Your Wishes Come True

“That’s what humans never understand…They’re so seduced by the material world, they think that’s what’s real.  But all the things they touch and see and measure, they’re just—wishes come true.  The reality is the wishing.  The desire.  The only things that are real are beings who wish.”

— Orson Scott Card in Magic Street (2006 Ballantine Books, New York, p. 350)


To Be or Not to Be, Happy with Money, That Is the Question

Dunn, Elizabeth, & Norton, Michael. (2013). Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Most experiences of money do not increase happiness.  Some do.  So say 2002 Nobel laureate in economics Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues (Kahneman & Deaton, 2010; Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2006).  In their new book Happy Money (2013), professors Dunn and Norton show us the research that explains why.  From an Ecosynomics perspective, this research shows that happiness comes from the experience of potential and development and things, light and motion and matterthe interweaving experience of all three levels of perceived reality.  The lack of happiness comes from valuing only the things level of reality.  Dunn and Norton say it so well, that I use quotes from their book to explain the observation.

Only the Things Level.  What happens when people experience money only at the things-matter level? “Material purchases offer clear, concrete benefits, explaining their appeal.  We can see them in front of us and hold them in our hands” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, p. 22).  And the value we experience, in terms of increased happiness, fades quickly with material purchases.  In many cases, we derive more happiness from the anticipation of the purchase than the actual purchase.  “Why do we fail to recognize that consuming later can enhance enjoyment?  Research shows that when something nice is available immediately, the “power of now” dwarfs all else” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, p. 90).  “It’s difficult to overcome the power of now, but it’s possible to harness this force” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, pp. 102-103).

Both the Development and Things Levels.  What happens in experiential purchases (over time) versus material-transaction purchases, when both the development and things levels of reality are perceived?  “Research shows that satisfaction with experiential purchases tends to increase with the passage of time, while satisfaction with material purchases tends to decrease” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, pp. 23-24).  “Because the benefits of experiences are often more abstract than the benefits of material goods, it’s easier to appreciate the value of experiential purchases with the psychological distance that time provides”  (Dunn & Norton, 2013, p. 23).

And the Possibility Level. “The ability to generate pleasant thoughts about the future is a hallmark of psychological health…Anticipating good things produces a distinct pattern of neural activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to the experience of pleasure and reward” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, p. 82; Knutson & Peterson, 2005, p. 310).  “The same region of the brain that responds when we anticipate something good (the nucleus accumbens) loses interest once we’ve gotten it” (Dunn & Norton, 2013, p. 86; Knutson & Peterson, 2005, p. 310).

The authors suggest five principles of happy money, making choices about how we spend money on experiences we have in all three levels of perceived reality (possibility, development, things), and not just the things level.  They provide the research that shows these five principles will increase the happiness we derive from the use of our money.  I highly recommend Happy Money as a very accessible journey through the research that shows how to get the most value of one’s experiences around money.


Kahneman, Daniel, & Deaton, Angus. (2010). High Income Improves Evaluation of Life But Not Emotional Well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(38), 16489-16493.

Kahneman, Daniel, Krueger, Alan B, Schkade, David, Schwarz, Norbert, & Stone, Arthur A. (2006). Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer?  A Focusing Illusion. Science, 312(5782), 1908-1910.

Knutson, Brian, & Peterson, Richard. (2005). Neurally Reconstructing Expected Utility. Games and Economic Behavior, 52(2), 305-315.

Did you say, “Leading through Listening”?

To lead I must tell you where I am going, right?  Otherwise, how can you follow?

Earlier this week, I had a direct experience of a leader’s role in the harmony experienced in a group.  In an earlier post, I talked about the harmony experienced.  Today I focus on the leader’s role.

Maestro Nierenberg showed us that while talking has its role in leadership, listening has a much deeper and more impactful role.  He distinguishes three kinds of listening: what does not work; what does work; and what could be.  You can listen for what does not work, pointing out what needs to be corrected.  This works best for identifying little changes that might become important.  You can also listen for what does work, recognizing and acknowledging the capacities available in the group.  This listening shows the potential of the talent in front of you.  And, you can listen for what has not yet happened, envisioning what could happen.  This future-oriented listening clarifies your image of what could be.  As we experienced the results of these listenings, as they were reflected in the music that enveloped us from the orchestra he conducted, it became clear that each listening added value.  Maestro Niernberg ended by showing us what happened when he used all three, harmony and vibrancy.

