Choosing Our Agreements, Consciously — 4 Quotes

A core tenet of my work is that we unconsciously accept most of the agreements that fundamentally influence our experience and our outcomes, and that it is possible to see these agreements and to consciously choose them.  In my recent readings, I came across some quotes looking at this choice.

Nobel laureate in literature, George Bernard Shaw, in Maxims for Revolutionists, wrote, The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Once British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, in Lothair, wrote, “Action may not always be happiness,..but here is no happiness without action.”  I suggest that choice might not always bring happiness, but there is no resilient capacity for happiness or wellness, however one defines it for oneself, without conscious choice.

Nobel laureate in physics, Richard Feynman, in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, wrote, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool” (p 343).  To be okay with unconsciously accepting the agreements that most influence your experience and outcomes is to give over the power of your will, your future, to someone else.

In his bestselling The 4-Hour Workweek, a manifesto on rethinking our basic agreements about working and living, Timothy Ferriss observes, “If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work” (p 30).  Just because everyone seems to accept a set of agreements, consciously or unconsciously, does not mean that these agreements actually lead to the experience and outcomes they say they do or that these agreements are right for you.  To know that, you have to ask the question.

A hat tip to Timothy Ferriss for these four quotes.


Seeing Agreements — What Does Wisdom Suggest?

The agreements we make, consciously or unconsciously, greatly influence our experience, as we have explored in previous blog posts.  Agreements based on scarcity lead to the experience of scarcity.  Agreements based on abundance lead to the experience of abundance.  If we experience both, as everyone I have met suggests we do, then it must be a matter of seeing the agreements and choosing the ones we prefer.  Looking to what wisdom says about seeing agreements, I share six quotes.  Please share any you have as comments here.

  • The search for an explanation often begins when we notice that something is different, unusual, or wrong. Usually, it takes an unexpected event to pique our curiosity. Hillel J. Einhorn and Robin M. Hogarth.
  • The brain apparently makes no distinction between the image seen by the eye and the various details it has filled in. We are all unaware of the significant blind spot in our eye at the point where the optical nerve enters. The brain makes a guess at what should be there, fills in the missing gap and it all looks quite consistent.  Yoram (Jerry) Wind, Colin Crook, Robert Gunther.
  • The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw.
  • We don’t have enough time to do it right; just enough time to do it over. Senior Executive of a Global Fortune 1000 company.
  • It is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behavior. Stratford Sherman and Alyssa Freas.
  • If you want to change how people think, give them a tool the use of which will lead them to think differently. Buckminster Fuller.


Levels of Perceived Reality — Advice from 3 Sages

When we look at the reality we experience as human beings, we perceive a vast richness of possibility, development and change over time, and the things we have right here.  When we make economic agreements, we tend to collapse the reality we perceive down to the things-noun we see right here right now.  Three sages offer advice on this.

  • The source of all our problems today comes from the gap between how we think and how nature works.  Gregory Bateson.
  • A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Lewis Galantiere.
  • Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. Robert Fulghum.

If you know of similar advice, please share it here with your comments.

Transforming Light to Verb to Noun — Three Quotes

Human existence, in the reality we experience in possibility, in developing and learning over time, and in the right-here-right-now, provides the opportunity to transmute possibility-light into development-verb into things-noun, a transformation we have highlighted in previous posts.  Here I include three quotes pointing at this transformational experience.

  • One of the secrets of life is to make stepping-stones out of stumbling blocks.  Jack Penn
  • I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.  George Burns
  • There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.  Leonard Cohen

What quotes do you have that bring out this point?

Values — 5 Quotes

“Values are what we care about.  As such, values should be the driving force for our decisionmaking.  They should be the basis for the time and effort we spend thinking about decisions.  But this is not the way it is.  It is not even close to the way it is.”  (Ralph L. KeeneyValue-Focused Thinking, 1992, Harvard University Press, p. 3).

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.”  (attributed to Elvis Presley)

“Each of us knows exactly one mind from the inside, and no two of us know the same mind from the inside. No other kind of thing is known about in that way.”  (Daniel C. Dennett, 1996, Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness, New York: Basic Books, 3.)

“Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.”  (Charles M. Shulz).

“Without question, the most abundant, least expensive, most underutilized, and constantly abused resource in the world is human ingenuity.” (Dee Hock, 2005, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, Berrett-Koehler, 55.)