My Retrospective of the Salvador Dalí Retrospective

This final article closes my retrospective of the Salvador Dalí retrospective at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo which opened on 19th October 2014 and which closes on January 11th 2015.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The full series is here:

In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

Salvador Dalí’s Flowers

Salvador Dalí’s Fruits

It had been a huge education for me, visiting this exhibition three times in total, each time with a different frame of mind. It is interesting looking back at my pictures, since there were many of Dalí’s paintings and illustrations which I did not take photos of, some of which I now regret not trying to capture despite the challenging lighting conditions, and others which were disturbing to me, such as the many depicting self-mutilation to the point of butchery.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I still can not praise the team at Instituto Tomie Ohtake enough, and also those who contributed to the incredibly diverse and intelligently laid out retrospective, which as you moved through, showed us recurring themes and also the development of Dali’s ideas and influences, from the early contact with Picasso and the work of Freud, to his own surrealist genius and inspiration from the Renaissance.

I thought I would use this article to show you some of the exhibits not yet covered in my other articles, such as the blockbuster paintings which drew dense crowds.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Here are some of of the other very amazing illustrations, and details to be found.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Accompanying the artwork were many exhibits to help us explore the progress of the presentation of Dalí in both the art world and mass media.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I don’t know if anyone has looked through all of this series, but it soon becomes clear just how near obsessed Dali was with certain recurring themes, such as the Y shaped crutches which symbolise life and death. I was also blown away by the deceptive manner in which Dalí was able to draw horses, just with swirling lines.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

What I now need to do is to study the life of Dalí, searching out his biography and interviews to give me a glimpse into his creative mind. He certainly seems to have a deep perception not just artistically, by culturally and politically, sending us extremely profound messages about our human condition if we have the eyes to see.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Finally, I should say that Instituto Tomie Ohtake have produced a superb book featuring every single piece of artwork from the exhibition, and given the quality and size of it, is a very reasonable R$100 (around £25). It is available from Queen Books in Brazil (queenbooks.com.br/produto/1316/salvador-dali.html).

Related Links

In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

Salvador Dalí’s Flowers

Salvador Dalí’s Fruits

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Salvador Dalí’s Fruits

One year after having completed his series of flowers (see Salvador Dalí’s Flowers), in 1969 Dalí completed a similar set of illustrations, mainly inspired by French painter Pierre-Antoine Poiteu.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

These, like the flowers, are wonderful paintings which reward repeated viewings. The paintings draw you in with their dynamic humour, and yet you are then drawn both inwards and outwards again as your brain goes into overdrive contemplating each detail and the whole composition of each illustration.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Related Articles

In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

Salvador Dalí’s Flowers

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Salvador Dalí’s Flowers

In 1968 Salvador Dalí took inspiration from the floral artwork of Belgian Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 – 1840), one of whose paintings you can see below.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

This would result in Dalí producing a small series of ten paintings, which offered him a chance to exercise his more humorous side.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Dalí’s added many surreal elements from his imagination which itself took inspiration from the land of his birth, the region of Empordá, Catalunha. The result are some delicious illustrations in which the plants come alive with their spirits from within.

Salvador Dali

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

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In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

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The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

In this fourth collection of my photos from the Salvador Dalí retrospective at Instituto Tomie Ohtake São Paulo, I thought that I would describe a little more about my three different experiences, and how one particular viewing of one particular painting brought out the concept of the dynamics of seeing.

The first time I visited, I went, literally, with no technology at all – no camera, watch, phone – nothing. This allowed me to plunge deep into the emotional experience, an experience of really quite crazy parts and wholes, stepping back to view a painting from afar, and then moving close up to see the tiny details in the backgrounds, the far distances in the landscapes.

I find that I can get quite tired, especially as Dalí’s drawings are so richly detailed, and when I returned a second time for my photographic exercise, I was noticing more.

However, this weekend I was able to return with Maria. While we arrived early, there were still crowds, and so I took her to the third room where we would begin our tour, starting with Dalí’s illustrations of Dom Quixote. This series of paintings was not one of those I had spent much time studying on my previous two visits, and so I had a little surprise on viewing this particular abstract composition below:

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Some of you, especially those of you with a certain background, will notice the figures immediately, figures that I had not seen before. It took Maria to point out what would soon become glaringly obvious.

In our book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter we discuss the dynamics of seeing in part one, which accounts for around half of the book. The reason is that our dynamic way of seeing, even for many people who are acquainted with the term, can remain hidden to us, and so here is an excellent example of how Maria, with her Catholic upbringing, could instantly see the very obvious Madonna and Child, while I myself had not seen the figures at all, focusing more on the quite explosive energy of the composition.

