People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

People aren’t dumb. The world is hard.”  So says Professor Thaler, the 2017 Nobel laureate in economics.

From an ecosynomic perspective, the world is hard, for two reasons: the environment and the individual.  The environment is the exterior experience of the embedded agreements we live in.  The individual is the interior experience of our perception of our existence in the world.

Professor Thaler uses this quote to point at what we can do to improve our outcomes and experiences.  It you think people are dumb, then you can either make them smarter or deal with the fact that they are dumb.  If you think people are not dumb, and the world is hard, then you can try to make interacting in the world less hard.  Thaler suggests it is more the environment than the people.  We agree.  

We can understand the embedded agreements, in a way that works with our ability to perceive.  We can develop lenses on our agreements and processes for shifting them, which we can test, to see if they lead to the behaviors (outcomes and experiences) we want to have.

[To hear Professor Thaler describe what he means with this quote, listen to the July 11, 2018 Freakonomics podcast.]

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2 Gifts We Gave Ourselves: Triggers and Signals

As Homo lumens you experience separation when your attention is focused on perceiving things as nouns.  You are separate from it.  The same happens when your attention focuses on perceiving change as verbs.  This separation from, being apart from it, allows you to experience it.  This separation, of being apart from the 10D reality, in a specific, lower-dimensional way, enables you as Homo lumens to be able (a) to notice triggers and signals, and (b) to give intentional attention to triggers and signals.  Two gifts.

Triggers, from any of your energy fields–your thinking, your feeling, your willing, your sensory perception–bring your attention to the choices, within the context of sensing and of your higher purpose, as reflected to your awareness.  The human system is designed to pay attention to the trigger, meaning to give it attention, then widen attention to your other energy fields to see what perspectives or textures they add.  You can start with any trigger (such as your feeling), noticing the trigger within any energy field, expanding to include the other energy fields (such as your thinking, willing, and sensing).

Signals are a process for working with the information within each energy field, across them, and as an integrated whole.  As Homo lumens you are designed to pay attention to context.  Since, out of context, the literally-infinite amount of information present at any instant forms nothing useful within (it does not in-form), as Homo lumens you start with the deeper shared purpose, which provides coherence to your awareness, then you look to the witness (to see experience and outcomes), to see, of what I know, what is available in this context?

Triggers and signals.  Something is off (triggers).  An integrated awareness (signals).  Two gifts.  Gifts you gave yourself.

Positive Deviants Are No Longer Deviants

Fifteen years ago, when I began talking about groups that were achieving high-impact-resilience and having high-vibrancy experiences, it was clear that these groups were positive deviants, doing something very different than the norm, and getting much better-than-normal results.  I have written a lot about the positive deviants we are working with over the past fifteen years.  In 2014, I estimated that there might be upwards of tens of thousands of groups living this way around the world.  When I would say this, people wanted to know what made the higher-performing groups work that way, and I would give examples like firms of endearment and asset-based community development.  Most people seemed to be hopeful that these cases were true, and a bit skeptical.

Now I am having a very different experience when I talk about what differentiates groups with abundance-based agreements, people are now understanding what I am pointing at, trying it out for themselves, and connecting us with groups that they know that are also learning how to act this way.  I wonder if the time when the positive deviants who were working with abundance-based agreements were considered weird and lucky is passing, and now it is becoming more part of the new normal to choose to interact with greater abundance.  I see evidence of this all over the place now.  Not just a few rarified examples, rather millions of them everywhere.

What do these numbers mean?  If there are just 100,000 groups of 100 people like this around the world, then those 10,000,000 people would be 0.13% of the global population or 13 in every 10,000 people, or only 51,000 in each of the 195 countries of the world, or the population of the 89th most populated country in the world, between Portugal and Sweden.  Another way of thinking about this is that 1 in 763 people alive today would be experiencing one of these higher-vibrancy groups.  I think that number is now low.  And, if there are many more than this, everywhere, then we are looking at a phenomenon that is approaching a new normal.  Just a 10-fold increase of this estimate would make it the 14th most populated country, between the Philippines and Egypt.