From an Ecosynomics perspective, the Maestro is pointing at the way leaders relate to the three levels of perceived reality.  First of all, he suggests that listening is the high-leverage key for knowing what actually exists in the group.  Second, each listening corresponds roughly to a level of perceived reality.  Listening for the details in what does not work focuses on the things level of reality — what do we not have in the outcomes, yet?  Listening for what does work, the potential of the talent available in the group, focuses on the development level of reality — what capacities are we developing over time and how are we relating?  Listening for what could be looks directly at the possibility level of reality — what possibilities can we see?  Everyday experience suggests we interact routinely with all three.  The trick is how to work with all three at the same time, which we called either the path of enlightened things or grounded potential.  Through our direct experience in the room with the musicians, the Maestro showed that the best results come from working with all three, seeing what could be, and holding yourself and the group responsible for achieving that potential.

Organizing Human Interactions at the Possibility-Light Level

I suggested in earlier posts that anything that you manifest, that you make real, has gone through a light-verb-noun process.  Like I did with resources and value, we now want to see if you get to a different understanding of what you have learned about organizing, if you start from the light versus starting from the noun.  As I showed before, if you start from the light, you start with abundance and choose for what is manifested here and how.  If you start from the noun, you end up walled into starting with an assumption of scarcity, which will not allow you to get very far.  Now I will develop that understanding step by step.

Starting with the possibility-light level of organizing, from the level of infinite abundance, the why question focuses on choosing the highest level of harmonic vibrancy available.  You saw in the earlier chapters that people seek greater harmonic vibrancy.  When it is greater around you, you feel better.  You feel greater abundance in all dimensions of your experience.  And, when there is less harmonic vibrancy around you, you feel worse.  You experience greater scarcity.  The data that I will share in Part 3 shows that many groups around the world are finding sustainable ways to live out of greater harmonic vibrancy.  The secret they are finding is to make the harmonic vibrancy the why of their work.  And they find that, along the way, they are able to experience greater abundance in all factors of their life.  They say that they listen for the harmonic vibrancy, and the how and the what become relatively straightforward.  This is the same experience musicians share.

The how of organizing at the light level makes explicit the potential available to the individuals and the group in their interactions, strengthening the harmonic vibrancy experienced in each relationship (self, other, group, nature, spirit).  You use a term for this in your daily life, collaboration.  Collaboration is working in relationship to a greater why.

The what of light-level organizing is a set of incentives and structures that simultaneously address the group and individual perspectives of outcome/motivation and function/task.  The “inspirited” organization focuses on the growth of the harmonic vibrancy common to the group, as people experience it in the different relationships.  This seemingly simple focus wallops a huge punch.  It builds in structures of growth, stability, and health for all five relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit) with everyone that engages with the group.  These are critical processes defining the systems of political economy today that determine the organizing forms you use.[1]

There are significant costs to not organizing at the light level.  The lack of focus on harmonic vibrancy makes it harder to find those people most attracted to and able to contribute to the higher light in harmonic vibrancy.  This translates into the inability to attract high potential people to the group.  The best people attract the best relationships, so without them it is hard to attract high potential relationships.  Without the possibility-light-level of organizing, there is little time, energy, and space for emerging possibilities – people are too busy getting the work of today done.  This makes it difficult to find deeply inspiring innovations.  Even though the opportunities for constant and deep learning are always present, they are impossible to see without a focus on the light level.  Without high potential people, relationships, and innovations, it is hard to maintain immanence and thus sustainability becomes ever more difficult.  Another huge cost from not organizing at the light level is the misalignment of people’s motivations and the group’s organizing principle.  As I just suggested, the inspirited organization focuses on the growth of the harmonic vibrancy common to the group, as people experience it in the five primary relationships.  Without the possibility-light level of organizing, the inspirited organization becomes focused on specific processes and charters that cause many of the maladies you experience every day.  The next post, on the development-verb level of organizing, explores this.  These represent a very significant cost for most groups; costs which are easily avoidable and which many groups have figured out how to avoid.  They avoid these costs, not by working on minimizing them, rather by designing them out from the onset – the possibility-light level of organizing.