In Holonomics we do have a couple of different illustrations to help people explore the dynamics of seeing, and how we can discover these dynamics by going back upstream into the seeing of what is seen. I do not want to reveal too much about these figures for those of you who have not seen them, but once you have really understood the deepest aspect of the lessons, then a whole new world opens up to you.

Those people who have studied the dynamics of seeing but who have not learned the lessons think that they know how to see, but in fact their mental models direct them to a position which says that it is other people who cannot see, their world view is the correct one and they could not ever be mistaken in their perceptions.

I myself do not consider myself to have yogic levels of mindfulness. I do though try and work on my humility, and feel that I am mindful enough to know when the dynamics of seeing are really kicking in, and when I need to force myself to be mindful of my own thoughts, my own constructions, and to look to see what I am missing. I was mindful enough to know that I could not take in the whole retrospective in one fell swoop, and that I have the great fortune to be able to visit more than once.

So with that in mind, here are some more of my pictures from Dalí’s illustrations of Dom Quixote. I hope you enjoy them, and that one day you may get to see the originals, for which these photos can be no true e substitute for.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

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Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust


Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

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Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

This is the third article in my series on Salvador Dalí, following the retrospective of his work at Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

In 1969 Dalí illustrated a special edition of Alice in Wonderland, which is of course one of the most perfect narratives to receive the attention of Dalí’s surrealist, dream-like and absurdest approach to art.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

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In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

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Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

This article is part two of my series on Salvador Dalí, based on my photographic studies of the retrospective at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo.

In 1969 Salvador Dalí illustrated Faust, the great classic of German literature written by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, in which Faust famously makes a pact with the devil, offering his soul in exchange for worldly pleasures.

Below you will see the entire set of illustrations, along with some close-ups. It is frustrating trying to take such forceful images which have the reflections of the glare from overhead lights on them, but such is life. I also include a few close-ups so that you can see the sensational penwork of Dalí.

While experiencing the intense sensation of these sketches in real life, I really felt that Dalí was someone who fully understood the deeper more occult and esoteric meanings of Goethe’s work. It is hard to think of any artist who has come so close to the graphical depiction of the essence of Faust.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

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In Praise of the Curators of Salvador Dalí at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Salvador Dalí retrospective at the Tomie Ohtake Institute which fortunately is close to where we live in São Paulo. Instituto Tomie Ohtake always put on excellent exhibitions, such as the recent retrospective of Japanese artist Yayoi Kasuma which saw record-breaking crowds lining up for hours to see her life’s work (see The Infinite Obsession of Yayoi Kusama).

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Although I was expecting good things, I had not read any reviews of the Dalí exhibition, and so I did not know what was on display, and I have to say, I was blown away by just how good it was. I have been lucky enough to see many works of Dalí in London, Madrid, Marbella, New York and Santiago, but this retrospective was extremely comprehensive and covered all periods of Dali’s life and works.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The story of how this collection came together is amazing, and starts in 2009 when members of Instituto Tomie Ohtake began to research the possibility of bringing Dali to Brazil. On their travels they visited the three largest and most important Dali collections: Fundação Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, Spain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersbug, Florida.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

After many meetings it finally became possible to bring together works from each of these three collections, and bring them to Brazil for the first time. The exhibition is divided into the following themes:

  • Childhood and Youth
  • Apprentice Painter heading to Surrealism
  • Surrealism and the Surrealist Group
  • Surrealism
  • United States
  • Toward the Mystic Manifesto
  • Other Media
  • Optical Illusions
  • Return to the Classics

I think one of the most amazing aspects was that I was not previously familiar with Dalís various sets of illustrations such as those for The Old Man and the Sea, Alice in Wonderland, Faust, Don Quixote as well as the beautifully humorous series of flowers and fruits.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The exhibition certainly rewards repeat visits, and as it is so close to my home, I have been twice. On the first occasion I was absolutely without any technology, no phone, camera and not even my watch. It was a pure experience which meant I did not have to be concerned with capturing the works photographically, releasing me to be totally present, in the moment, and really feeling the works as well as analysing the compositions.

