2 Insights That Rocked My World in 2018

Looking back on 2018, there were two insights that changed how I see everything.  First, everything we need, for that which is in front of us to do, is already right here, available right now.  Second, the people who are figuring this out are no longer just the lucky, weird few; there are lots of them everywhere.

FREEE energy is everywhere.  The energy we need to do whatever we can imagine is right here right now, right in front of us, and it is FREEE.  The amount of energy each human being releases  in any given moment is huge, and our current forms of engaging it are very weak.  They don’t have to be.  We can learn from social experimenters who are learning how to engage people in purposes and processes, consciously choosing collaborative agreements that release this massive energy available, transforming it and transferring it into a far greater impact with far greater resilience.  It just depends on what you give your energy to.  The tools of pactoecography let us see this energy, where it is, how it is released, how it is transformed, and how it is transferred.

Positive ecosynomic deviants are no longer deviants.  They are now normal.  15 years ago I was able to find only a few, seemingly rare groups that were working with abundance-based principles for how they approached life and the impact they wanted to have together.  Today I see them everywhere, and lots of people are talking about them.  I will be co-investing in 2019 with the Global Pactoecographic Collaborative to map the social topography of the planet, through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience.  We know about the topography of the Earth’s geology and biology: now it’s time to understand the topology of human agreements.  What do they look like around the world, at their best and at their normal?  Where can we learn from deep and successful human experimentation in healthy agreements?  Let’s see.

We have the energy we need, and lots of people are figuring this out.  Let’s get with it.

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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.

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.

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.

Shocking News! How We Treat Other Beings Might Influence What We Find

Connecting three dots.

  1. Vast amounts of people, globally, are disengaged at work.
  2. Some people are highly engaged at work, and get far better results, sustainably.
  3. Treating lab animals poorly seems to be decreasing experimental reproducibility of science.

In a piece just out in the prestigious academic journal ScienceStanford University researcher Joseph Garner suggests, “We’re trying to control these animals so much, they’re no longer useful…If we want animals to tell us about stuff that’s going to happen in people, we need to treat them more like people.”  Seeing how most people treat other people in the workplace (see earlier reference to the vastly disengaged workforce), maybe these scientists are arguing that people should treat lab animals better than most people treat people.

If the challenge with lab animals is how to ensure that the animals being tested are in similar conditions, to maximize reproducibility, thus the desire to minimize the number of variables in their living environment, might the challenge with how to treat people also extend beyond energy-depleting cubicle farms?

If nobody had ever tried to figure out how to treat lab animals well AND get good, reproducible results, and if nobody had ever tried to figure out how to celebrate the creative contributions of every individual in a group, then we would really be in deep trouble.  What to do?  Fortunately, there are many people who are figuring this out, and they have been for decades.  We just need to find them and to understand what they are doing.  This is the next frontier for science, at least with people.  How do we need to understand human interactions and human agreements to be able to find, study, and share what those on the forefront are learning.  They experience what we want to experience.  Let’s find them.

The Future Is Already Here

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” said cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson.

Prolific management author Peter Drucker observed, in October 1989 in The Economist, “The trends that I have described..are not forecasts (for which I have little use and scant respect); they are, if you will, conclusions.  Everything discussed here has already happened; it is only the full impacts that are still to come. I expect most readers to nod and to say, ‘Of course’.  But few, I suspect, have yet asked themselves: ‘What do these futures mean for my own work and my own organisation?'”

McGill University professor Elena Bennett has found over 500 vibrant social initiatives, which her lab describes as “seeds.” “Seeds are existing initiatives that are not widespread or well-known. They can be social initiatives, new technologies, economic tools, or social-ecological projects, or organisations, movements or new ways of acting that..appear to be making a substantial contribution towards creating a future that is just, prosperous, and sustainable.”

Through the Institute for Strategic Clarity‘s fieldwork in 39 countries and survey research in 124 countries over the past decade, my colleagues and I have identified 457 highly vibrant groups.  We have worked with 149 of them.

The point is that the seeds of our future are already here.  People are figuring out how to live and interact in ways that are more consistent with their own values, their own deeper shared purpose, developing energy-enhancing solutions that result in much greater impact resilience.  The Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience (MEDIR), working with community leaders, academic institutions, networks, and consultancies around the globe, is (1) identifying these seeds of the future that are already here, and (2) developing agreements field mapping (pactoecographic) frameworks, lenses, and processes to understand what people all over the world are learning about making vibrant, energy-enhancing, culturally-relevant choices within their local contexts.  Learning with and from people who are already figuring out parts of the “how to” can accelerate our capacity to find high impact-resilience solutions, solutions that work for everyone, everywhere in our systems, everyday.  That future that we prefer is already here.  The task now is to find it.