[1] Historian of economic thought Alessandro Roncaglia documents that, “Let us recall that ‘political economy’ is the term by which economic science was commonly designated, until Marshall shifted to the now dominant term ‘economics’; in contemporary economic literature, the term ‘political economy’ has been revived by those streams of research (such as the Marxists, the post-Keynesians, the Sraffians or neo-Ricardians) which lay stress on the social nature of economic activity” (Roncaglia, 2006, p. 53).  He is referring to Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), the very influential economics professor at University of Cambridge.

Possibility-Light Reality of Value

Now I will apply the three big value questions, which I discussed in the last three posts,  to the five relationships at the levels of perceived reality.  The figure below captures this.



In this post, I will start with the possibility-light level of reality of value.  You experience value in everything you do.  It is everywhere around you.  It is what drawls your attention.  It is the light that makes you smile, as it shows up in everything important to you.  It is what you see behind the physical and flowing state of everything with which you engage.  It is the possibility you see in each experience you choose.  From this perspective, you seek to maximize the possibility-light you experience.  You see the potential for this in the possibilities you face.

Value of exchange

If you seek to maximize this experience in your life, then you assess the value of the light you experience by how much it fills you.  As you have seen from the beginning chapter of this book, you know when you experience greater or lesser amounts of harmonic vibrancy in your life, and you want greater harmonic vibrancy.  At the possibility-light level, this is akin to your reason for existence, so asking the value of this exchange for you is odd.  Nonetheless, you know what you are ready to do and how important it is for you to experience this greater harmonic vibrancy.

You experience light-value in each of the primary relationships.  It is the gifts you see in your self, the possibilities that fill you.  It is the gifts you see in me, and who I can be.  You see it in who we can be, what we could achieve, the vibrancy we could experience through our contributions into the world.  It is presence of the majestic river and the life-energy you experience in the mountains and in being alive.  It is the experience of the infinite creativity and love in spirit.

Mode of exchange

At the light level, you exchange value through the mode of invitation.  An invitation is a curious phenomenon you experience daily.  An invitation requires intending to do something together with others, seeing another to engage with for that invitation, stepping towards that person and sharing that intention, and finally inviting them to participate.  You have to see the we, the other, and step towards the other to bring them into the we.  This is an invitation.  It engages cognition, relation, and volition.  Powerful stuff.  This is very different than wondering why nobody showed up for something you thought would be useful.  Why didn’t “they” do that?  To invite, to be invitational, you must start with yourself, see us in the future, and engage me.[1]

Distribution of value in exchange

Who gets what part of the value generated at the light level of value?  This question brings up the subsidiary questions of what is value and what does it mean to distribute infinite abundance?  You have already seen, from your own experience, that what you most value, at the light level, is always available everywhere at all time.  It is a matter, often a very difficult one, of seeing it.  Distributing that is then more a question of who chooses to see it, and less a question of who gets what was seen by someone else.  This is the realm most often experienced by those people that you think of as creative or lucky.  You give creative people license to live in the infinite possibility, as long as they share some of the fruits of that experience with us.  What they share from that experience opens up portals of experience for us, seeing beauty in things we seldom imagined.  It is a beautiful painting, a smile, an act of kindness, a party, a dinner, a musical moment, a belly-splitting joke – something pulled from a place of great beauty that we get to experience here.  The distributive question of who gets what part of the value generated, in this experience, suggests that it goes to all who participate to the degree of their participation.  The creative person experienced the most value, because through their volition they stepped into the infinite and played there.  The observer experiences value because of the portal they perceive through the creative act.  This is a direct experience of the light level of value, where who gets what is a matter of being, of who is being the light.  Interestingly, people who have this light experience of value more frequently tend to be called lucky.  They sure are lucky to get to have that experience.  Maybe when I retire, I too will be that lucky.  What we don’t see, when we call them lucky, is that we all have access to that, if we only choose.