If this is true, that the experience of how to work with abundance-based agreements is showing up everywhere, it is time for us to being to map this topography of social agreements, mapping ecosynomic deviance and impact resilience, in all of its forms, across the globe.  I bet, if we do, we will find some amazing treasures, right in our own backyards, showing us how to do what we want to do with far greater impact resilience and in a much more engaging way.  That would be good to know.  Maybe then we could figure out how to achieve systemic solutions that work for everyone everywhere everyday.  I wonder.

What If You Could Build The Life You Dream

This past weekend, my wife took me to the Tiny House Fest Vermont.  A panel on “Good Design for All” included four architects working in the tiny-house space: John Connell, Mackenzie Stagg, Bill Austin, Bryan Louisell.  One of the questions they explored had an ecosynomic twist.  When looking at the built environment for human residence, there are sheetrock-box shells, living-space interiors, and memory-home life-you-dream.  Commenting on the examples on-site at the fest and in the examples shared, the four architects described what we would call agreements about residence as:

  • just-noun, focus on the outcomes.  Build me a cost-efficient shell, which the panelists observed seems to often end up in sheetrock boxes.  Inexpensive boxes.
  • verb-and-noun, focus on the development of capacities, relationships, and the outcomes.  Build an experience with me, a space where I live, that is also cost efficient.  Beautifully crafted, customized homes.
  • light-and-verb-and-noun, focus on the potential, development, and outcomes.  Build the life I dream, a memory space, that is also an experience and cost efficient.  Living creativity that I creatively live in.

The author of Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir, Dee Williams, suggested, in an earlier session, that the questions you ask about your life, how you experience it, and the residence you build are all agreements.  You can live in a box, an experience, or the life you dream.

 

Be Yourself—Which Self?

Two sayings.  One recent.  One very old.  Just be yourself.  Know thyself.  While some people might be referring to the same thing with both of these statements, most people intend very different worlds, processes, experiences, and outcomes with these two sayings.

Is this psychobabble or relevant in everyday life?  I suggest that choices are being made for you in every instant of your life.  I also suggest that you are not involved consciously in most of those choices.  Choices that greatly affect your life.  And, you could be.  One way of looking at this is, who is choosing.  Thus, the two sayings.  Just be your self, and know thyself.

This kind of “just” statement–just be yourself–means only or nothing but.  You only need to be yourself.  Nothing but yourself.  Just be you, in whatever comes out.  If you are thinking, just be yourself.  If you are feeling, just be yourself.  If you are following your gut, your intuition, just be yourself.  No worries, just be yourself.  That is one way of looking at it, at being your self.

Know thyself, expressed in the Ancient Greek as gnōthi seauton (γνῶθι σεαυτόν), means to know your whole self, which includes your thinking, your feeling, your willing, your lower self in waking consciousness, your higher self in your soul, and your highest self in the I AM.  The task of know thyself is to integrate these different dimensions of your self into one whole knowing, self-aware here now.

We can expand on the description of the “know thyself” task, using the three ecosynomic levels of perceived reality (light, verb, noun).  At the noun level, we only perceive outcomes.  What we can  pay attention to in this instant of what we perceive through our senses.  At this noun level, we see only the capacities we have in this instant, the capacities that are already finished, already here now.  This self contains what is already finished in our lives, what we have already created and manifested.  These capacities are amazing, and that we are able to manifest them in this reality is even more amazing.  These are our sacred nouns, the marvel of everything the universe needed to do to have that much energy hold those capacities together right here right now in the way they do.  While what it took to get to this instant is amazing, there are no choices for us, as this instant is already finished.  The choices were already made.  All ways always.  That is what we see of our self, when we focus at the noun level.

