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The past few weeks have been about stepping back from my work and letting my brain and body be flooded with new experiences. I took a Walkshop with Smithery, which brought me to the realisation that the landscape is the facilitator and has brought about a change in how I view my own workshops.

However, by far the biggest leap of faith was taking part in The Lab. An afternoon of experimentation from Steve Chapman, author of the excellent book, ‘Can Scorpions Smoke?’

Note: At the time of writing, it’s still possible to buy a ticket to the next one, in January.


Held in Anomalous Space, which looks, from the outside, like a residential building in Islington, a stone’s throw from the bustle of Upper Street, The Lab has a loose feel from the get-go. Tea is made, hands are shaken and introductions made. No one asks what I do, and I don’t ask them, either. Talk is about what lies ahead and the reasons people have made their way to this ‘event’.

Most of us are here to ‘experience’ something, to experiment. To experience experiments. Steve tells us he has no idea how the afternoon will go, what we can expect, or even if we’ll enjoy it. It really is that open.

Yet, there is zero trepidation. Everyone here is as open as the event itself. We have come together to learn, to share, to get involved and to see what comes from that. To experiment, freely. To not concern ourselves with success or failure. To look inward, yet publicly work through issues, problems, ideas…

Time really does fly. The five hours whip past at speed. Experiments are random, yet they feel part of a cohesive, structured whole. This is about development, on an individual scale, but also designed to work at the organisational scale.

One of the best things is the most simple: no one can be right, and therefore nothing can be wrong. We bond as a group by sharing our most embarrassing moments, by repeating phrases to another person over and over again, by passing tennis balls among ourselves, by asking others for their first impressions of us, and by sharing stories about what we did the previous evening.

Writing the exercises down like that makes them feel small, mundane even. Yet, by the end of the evening I was buzzing with energy, with ideas and with a real sense of having made progress on a problem I didn’t know I had. I’d certainly fulfilled my purpose for attending: to learn new skills, to discover something about how I worked and what I do (and want to do), and to connect with people from entirely different backgrounds (work and personal).

The penultimate experiment of the day tells the story of the day better than my words can. I’d come unstuck.

And that’s what happens when you free yourself from the constraints of your day, your work, or your life. (Or all three). That’s what happens when you experiment with impunity.

It’s never a bad thing to play with ideas. That’s why I highly recommend you experience the experiments at the Lab. You’ll thank yourself for it.