Jumping ahead a little to give you the punch line, you can see why you experience the most value when you start from the light level and work your way through its transformation into verbs and nouns.  The distributive possibility in working at the light level of value is to experience the value at all three levels of perceived reality – light, verb, and noun.  This cannot be done if one starts from the noun level, as I will soon show you.  Starting from the light level, you experience the infinite possibilities and the power in being in relationship with what most fills you.  You can then choose to be in relationship with the development of specific dimensions of this infinite, experiencing the abundance in working with its development over time in many relationships.  This is also a direct experience of value, at the verb level.  Finally, you can choose the moment of overlapping verbs, to choose the noun level moment in space-time where the need is satisfied in an exchange.  You also perceive value in that exchange.  Thus, the point is that the value to distribute is much greater when you both recognize all three levels of value (light, verb, noun), and when you start from abundance instead of from scarcity.

The distributive question brings us to a moment of formal description of what is happening at the light level of value.  You have an experience of something that begins to fill you as you experience its greater possibility.  This simple description contains a formulation.  The something you experience changes.  It increases from one level (X1) to another (X2).  The difference you experience is the change in that something (dX).  The change you perceive happens through development over a period of time, from one time (t1) to another (t2).  The time elapsed between the two is the time to develop, in relationship, the new something you saw (dt).  In this development is all the possibility that you saw still living in what you saw (dp).  This leads to the formalization of the value experienced at the light level as:

Value(light) = dX/dt/dp

This formulation shows that whoever brings in more possibility at the light level, more development and relationship at the verb level, and more need-satisfaction at the noun level perceives more value.  This puts a premium, at the light level, in seeing the value, being the value, doing the value, and having the value – wealth comes from all four at the same time.  This is completely different than wealth coming from who has the most.

The possibility-light level also shows why the maxim of the one who gives the most, receives the most.  This maxim refers to the giving of the experience of the light value, in three different ways. First, to give of the light value, you have to be in the light value.  You have to be the creative person we just described, who lives in the space of the value potential.  Living in the relationship to the light level of value is where you receive great value.  Opening that experience to others, by giving more fully, opens you to that experience.  Second, you receive more fully by experiencing how the creative light manifests in others, those moments of creativity and possibility that so fill you.  The third way referred to by this maxim is more indirect.  As you open yourself to giving more fully, by our own relationship to the light level of value, you begin to experience it more fully everywhere.  Thus, giving more fully opens up three doors to value, through you own direct experience in the giving, through the direct experience in the other, and through the broader experience everywhere around you.

[1] Orland Bishop describes money from this perspective.  “All modes of exchange have to have intention for them to work, with an agreement between two or more people to be useful.  The mode of exchange is the process of agreement that allows us to utilize this particular thing imbued with the substance of intention.  It begins with the human capacity to give intention.  From that intention sparks a reality that allows something else to come back” (Teague, 2010).  This description makes explicit the manifestation of: light as will – the intention; light as relationship – the agreement; and light as thought – speaking the agreement

Converting Light-Resources from Possibilities to Probabilities

To move from the light level of possibility to the verb level of probability, you filter out possibility.  This is the same as saying, now it is real.  It has a life.  It is in a process of maturation, of development.[1]  The process is one you experience all of the time.  You can see a possibility, a potential.  You can agree on it.  You can give it your attention, making it explicit.  It becomes real, and you can step towards it.

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.[2]

You know this happens when you experience the moment of transition from possibility to probability, when it becomes real, when you can actually see it with others, often way before it has a tangible form.  For example, when you throw around ideas of where to go eat with friends, these are possibilities.  At some point in the exploration, everyone all of a sudden seems to converge on a shared seeing, when they all see the same thing and agree.  It becomes real.  Long before they are actually sitting in the restaurant together, they begin to move resources to get there.  In a way, they can all see themselves there already.

[1] For the technically comfortable, we will “filter out” possibility by integrating the possible life process (dX/dt)/dp over possibility (p).  This means that we will have a “snap shot” in possibility of a flow over time.

[2] This quote is the from the play Back to Methusaleh by George Bernard Shaw, where the snake is interacting with Eve in Part I, Act I (Bernard Shaw, 1974, p. 70).