Although of course my photos, of which I took many on my second visit, do capture some of the genius of Dalí, they simply can not compare to being in front of the original works. There is a feeling quite sensational for me being so close to genius, and when you fall into the experience of losing yourself in the brush or pen strokes, it is almost as if Dalí is there with you still, or the sensation of his presence.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

What I plan to do over the coming weeks is to publish my photos in a number of series, based on the different themes from the exhibition. It was quite a challenge though to take high quality images due to the lighting which was bright which caused reflections on the glass in the frames. I did also take many close ups to capture some of the mesmerising details, so you will be able to explore his work close up, as I did.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The exhibition runs until January 11th, so for those of you in and around São Paulo this Christmas, it is absolutely worth your while visiting. I have to finish this introductory article by congratulating the Tomie Ohtake curators, and those who contributed to the project from the other museums. A brilliant exhibition of a genius artist.

Related Articles

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Faust

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

The Dynamics of Seeing within Salvador Dalí’s Illustrations of Dom Quixote

Salvador Dalí’s Flowers

Salvador Dalí’s Fruits

My Retrospective of the Salvador Dalí Retrospective

The Infinite Obsession of Yayoi Kusama

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Knowing, Not Knowing, and a New Understanding of Time

Credit: Nasa

Credit: Nasa

I was interested today to see this week public discussion around the latest research into our understanding of time. The research was published in October in Physical Review Letters and was carried out by Julian Barbour of the University of Oxford, Tim Koslowski of the University of New Brunswick and Flavio Mercati of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and suggests that it is perhaps gravity rather than thermodynamics which causes time to flow in a single direction.

For a popular explanation see this article in The Mail – Did the Big Bang create a ‘mirror universe’ where time moves BACKWARDS?

And for a more scientific explanation see this article in Scientic American – 2 Futures Can Explain Time’s Mysterious Past

The research particularly caught my attention since I interviewed Julian Barbour while studying the issue of wholeness in quantum physics as part of my masters degree in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. In his book The End of Time Barbour notes how in 1963, a single sentence of Paul Dirac’s would transform his life:

This result has led me to doubt how fundamental the four-dimensional requirement in physics is.

Dirac was questioning the very fundamental concept of twentieth century physics, the space-time continuum. From this, Barbour went on to consider what is time? He concluded that “time is nothing but change”.

The End of TimeRather than making an assumption that time exists, Barbour seeks to explain how a theory of time emerges from timelessness. He does this by introducing the concept of ‘instants of time’ which are not dependent on some thing that flows forward in time, but which contain their own structure, or as Barbour claims, “possible instantaneous arrangements of all the things in the universe. In themselves, these configurations are purely static and timeless.”

Babour then introduces a special class of instants of time he calls time capsules. He defines time capsules as “any fixed pattern that creates or encodes the appearance of motion, change or history.”  It is these time capsules which create the illusion of time. Time capsules do have a cause, but time play no role in that cause. Barbour defines time capsules more formally as “Any static configuration that appears to contain mutually consistent records of processes that took place in a past in accordance with certain laws may be called a time capsule.”

It is interesting to read Barbour’s comments on the historical causes for our current perceptions of time and motion:

The lesson we learned from Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo is here very relevant. They persuaded us, against what seemed to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the Earth moves. They taught us to see motion where none appears. The notion of time capsules may help us to reverse that process – to see perfect stillness as the reality behind the turbulence we experience.

I had the opportunity to ask Barbour asking about the potential for integrating the dynamic theory of David Bohm into his theory where movement is an illusion of perception.  He replied to me:

It has exactly the same ontology, and in this respect is close. However, it is static and has been perceptively called ‘Bohm without the trajectories’.You will probably be familiar with the concepts of primary and secondary qualities, which were first clearly defined by Galileo. He took shape, position and motion to be primary qualities and colours, tastes etc to be secondary qualities ‘excited’ in the mind by the primary qualities. I provisionally make a similar division, but put motion among the secondary qualities. Bohm was especially keen to have motion as a primary quality. His interpretation of quantum mechanics was formulated well before the Wheeler-DeWitt equation and the associated problem of time was discovered. I do not know if he ever learned about it. He certainly lived long enough.

Although Bohm’s theory of the implicate order and wholeness does in one respect appear to be dynamic, in contradiction to Barbour’s, it was instructive to me to read the dialogues between Bohm and Krishnamurti, in the very similarly titled book The Ending of Time. I was left with the feeling that ultimately Bohm and Krishnamurti did not finish with a total understanding and agreement with one another, but many parts of the conversations are very illuminating with the issues they are exploring.

DB:     Let’s try to put it that thought, as we have generally known it, is in time.
K:    Thought as we know it now is of time.
DB:    It is based on the notion of time.
K:    Yes, all right.  But to me, thought itself is time.
DB:    Thought itself creates time, right.
K:    Does it mean, when there is no time there is no thought?

