Tag Archives: Think Pond

Think Pond Wish List

Think Ponds are for people who want to:

  • Do joyful, creative, meaningful, and fulfilling work.
  • Have conversations and experiences that stretch the mind, spark the imagination, and expand the vision.
  • Make “digital life” less fragmented, more inquiring, and more aspirational.
  • Become attuned to possibilities and potential changes that could have wide-ranging effects on their lives and the world.
  • Work with a diverse array of minds and talents.

Imagineering: Essential Questions

  • In what ways do you consider yourself creative or innovative?
  • In what areas do you wish you were more creative or innovative?
  • What stimulates your imagination?
  • What are some areas within your industry or profession where innovation most needs to happen?
  • Based on recognized problems and developments you have seen in recent years, what is the likely next wave of your industry or profession? What change is currently emerging?
  • If you could change careers without losing any income, would you do it? If so, what would you do differently?

Solution-Crafting: Essential Questions

  • What role do imagination and creativity play in your chosen profession and in your current industry, organization, and job? In your other roles (citizen, parent, partner, single person, homeowner, gardener, cook, athlete, whatever)?
  • What are some specific creative challenges you face currently?
  • What would you like to make?
  • What are some areas within your industry or profession where innovation most needs to happen?
  • What types of solutions would transform your industry or profession?

What is a Think Pond?

Think Ponds are fluid associations of diverse individuals who bring their imaginations, knowledge, and skill sets, along with their dreams and passion projects, into a community of their own design. Creative energies converge, expanding possibility. Obstacles are flattened as complementary skills combine and available resources broaden. Timelines contract. Promising ideas stay out of the trash. Connections proliferate.

For individuals, a Think Pond is a next generation platform for shaping and strengthening four essential lifelong enterprises: 1) Imagineering, 2) Self-directed life-embedded learning, 3) Creative solution-seeking, and 4) Pre-entrepreneurship. Making the most of these enterprises will both improve your competitive edge and increase your level of fulfillment with the work you do in the world.

For the greater good, an evolving ecosystem of Think Ponds is a wellspring of creativity and collaboration that can increase the sustainability of innovative, socially valuable programs, incubate new businesses, and activate unrealized human potential.

The Four Enterprises

Do you think of a career as a sequence of jobs with progressively higher pay and greater responsibility? What if you reimagined your career as a set of four lifelong enterprises that you continuously create and expand and refine. Merriam-Webster defines an enterprise as “a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky.” In other words, I am talking about endeavors that continue whether you are employed, unemployed, or under-employed. Whatever your circumstances, you keep these four enterprises alive because they supply something you need.

I think everyone need to pursue these four lifelong enterprises, regardless of the individual’s passions, aptitudes, credentials, employment experiences, assets, and constraints:

Imagineering. Using your imagination fully. Paying attention to the sensory experiences, images, and cultural expressions that swirl around you and mindfully pursuing those that awaken your mind, heighten the intensity of your emotions, and enrich your soul. Exploring possibilities, envisioning your desired future, and inventing the kinds of endeavors that will both fulfill you and make a positive difference.

Self-directed, life-embedded learning. Taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities afforded by books, media entities, technologies, community resources, and people in your sphere. Continually investigating what you know and what you think you know. Consciously developing and applying new skills, adapting existing knowledge and skills in new areas, and finding greater depth of meaning and significance in the people, environments, and experiences you encounter.

Solution crafting.  Looking at your life from different perspectives and seeking ways to synergize your assets and talents. Bringing an artistic sensibility, design thinking, and surprise into whatever you produce. Continually generating divergent ideas about how to look at and respond to circumstances, problems, challenges, opportunities, and desires–both individually and collaboratively.

Pre-entrepreneurship. Thinking about and testing ways to carry your ideas and solutions forward into the marketplace for your profit, into the public sphere for the good of others and the enrichment of the culture, or just into a wider conversation for their continued development and enrichment.

The Multidimensional Meaning of “Presence

By Deborah Vrabel

How does putting the adjective “online” or the lowercase “i” in front of the noun “presence” change the meaning? What is carried over from our past use of the word—and what connotations do I want to keep and discard?

I think “presence” has three distinct connotations. I’m going to explore them as a way to “deconstruct” the term “iPresence.” (Apologies to Derrida if I’ve used this term incorrectly.)

