4m Picture a person drawing a map of a journey across a continent with varied geography. much like the ones in the Lord of the Rings. Their pencil is on a point that has the words "Start Here".
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“Start where you are…”

can be found referred to in literary texts by authors writing from across different religious, cultural, and business contexts. When a friend introduced me to Pema Chodrin’s Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living1 I had no idea that the phrase, “Start where you are” as a exercise in compassion is also a popular phrase in the start-up industry with reference to innovation and improvement.

At Learning Ecos we understand how to build a bridge over the gap between your now and future life-self and work-self. In fact, that connection is inextricable but, until you map it out, it is easy to miss.

Let’s start with life-self.

You can find the phrase “start (or stand) where you are” in texts from Christian, Buddhist, Hindi, and Arabic traditions and they all point to the same basic notion, ‘knowing where you are and accepting it is crucial to movement of any kind.’

They tend point in one direction, “improvement” whether it be in compassion, communication, practice and perhaps, in extension, counteracting aggressive energy towards ourselves and others.

The awareness that is built will carry you towards creating mutually supportive relationships even while you are in danger of falling into negativity.

A picture of a bridge that looks old. There is an arch overhead and you are on one side. It reaches out into the distant fog with trees as evidence of land. There is an arch on the other side also.
“Drive all blames into one” is a healthy and compassionate instruction that short-circuits the overwhelming tendency we have to blame everybody else; it doesn’t mean, instead of blaming the other people, blame yourself. It means to touch in with what blame feels like altogether. Instead of guarding yourself, instead of pushing things away, begin to get in touch with the fact that there’s a very soft spot under all that armor, and blame is probably one of the most well-perfected armors that we have.
Chödrön, P. (2011), pg 67

Another piece of the puzzle is that building toward whatever the future may look like will take time.

In my Google/Merlin driven ‘literature’ review I was surprised by Merlin delivering the following, “In Arabic, this phrase could be translated as “ابتداء من موعدك” which means ‘Begin from your own time‘.” This is also a principle we will explore.

For me, contrary to my past sensibility of ‘over, under, through’ which does make sense in dealing with certain roadblocks, the execution of designing and delivering has rested more under the modus of, “It’s going to take as long as it will take.” It has become a sort of mantra I use when I feel the anxiety of missing self-imposed deadlines.

This is a huge theme being popularized by texts such as Slow Productivity by Cal Newport as well as apps such as Calm, and Health Minds.

“My goals is not to simply offer tips about how to make your job somewhat less exhausting. Nor is it to merely shake my metaphorical fist on your behalf at the exploitative fiends indifferent to your stressed-out plight (though we’ll sertainly do some of that). I want to instead propose an entirely new way for you, your small business, or your large employer to think about what it means to get things done. I want to rescue knowledge work from its increasingly untenable freneticism and rebuild it into some more sustainable and humane, enabling you to create things you’re proud of without requiring to to grind yourself down along the way.”2 (Newport, C. 2024, pgs 8-9)

In the Lifelong Learning Introductory course we will explore resources and techniques for learning where you are in terms of your wellness, environment, personal strengths and tendencies as well as skill gap assessment. These are all addressed by HR, especially in conscious business but why not learn how and why so you can do it for yourself?

  1. Chödrön, P. (2021). Start where you are: A guide to compassionate living. Shambhala Publications.
    From Wikipedia: Pema Chödrön (པདྨ་ཆོས་སྒྲོན། padma chos sgron “lotus dharma lamp”; born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, July 14, 1936) is an American Tibetan-Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, former acharya of Shambhala Buddhism[1] and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.[2][3] Chödrön has written several dozen books and audiobooks, and is principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.[3][4] ↩︎
  2. Newport, C. (2024). Slow productivity: the lost art of accomplishment without burnout . Portfolio/Penguin. From his website, “Computer Scientist & Bestselling Author
    Cal is an MIT-trained computer science professor at Georgetown University who also writes about the intersections of technology, work, and the quest to find depth in an increasingly distracted world.” ↩︎

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