Want a Daily Practice for Thriving?

For thousands of years, people across the planet, everywhere, have founds ways to thrive. Within their local context, they have learned how to live a good life, a life well lived. They have learned how to see what is actually happening, with an ever-expanding embrace of reality and how they want to engage in it. In today’s modern world, many of these practices from other cultures, other places, and other times are presented as modern solutions. You might find that some of them work for you. It is mostly about trying it, keeping at it, and seeing what it does.

A practice for thriving designed for today’s contemplative practitioner is the Integral Polarity Practice (IPP). Building on wisdom traditions, with modern practitioners in mind, it works with transcending polarities–seeming opposites, often pulling in different directions–to bring more of your own creative Yes! to the world. Developed by my colleague John Kesler over many years, IPP supports your development and integration of stages of awareness, what some call “growing up,” and states of awareness, also called “waking up.” This practice is directly applicable to your own development, to your relationships, and to your organizations.

Say YES! to ALL Children Flourishing in Public K-12 Education — OOMA Is

All children can flourish in public K-12 education. While it is not a reality yet, the OOMA network in Massachusetts is taking its first steps in a collaborative, systems approach to saying Yes! to all children. 100%. Not just some of the children, in some zip codes, some of the time. Everyone everywhere everyday.

In the June 2021 issue of the Eton Journal for Innovation and Research in Education, editors Jonathan Beale and Iro Konstantinou share a piece Wayne Ysaguirre, Hardin L.K. Coleman, and I wrote, “A Bold Vision to Advance Racial Equity and Prepare Underserved Youth to Thrive in Work and Life.”

The article describes the collaborative, strategic-systems approach taken by our colleagues at Open Opportunity MassachusettsInstitute for Strategic Clarity, Social Impact Exchange, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Wayne, Hardin, and I describe our article in this brief 6-minute video.

To Maximize Inequality, Collapsing Any Lens (EPCS) Will Do — To Maximize Equality, Requires All 4 Lenses

The crises of the moment, the crises of the century, and the crises of humanity’s evolutionary state all point at the challenges and impacts of structural inequality.  While lots of people are working on this now, many have been working on it for a long time, probably since the beginning of humanity.  To this huge challenge, we add two observations from ecosynomics about what might create structural inequality and what might exist when people experience deep equality.

To maximize inequality, collapsing any lens (EPCS) will do.  To maximize equality requires all 4 lenses.

Inequality.  When you experience a collapse of your agreements to one of deep scarcity, you experience deep inequality. We find that to get to the experience of deep scarcity, all you have to do is collapse the agreements, which you can do by simply collapsing any of the four lenses on agreements: the economic; political; cultural; or social. When any one of these perspectives (lenses) collapses, the whole field of the agreements collapses.  Focus only on tangible resources and take them away [economic collapse].  For decision making and enforcement, regulate to one individual or a small group, who gets to decide and who has the power to enforce [political collapse].  For values, mandate values that submit to the values of the power holder [cultural collapse].  For the rules of the game, focus on efficiency in achieving only the powerholder’s values [social collapse].  If you know this, then stopping the collapse is straightforward. Maybe not easy, but clear. To stop collapse, see the move and counter it, taking away its strength. Make visible other available resources, keep decisionmaking power for others, remind people of other values they also have, increase the rules of the game to include serving other stakeholders.

Equality. While you can focus on one lens to collapse agreements, maximizing equality requires all 4 lenses. In the past 17 years of applying the ecosynomics of abundance-based agreements in 40+ countries, in all sectors, and surveying the experience people have in their agreements across 125 countries, we have hundreds, and now maybe thousands, of examples of groups living the experience of high equality every day, often for decades. We have not found a single one of these groups where they are only strong as seen through one of the four lenses. What you see through all four lenses is high. Through the economic lens, they are clear that they access vast resources in their own potential, in continuous developing capacities and relationships, and in evolving with the feedback they receive from the outcomes they achieve. They are very high performing groups. Through the political lens, decisions are made and supported based on the primary relationship most relevant to the decision, whether it is for the self, other, group, nature’s creative process, or spirit’s source of creativity. The power to decide interweaves these five primary relationships. Through the cultural lens, values include the potential in the individuals and the group, in service to its deeper shared purpose, as well as the developing of capacities and relationships, and the outcomes that provide learning and fruit for the next period. Through the social lens, the principles guiding their interactions focus on the deeper shared purpose as the organizing principle, engaging each necessary participant’s unique contributions, as they develop, deliver, and evolve along the way. These groups we have found represent local government, run textile mills, generate local electricity, provide community health, teach kids, and plant vegetables. They are normal people, living deep equality, everywhere.