At the verb-noun level, we perceive the development of capacities and relationships, and we perceive the outcomes of that development.  Both development and outcomes, verb and noun.  This self contains what is becoming and what is already finished, what we are creating and what is already created.  What is changing over time, and what is also in this instant.  What we are learning and what we already know.  At this verb-noun level, choices enter.  We can choose how we develop these relationships and capacities.  We can learn from what we observe in this instance of the noun, and we can choose to alter the verb. At the verb-noun level of our self, we experience our becoming and our already finished.

At the light-verb-noun level, we perceive the potential, the development of that potential, and the outcomes of that development.  Potential, development, and outcomes.  Light, verb, and noun.  This self contains what is in beingness, becoming, and already finished.  The potential to create, what we are creating, and the already created.  The infinite energy in potential, the energy being used to manifest the potential, and the capacity present in the already finished, the outcome.  We can choose what potential we see, what potential we bring into existence and begin to manifest, and what we learn from the feedback presented as the sacred noun, the outcome.  What we could learn, what we are learning, and what we already know.  At the light-verb-noun level of our self, we experience our potential, our becoming, and our already finished. All three levels are always available to us in all ways.

In addition to the three levels of perceived reality, we also experience our self through different dimensions of reality.  In earlier explorations of our multi-dimensional reality, we saw that physicists to philosophers suggest that maybe we live in and are made up of many more dimensions of reality than the three we are most accustomed to–length, width, depth.  My current research explores what it would mean for us human beings to be made up of these dimensions: how being constituted that way affects the choices available to us.  One way to see this is to play with our human capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing.  What if the thinking capacity is a reflector, where the light inputs of our senses have a surface to reflect off of, so that they can be perceived.  [Remember, we don’t see light directly, it is passing by all of the time invisibly; we perceive the reflection of light off of something.]  The feeling is the witness that observes what is reflected off of the reflector.  The willing is the chooser, engaging our body in action.

If our self is purely in our thinking, engrossed in a feedback loop amongst our own thoughts, then our attention is only in the reflections of our reflector, without the witness (feeling) or the chooser (willing).  We get stuck in our thoughts, oblivious to what is happening in this world, until we “come out of it.”

If our self is purely in our feeling, witnessing our witnessing, we get caught in the infinite spiraling up and down in our emotions, our witnessing of witnessing.  While we are purely in our being present with what is emerging, the only emerging we are presencing is our witnessing.  Again, we are lost in the world of our witnessing, oblivious to the reflector’s sensory perceptions of what is happening and to the chooser’s choices engaging our will.

And, if our self is purely in our willing, with the chooser, then we are following our gut, which means that it–our gut, our intuition–is leading: we are not.  We can put our awareness in our chooser, in our willing, our gut, and watch it being chosen for us, oblivious to our reflector and to our witness.

Another option is to put our awareness in the simultaneous integration of all three.  What our reflector is showing us about what is being perceived through our senses, what our witness observes from the reflector and from what is being chosen in the will, and how that aligns with our deeper purpose, then consciously choosing how we want to manifest, from the potential, into the context we perceive from our reflector, into the choices being made in our willing.  Through this integrating process, we can align our reflector thinking, our witness feeling, and our chooser willing with our self that is perceiving the environment we are in right here right now, with our higher self that guides our deeper purpose toward the future we love and to which we give our will, with our highest self that guides our service in the unique contribution we are uniquely constituted and contextualized to make.

Coming back to where I started, “just be yourself” leaves completely open the question of which self.  The invocation to “just” might lead me to pay attention to any one of the many dimensions of the self we explored above.  “Know thyself” invites me to bring my awareness to all of these dimensions at the same time, which I can do, because they are all me.  My self.  The trinity of me, myself, and I.  Always all ways.  All in one.  So, the next time you make a choice, who is making it?

Seeing Inside Bodies–Humans, the Earth, Groups

To understand how something works, we watch how it behaves–response.  If its responses are consistent, we take a guess at how it behaves.  This is what it does.  If its behavior is not consistent, we need more information.  We then test how it behaves by observing it in different circumstances–stimulus and response.  If the responses are consistent with the stimulus, we take a guess at how it processes the stimulus and responds.  If they are not consistent, we need more information.  We look at how it works, internally, by taking it apart–stimulus and organism and response.  With bodies of humans, the earth, and groups, this means cutting open the body and poking around.

