The world doesn’t need more projects, it needs more you – Guestblog by Max St John
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The world doesn’t need more projects, it needs more you – Guestblog by Max St John

The world doesn’t need more projects, it needs more you.

“I don’t have a project yet. I know that I need a project.”

These are some of the first words I hear, checking in with Tribe 15 on my first day working with them.

It’s a familiar phrase – not just here, where a project is part of the course, but everywhere.

“I need a project!”
“I need a startup idea!”

“I need a value proposition!”

It’s a habitual response to being in this world – in this society – an itch to leap into creating, signalling to the world, committing to ‘something that matters’.

But rarely do we slow down, and ask ourselves why. Instead we charge on, building on unchecked foundations.
And my experience tells me that there’s nothing more oppressive and toxic than finding yourself committed to something built on the wrong base.
The world is full of projects and businesses created by people who thought they needed a thing – to fulfil an expectation, to prove they matter in the world, to get free of the desk job.
And the world is full of purposeful yet unhappy, anxious entrepreneurs who wonder why they haven’t got the freedom and satisfaction that they’ve been chasing for so long.
We’ve fallen victim to the tyranny of ‘being purposeful’. The oppression of ‘getting free’. The dangerous game of ‘standing up for what matters’.
We don’t realise that all these can be just the flipside of the soulless consumerism many of us are revolting against.

Fortunately, this is where Knowmads is different, and why it matters so much right now.

Opening up and slowing down

I was back at the school for my second year of teaching – although teaching doesn’t feel like quite the right word.

I came to share participatory leadership skills, and the work of understanding our relationship with money, but I always learn as much as I teach.
It’s always a joy to be here.
I’m all about opening up and slowing down, challenging programmed biases and assumptions.
I love giving people the tools to build projects, businesses, relationships – whole lives – on solid foundations.
Helping them to stop jumping through hoops, or ticking boxes.
And to do this by asking: What makes me feel alive? What’s mine to do?

It’s a joy to do this, here, because Knowmads is a space where these questions feel safest to answer truly, and deeply.

Enjoying the journey

Of course, we don’t figure everything out in the two days I’m there.

And the reason for that is the same reason I do this work, and the same reason that Knowmads matters.
Because life isn’t a race to the finish – and when we treat it as one, we end up burning out.
We forget is that life is a journey to be enjoyed.
If I walk anywhere with my two year-old son, I have to remember that it will take ten times longer than I think.
Not just because he has little legs, but because he has no concept of destination or attainment.
He does not give a shit about getting somewhere. He doesn’t even understand that there’s somewhere to get.
Instead he is curious about everything along the way, and responds to his needs and urges.
A stone, a butterfly, a van – all equally amazing and wonderful.
He feels like sitting down in the middle of the pavement, he does so.

This is what we forget in the training to be good citizens, and that we don’t realise we’re still playing out in our goal to be ‘purpose-led entrepreneurs’.

And this another reason why I love Knowmads.

In the time I had with the Tribe, we slowed right down.

We asked: What am I longing for in the world? Where have I seen or felt it before? What questions am I holding?
We spend time in circle, told stories, listened deeply.
We learned the value of powerful questions and deep dialogue.
On the second day we moved into money. This stuff that we’re told makes the world go round but seems to mean very different things to different people.
We played games – putting ourselves and each other in deeply uncomfortable and hilarious positions with piles of each others’ cash.
We truly leaned into our discomfort, to understand more about our relationship with money, and ourselves.
We learned that money is a mirror – a signpost to our subconcious, limiting beliefs.

And at the end of it all, ritually letting go of those stories that didn’t serve us.

Being at the Knowmads feels like coming home.

Not a soft, rose-tinted home, a home where I belong – where anyone can belong – and a place I can challenge and be challenged.

It’s a home where it’s safe to be who you are, to move from there out into the world, stepping fully into what’s yours to do.

Max is founder of Wild Things ( and The Needs Work ( He writes at

1 Comment

  1. Maartje (tribe 13)

    Thank you Max, you’ve captured lots of what I think and have reminded me of it, too.

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