Maybe we could learn from groups already living deep equality in ecologies of sacred hospitality. They are living abundance-based approaches to the economic, political, cultural, and social questions. All at the same time.

Groups that try to work on just one of these 4 questions at a time never make it. It seems to not be just an economic question, or just a political question, or just a cultural question, or just a social question. Deep equality seems to require an abundance-based response to all four questions, at the same time. And, lots of people have figured this out. Let’s find more of these groups, and learn with them.

How Noisy Is Your Company? A lot and It’s Costing You

To me, a leader’s biggest nightmare is being completely wrong about how people throughout the organization are making all of the decisions they make every day, with the company’s resources, in the name of the company, affecting the company’s today and tomorrow.  How right or wrong are you about what people in your organization are deciding?

Are people in your organization, your community, making the decisions you think they are?  Are all of the decisions they make for your organization aligned with the same purpose, values, attention, and actions that you think you all agree on?  How much variance is there in judgments they make, even in the same exact situation, every day?  How much is this variance in judgment costing your company?  Ever-brilliant Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show, in their new book Noise, that you are very probably way off in your estimate.

Fathers of behavioral economics, they show how a straightforward audit can give you a good sense of how “noisy” your organizational decision making is, where noise is simply unwanted variability.   The audit is straight out of the decision sciences.  What’s new, once again from these serial clarifiers, is the simplicity of the term “noise,” in what it is, what causes it, and its impacts.

The audit is straightforward, as is the solution.  Ask, listen, measure, adjust.  From an ecosynomic perspective, this is pretty obvious.  And, these Nobel-prize, White House Office authors show that most organizations are not doing this, and they could.  The costs are huge, the benefits are huger, and it’s a choice you can make now.

Choosing Your Agency, Everyone Else Is: Recommended Podcast

Your Yes!  It is yours.  With it you can align what you pay attention to, what you care about, and what you do with your purpose. You can choose to give your will, your intention, attention and action towards a future you love.  

To be clear, your will is being used.  Always.  The question is who is using it, towards what purpose.  

If it is being used towards your Yes!, that’s good for you. If you are unaware of this use of your will, it can still be somewhat impactful, towards your Yes! Being aware of this allows you to align your attention and action with your intention towards it, reaping far greater results, in a much more engaging way, for you.  If it is not being used towards your Yes!, then it is being used towards your No!  That is not good for you, as the net result is always negative.

In this episode of the podcast Choiceology, Prof. Katy Milkman explores who usually controls your decisions, your actions.  It is still a choice, one you can make or let others make for you.

It’s Your Health, You Decide

Most of us give over the decisions about our health to someone else. Decisions about what we should eat, what exercise we should do, and how we should respond to getting sick. Essentially, what to put in our bodies, how to move our bodies, and how to fix our bodies when they are not working right. It is a lot to understand, and there are experts who have studied all of this, so we should just do what they say. Right?

Maybe. Partially. As famed physician and author Atul Gawande asks in his book Being Mortal, why are we asking technicians to decide moral questions for us? While they are very highly trained technicians, medical professionals can help us get to the state we want for our bodies, but that requires that somebody decide what that desired state is, and Dr. Gawande suggests that we are the ones to decide that for ourselves.

What are we supposed to decide for ourselves and where might we depend on experts? Easy. If we understand that we are assessing 4 different things. 3 of these are ours to decide, for ourselves. Experts can help guide us with 1 of them. We need to know (1) our actual state, how we are actually doing, (2) our desired state, what we want our health to look like, (3) the gap–the difference–between the actual and desired states, and (4) what to do to close the gap. We have to understand our actual health, in comparison with the health we actually want for ourselves, and what we can do to move towards the health we choose.

