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How come no cats or dogs showed up to hear Sir Ken Robinson at Shift Happens?

Picture credit:  Orangeacid


Did you see any cats or dogs at the Theatre Royal in York for the Shift Happens conference (ALT/Shift) this year? 

Prefer audio?  Recorded version is here.

No, neither did I.

Why not?

I know the answer. 

Sir Ken told me and the rest of us Shifters via live link from LA (that's LA Los Angeles, USA, not the more famous LA Lancaster (LA1) where I'm from).

Chief Shifter and creator of the Shift Happens Conference, Marcus Romer, with Sir Ken on the big screen back in July, 2010. 

Picture credit:  Pilot Theatre.  

It's 'cos cats and dogs are still doing pretty much what they’ve always done. 

And if it's left to them, they'll carry on behaving the same.  So why would these four-leggers bother going to an event like Shift Happens?  They've absolutely no interest in learning about the actual (and potential) impact and disruption the current furious, unprecidented rate of global change brings.

Maybe they're not concerned.  Perhaps they don't need to be, they can do nothing about it anyway.  Oh yea, they'll be affected.  Human behaviours affect every person, every place, and every thing on our planet to some degree, and that degree is increasing each day.

OK, we can forgive those cats and dogs for not trying to understand this stuff, and for not changing their behaviours in the light of new information. 

But what about us humans? 

Are we really listening to Sir Ken and other great Shift speakers when they suggest these global currents are changing everything, in ways we've never seen before, and faster than ever? 

We can say "Oh, how interesting" and carry on as usual. 

Or, we can say "Wow, this is massive, transformative, scary, exciting, a gift, bloody frightening, an opportunity.  How can I open my mind to think differently, to listen and learn, and to act in new ways relevant to what we know already?".

Sir Ken's talk included references to the near future (five to ten years) where the most powerful computers could have the processing capability of a six month old baby. 

Picture credit:  Bistrosavage

Does that mean we're very close to machines being capable of learning? 

Where the hell will that lead?  Are these machines about to take control and start doing a better job of running the show than many of us humans have done so far?  Who knows?

There's no space in this post to pull out all the charts and maps and show you how the world works.

In any case, no one really knows how it, or our lives, are gonna look in the next twelve months, never mind the next decade (except for that funny lookin’ woman on Blackpool seafront - give her a fiver, enter her box, and she’ll reveal all!).

Picture credit:  Frogman!

What's certain is we're living in uncertain times.  And uncertain times demand creativity!

So here's the deal:  Our lives are gonna change, and not just a little, a lot! 

Perhaps you're seeing established structures you've relied on start to shake.  Just at their edges so far, but the shock waves will soon rock things a heck of a lot more.  And what if these waves get so powerful the entire structure you've trusted collapses?

Here's an idea:  When things are going well, change is bad.  When they're not so good, change is good!

Perhaps change that demolishes selfish, unhelpful systems is just what the world needs. 

It’s up to us to decide what we’ll put in their place.

At the excellent Shift Happens conference, Sir Ken talked about our approach to education being mostly out of step with the massive shifts impacting our lives.  He spoke of schools that don't serve the immense potential and creativity of our kids.  

And did I hear Sir Ken suggest that most certainly don't equip young people to make a difference in a world where many people desperately need help finding, and reconnecting with, the core of what it means to be human? 

Yes, I think I did. 

And from my perspective, it's not just our kids who are left floundering in confused systems where the truly important is neglected and box-ticking crap is the elevated to god-like status. 

Look around.  Go on.  Let's take a really good look. 

Amongst the noise, clutter, and demands we conform to averageness and mediocrity, to “fit in”, where are those clear voices helping us see where true human potential, value and nourishment lie?  Sure, they’re there, and thanks partly to the power of digital social networks, they're growing stronger. 

But I reckon it's up to us - yes, you and I - to decide for ourselves that we're going to reach for something bigger, for meaning, purpose, and passion. 

No “system” can hand those things to us as part of the service! 

No “system” cares about you or I or whether we find those vital things.

Because you know what?  If we stay asleep, waiting for the so-called "mainstream" to help us, pretty much nothing will happen to get us where we want to be.


Picture credit:  SuperFantastic

So, we're on our own.  Wait!........

Oh no we're not!  We have each other and the amazing power of collaboration.

Like minded people connecting with like minded people, doing stuff together, stuff that matters. 

The world needs us - yes, you and I again - to lead. 

I'm really pleased and grateful to be a part of that.  Not 'cos someone's invited me, or given me permission, but because I've decided, like you, that being generous, and caring about things bigger than myself are a massive part of how I want to live. 

I want to thrive in a changing world, rather than sit it out, pretending my ship isn't going down while I become irrelevant.  Instead I want to connect, be conscious, creative, and help others do the same.

Yep, those shiftless cats and dogs will carry on doing just what they've always done and likely never learn from amazing events like Shift Happens, or from all the willing teachers, friends, and allies we can find online, and face to face. 

Meanwhile, you and I are making shift happen and helping others who are open to shifting their asses too.


I'm very pleased you took the time to read this post.  I love your thoughts and comments.  Please leave some.  Much love, Ian.


Think Better.  Feel Better.  Take an Aspin.


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  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running