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?

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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.

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.

4 Strategies for Tangibilizing Societal Agreements — Recommended Reading

Waddell, Steve. “Four Strategies for Large Systems Change.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 16, no. 2 (2018): 40-45.

To achieve societal outcomes for everyone, everywhere, everyday within any given social system requires bringing together peoples with access to different economic resources, different political decision making and enforcement systems, different values, and different organizing forms.  It requires uniting in collaboration at a whole new level.  Long-time action researcher of societal change, Steve Waddell, shares in the reading referenced above what he observes in how people end up weaving together four large-system-change strategies to achieve a desired societal impact resilience.

In ecosynomic terms, the first step in any societal effort to change the agreements at the foundation of human interaction is to understand the deeper shared purpose, the love for a future to which people give their will. The second step is to bring together the people who are necessary for realizing that deeper shared purpose.  Dr. Waddell finds four strategies for who is necessary to change societal agreements to achieve that deeper shared purpose.  These four strategies are based on two continua: from confrontation to collaboration; from destruction to creation.  One can work to shift agreements working apart (confrontation) or together (collaboration), and generating new agreements (creation) or removing old agreements (destruction).  The article provides two case studies of large systems change, where all four strategies played out in the system over time.  A key insight is that changing major systems of agreements probably requires a range of pathways to tangibilize the deeper shared purpose–different ways to achieve the same impact.  These different ways require different capacities, ways of interacting, ways of seeing the world.  In large-systems change, the entrepreneur, the warrior, the missionary, and the lover–the four archetypes Waddell identifies with the four change strategies–all bring their particular worldview, organizing forms, and energy at particular times.  One form is not superior to the others, rather they each bring a part of the overall game.

The ecosynomic strategist, tangibilizing agreements field potentials, pathways, and outcomes, would do well to appreciate and embrace these four forms, seeing how they weave together to change foundational societal agreements.

Leadership — How We Get to What We Have and Where We Could Be

Leadership.  While everyone has a different definition of what leadership is, how one achieves it, and what it does, it might be much simpler than that.  You know it when it is there, and when it is not there.  From the perspective of the choices we have in the agreements we either unconsciously accept or consciously choose, what does leadership look like?  Can this picture help us see how we ended up with the leadership examples we have today?  Can it help us see where we could be?  Let’s see.

To lead is to get someone to go with you.  This is an agreement, an interaction between two or more people.  In an interaction, there is a future possibility–a desired state–a pathway towards that desired state, and an outcome.  Elsewhere I refer to these as the three levels of perceived reality.  We can look at this interaction through four lenses, big questions that millions of people dedicate their whole careers to: how much resource is available in the interaction; who decides and who enforces; what values are used to decide; and what are the principles of the interaction, the rules of the road?

Where are we today with most leadership?  We can take the three levels of perceived reality (possibility, pathway, outcome) and the four lenses (how much, who decides, what values, what rules) and see how simplifying assumptions give us much of what we experience in leadership today.  Let’s start with what we can see from the three levels of perceived reality.

  1. Most leaders focus primarily on outcomes.  What did you do today?  Did you get the desired results?  Leaders like this are typically given authority to represent the whole group, of whatever size, and they are held responsible for the outcomes.  Get the results however you need to.  Do what I say.  No potentials or learning here.
  2. Many leaders have begun to focus on the outcomes and the pathway to them.  How can we learn and adapt to get the best outcomes, given the changing landscape?  These leaders try to bring out the best of the people and processes they have, learning over the time and space available and developing capacities with the whole and for the whole.  They try to increase the efficiency with which the work is done.  No potentials here.
  3. A few leaders focus on the outcomes, the pathways to them, and the potential.  What can we see that is possible, what pathways can get us there, and what feedback do we get from the outcomes along the way?  These leaders bring people together to see new possibilities, sets of relationships to achieve them, and then focus on what feedback they can get from intermediate outcomes, so that they can adjust the possibilities they see and the pathways they use along the way.

This simple formulation shows us that as we begin to subtract levels of perceived reality from our leadership model, we move from potential, pathways, and outcomes to pathways and outcomes, to outcomes, losing the capacity to choose how we adapt to what we have learned about ways to manifest, to make tangible the possibilities we saw.  When we focus only on outcomes, we lose access to possibilities and to learning.  While many say that they don’t have time for anything other than making sure they get the results–we don’t have time for seeing possibilities and learning–good engineering practice shows that these people spend most of their time correcting for easily avoidable mistakes, and they greatly increase the risk of becoming obsolete.  Learning and adapting does not have to take much more time, and it helps avoid extraordinary wastes of time in correcting mistakes late in the game.