Bohm continues in a later dialogue to note that “implicitly, time is taken as the ground of everything in scientific work”. Much of the discussions are centred around the notion of ‘the ground.’ Krishnamurti explains that in order to experience the ground, the human being has to remove all trace of ego:

The ground has certain demands: which are, there must be absolute silence, absolute emptiness, which means no sense of egotism in any form, right?  Would you tell me that?  Am I willing to let go  all my egotism, because I want to prove it, I want to show it, I want to find out if what you are saying is actually true?  So am I willing to say, “Look, complete the eradication of the self?”

In quantum physics, the same experimental observations can lead to two opposite conceptions of the universe, one where all is dynamic and one where all is still. Neither of the authors of these two theories claimed to have the definitive answer, with Bohm still searching for the ultimate ground, and Barbour not managing to successfully incorporate consciousness into his framework.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I myself am interested in exploring how scientists utilise vision and intuitive insights to inspire and inform their thinking, and to see how they are able to resolve the many contradictions and paradoxes within science.  Some still strive for a unified theory of everything, whereas others enjoy the great mystery, and honour the ground from which they may never reach through knowledge alone.

In my studies I reached a point where I conceived consciousness as ‘The Tao looking back on itself’. This captures the realisations that many philosophers have experienced in terms of analysing that which references itself.

At Schumacher College I contemplated a great deal about the birth of an electron, coming into and out of existence, the birth of consciousness, the birth of our universe, and even the birth of the first duality, and as I read a little deeper, I saw how perhaps the majority of scientists have struggled with this ambiguity, and this knowing and not knowing too. Perhaps this facet of life as we know it is fundamental, and if so, can we come to terms with this ambiguity in the universe, come to accept it with a certain state of grace, a grace that can that help us come to terms with it and feel a deeper sense of ease and peace, despite our own personal knowing and not knowing too?

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How Tackling Envy is Key for Leaders in the New Economy

EnvyIf you were to ask me who my roles models are in life, the first two names to come to my mind would be Fritjof Capra and Otto Scharmer. There are of course a great deal many more people who have inspired me, but when I get into difficult or demanding situations, ones where I do not always know quite what the best reponse would be, I often ask myself “What would Fritjof do?” or “What would Otto do?”

If this may seem a little strange, I can give you a very good example, which is happening as I write. For a long time now I have really wanted to write about jealousy and envy, and how these impact on co-creation, leadership, innovation and sustainability. While Otto of course is a thought leader relating to the shift from ego to eco, I could not find any reference in his writings to envy.

Envy

I believe that Brazilian journalist and writer Zuenir Ventura once said that envy is the only one of the seven deadly sins that no one ever talks about (“Só a inveja se esconde”). It is the one emotion no one ever admits to experiencing. I for one though do feel that we need to have a discussion about envy, since it impacts so heavily on co-creation, innovation, sustainability and what many people are referring to as the sharing economy.

At this point we should probably stop and consider the definitions of envy and jealousy. Officially, envy relates to the emotions you experience when seeing someone who has something that you do not have, and jealousy relates to the emotions relating to you reactions to other people in relation to something you have, often a person, i.e. your partner. I am not so sure that people makes these distinctions in real life, and in this article we will mainly look at envy, but I am sure also jealousy will play a role too, as often these emotions are mixed up in complex human affairs.

Here are just a sample of quotes about envy I found on brainyquotes.com:

Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that.
Oliver Stone

Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.
Jean Vanier

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.
Harrold Coffin

People who make the choice to study, work hard or do whatever they endeavor is to give it the max on themselves to reach to the top level. And you have the people who get envy and jealous, yet are not willing to put that work in, and they want to get the same praise.
Evander Holyfield

I like these quotes as they show different sides and effects of envy. If we look at the general trends in innovation, sustainability and new business thinking, it is all about the move towards working in networks, co-creation and sharing. But if we do not address our shadow selves, especially envy, then as I said in a previous article, instead of ending up with an authentic network, we will in fact end up with a dysfunctional knotwork (see Beware of Knotworks: Networks with Ego).

The squiggle of Knotworking

The squiggle of Knotworking

How do these dynamics therefore play out in real life? If we take a look at co-creation on Google Images, the results look a little like this:

Co-creation

Co-creation

I love all of these images as they show co-creation at its very best. But many times it doesn’t happen like this when envy plays a role. Envy can interfere in the co-creation process in various ways, including the exclusion of those who are envied from any co-creation events and sharing itself, let along the dynamics of the co-creation process.

