Success happens at the margins

“We prototype all the time,” says Irina S. in a conversation we had a month ago. Irina is an adult education teacher from Sweden, qi gong master practitioner, embodiment teacher and more :), she is also one of the teachers I have been connecting & observing in the last years ( and dear friend).

As it is an article in the last day of 2020, the purpose is to to just hold the moment for all of us, it is very tempting to close 2020, and just project ( not manifest) the project that 2021 will be this and that. “ a fresh new start”. “ But you cannot build on successes you don’t acknowledge” (quote), we wrote about this already 2 articles ago. A fresh start for…?

Now at the dawn of “ the year”, at the turning point we might be in a hurry to think that new beginnings are always easier then to look at the lessons of all our prototypes.

Bring light on your successes ( light = attention)

Successes are like small prototypes – things you have tried, opportunities that opened up and you tried different things, felt them or seen “realities” in different ways. But why is it that I say they happen at the margin? If you don’t use the habit of reflection ( presencing as part of your daily life, work) you simply forget about all these. You might say “ i didn’t do so much” or “ not things worth mentioning/remembering”, or you remember the headlines (pandemic, school closed, physical distancing, closed theaters etc). 

When I have asked teachers in March-April 2020 how are they feeling, how are they managing they reported being stuck, feeling angry, scared etc. Ok – write it down for me. Then I invited them to write 5 things they have been doing in the last 2 weeks despite all this “being stuck/angry/scared” and they all reported actions easily. I asked them how content you are with what you have been doing ( these actions) and they reported a pretty good level of satisfaction. While you think you are not doing “many things” you actually are, if only you have the space & practice to bring your attention there.

Prototyping at the margins

Now about this idea, that it happens at the margins, you might think – what margins, what do you mean? You usually are exploring the big parts of your life and you already organize it in terms of outcomes/outputs/ milestones “things you want to achieve” in 1 month, 1 year so you “know you are successful”. But between all these must/wants/agendas are your values, is your story being written- you as a person, and between these areas of “planned successes” you simply act from your deepest/inner self, your values are there and hopes. Let’s call it: these are the seeds that you “never” acknowledged you planted and now if you turn back and look, there are beautiful seedlings there, they amaze you, and you want to take care of them because it feels just right for you. So prototypes ( “small things” that are there all over the corners of 2020)  are the work of (from) the “best version of yourself”.

Intention follows attention

And yes, you are surprised or smile at something that you might have done, felt, seen during 2020 “and if you wouldn’t have this moment of holding the space, it would have stayed there unspotted, shaded “. When you consciously put light on a prototype ( success) that is 100% born from your values, from your potentiality (the best version of yourself) it is you & the work you intend to do.


Take a moment before your journaling, just being present. After a few minutes of conscious breathing, think of 5 challenges you have had in 2020, write them down. Now think how these challenges taught you, they were not there just to limit you but to “teach you”. Of course you are now free to let these challenges “go” you don’t need them anymore. Making space, think of all the small successes during 2020: books you might have enjoyed, shaped how you act & work, music, nature around you, people and relations around you, anything goes.

Closing 2020

A dear teacher from Germany, in my last course onsite in Helsinki in March, said to me in the middle of the training program after reflecting ” listen, what if it is nothing wrong with what is, all the new stuff, I just don’t want to change”. Her courage was impressive, I just said ” That is fine..that is just fine”. She seemed such a changed person the next morning meeting her in our program, she was smiling and feeling comfortable with what was around her. Thank you all, thanking so many wonderful people from so many cultures I have met during a year in which one would have said I “cannot travel”, I have not traveled but schools & teachers & cultures all over the world opened up for me& work. I have a lot to build on for 2021 :).

Some of the resources on which these ideas are build:

Theory U & Leading from an emerging future- Otto Scharmer 

Flow theory- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

Deep Work, Cal Newport

Moonwalk with Einstein, Joshua Foer 

Generative Scribing- Kelvy Bird

Arawana Hayashi – Social Presencing Theater

Ziva meditation- 

The neuroscience behind presence & holding the moment 

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