Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Leonard Cohen theory of organising

You can't do everything at once. 

Not just a master of affairs of the heart, Mr Cohen also knows the power of prioritisation. First you take Manhattan, then (and only then) do you take Berlin.

Joking aside, there's a lot to be said for this typically zen piece of advice from the Greatest Living Canadian After Joni Mitchell. 

Ambitious end goals, say, taking Berlin, or making your town the greenest in the country are good, but they can be scary. It's easy to be disheartened if you don't know where to start. 

The solution: focus on the immediate step of taking Manhattan. Or, if you like, persuading your local school to put solar panels on its roof. It's a thing worth doing in its own right but – if understood and communicated clearly - also a step towards your own personal Berlin.

To give another example, getting 3 people in a room to agree to start a Friends of the Earth group or try a new local campaign might not feel like a big deal. You could say that you can't start a string quartet with three people, never mind change the world. 

And yet it's a necessary step in the process of building change. It's not as superficially thrilling perhaps as the triumphal endgame you hope for. But it's the process of taking Manhattan that gives the promise of taking Berlin its meaning.

Hat tip, Mr Cohen.

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