Now let’s see what happens when leadership uses only one of the four lenses.

  1. Some leaders focus primarily on the economics of how much resource is available.  How much do we have, how much do we need, how much do we generate?  What is the net result?  How do I control more of the resources?
  2. Some leaders focus principally on the politics of who decides and who enforces.  Who has the right to make what decisions in the hierarchy?  Who enforces them?  What power do the decision makers and enforcers have?  How do I get more of that power?
  3. Some leaders focus on the cultural values used to decide.  What do we most care about?  How deeply do people live into these principles?  Do the people clearly understand and live by these principles?  What culture do I think we need?
  4. Some leaders focus on the social rules of the game.  What are the rules?  Does everyone know them and obey them?  How can I work the rules of the game to my benefit?

This simple formulation shows us that we can easily focus our leadership on the economic, political, cultural, or social forms within our interactions.  And that we do this at great risk, losing the value of the other perspectives.  With any one lens, we easily go astray.  We try to get power through resources.  We try to get resources through values.  We try to set the rules through power.  We try to set the values through the resources we control.

Does this mean that we are doomed as society with leadership that tends to focus on the outcomes level of perceived reality and only through one of the four lenses?  Maybe.  And, we see that are many examples of leaders who are beginning to do something that is actually easier to do and gets much better results.  They are starting with the assumption that they are leading with other people who actually care and have something to contribute.  From this perspective, they co-host people coming together to look for the possibilities they can see from the richness of perspectives they each bring, finding pathways they can use together to manifest those shared possibilities, and then see what they learn from the feedback they receive in the outcomes they achieve.  What happened?  What did we learn?  How can we adapt what we initially saw, given what we learned in the process?  These leaders also use all four lenses, at the same time, to ask one question, using the four lenses to see the subtleties:

  • how do we manifest the possibilities we see, with the resources we have and can develop in our potential and in our learning,
  • each making decisions for ourselves, for each other, for the group, and for the process, as is appropriate along the way,
  • with a deeper shared purpose and a set of values for those decisions that bring out the best we have to offer, in our potential, in our learning, and in our outcomes,
  • collaborating towards this shared purpose, uniting our best contributions, potentials, and learning.

This is not more nuanced than any other form of leadership.  All leadership forms take great energy and lots of resources.  Some just achieve far less impact, far less engagement, and far less resilience than others.  And it does not need to be that way, as leadership is more natural to human beings when it acknowledges possibilities, development, and outcomes, as seen in what resources are available, who decides and enforces, with what values and what principles of interaction, all at the same time.  It is not harder, it is built into who we are as human beings, if we can only see it and choose it.

Collaboration Basics: Essential Agreements

posted with Ruth Rominger, CHOICE Fellow and Garfield Foundation’s Director of Information and Network Design–Collaborative Networks

Those of us in the social sector hear a lot of talk about the value of collaboration. Why do so few actually do it? Because it is hard?  Because it takes too much time?  Or is it because we are operating out of old mindsets and assumptions?

Our research over the past three decades suggests that most people know how to collaborate and yet, they don’t. The evidence points to some common assumptions that get in the way, and a handful of key behaviors that show up in most authentic, effective collaborations. It is our observation that when you become aware of these assumptions and behaviors, you are poised for productive collaboration.  

What We See

People who collaborate effectively are actively engaged with others to co-create the time, space, and purpose for working together.  They share responsibility for hosting explicit processes to achieve desired outcomes. These include:  co-investment, integrated conversations, deep shared purpose, and uniting design.  We call this collaborative co-hosting. Here is a brief description of what these ideas mean:

Co-investment. People in effective collaboration come to the table with the attitude of a co-investor. Co-investors who take responsibility for process and outcomes, and want to bring all their available resources to the table. Collaborative co-investors look for opportunities to learn and grow, share their capacities, and see greater potential. It is possible to increase the effectiveness of any collaborative group by recognizing evidence of co-investment and reinforcing it.