We are facing many extremely complex problems on this planet, and we do not know where the greatest solutions will emerge from. In our organisations, when we see others experiencing success, instead of tapping in to this unlimited pool of potential, in a rage of envy and jealousy we may go on the attack, despite the hurt it may do to the whole, including, ironically, ourselves. As the saying goes, envy can cause us to cut off the nose to spite the face.

In a recent essay on power, status and sustainability, Jo Confino made reference to The Sandals of Humility which Maria and I introduced at Sustainable Brands London last month.

Humility is a trait that Maria and I discuss a lot, since when we are humble, we are able to see other people as they truly are, and not through the prism of our projects of who we think they are based on our insecurities, fears and judgements. We therefore need a huge dose of humility if we are to be genuine co-creators, otherwise we will always be controlling, restricting and resisting, rather than allowing that which is new to emerge and flower from the group as a whole.

There is nothing wrong with looking up to people, and seeing how their performance, knowledge or skills are better than ours if we then harness our positive powers of motivation to better ourselves and reach our own goals and visions. We constantly need role models to help us on our paths. But if we allow ourselves to collapse into envy, that is when the troubles begin.

Flávio Gikovate also once said that the glamorous celebrities with fabulous lifestyles and who are always smiling in celeb magazines in public are the same people who are crying on his psychiatrist’s couch in private. Sometimes we would do well to keep our envy in check, since the temptation is to compare our internal strife with other people’s outward appearances of success. This works both ways. Those who achieve genuine success have often overcome countless ordeals and challenges, something those who desire success without effort often overlook.

So is there a workable solution? As always, for Maria and myself we strive to lead our lives in harmony with the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, right-action and non-violence. Non-violence also includes non-violence in thought, and at times when provoked this can be a tricky thing to maintain. For me most of my effort I would say is taking the plank out of my own eyes before attempting to remove the speck of dust in someone else’s, but if I can help inspire people along the way then all the better.

But I did feel I have to address envy in some way. It can be such a destructive dynamic, and one that is very hard to spot in organisations and networks if we are not sensitive to it, we have to start to learn as leaders how to channel the energies and emotions into more positive endevours. And that is when authentic co-creation can really start to work its magic.

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Beware of Knotworks: Networks with Ego

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The winners of Brazil’s top sustainability awards are changing the course of history

Maria and I with Daniela Aiach and Homero Santos

Maria and I with Daniela Aiach and Homero Santos

Last Friday Maria and I were invited to the Amcham (American Chamber of Commerce) Prêmio Eco awards ceremony, the most important awards ceremony to recognise achievements in sustainable products, services and projects in Brazil. This year Maria was one of the technical judges, as was our good friend Homero Santos who was also a judge and who played a key role in the creation of the awards ceremony in 1982.

Hosting the event was Daniela Aiach, Director of Sustainability at Amcham, who was joined on stage with Hélio Magalhães, CCO of Citibank Brazil and who is also the President of the Council of Amacham, who said to the audience that “Prêmio Eco is highlighting companies who are changing the course of history”.

Daniela Aiach

Daniela Aiach

Prêmio Eco is the oldest awards ceremony in the Brazil which recognises corporate sustainability. Over three decades, the award has encompassed 2,267 national and multinational companies, which account for 2,763 projects, with 262 receiving awards. Magalhães continued by telling us that The awards tell the story of sustainability in Brazil. It was created before the term ‘sustainable development’ which emerged after the publication of the report Our Common Future’ in 1987.
Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

A total of nine companies, both small and large, were shortlisted this year for their achievements relating to the areas of Strategy, Leadership and Innovation for Sustainability and Sustainability Practices. The nine companies were Tetra Pak, Itaú, AES, Engineering Pontal, Precon Engineering, Beraca, Itaipu, Raizen and Rhodia, with Tetra Pak winning the overall prize.

What I liked about the format of the ceremony was that each company shortlisted was able to have a representative join one of two panel sessions in which they were able to discuss their projects in more detail and also engage in more general dialogue about both the challenges and achievements relating to sustainable develop in Brazil.

In total, there are 63 judges who are specialists, consultants and academics, who all contribute to the credibility of the awards. As Jacques Marcovitch, former Dean of USP and professor of FEA and the Institute of International Relations remarked, the finalists are  “inspiring examples who are helping to build a better Brazil for the future”

Videos (in Portuguese) describing the projects of the finalists from the three categories can be seen in these videos below:

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