Seeing the Light-Resources in All Primary Relationships

Looking through the lens of “how much,” I see the available resources, at all three levels of perceived reality.  At the possibility-light level, I am aware that what exists depends on what I give my attention to.  A simple example helps here.  If you have ever thought about going camping, throwing a party, designing a home, or going on vacation, you have experienced light-level resources.  Way before the end showed up – the campfire, the party, the home, the vacation – you started to invoke a lot of energy, in the form of intentions, wishes, hopes, fears, thoughts, and work, bringing together many people to work towards something in the future, a possibility they all began to see together.  A home becomes real when you and the architect can actually see it together.  From that moment on, lots of money, time, work, and materials come together, months before there is an actual house to sleep in.  That the house is not completed does not make it any less real.

Starting with the light, you interface with the world through five primary relationships: your own self, the other, the group, nature, and spirit.  As described earlier, from your own experience, you know that these are the primary ways in which you experience the harmonic vibrancy of life, the light as it manifests in this world.

Through these five relationships, you give your intention and attention to what shows up in the world as resources.  In light you experience your self stepping more deeply into your potential, your deeper gifts and calling.  It is what you see in your self and decide for that determines what begins to show up for you in your life.  If you decide to be an engineer, life starts to show up very differently than if you see yourself as a carpenter or a salesperson.  This also works in very short time frames.  What you believe about yourself, in this moment, heavily influences what you can see, in this moment.  This is very well documented.  What you give your intention to and what you pay attention to begins to show up in your life, for you.  The first step in this process is seeing the potential.  You can see that you are a caring person and believe that.  You can see yourself as an engineer and believe that.  When you see it, it resonates deeply within you.  Somehow, you just know.

In light you experience the same deeper stepping in me, into my deeper gifts and potential.  You can see my gifts, who I can be.  It just seems obvious to you, when looking at me, that my light would shine brightly in that way.  For example, you just know I would look great in those clothes, that I would really like meeting this person, and that I would be great at this job.  How do you know this about me?  While we might not know the “how,” I am clear, by asking hundreds of people in lots of countries, that we also “just know it.”   You can see it in others.  What is amazing about this capacity is that it is not based on past experience with that person.  It is not that you know I would like them because I already like them.  Nor that I would be great in a job that I have never done. You do not actually “know” this – at least not from past experience.  And yet, somehow you have a strong intuition that I will, and you am often right.

In light you experience the unique contribution of each person’s voice to the emergent harmony of the group, and the group’s nurturing of those unique contributions.  You can see the possibility for a group harmonic, way before the harmonic resulting from the group’s work together ever appears.  You can see the home, and who will help build, months before you can sit in it.  You can imagine a quintet, and what it will sound like, weeks before the group even comes together.  You can envision a family gathering at the beach for a week, a year before they get together.  You do this all the time, seeing the group interacting, even though the group has never been together before.

In light you experience nature through the process of manifesting the infinite possibility of light into the human realm of reality.  You live the continuous process of bringing light into verb into noun.  You see the mowed lawn, and create that by mowing the lawn.  You see the experience of the torte, and go to the store to make it happen.  You constantly “see” something, and then manifest it through your attention and your action.

In light you experience the source of creativity – possibility-light – in everything, everywhere about you.  When you look around, you see that acts of creation happening everywhere, in all things at all times.  Sun is shining.  Trees are growing.  Your kids are creating music together.

This is the light realm of your experience with resources, as seen through the five primary relationships you have with light.  In ecosynomic terms, it is through these five relationships that you transform the infinite potential in light energy into something you use to support your life, your resources.  When you give your attention to seeing these possibilities, you are able to see new opportunities.  You can see how what is needed is shifting, so that can change what you do before your current work becomes obsolete.  You can see the potential consequences of your future actions, and avoid unintended consequences from the outset.  When you do this, you avoid the costs of scarcity at the light level.

What Is Possible in Resources? (Possibility-Light)

In previous posts, I looked at resources as accumulated things-nouns and as dynamic of development-verb.  From a light perspective, resources are infinite potential.  The infinite light could show up as anything: an idea, a feeling, an action, a tree, a memory of a river.  From your own experience, this is easy to see for some resources.  For other resources, it is harder to see.

