I picked up an unusual little ebook recently, called ‘Graceful: Making a Difference in a World that Needs You‘*. It’s by the notorious Seth Godin (and if you don’t know who that is, now would be a good moment to go find out…) and it’s a tiny little thing, consisting of 30 short chapters that are very much in Seth’s trademark rapid-fire, gently provocative style. You can read it in about half an hour.
I’m not exactly sure why but it’s really gotten under my skin. It’s not long on specific, actionable content, so if that’s what you’re looking for you’re likely better off seeking elsewhere. Rather, the chapters seem to unfold like a series of Zen ‘koans’, planting little seeds here and there which quietly blossom, as the book unfolds, into something quite remarkable.
Without getting into a serious review, which could easily end up being longer than the book, I want to touch on what it’s had me thinking about…
See, I think (and so, evidently, does Mr. Godin) that ‘graceful’ is a great word. It’s one of those words that manages to capture something profound, subtle and open-ended; something nebulous and yet powerfully, intuitively meaningful.
Graceful carries all sorts of associated meanings with it – courage, calm, dignity, strength, honour, integrity, beauty, self-possession. It can be applied to a person, a gesture, an act, a form, a performance, a life.
And Seth’s proposition is that it is, as the song goes, ‘what the world needs now’. I tend to agree.
I also find myself thinking that ‘Graceful’ is another way of talking about the subject of this blog, Fearless Creativity. Because that’s what I’m really trying to get at here: a way of being with our creativity that is not just about psychology, not just about getting unstuck. Fearless Creativity means more than that.
It’s about finding a relationship with our creativity and ourselves and those around us that is deeper, richer, more challenging and more rewarding than I think we usually allow ourselves, or at least than the world typically seems to encourage. It’s the kind of state where we can become larger than ourselves, do more than we think we can do, really impact and improve the world we find ourselves in – in an organic, peaceful and positive way.
And that’s Graceful. That’s what I want to be in my work, in my life, in my relationships. That’s what all these essays are really trying to get at; and all this time there’s been a single word, which I’ve known the whole time, my whole life really, that sums it up perfectly.
Nice to figure that out… thanks Seth!
Anyway, that’s what this blog is really about, in case anyone’s wondering, and what my own forthcoming little book project (it’s almost finished – really!) and the hopefully much bigger Special Secret Project that will follow (on which more soon, watch this space!) are all about as well . This is my shot at being and becoming Graceful, or at least moving towards that goal… and gently encouraging others to do the same.
So, over to you… do you know what graceful is? Do you have a definition? Have you known someone that you would use that word to describe? I’d be willing to be that most of us have, at one point or another. Have you ever felt yourself to be in a graceful state? Can Gracefulness change the world?