In 1895 the invention of X-ray radiation revolutionized medicine.  Doctors were able to see inside human bodies without cutting them open.  Much safer and less intrusive.  Without this dangerous invasive procedure, they were now able to observe behaviors and see how the human body worked internally.

In the mid-1900s, the invention of muography revolutionized how scientists observe the inside of large structures, such as Egyptian pyramids and volcanoes.  They can now see how the large structures behave and what is happening inside, without destroying them or tearing into them.

In the mid-2010s, the invention of pactoecography revolutionized how people observe the inside of groups, their internal agreements.  In addition to seeing how groups interact and behave, observed through their experiences and their outcomes, they can now use ecosynomic lenses to see the unconsciously accepted and consciously chosen agreements fields within which group interactions happen.

Zero Is Not Equal to Free, Reframing Volunteering from Negative to Positive Return on Co-investment

We do not value volunteering.  We ask for it.  We badger for it.  We thank people for it.  But, we do not value it.  We do not put a value on volunteering.  We think it is free.

Volunteering is free, in that it is the free act of giving one’s will.  That meaning of “free” does not mean of no value.  By looking at volunteering, the free giving of one’s will, as of no value, we end  up quickly in “doing good” philanthropy, which does not scale.  The impact remains small, and the resilience of the impact remains low.

By not valuing volunteering, we are valuing the person’s co-investment at zero.  And with zero value in co-investment, we don’t value the return on that co-investment, so there is no return on the co-investment.  Since the volunteer actually assumed the opportunity costs of the volunteering, when they receive nothing back, the return on the co-investment is actually negative.  It costs me to play, with no return–a net-negative investment.

Yet, we volunteer, because it makes us feel good.  We see the impact of our efforts in cleanliness of the schoolyard after a family work day, the paying of the bills because of our work with the accounting group, people fed because we served in a soup kitchen.

If we value the will one gives, then we can honor the value of the co-investment.  Even with a basic assumption of the value of an hour, estimated by some as US$24/hour in the USA in 2017, we are asking the question of what is the co-investment the volunteer is making.  We can then ask, what is the return on the co-investment?  What did your co-investment lead to, what is the value of the “return” for your co-investment?  The reason we cannot usually answer this question is because we do not ask it.

Lots of people are innovating deeply in this space.  One such massive set of innovations is in complementary currencies.  Measuring the current of what is flowing, what is flowing through you in your interaction, your co-investment, and what flows in the community because of your co-investment of currency.  From valuing volunteer time and banking hours to valuing social and natural capital, there are many ways to value the will one puts forward freely.

What is free is the choice to give one’s will.  It has a value.  It is a co-investment.  When we ask the question of the value of the co-investment, we can also begin to ask the question of what is the return on the co-investment.  The value of a clean schoolyard, of bills paid, of mouths fed.  That provides a positive return on co-investment. A return that is possibly orders of magnitude greater when we ask these questions of co-investment of one’s will, of volunteering, than when we don’t ask these questions.  Now that could support its own scaling of impact resilience.

When 10×10=1,000,000 — 4 Examples of Coupling Social and Technical Innovation

People continuously develop amazing technical innovations: urban agriculture; CRISPR; drones, blockchain; electric cars; work on Mars; language translation.  On all fronts, technology is bringing more abundant solutions.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these technical innovations are 10s.

People also continuously come up with social innovations: crowdsourcing; online platforms; sociocracy; hubs;; sacred hospitality; innovation labs; global action networks.  People are experimenting everywhere with ways to interact more abundantly.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these social innovations are 10s.

While these technical innovations and these social innovations are 10s, bringing 10X impacts to the problems they address, they are small compared to the 1,000,000X solutions people are finding when they combine the two: technical and social innovations.  Something very interesting is happening in this space where people are coupling technical and social innovation.  As part of the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience, we are very exited about these coupled innovations, finding more of them, and learning with them about what they are doing.  Here are four cases we have found.