There are infinite suggestions about the life you should lead. Most of us don’t follow most of these suggestions. Someone out there tells us not to, but some people like to eat meat or carbs, walk on busy streets or late at night, eat from street vendors or in local dives, smoke, complain, jump out of airplanes and off of cliffs, swim with sharks, drink sweet soda drinks or alcohol, or sit on the couch all day. These are all things that some expert says is bad for us. And, lots of us like to do some of these things. That might be what leads to a life well lived. The problem then might not be what we choose to do or how we choose to live our lives, rather in what we do about what happens along the way.

To know what to do, to maintain our health or strengthen it, we need to know the standard of health we want, where we are right now, and what we can do to close the gap between the two. Information from technology and experts can support us in understanding what our desired state of health looks like and how to measure it (e.g., pulse rate, muscle strength, clean thoughts, no headaches), how to assess our current level of health with similar measures, and what we can do to alter our current state. If you want to be able to have stronger legs, these different forms of exercise might work for you, depending on what you like to do. Swimming, walking, lifting weights, squats. Here are the measures, the possible actions, and now you can assess and decide. It’s your choice–what you want, where you are, and what you can do to get where you want. If this is what you want to do (see the long list above), these are the consequences that you live with, and what you can do to ameliorate the impacts.

To be able to make this shift in mindset, from leaving it to others to decide to deciding for yourself, it is helpful to clarify how you think about your health. To you, what is your “original state” and what is “normal”? Let’s look at this question for your physical health and then your mental and social health.

YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH

There exist 2 very different perspectives on your physical health. Where you start from will greatly determine what you do and what you achieve. One perspective is that you start with your “original state.” The other perspective is that you start from a “normal state.”

Your original state. The body you were given is a miracle. While it has been studied forever, we still have very little understanding of how it does what it does. It is born, with you in it. It grows. For half of us, it makes babies and milk for babies. For the other half, it makes seeds for babies. It grows older. It grows stronger. It fights diseases and fixes wounds. It dies. That’s a lot. In your original state, you have a very high functioning physical state, doing a huge amount in every single instant, over a whole lifetime, and this is normal. Lower than this is pathological. For some reason, in this whole universe of infinite energy, we exist as Homo lumens, as natural beings. Our body is created, grows, strengthens, and procreates, without our conscious awareness or design. And, our awareness and design influence what we do with this energy-flowing structure-energy-field we are given. It is a very complex system that is made to work at a high level of performance (efficiency and effectiveness, leveraging small inputs into sustainable, resilient outputs for all systems, in all parts of the body, at all times). This is our given state, a state that our lack of understanding and awareness “normally” degrades. This is our “original state.”

Your normal state. From a “normal state” view of the world, we look at what is normal for people, what the standard distribution of people do. From this perspective, low levels of health are fine. Higher is nicer. We expect people to be in poor health, because that is what we find, normally. We make conscious choices and accept unconscious conditions that work against our body instead of with it. Just think of the obesity epidemic, chronic disease years-of-life lost, and the high levels of malnutrition we accept around the globe. With a world of water and plants, we allow vast amounts of people to die from dehydration and malnutrition. With easily-scalable high technology, we allow many people to die early from easily avoidable conditions (dirty air, dirty water, contaminated food, communicable disease). After all, this low state of health is what we see in lots of people, so it is “normal.” Better than normal is nice. This is our “normal state.”

YOUR MENTAL, SOCIAL HEALTH

We see the same for your mental and social health. The World Health Organization suggests that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. As with our physical health, the same two perspectives apply to our mental and social health—and “original state“ and a “normal state“ view. Which do you choose? Your original, given state or what is normal amongst others? Your “original,” given state of intense creativity, passion, and will to engage in creating a future to which you give your love, in your own, unique ways, every day? Or your “normal state” of being disengaged and apathetic about what actually happens?

You decide and you assess. Here are a few quick, easy tools for measuring your own state of health, using instruments my colleagues and I have developed and tested over the past two decades in over 125 countries. All of these well-tested, validated measures are available for free online—I provide the link to them. You can use them as you wish for yourself. If you would like help in understanding or applying these tools to your own health, feel free to contact me.

The “You Choose” Plan.

  1. You choose your standard of physical, mental, and social health
  2. You asses your actual levels
  3. You determine the gap
  4. You choose the actions to take

Experts and expert tools can help you assess these, and they can help you setup a continuous monitoring scorecard system, to bring you greater resilience for when things happen. It is a choice. Your choice.