Integrated Conversations. Collaboration is strongest if people who don’t typically interact with people in different sectors of a given system have small-group conversations that overlap with other small group conversations that build to whole group conversations, and continuously engage with each other through all phases of work. The behavior seems to maintain the flow of information throughout the system, which helps inform decisions at the core, in nodes (small groups), and at the periphery (with those people loosely involved, on the front lines, or highly impacted). And it makes it possible for decisions to be made at the most appropriate level, by informed and trusted individuals, pairs, or groups.  

Deep(er) Shared Purpose. There is nothing that motivates a diverse groups and individuals to collaborate more than identifying a deep shared purpose. Co-hosts create the opportunity to find and name a deeper shared purpose.  They welcome others who connect with that purpose.  They invite the contribution of each individual’s own purpose to the shared purpose, and the contribution of their unique capacities to the collaboration.

Uniting Design. Co-hosts design interactions and activities to unite, connect, reinforce, and reciprocate contributions of others sharing the deep shared purpose. They create the space to build trust, and see, with others, who their efforts can benefit. The collaboration focuses on learning together by seeing possibilities, testing them, and learning from the successes and failures.  More than looking for the one right answer to all of the problems, the focus is on continuously exploring the next step to generate common understanding of the subject.  And they contribute to others, to create a “whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

What We Do Instead

Even though most of us know how to co-host collaboration, we tend to overlook the potential, learning and growth, and unique capacities in ourselves, in others, and in whole groups.  Instead we focus on outcomes, attributing direct cause and claiming credit. What results did the work produce? Who gets acknowledged? The common practice—to directly associate an action to its outcome—tries to isolate one dimension, or one data point, at a time. At best, the use of logic models, good strategic planning, assessment, and evaluation of isolated data falls far short of what is needed to effectively change a complex system, and often lead to unintended consequences.

Instead of making explicit the group’s deep shared purpose and core values, we tend to focus on the values of one or a few key stakeholders, subordinating all others, often unconsciously.  We too often attribute value to a single success factor, a preferred group, or ultra-individualism in the name of freedom, to the exclusion of seeing and valuing the rest.

Why We Do This

Research shows two dominant reasons for why we continue to do this. We do not recognize scarcity-based assumptions that are embedded in the system and limit our ability to see other possibilities. We unconsciously accept that our world has scarce resources, and thus see scarcity in our life, at work, with strangers, friends, and family. This is just the way it is: there is not enough to go around, and we have to compete with others for what little there is.  Our research, based on an Agreements Health Check survey (http://instituteforstrategicclarity.org/take-the-survey/) with responses from 124 countries, shows that people unconsciously accept and selectively see scarcity.

We also tend to accept that most of our environments are energy depleting. Research in sociology shows us that underlying agreements of how we treat each other are deeply embedded in our social systems, which makes them very hard to see.  For example, we tend to design our companies hierarchically for efficiency. We measure efficiency by the value of outputs earned from the cost of inputs. We seek efficiency to maximize profitability for shareholders.  And we accept maximizing shareholder values over other stakeholders, because the current system is designed for shareholders to decide who has access to their capital. We have accepted an agreement that capital is the most important resource, over all else. Most of us are not aware that these are only agreements, and these agreements and their consequences are embedded in the current system. They exist only because we have unconsciously accepted that this is the way it is, and by doing so, we miss the opportunity to create something different.  While most agreements that exist today simplified reality to so that we could achieve the great contributions to society of the past two centuries, these same, simplifying  agreements now limit the capacity of our society to make the next step many collaborative efforts seek.  With gratitude we acknowledge where we have been and step towards where we need to be.

We Can Build Other Agreements

We have the ability to shift our reality.  When we recognize the agreements underpinning current reality, we can shift them. For example, we can build new agreements about what types of resource and collective potential are available to work with. We can choose who makes decisions. We can choose what values we base our decisions on and how we enforce them.  We can choose how we interact with others.  

We can choose the benefits of co-hosting collaboration.  We can shift from old agreements to collaborative agreements.  Following is a guide we have developed, based on our experience to date, to  assess and strengthen strategic, systems-changing collaboration.