  1. Innovation Ecosystems in Mexican Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency.  Technical innovations in energy and finance.  Social innovations in connecting innovation ecosystems.
    • Equitable engagement of the natural and social capital of rural indigenous communities in Mexico with global financial, social, and environmental metrics, and intellectual capital leads to: (1) large-scale carbon emission reduction through renewable energy and energy efficiency; (2) equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy; and (3) locally generated economic wealth.
    • See the documentary of this initiative that engaged 286 university professors and researchers from rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, leading to 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  2. Fostering Local Wellbeing in South Africa.  Technical innovations in complementary currencies and youth video documentaries.  Social innovations in building local capacity to develop an evolving collective narrative through youth ambassadors and videography, coupled with locally controlled complementary currencies to fund local wellbeing.
    • A two-year long, University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) research project that took place in two South African municipalities – the Greater Kokstad Municipality in KwaZuluNatal, and the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape, from August 2014 – September 2016. The project engaged out-of-work, out-of-school local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors – to build both individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality.
    • See many of the videos describing this journey in two townships.
  3. Global Anti-Corruption Coalition.  Technical innovations in measuring corruption and in national anti-corruption, pro-transparency policies.  Social innovations in interweaving global policy and attention with local action, across 120 countries, giving a voice to the people seeing corruption and to those affected by corruption.
    • Fighting corruption around the world since 1993.  “We’ve fought to put in place binding global conventions against corruption. We’ve held governments and companies to account, exposing the corrupt and dodgy deals (saving more than US$2 billion in the Czech Republic alone). We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people to take a stand” (https://www.transparency.org/impact).
    • See an Impact Report describing many examples of how people are changing the global discourse and outcomes around corruption, one place at a time.
  4. Portable Solar-Powered Stoves.  Technical innovations in light-weight, solar-powered cookers.  Social innovations in giving free-energy, portable cooking to the global poor, in dozens of countries.
    • Saving lives from indoor toxic smoke from stoves with solar-powered, portable stoves that cost nothing in fuel to run.
    • See videos about the innovations.

Four examples of massively impactful interventions, coupling technical and social innovations to have a much larger impact, orders of magnitude larger.  These technical-AND-social innovators are discovering that either innovation alone–only technical or only social–is not enough.  Coming up with a great technical innovation that stays within the previous social form tends to have only local and limited success in transformative impact resilience.   Likewise, a social innovation in how people interact with the same technology also tends towards the 10X impacts: far less than the impact resilience available when there is an innovation in the what, who, how, why, when, and where–in the technical and the social dimensions.  Innovations where 10X x 10X can equal 1,000,000X.

The Power of Continuity

Does it make a difference if you care about what you do?  If you are really passionate and committed to what you give energy, or if it is just something that you do, because there is nothing better to do?  I observe that it makes a huge difference.  When I am connected to the power of that passion and commitment, I experience far greater energy.

Does it matter how much you are connected to that passion and commitment?  From not connected at all, to only connected briefly at times, to connected frequently, to connected much of the time.  I experience that how much I carry the commitment and passion with me influences how much energy I give to that commitment.  When it is high, I am a continuous ambassador for the passion.  Like with my family.

In our fieldwork right now at the Institute for Strategic Clarity, we are developing measures of this continuity power–the power of being connected to the deeper shared purpose, the love of the future for which I give my will.  In understanding the geometries of agreements fields, we are exploring how to assess continuity power as one of the key geometries.  “Continuity power” relates to (1) the gap between the desired and actual states of the deeper shared purpose, (2) the utility one has for closing the gap, and (3) the time that one is connected to that deeper shared purpose, of closing the gap.