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.

How Do We Figure Out How To Pay Attention To The Needs of Everyone Everywhere Every Day?

Everyone has a different genotype. Therefore, for optimal development..everyone should have a different environment,” according to James M Tanner, an expert on body growth and development  (JM Tanner, Foetus into Man, 1990, Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, p.120).  According to Wikipedia, the genotype is the part of the genetic makeup of a cell, which determines a specific characteristic (phenotype) of that cell/organism/individual. Genotype is one of three factors that determine phenotype, the other two being inherited epigenetic factors, and non-inherited environmental factors.  Not all organisms with the same genotype look or act the same way because appearance and behavior are modified by environmental and developmental conditions. Likewise, not all organisms that look alike necessarily have the same genotype.

In other words, we are all different, so the environment we each have, the systems and agreement structures that support each of us and we each support, should be designed to meet each of us.  Well, that seems like a hard problem to solve.

It seems really hard to figure out how to meet everyone’s needs all of the time.  Philosophers have been worrying about this for thousands of years.  Is it better to let everyone figure this out for themselves, which free-market philosophers love, or is it better to calculate the best good for the most, which utilitarian-collectivist philosophers love, or is it best to make sure everyone gets the same treatment, whether it is great, good, or not so good, which egalitarian-justice philosophers love?  While they all acknowledge that it would be better to satisfy everyone everywhere all of the time, it is just too hard to do, so they have developed self-acknowledged, suboptimal solutions, for which they have to make some rather radical simplifying assumptions.  Well, they say, it works for many folks much of the time, which is better than nothing.

Maybe it is time to let go of this assumption that it is too hard to do.  We have placed the robot Philae on a comet and the New Horizons probe has passed Pluto, while still sending back data and pictures over a very long distance.  We have grown the world economy to over US$100 trillion, we generate about 4 billion tonnes of food a year, and we have created a network of roads extending over 20 million miles across the globe.  These are amazing accomplishments, which we have achieved because people set themselves to figuring it out: they made it important.  It was very hard to figure out, and they did.  It took 100 years for a lot of people to figure out how to test part of Einstein’s theory of relativity, but they did, and for that some of them won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.

So if we can figure out these things, why can’t we figure out how to understand the needs of 7.6 billion people?  They are right here, and we can ask. Maybe it is because we don’t think it is important enough to figure out.  Maybe it is time we do, and maybe we now have many of the tools we will need to do so.  And maybe some people are starting to figure this out, and we should find out what they are learning.  We could start by understanding the memetic code of the agreements fields that most influence each of us, and then, like the influence of the genotype, epigenetic, and environmental factors, we could begin to understand the evolution of the metamemetics and epimemetics of the agreements fields that most influence each of us–how we unconsciously accept and consciously choose the interwoven set of mostly hidden agreements that most influence each of us.  That might be a good start, one we could take now.

Guest Post — Co-hosting a National Conference on Healthy Community

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo JimenezGlobal Steward Vibrancy Ins

A group of colleagues and I recently co-hosted a national gathering of Anthroposophical initiatives in Mexico, working directly with the choosing of human agreements, for the individual and the community, deeply informed from the ecosynomic view of social three-folding. This is part of a larger Global Initiative supported by the Institute for Strategic Clarity and its co-investors in universities, communities, and organizations in 12 countries. The gathering was a continuum of the 2016 gathering exploring social three-folding. In the attached 7-page briefing of the gathering (click here), I explore:

  • the story behind the manifestation
  • the inspiration for the design
  • why it was ecosynomics
  • how it was anthroposophical
  • the flow of the experience
  • the organizing team nurturing the experience

 

Guest Post — Prototyping an Abundance-based, Virtual, Learning Environment

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo JimenezGlobal Steward Vibrancy Ins

Inspired to design a prototype of an abundance-based, virtual, learning environment, a question came to me.  How could I expand the opportunities to nourish and grow the potential of the Vibrancy community through building capacity and understanding?  The exploration went from an inventory of knowledge to a pre-design of what would be inside multiple levels of understanding.  But, that did not seem like it was enough.  More questions emerged about how to design similar environments for other abundance-based.

The exploration went from a possibility to a probability when the UMA (Universidad del Medio Ambiente in Valle de Bravo, Mexico) opened the door to hold this program within the university’s virtual platform. So, in that moment the support of a university that had both a very well designed virtual platform and a beautiful campus that could support this prototype came into the picture.