Assessing Collaborative Strength

Collaborators’ Basics

Value Is there evidence that collaborators… Evidence
1 Co-investment
  • Bring a variety of resources  to the table
  • Invest in their own development
  • Tap into their full potential
  • All collaborators co-invest
  • Co-investors bring full complement of their resources: their capacities, their learning, and their potential
  • Clear model of Return on co-investment, from greater impact and resilience, for each co-investor
2 Integrated conversations
  • Integrate the parts of the system through overlapping conversations, where representatives from one conversation are part of another
  • In and across the parts and phases of work
  • Information flows through their system, intentionally and fluidly informing decisions
  • Decisions are made at appropriate levels, by trusted individuals, pairs of individuals, or groups
  • Structure of integrated conversations directly related to the deeper shared purpose
  • Clear structures and processes for continuous information flow through integrated conversations
  • Clarity of what perspectives need to be in each conversation
  • Participants demonstrate 100% responsibility for being prepared and engaging in each conversation
  • Rapid learning and adaptation within and across integrated conversations
3 Deeper shared purpose
  • Identify the deeper purpose that motivates action
  • Invite others motivated by the purpose to contribute what is unique and specific for that purpose
  • Statement of deeper shared purpose that deeply motivates co-investors
  • Direct connection of each integrated conversation to the deeper shared purpose
  • Clarity in each integrated conversation of how it is connected to and furthering the deeper shared purpose
4 Uniting design
  • Design interactions and activities to unite
  • Design to reinforce unique contributions of each person towards the purpose
  • Clarity of specific, unique contributions needed for each integrated conversation
  • Each integrated conversation inquires into and brings out the best of needed  perspectives

Why Utopias Go Nowhere in The Circle

Utopias, places where everything is perfect, are not real.  They are to be found nowhere, which is the etymology of the word utopia, from the Greek ou “not” + topos “place” or nowhere.  The recent movie The Circle suggests a utopian solution, where everything is designed to be nice.  Like many utopian designs, the basic premise is seductive, everything can be perfect, if everyone can just be…

In The Circle, everyone is supposed to contribute to the group.  If you can just do that, it will all work out.  Like most other social designs, this utopia focuses on one of the five primary relationships, the relationship to the group, assuming that if you do that well, then the other four primary relationships (self, other, nature, spirit) will somehow work out.  In The Circle, they imply that they are working on all five primary relationships by measuring the impact you have in each.  You have a scorecard, which everyone can see.  They measure how you express your own creativity with a self score (relationship to self), how you support others with a service score (relationship to other), how creative you are in finding solutions with an innovation score (relationship to nature), and how much you access the creative source with smiles (relationship to spirit).  It is all measured and in a scorecard.  All five primary relationships, measured continuously, giving you instant feedback on how healthy you are in the vibrancy of your five primary relationships.  That should work, right?  And, as the movie unfolds (spoiler alert), it does not work.  Why?

The utopia always focuses on one to two primary relationships, then either ignores the other three to four primary relationships or tries to fit them into the first one to two.  This is where the centripetal forces of The Circle’s utopia collapse it in on itself.  The design of The Circle is based on “the push.”  The principles of measurement focus on pushing you away from the centripetal forces of deep scarcity, away from low levels of vibrancy experienced in each of the five primary relationships.  Through measurement, they show you where you are on the continuum from weak to strong in each of the five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit).  Through the ecosynomic lens, it has to be based on a push, a push away from scarcity, because it is primarily based on one of the five primary relationships–the relationship to the group–masking the other four (self, other, nature, spirit) as expressions of the group.  Express yourself, for the health of the group.  Support others, for the health of the group.  Be creative, for the health of the group.  This is a scarcity-plus move. This move assumes that people are based in scarcity, and it tries to control or measure the scarcity out of them.  The lead actor receives lots of feedback, the second she engages, about how poorly she is doing at being vibrant, in multiple ways.  A key lesson here is that you cannot achieve higher levels of impact resilience and vibrancy through a push, a scarcity-plus move.  The centripetal forces of collapse, back to the center, are too strong.