Using the analogy of power, which is the amount of work done in a unit of time, and where work is the force applied over a distance, we see that the distance is the gap, the force applied is the utility to close the gap, and the time is the time dedicated to closing the gap.  Power = Work / time = (Force * distance) / time, or Continuity Power = Utility * gap / time.  Graphing out this function in the three dimensions shows an interesting geometry, where not all ranges of each of the three variables is possible.  We will be mapping this geometry and sharing the mapping of what we find in the world of human agreements fields over the next months.

This formulation also leads to some interesting initial insights, which we are now in the process of checking in the field.  Let’s work through the three elements: utility; gap; and time.  If the utility to close the gap is weak, maybe because of other priorities, then the work to close the gap will seem to be too great, which will lead to the need to reduce the gap.  The easiest way to reduce the gap is to lower the desired state towards the actual state.  This is a classic systems archetype, known as drifting goals.  If you do not see or connect to the deeper shared purpose, then the time connected decreases significantly, requiring much more continuity power to get the work done.  If the work to be done seems to be too much, this is probably a symptom of a low amount of time connected to the deeper shared purpose.  If it seems to be just too much work to be done to shift the system towards the desired state, then the easiest solution is to reduce either the force or the distance, the utility to change the system by closing the gap or changing the gap.

Conversely, as the time increases that you are connected to closing the gap between the desired and actual states of the deeper shared purpose, the continuity power required to get the work done decreases.  This suggests that it takes far more energy to move the system (to close the gap between the desired and actual states) when not connected to the deeper shared purpose.  It is much more efficient to move the system when connected more continuously to the deeper shared purpose.  It does seem to make a difference if you care about what you do, and how much of the time you are connected to that passion and commitment.  We will be field-testing these insights into the geometry of continuity power in the agreements fields over the next months, sharing here what we are finding.

 

If Every Human Is Uniquely Constituted and Contextualized, Always All Ways, Then…

As Homo lumens, a being of light, you know when you experience being alive.  You experience many dimensions of aliveness. Energy, attraction to something, your senses, reflections on what you are perceiving, potentials, activities, outcomes, choices, physicality in 3 dimensions (breadth, width, depth), groups, others, your own self.  You experience all of this.  And, you are unique in what you experience and in how you experience it.

You are uniquely contextualized.  You are the only human being that can be in the exact place where you find yourself in space and time.  Nobody else can be in the exact same space at the exact same time.  So, everyone else is in a different space at any given time, or in a different time in any given space, therefore their experience, their perspective, on any experience is different, even if only a little bit.  You are also the only human that has grown up with the exact set of experiences you have had.  Nobody else has had the same whole set of exact experiences you have had.  This chain of experiences has influenced your context.  Your contextualized experience throughout life is unique.

You are uniquely constituted.  You are the only human being that was born to the parents you were with the exact genetic code that you have, which has expressed in the particular way your genetic code has.  Even identical twins have different experiences, which cause different expressions of the genetic code to show up over time.  You are uniquely constituted, with different gifts, developed capacities, potentials, and learning opportunities.

Since you and I are each uniquely constituted and uniquely contextualized, I cannot be having the same experience that you are having.  They are different experiences.  Different in what I see in the experiences.  Different in how I relate them to elements in my lived context.  Different in what I can do with them.  Not at all like your experience.  Ever.

Sometimes that our experiences are different is irrelevant.  That your experience is different does not add to my experience.  At the park, you experienced soaring with the eagles and smelled the pine trees, while I remembered making tunnels in the dirt in that same park as a kid.  The difference does not matter.

Sometimes that our experiences are different is relevant.  We work together, because you are creative, and so am I.  That your experience is different does add to mine.  In our conversation at the park, you were thinking of who to invite to dinner and games we could play.  I was thinking about what we could eat, weaving in the food preferences of our guests.  I need you to be different and relevant.

Since your experience is different than mine, there is only one way to know and benefit from the difference.  I cannot directly experience your world.  I can be with you in your world.  I can ask you about your experience, and I can listen.

Straightforward and valuable.  And, we humans seem to rarely do this.  Maybe we could start.