It’s Perfect. Whose Perfection?

Your perfection. It turns out that when each of us says something is perfect, we might mean completely different things.

Perfect. From the Latin perfectus “completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite,” from per “completely” + combining form of facere “to make, to do.” To make complete. Complete what? That depends on how you define the “what” that you are completing.

From an ecosynomic perspective, we observe three levels of perceived reality (nouns, verbs, possibility). Depending on the levels of perceived reality you are working with, you will define perfection differently.

  • Noun-only Reality. When you consider only the observable facts right in front of you right now–the nouns you have–perfection means that what is already known and already here is complete. You know what completeness looks like, because it is given to you in the book. Whatever book contains the received wisdom you prefer. You can assess, from that received wisdom, the current state of something, whether it is complete or not, whether it is perfect or not. If it is, you are right.
  • Verb-and-noun Reality. When you consider what is observable right now, as well as the ebb and flow of inputs and outputs over time, perfection is measured against the standard of the living nature of the thing, of the stability of the net dynamics of its state over time. You set this standard based on what you have learned from received wisdom, as well as from what is happening in the context you are in right now. If it is on the right course, you are correct.
  • Possibility-and-verb-and-noun Reality. When you consider what is observable right now, the ebb and flow, and the potential you can access, your standard for perfection is in your capacity to close the gap between your actual state and the state that you are here to see realized, the desired level that aligns your efforts with your deeper purpose. You set this standard based on received wisdom and what you are learning and in the potential you can see, accessing all of the creativity you can perceive. If it is aligning with purpose, you are in service.

Perfection. Making complete. It all depends on the standard you are perfecting towards. It all depends on how you define your reality. On the dimensions of reality you choose to include. Perfect.

What Is Tangible?

We usually say that some things are tangible, and others are intangible. This means that some are touchable, and others are not touchable. Literally, we can perceive them through our senses, or we cannot. Maybe that is not so useful.

Maybe it is more useful to think of two kinds of tangible—outerTangible (oT) and innerTangible (iT). Things that we sense through our outward-oriented senses are outerTangible. Things that we sense through our inward-oriented senses are innerTangible. My biological senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing gather information about what is happening in the biophysical realms of reality. My body takes that information and transforms it into a form my body can use to do something. That is the outerTangible world.

My body also processes a lot of information that my body is perceiving about my inner state. How am I feeling about my physical state? What do I think and feel about the thoughts, feelings, and intentions I am experiencing? How do I want to respond to the affect I am experiencing from another person, independent or consonant with their words and actions? Do I love this possibility, hate it, or am I indifferent to it? Do I find this scenery to be beautiful? All of these perception signals are also real and quite touchable. I can literally feel them. They are innerTangibles. My body takes that information and transforms it into a form my body can use to do something.

Both the outerTangible and the innerTangible affect me. They are real stimuli to which I respond. Thinking of them as tangible or intangible leads me to think that one is more real than the other, which does not help much. Some of the things that most impact my life and the decisions I make are things like love, hope, and trust. InnerTangibles. Just as real as the outerTangibles. Both critical to perceiving what is happening in my life.

Ecologies of Sacred Hospitality – Massively-Leveraged, Scalable Impact

Braden, G. (2007). The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief. New York, Hay House.

Chopra, D. (2019). Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. New York, Harmony Books.

Clouse, C. (2016). Making It Home: Finding Your Power and Purpose. Bloomington, AuthorHouse.

Dispenza, J. (2017). Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon. New York, Hay House.

Downes, K. (2000). Sacred Spaces: Restoring Harmony. Melbourne, Lifetime Publications.

McTaggart, L. (2008). The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe. New York, Harper.

Are very high-performing individuals and groups supernatural or normal?  Are they doing what very few of us can do or not doing what most of us do?  The authors of the books listed above describe a way of understanding our common experience about what our reality looks like.  What’s new isn’t their description of our experience, rather what they describe of what we can see once we acknowledge this experience.  They begin to integrate into one experience many different aspects of our experience.