Does this mean that there is nowhere to go, is everywhere a nowhere, a utopia?  Our research at the Institute for Strategic Clarity of the past two decades suggests that there is a somewhere to go, a now here, instead of a nowhere.  In beginning to map the global social topography of human agreements, my colleagues and I have found hundreds of examples all around the world of people that are beginning to find their own “now here.”  They are not in the middle of nowhere, rather right in the middle of now here.  What are they discovering that enables them to live in the outer circles of vibrancy in all five primary relationships on a sustainable basis?  The pull.  They have discovered how to connect to the pull, the force that pulls people towards a desired future to which they give their will.  We find this pull is connected with a deeper shared purpose that draws people together.  It accesses a seemingly infinite source of potential, of creative energy.  Within the pull, people work with tangibilization power, continuously learning and evolving, seeing potentials, discovering pathways of relationships and capacities to manifest that potential energy, and then experiencing the outcomes of those pathways, adjusting what is seen in potential and the pathways to be used.  Learning and evolving, which is nature’s process.

From the pull, they are uncovering more robust forms for realizing, making real, each of the five primary relationships.  In the relationship to the self, you find your own individual initiatory development of free expression, which only you can see for yourself.  Nobody else can dictate, like in The Circle, what your initiatory path of development is and how to express your own self.  In relationship to the other, justice as fairness supports each uniquely constituted and contextualized self equally.  In the relationship to the group, each individual is invited to contribute their unique expression in the self-other-whole relationship to the group.  In the relationship to nature, one learns to witness, through self awareness and with support from the other and the group, how to improve one’s capacity to tangibilize potential through pathways of relationships and capacities into outcomes.  And, in the relationship to spirit, groups are learning how to connect to their pull, their source of creativity.

Through the pull, it seems that it is indeed possible to find yourself now here.  Through the push, it seems that you end up nowhere.  The Circle shows what happens when you try the push method.  The O Process shows what groups have learned about working with the pull.

e3 (eCubed) = Everyone Everywhere Everyday

Almost every form of wellbeing measured today finds success for some people in some places some of the time.  Income, happiness, health.  Some have it, some of the time, and most do not, most of the time.

In all of our work in the past ten years, my colleagues and I hear over and over again the desire to shift the experience and outcomes in systems for everyone everywhere everyday, throughout whatever system it is.  The energy sovereignty of Vermont, a cancer-free economy in the USA, retrofitting the building stock of Europe, healthy communities in Mexico, generative building in South Africa.  We start with the knowing that we have to figure out how to achieve resilient impact for everyone everywhere in the system everyday.  And, we usually end up settling for most people in most places in the system most of the time.
While mostly successful in these earlier efforts, it is time we take on the bigger challenges of reaching everyone everywhere everyday, where E * E * E = 1.0.  It is time.  This means that to reach 100% overall, we have to reach 100% resilient impact, which requires that we reach everyone (E1 = 100%) everywhere (E2 = 100%) everyday (E3 = 100%).  E^3 or eCubed = 100% = 1.0.
To reach E^3 = 1.0, we have to evolve in our practice and in our understanding of the human being.  We have to learn what works and what does not.  We have to inquire into what it is, what causes it, and what its consequences are.
  • Desired consequences. What are the impacts we desire?  To determine this, we already have tools to explore the impact we want to have and how to achieve resilience in that impact. We can start with: (1) impact resilience measurement; and (2) the Vibrancy Move Process, which uses the reference behavior pattern and O Process tools to determine the gap between what we know is available and what we are currently experiencing.
  • Specification. What is E^3?  How is it different from the current solutions that satisfy many people in many places much of the time?  What does this expanded specification require us to understand?  We already have examples around the globe of people who are beginning to figure out E^3=1.0 solutions.  We are also learning how to learn from their abundance-based solutions.
  • Antecedents. What are the drivers of E^3=1.0?  We have some insights into the differences in agreements fields between solutions that work for some, those that work for many, and those that work for everyone.  Agreements Fields Mapping (pactoecography) helps us describe and understand what resilient impacts we want as humanity, why we want them for everyone everywhere everyday, and how to find the groups that are beginning to figure out the how, how to learn from and with them, and how to see what is next, to achieve E^3 = 1.0.

Figuring this out requires a movement, a global effort to understand how to reach globally local solutions that work for everyone everywhere everyday.  The next frontier. Several efforts are being made with different expressions, from isolated efforts to flocking networks.  Our own efforts in this emerging movement are supported by the Global Pactoecographic Covenant through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience.  As humanity we have the resources, the tools, the knowhow to make the shift, from E^3<<1.0 to E^3=1.0.  We owe it to ourselves and to the resilience of our future.  We owe it to you, and we need you to engage, to bring what you see and what you learn about how to achieve resilient impacts for everyone, everywhere, everyday.  Join our covenant to serve this purpose, to make eCubed = 100%.