So, what happened? The next question arose: How to build a virtual learning environment that could nourish the space for building deep understanding of what it means to co-host transformations?  And, to be more ambitious, how could that be scaled in a relatively easy way in a second iteration? We did not really know if this would interest people, although an attractive feature for the potential participants was that at the end they would receive a diploma from the UMA and the certification from the Vibrancy community.

The design is a journey of six months with a deep focus on experience and application to real cases. Half of the 110 hours required the participants to make applications, reflections, exercises and integration of learnings in documents. Six months seems to be a fair amount of time to build up maturity of knowledge, and give the opportunity to implement and apply tools and exercises in real case studies with real communities. Seeing this as a possibility for scaling globally, I decided to launch it in a mostly virtual format.

And then more and more questions arose; questions around how to build understanding about the what, how and when of the application of the tools and methodologies. But that was a dispassionate purpose for me, and I felt that there was not real aligned with the intention of the first question I was asking. So, I kept on asking myself what was the specific purpose for this prototype. And then, it came to me: the purpose was “to be at the service of each participant to become more of who they really are.” That purpose holds the first intention, for me, unleashing the potential of the Vibrancy community in its ability to unleash the potential of humanity, unleashing each person’s potential for holding the abundance framework every time they choose. In that moment, I knew everything was ready and in place for this to happen because I saw something I could dearly commit to.

So far I can see two very different sets of learnings: one about the design phase to manifest the program; and the second about the first two months of the journey.

For the design phase, I want to share two things I learned:

  1. Sit in the question to clarify the different levels of the purpose. I went from the purpose of how to expand the capacity of the Vibrancy community to the purpose of being at the service of each participant’s potential. Each purpose is perfectly fine for the level they were thought of, one was at the level of a global question and the other was at the level of the specific design of the prototype. Both are important and both are relevant for the conversations that are already happening and the ones that will be happening for the exploration of the next expression of this prototype.
  2. Be conscious of the endless journey through the O Process. Going from the purpose to possibilities and probabilities felt different when I was moving more and more into the concrete expression for a specific prototype. I knew that the more detailed levels of the purpose are invoking a bigger gesture for the bigger question and that made me hold the purpose with a different awareness.

In the first two months of the journey, here is what I have learned so far:

  1. Be very clear about the invitation. This was an invitation to explore this journey together.  All participants in the journey know that it is the first one in this format and completely in Spanish.  They also know that the invitation requires several hours of self-study, application and reflection besides the virtual and face to face session.
  2. Be conscious of what you are invoking and invite each participant to do the same. Do not be afraid to share the deeper purpose!
  3. Use the sense of harmony, intensively. The design of each session calls for a very active listening from me, with all my senses, and being able to design each session with what is emerging. Do not misunderstand me. I have a lot of clarity about the purpose and about what they need to learn, but I have discovered and learned how to flow with the rhythm of the group to introduce concepts, exercises and challenges at the pace they can take on, depending on what they are sharing in their individual assignments.
  4. Hold us all as Homo lumens. I can see each one of them as Homo lumens with enormous potential. I am amazed with the group and who they are.  And, I see myself as someone who can hold the space for them to explore their own potential.
  5. Live it as a constant prototype. The space is co-designed, co-built, and co-hosted together. This has happened in two levels: 1) with others that want to be in the conversation of how to explore environments for building understanding; and 2) using the sense of harmony I shared before.
  6. Design the assignments as a key for the virtual space. I have spent a lot of time imagining the kind of experience I would like them to have between sessions and what kind of assignment would be just enough to stretch them a little bit each time. I am the vehicle designing the underlying structure, the participants are taking up the heavy lifting, through their will, into the doing. One of the participants shared that they needed to do an exercise of honesty with themselves to really get into the assignments, and that is not easy sometimes.

So far, the journey has been delightful. We have been together for 14 hours in virtual sessions, and I am impressed with the pace of the group. Some of them are getting to very deep reflections that we never saw before in such a short time. Some of them are already venturing into actively working with specific tools and methods in different groups.  We are all already looking forward to being together in person at the end of the six months. There is already a feeling of being close to each other. At the end, they will write up case studies and they will synthetize what they have learned in their applications, and I am curious to see how this will happen.

You can enter into a little piece of the concrete prototype design through the PDF presentation, where you can find the timeline and the sharing of some of the reflections the participants are having together. I will be sharing more reflections about the journey along the way, so stay tuned.