Sometimes we can’t seem to get ahead. We just seem to be going around in circles. Ferdinand Magellan was a man who went around in circles. He actually made going around in circles an art form. He did, after all, go around the big circle. He was the first person to circumnavigate the world.
The problem with circumnavigating anything, of course, is that you just finish up where you began. In theory, you have made no progress at all. All you do is get back to the starting line.
The mistake is to consider that all progress must be linear. We can easily think that to get ahead we must always go forward in a straight line.
Magellan, of course, proved all that wrong. There are all sorts of progress that are not linear. After all, we do live in a solar system where moons and planets all go around in circles, our planet being no exception. This time next year we will back in exactly the same place again, in re- lation to the rest of the solar system.
Spiders go around in circles. A few million years of experience has taught them that you don’t catch flies with a single strand of web. Webs have to be spun by spiders going around and around in circles.
There is linear progress for those that like to climb the ladder and get to the top.
There are other sorts of progress, though, that are more subtle, more complex, more interesting.
Don’t beat yourself up if the linear progress thing doesn’t work for you. Don’t be afraid to go around in circles, ellipses, parabolas or exponentials if that is your scene.
Magellan has a place in history because of his circle work.
Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux (1863 – 1950) had definite ideas about the power of circles.
“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always
works in circles, and everything tries to be round.
In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.
Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars.
The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.
Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.”
WHAT GOES AROUND
We are committed to getting ahead. It’s in our blood. We live it and breathe it every day. It underpins all we do.
But this doesn’t mean we necessarily measure our progress laterally. Some measure their progress with money or power or possessions or where they live. Or the schools their kids attend or their title at work.
These are lateral measurements. Progress is measured by how far a person has come.
But we are not all designed the same way. Some of us are not into lateral progresses. We are not primarily interested in lateral progress and only get depressed when we try to measure our non-lateral progress that way.
It’s a matter of horses for courses. If you are turned on by lateral progress all power to you. If you aren’t then don’t get sucked into trying to measure a circle with a straight ruler.