“Calories measure the energy resources of a civilization, and with a surplus of calories .. early communities were able to invest in infrastructure and organizational complexity” (Jonathan F.P. Rose, 2016, The Well-Termpered City, New York: Harper Wave, 44-45). When there is no surplus, focus is on getting enough calories–what comes in immediately goes out. With a surplus of energy–more comes in than needs to be used immediately, focus can shift to investing in non-calorie-gathering activities, such as building common infrastructure, philosophizing, creating art, and managing projects. The surplus of energy changed the game.
A calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere. In our field work of the past decade, we have found a related energy source in human interactions. People describe being much more engaged with much greater energy when they experience a healthy relationship with their own self, with others, with the group, with the creative process of nature, and with the source of the creative spirit–five primary relationships. Through the Institute for Strategic Clarity’s global survey research, we have found this experience described by people in thousands of groups in 98 countries. From this research, we find this human-interaction energy, a lumens. A lumens is a measure of the energy resources experienced in the set of the five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit).
Like with calories, with a surplus of lumens, communities are able to invest in collaborative efforts, which require the harmonic combination of everyone’s unique contributions in a continuous process of tangibilization of what can be seen as possible together, in service of a shared deeper purpose. When there is no surplus, when the lumens experienced are less than the lumens required for human interaction, the focus is on getting more lumens. Harvard professors Kegan and Lahey call this the “second job,” protecting oneself while engaging in lumen-exhausting interactions. Kegan and Lahey find examples of lumens-enhancing groups, where people are better off from being together, generating a surplus of lumens that can be invested in even more exciting, more productive human interactions. Our impact-resilience research finds these people achieve much greater outcomes on a much more sustainable basis.
I have described many examples of the lumen-enhancing experiences we have described through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience. Have you experienced lumens-enhancing human interactions? Please share them with us.