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mike lipkin

October 24, 2011 by Speakers' Spotlight

Touch The Ground Lightly. Embrace The Temporary. Say Yes To Impermanence And Portability

Guest blog from Mike Lipkin

If you have a body, you’re an athlete, says Nike. We’re all competitors in the game of life and 2011 has been an amazing race, but it’s almost over. It’s a sprint to the finish line. It’s also a sprint to the starting line of 2012 – The year of the London Olympics. That’s what I’m training for. I want to be higher, faster, stronger, lighter, fresher, edgier, newer, sharper, gutsier and nicer. I have to be. 2012 will demand a whole new level of execution. I believe it will be a breakout year. The winners of 2011 will be heading into 2012 with the FLAME – Focused, Lean, Adaptive, Magical, and Entrepreneurial. Magical means the ability to amaze customers with unprecedented functionality and joy, while entrepreneurial means the ability to create new possibilities out of anything – ahead of the competition.

I know I’ll be ready for the surprises, crises, cataclysms and shocks of 2012 on one condition: I have to let go of everything that doesn’t serve me anymore. I have to travel light. That’s the only way I’ll get to my goals, and that’s why I loved the article on the London Olympics in the September 23 issue of the Globe And Mail. It stated:

Never have the modern Olympics paid so much attention to the ideas of impermanence and portability. In a radical departure from the edifice complex that has blighted previous Summer Games, London 2012 is shaping up as the first Lego Olympics.  ‘Touching the ground lightly’ is the phrase we use,” says Chris Jopson, a senior architect at Populous, the London firm that’s responsible for the overall design of the Olympic Park and its main stadium. The firm has a motto for building the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which begin on July 27 next year: “Embrace the temporary.”

Take the Olympic stadium. It is 75 per cent lighter than a typical stadium of its size, it was built of a new type of concrete that requires less carbon to manufacture, and its top deck is partly constructed of gas pipes left over from a failed pipeline project. Even more crucial, it comes apart, like a very large piece of Lego. During the Olympics and Paralympics, when it will be full to bursting for the athletics competitions and opening and closing ceremonies, it will hold 80,000 spectators. Afterwards, the top decks can be removed, down to 25,000 seats. It will probably end up at 55,000 seats, when its new tenant, West Ham football club, moves in after the Olympics.

LEGO. In my language, it’s short for letting go, taking apart, putting together, and connecting the blocks. It`s about Reducing, Repurposing, Reinventing, and Being Remarkable. It`s about being able to fast forward by acting now – knowing that failure leads to winning and winning requires more failure. It`s also about resilience and idealism in equal measure. The one is the bodyguard of the other. Everyone is enthusiastic at the start of the game, but it`s how they play to the end that counts. As Vince Lombardi said, fatigue makes cowards of us all. Trying to hold on to what`s past will ruin one’s future. There is only what works right here, right now. That’s why my new mantra is “Touch The Ground Lightly. Embrace The Temporary. Say Yes To Impermanence And Portability. “

What do you need to let go of? How can you be remarkable? What do you need to reduce, repurpose or reinvent? How are you building your resilience for a phenomenal 2012? What will it take to bring magic and joy to your colleagues and customers? I’m doing my best to answer these questions. That’s why I’m creating this message. And that’s why I’m recreating every assignment and every engagement for every client. If it’s not customized, crisp and fresh, it’s a waste of time. And that’s the ultimate sin where time is the resource we’re all competing for.

I hope the rest of 2011 is the best time of your life – why would you have it any other way? Choose to make it so. Be a model of what’s possible. Others will follow your lead while you follow theirs. It’s never too late if you begin now.


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