An Ecology of Nature. What is nature, how are we part of it, and how do we relate to it? In The Divine Matrix, Gregg Braden brings in physics to show that our daily experience might be a “Projection of things happening in another realm that we cannot observe..from a higher vantage point” (p.xii).   He reminds us of Nobel laureate Max Planck’s 1944 observation, “There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together” (p56). In The Field, Lynne McTaggart brings together a wide variety of rigorous disciplines robustly describing the energetic field that manifests reality, whether we experience this as matter or as energy. Bringing in research by the biophysicist Popp, “all living things—from the most basic of plants or animals, to human beings in all their sophisticated complexity—emitted a permanent current of photons, from only a few to hundreds” (p49). Literally beings of light. The universe of mass is a universe of of energy, of light, of an energy field. In Sacred Spaces, Karen Downes gives daily practices that help us remember this relationship we have with and as nature.  We can set up the conditions to support our continuous remembering of this.

An Ecology of Consciousness.  What is a human, what is our potential, and how do we participate in our humanness? In Metahuman, Deepak Chopra interweaves cosmology and medicine to explore the greater potential of what humans are.  “There are ways in which outer reality is much more malleable through consciousness than anyone supposes. Since consciousness is the foundation of reality, we shouldn’t set down any absolute limits… in the inner domain of consciousness, the possibilities for new thoughts, insights, and discoveries is already unlimited…infinite possibilities are part of our makeup.  But something inside us resists believing in infinity as a human quality. Edited reality feels more comfortable” (p77).  “To take advantage of infinite potential, you must accept that reality is open-ended, capable of taking subtle, invisible impulses and turning them into mind and matter” (p79).  In Becoming Supernatural, Joe Dispenza shows us that everybody is nature and above nature, natural and supernatural.  Everyone, by definition.  We are energy, “all energy is frequency and all frequency carries information…The only way we can change our lives is to change our energy–to change the electromagnetic field we are constantly broadcasting” (p 34).  When looking at the full spectrum of electromagnetic frequencies, “The majority of frequencies are beyond our perception, and therefore most of our non-reality in this universe cannot be experienced by our senses. So aside from our ability to perceive light being absorbed or reflected off objects and things, the truth is that we are able to perceive only a very small spectrum of reality. There’s a lot of other information available to us besides what we can see with our physical eyes” (p86). In Making It Home, Chris Clouse brings practices to strengthen our ability to work with our different nerve-ganglia-brains throughout the human body as a geometry of energy wave patterns that we call awareness.

An Ecology of Consciousness and Nature.  Putting these two together, what are we, as simultaneously nature and consciousness?  Our research explores what an ecology of nature might look like, what you see as your basic nature, and how that combines with an ecology of consciousness. Basically, we are energy. All of it. And, the energy field that is each one of us exists within a field of energy. Understanding this gives us access to great amounts of power. Not understanding this blocks much of the energy already available for us, both as individuals and as groups. Accessing it is a matter of understanding it and working with it, a gift these authors give us.

Talent Management or Talent Witnessing?

What do you observe? Do people have talent because an organization gave it to them? Or, do people have talent, and they develop it? Talent is defined in the OED as a natural ability. It comes from PIE *tele– “to lift, support, weigh. It might derive from the value you bring, the wealth you have in what you can contribute.

If talent is a natural ability, is talent something for an organization to manage, to control, or is talent something to invite and witness? Do only a few, special people have talent, or is talent something that everyone has? In an interview with Claudia Tate, Maya Angelou observed:

I believe talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it. Electricity makes no judgment. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it. Electricity will do all that. It makes no judgment. I think talent is like that. I believe every person is born with talent.

Tate, C. (1985). Black Women Writers at Work. England, Oldcastle Books, p.7.

In our ecosynomic research, in 125 countries over the past 16 years, we find many descriptions of people with a very wide variety of talents, unique gifts they have developed. The highest performing groups we have found, large to small, are clear on the purpose they are serving and how to invite and deeply engage the many talents they need to achieve that purpose, in a collaborative way.

In many languages, people around the world describe the experience of these talents in terms of brilliance, of shining examples. Expressions of a person’s inner light, shining out. The term Homo lumens has emerged from this observation to describe a being of light, expressing itself through talents.

If everyone has innate talents, and everyone’s efforts need multiple talents of different types, maybe the task is to find out how to discover the treasures everyone has. That probably starts with asking and listening, with authentic curiosity and respect–the key that unlocks the code of the talent map, showing you where the treasures are. The treasures you seek, and maybe already have in front of you. Just ask.