Invention of the Modern Mind — Recommended Reading

Makari, George. Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind. 2015, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

What am I as a human being?  What is it to be human?  I find that most of us ask those questions all of the time, thinking that we never ask them.  We often say that these are philosophical questions, of little interest to pragmatic people in the real world.  And, I find that we each carry a picture, often implicitly accepted from someone else, of what we are as humans.  This picture of the human being underpins everything in all of our agreements, whether we have consciously chosen these agreements or unconsciously accepted them.

I have been exploring many different perspectives on this question over the past few years.  These perspectives are fascinating and I find many of them to be very seductive, pulling me into their orbits and convincing me of their perspective; until I dive into the next one.  The realization of this exploratory confusion in me led me to begin to look for people who have mapped the topography of these explorations.

One of the most helpful mappings I have found of this huge space is George Makari‘s Soul Machine, “an attempt to untangle [the apparent] contradictions [amongst these perspectives] by returning to their origins…The emergence of the mind as a formative, if always embattled, belief, cannot be understood outside this historical context…this book recovers a lost lineage, parts of which have been long discarded as embarrassing, wrongheaded, or irrelevant” (pp. xi-xii).  In the question of what is it to be human, Makari explores the evolution of our understanding of the mind (from PIE root *men- (1) “to think”), what is it that we experience that thinks?

“While our own psyches seem abundantly clear to us, attempts to objectively establish their existence have been mired in seemingly insoluble problems.  And so, while the mind remains central to 21-century Western thought, a number of prominent neuroscientists and philosophers inform us that it surely does not exist” (p x).

“The invention of the mind was not the result of sedate academic debate.  The mind was a radically destabilizing, heretical idea that grew out of intense, often violent conflict.  Far from being a story of scholarship alone, this history begins and ends in bloodshed.  Characters in this account include thinkers writing at their desks, but also wild-eyed prophets, doctors whose space rooms were littered with carcasses, political spies, bitter refugees, witches, quacks, and pornographers.  This story takes place in universities, courts, hospitals, London coffeehouses and Paris salons, but also on battlefields, in lunatic asylums, poorhouses, and prisons.  For better or worse, advocates and enemies of the mind were not sequestered in their studies.  Often they could be found at the barricades” (p xi).

“Once modernity gave birth to the theory of an embodied mind, the implications were grave.  If it wasn’t the soul but rather a fallible mind that made men and women think, choose, and act as thy did, then long-standing beliefs were erroneous.  Convictions regarding truth and illusion, innocence and guilt, health and illness, the rulers and the ruled, and the roles of the individual in society would need to change.  Not surprisingly, therefore, from its inception this concept was considered scandalous.  Early advocates surrounded themselves in clouds of ambiguity; they published anonymously and when discovered, quickly fled from red-faced censors and mobs.  Monarchs and theologians decried these heretics and roused their forces against them” (p xii).

This big book of over 600 pages chronicles this human exploration in the Western world over centuries, diving deep into the context of many of these explorers.  Wading through it over the past month has given me much greater context for the Western explorers I have been reading, such as Thomas Hobbes, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, John Locke, Adam Smith, David Hume, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant.  It is very interesting to see how they all fit into overlapping contexts with each other.  I highly recommend this deep dive, for those of you who like to dive deep.  It could also serve you if you want to take a quick dive into the context of specific developers of our existing understanding of the mind.

Hidden Bugs, Hidden Agreements

Like when germ theory replaced miasma theory, the intuition was right, the deeper cause was hidden.  It is in the environment, just not the way miasma theorists thought it was.  New technology made it visible, the microscope.

Likewise, low engagement, low creativity, and higher returns from automation are all signs, correctly interpreted, of a deeper, hidden problem.  Like bugs–the hidden germs and the “undocumented features” in software–the hidden agreements are there too.  These bugs embedded in the social soup, like germ-bugs and software-bugs, can be exposed, understood, and chosen.

The intuition about what to do is relatively right, the understanding of what drives it is being updated.  The bugs are no longer hidden, with the right technology.  The bugs in our agreements no longer need to be hidden either.  We have the technology to see them, and to choose our relationship to them.