A Woody Allen quote captures the most literal meaning of presence: “80% of life is showing up.” The teacher calls your name and you raise your hand and say “Present!” Whatever your academic preparedness or intentions to participate, you have cleared the first hurdle. You are there. Sometimes that simple kind of presence—being there with no distinction, no defined role, nothing unique to say or do—is all that is needed or required. You show up—you smile and congratulate and stand among the wedding guests in one solid block of love and support for a couple starting their journey together. Even if your mind is a million miles away and your mood is anything but festive, you have helped make this memory for them.

Second, presence has come to mean “attentiveness” or “mindfulness.” When we are present to someone, we are more than present physically. We also listen carefully and notice even the tiniest things. We are invested. We are “in the moment.” We “witness and wait” as Walt Whitman said. We are present when we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

A similar kind of presence, also called “presence of mind,” speaks to the ability to think quickly and respond appropriately and competently when something unexpected happens—whether a threatening situation, an awkward moment, or a good opportunity. I think Leo Tolstoy’s Three Questions (which are embedded in the Think Pond concept) show the thinking of someone with this type of presence:

  • When is the best time to do each thing? (Answer: The most important time is now. The present is the only time over which we have power.)
  • Who are the most important people to work with? (Answer: The most important person is whoever you are with.)
  • What is the most important thing to do at all times? (Answer: The most important thing is to do good to the person you are with.)

Finally, presence is used to describe an outward demeanor some people have that enables them to capture and hold attention and admiration. Ask ten people to think of someone they know who has “presence” and describe that person in one word or phrase, and you could easily receive several different answers:

“lights up a room” … “commands attention” … “star quality” … “elegant” … “poised” … “shows grace under pressure” … “unruffled.”

I would contend that part of what gives them this demeanor is the inner quality of attentiveness, as described above, along with self-confidence, purpose, and inner strength.

I think all of these are relevant to iPresence. Clearly, Think Pond needs to be “there” in the social media milieu. And “showing up” needs to be more than just setting up that web site or blog, signing up for that account, and reposting other people’s writing.

Think Pond has to show up with meaning and over time. How many times have you heard the plea “Like us on Facebook” and then found a page that serves no discernible purpose and seldom changes? I know I have created a couple of those.

Think Pond needs to cultivate the “attentive and mindful” kind of presence I described, as well. That means learning from others, commenting on other people’s work thoughtfully, noticing things and making our own conclusions. It means being relevant–which is impossible without paying attention to what’s going on around you–both online and off-line–and taking your opportunity to jump in and participate.

And that will help with developing the last kind of presence–that ineffable quality that people admire and find reassuring. If Think Pond consistently practices the other two types of iPresence, we’ll have that voice that commands attention, that always seems poised for anything. We’ll be well on the way to Rich iPresence.

Reflection on the Origin of Think Pond

By Deborah Vrabel

Pinpointing when and how the Think Pond concept originated is difficult. There was a moment when the name came to me and a conversation that inspired that moment, but Think Pond ripples across decades of language, ideas, relationship, observation, experience, and yearning.

Still I think it best to begin with Now–because Now is the epicenter of everything. Now contains the reasons anyone would care about this venture.

Today’s Think Pond links to recent conversations I’ve had with people who have gifts they are eager to share and aspirations that lie outside these things we have invented called “jobs” and “career paths.” Some of them have great jobs, good pay, and work they love and want to keep doing. But they had to shed a cherished piece of their dreams to have it. They had to re-channel much of their learning, their skill, their imagination, and their time in one direction.

I’ve talked with people who are underemployed, underutilized, or under-credentialed. Some are over 50, struggling to make sense of the technological tectonics that dwarf even the Industrial Revolution. They’re yearning to share or maybe reframe knowledge they gained over the years but they lack the platform, the tools, the apps. Others are just starting out and are facing tough choices in a tough economy. They’re finding they need to learn constantly and widely, to find a creative outlet, to think like entrepreneurs. Some of them are struggling to be great parents without compromising the work they love. Some are stalled, their unique, amazing gifts kept in check because of obstacles that could be easily removed with some mentoring, tech support, feedback, or sometimes just a bit of encouragement.

All those stories–told by people representing a range of ages, professions, education and income levels, and talents–leave me with these questions:

  • What richness, what knowledge, what solutions are we losing?
  • What if people could craft their jobs based on what they have to give and want to give the world?