feel unlike other spaces — and not just gyms, but all those “empty rooms”, whether they’re woodland trails or towpaths, or patches…

wispy white clouds in a blue sky
wispy white clouds in a blue sky
Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

There are many reasons disabled people don’t like being told we’re inspirational.

It’s not our job to entertain or motivate you (come back if you’re actually proposing paying us).

We don’t exist outside of society to serve some kind of deep, meaningful function for “normal people”. We ARE normal people. We are part of society.

Most of the time when we’re told that, we haven’t done anything special (this is part of being seen as being “outside regular society”). We’re just living our lives. …

Photo by Kristin Snippe on Unsplash

If there’s one thing any observer would have noticed in the past few years, it’s the way complexity has retreated from(or been pushed out of) the public forum. Interestingly, this comes at the same time as systems thinking and an attempt, at least in rhetoric, to embrace complexity feels as though it has grown in some parts of the business, environmental, and technology world.

So what are the ways in which we have rejected complexity? Why have we done so? Why does it matter? And what can we do about it?

Let’s start piecing together the jigsaw. I don’t want…

A woman sitting at a desk writing in a journal
A woman sitting at a desk writing in a journal
Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

At the start of the pandemic, organizations started sending messages to their members. They wanted everyone to know that in these extraordinary times, they understood. They had people’s backs.

The problem was that too many of those messages came in a one size fits all format. And because they came from people high up in organizations, they were written by people whose lives looked nothing like the people they were writing to.

The result is that rather than reassuring people, they alienated the very people they wanted to help. Messages designed to show solidarity showed instead just how little those…

Woman typing on laptop
Woman typing on laptop
MetaLab on Nappy.co

It’s 6 o’clock and the working day is over. You’re already looking forward to the coding webinar you signed up to tomorrow. With a cup of refreshing tea beside you, you get going on the admin jobs that need doing. Starting with doing your banking.

As scenarios go, this is hardly a radical one. It’s one many of us encounter on a day to day basis. What I want you to consider is it’s that very fact — that we encounter situations like this almost constantly — that makes it so important. I want to take a closer look at…

A woman seated in a chair with a computer converses with a woman seated on a windowsill
A woman seated in a chair with a computer converses with a woman seated on a windowsill
image: WOCintech at Nappy.co

One of the hardest things about needing assistance with accessing services is not just that the use of the service itself takes disproportionately more effort for us than it does for others. The process of obtaining that assistance can also require not just more effort than is asked of those without the same needs, but a level of obtrusiveness and intimate disclosures of information that is often both deeply personal and associated with great trauma.

Areas of life that most people consider private are, when you are disabled, held to be not just fair game for enquiry but required for…

A smooth glass pipe, with nodules of equally smooth glass at the end which reflect the light
A smooth glass pipe, with nodules of equally smooth glass at the end which reflect the light
Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

Friction is everywhere in our day to day lives. It’s so much a part of life, in fact, that almost none of us would think to give it a name. And its negative impact is so much a part of life that we consider it, well, just a part of life.

But friction might just be one of the most damaging forces in modern life. And creating a general goal of reducing it might just be one of the single most important things we can do to make life better.

What do I mean by friction? I mean those things…

H Heyerlein on Unsplash

One of the most common reasons we struggle to make connections comes from the way we tend to think about objects. Imagine I asked you the question

“What would you get if you crossed a dog with a skyscraper?”

That’s a classic creative thinking puzzle. Give yourself 5 minutes, now, to write down as many, and as original, answers as you can. OK, so how did you get on? Specifically, how did you think about answering? What was going through your head when you started? And how did that become an idea, and another idea, and so on?

If you’re…

Many organizations seem to know they need to be more creative.

Ahmed Carter on Unsplash

And they are, of course, right. The acceleration of ideas that technology has enabled means that every industry, every organization, has to survive in an environment that is changing more quickly (in trend terms) than at any time in history. It is rare indeed these days that you can find a great solution to a problem, patent or simply implement it, and sit back while you grow. If the world you move in is changing constantly, then to maintain a stable relation to it you have to change just…

I am not most people’s idea of what an ultra runner looks like. In the three years since I started running extreme distances, I have enjoyed the way I can see people doing a double take when they look at me. Last summer I had the privilege of doing a full page photoshoot for Runners’ World and, again, I loved the ways in which I was challenging the stereotypes people have about runners — I was there because of the way I could make people question their stereotypes about mind and body: I was running 100 kilometres but I was…

Dan Holloway

CEO & founder of Rogue Interrobang, University of Oxford spinout using creativity to solve wicked problems. 2016, 17 & 19 Creative Thinking World Champion.

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