Open & Curious. Dynamic4: The 20th Year

Open & Curious. Dynamic4: The 20th Year

This month Dynamic4 entered its 20th year. It seems a good time to reflect on the journey so far and some key things I’ve learnt on the way. This is the first in a blog series as we count down to our 20th birthday on 1 October 2021.

Open & Curious

I feel very lucky and grateful to have been running Dynamic4 for over 19 years. You need some luck to be around that long, but what is luck? It’s an interesting area of research and Richard Wiseman’s findings are “it’s something we create with our thoughts and behaviour”. The core of this is our mindset and how we view risk and failure. *

Saying Yes

I tend to be very open to possibilities and say yes to a lot of things. Some of that’s because I find it hard to say no but primarily because I’m always curious and I love to feed my curiosity.

People fascinate me. I love exploring ideas with people. How things work and why. Spending time with people from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, experiences… and building empathy for how they see and make sense of the world, what motivates them, how they make decisions. Building a sense of shared experience and connection that goes beyond the surface.

I’m constantly excited about the possible and working to make it reality. In my work life that has led me to dive into a diverse range of things, usually multiple at the same time… from growing up as a bricklayer and working in horticulture, 27 years in financial services, 26 years working on startups and social enterprises, and being a personal trainer specialising in Pilates and spin to name a few. More here…

This breadth of experience and curiosity has taught me to trust my intuition, see the whole, and see patterns across a range of contexts and systems. This allows me to find inspiration and possibilities from seemingly unrelated things.

Risk & Failure

From the positive neuroscience research it’s clear that our mindset, including the way we view risk and failure is critical to our creativity, success, and happiness.

As Carol Dweck says in her book Mindset “in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from”. Running a social enterprise means dealing with plenty of things that don’t go quite as you might hope… and requires plenty of perseverance and resilience. It’s worth the effort to develop more of a growth mindset and understand the basics of the neuroscience.

Taking risks means having the courage to be vulnerable. To take on situations with “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” as Brené Brown says. I love her quote:

“No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple. If you’re not willing to fail, you can’t innovate. If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create. It’s just that simple.”

Brené Brown

What I’ve Learnt

The success I’ve had comes from loving what I do, being open to opportunities, and saying yes – not only to others when invited but to my own curiosity and interests. I’m always learning and experimenting.

There’s an interesting tension here with focus – learning to say no and being more selective. This is something I’ve been experimenting with. Trying the advice from Tim Ferriss/Derek Sivers that “if it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no”.

Over the past couple of years we’ve been going through a phase of simplifying and consolidating. I’ve been trying to make sure I carve out a lot more time for uninterrupted deep work. It means not saying yes to quite as much to increase focus on the things that will help us build momentum in line with our purpose and theory of change – and work at a more sustainable pace. An ongoing experiment…

There are many threads here that I’ll explore more during this blog series.

* Mindset and happiness are things we can all develop to be lucky and successful but I also recognise the role of random chance in me being born into relative systemic privilege. As Scott Barry Kaufman said in his article The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized “…the data suggests that we miss out on a really important piece of the success picture if we only focus on personal characteristics in attempting to understand the determinants of success.” Worth a read for some fascinating research, simulations, and findings.

Dynamic4: The 20th Year

It seems a good time to reflect on the journey so far and some key things I’ve learnt on the way. This is Part 1 in a blog series as we count down to our 20th birthday on 1 October 2021.