I will start with some of the easier ones to see.  Out of seemingly nowhere, I begin to have an idea.  I can see that this idea is interesting and worth pursuing, or can I just let it pass.  If I pay attention to it, clearly I am giving it my cognition, my thinking.  What is not always so obvious is that I am also giving it my affect and my volition.  I am relating to it in my own experience, and by giving energy to it, I am giving it my will, my intention.  Thus, it is a full-minded or full-bodied experience.  This is why people can get “carried away” by the inflow of ideas.  When people give of their selves to this idea, they are playing in the realm of infinite possibility.  They are exploring things that are not manifest, yet.  In this interaction, they also have the opportunity of making this idea “real.”  By real I mean that it has passed from the realm of infinite possibility into the realm of probability.  It starts to gather other resources to it.  For example, when you are playing with ideas for a home, you are in the realm of possibilities.  Then, all of a sudden, you “see” the home you really want, and in that moment you make it real.  It shifts from infinite possibility into something that you begin to work on with others.  Money, time, materials, and lots of work start to flow towards the idea, towards the home.  While you will not live in the home for another few months, it is no less real.  This example of working with an idea that becomes real may be fairly easy to see.  There are many examples in our daily lives of resources like this.

Slightly harder to see examples include things that seem to be more distant from human acts of creation.  For example, a rock.  No human called it into being from a thought.  Yet, it exists, has shifted in form over millennia, and, if you believe Einstein, it contains a very large amount of energy in it.[1]  Physics even teaches that the rock that you now see is actually just another form of energy, and that over the ages it has shifted in forms of energy, starting out as light at one time.  Thus, everything started as light.  Some of the things that have manifested, meaning they have become real to our perception, came through human awareness.  Most things came through other processes.  Nonetheless, how you work with these other things involves the human process of manifestation.  You will then see that most of what you work with on a daily basis is influenced by the human process of working with the light, and manifesting it as a verb and noun.

Using the same technology as for the verbs and nouns, you can see that the money I have, in its noun and verb forms, shows up because I pay attention to it.  I give it my intention.  I could just as easily give my intention to the verb and noun forms of something else.  For example, I could have focused on acquiring and using the ingredients for making bread (see figure below).  Furthermore, I could have acquired them through exchange of something.  In both cases, I end up with bread.  The difference is how I choose to manifest it.

You need and interact continuously with all three levels – light, verb, noun.  The problem is when you constrict your understanding of what is happening to just one level.  While focusing on just the noun level allows you to see what you have, here and now, to do something, it limits your ability to accumulate the noun.  This leads to great inefficiencies.  Focusing on just the verb level lets you see how to accumulate something, without understanding what you can do with what you have.  Focusing on just the light level, you can give your attention to whatever possibility you want, but you cannot bring it into reality.  Thus, working on all three levels lets you choose from the infinitely possible what you want to choose to pay attention to, manifesting it in a way that you can grow and maintain it, and in a way that you can use here and now for other purposes.  Light and verb and noun.  This is easy, because this is the actual process you experience all the time for bringing something into reality and using it.


[1] Einstein showed what scientists have proven since then, that E=mc2.  The energy in a rock is equivalent to the mass of the rock times the square of the speed of light, which is a very large number.

The Possibility Level of Reality

The 2nd in a 9-post series on Perceived Levels of Reality

I will start by describing the experience of one of these three levels.  You experience possibility, all around you, all of the time.  You see possibility in what you will do when you wake up in the morning, what you want for breakfast, how you will get to work, and how you will engage with your family.  You see possibilities in all of the creative moments of your life, surprising yourself with infinite gifts of unexpected inspiration.  People even call it light when this happens.  You were glowing today.  You were shining in that performance.  You are the sunshine in my life.  You brighten up my day.  I can see the light in your eyes.  You are radiating.  The light is the realm of infinite possibility from which you pull everything.  You know this.  The difference between “it is just a possibility” and “it will probably happen” is real.  It describes your experience of when a possibility in the light form shifts into a probability that is in the process of manifesting in the verb form.

I have explored this level of perceived reality with many people over the last couple of years.  To be a little playful, like in conversations in the past chapter, I delve into the possibility-light level, to see if people actually ever perceive reality this way.  I often start with experiences many have had.  Have you ever welcomed a new person into your life?  This could be a new friend, or someone marrying into your family.  Have you had the experience of knowing that you connected with this person, and that you were going to be great friends?  That they would fit well into your family?  Most people tell me, “Yes.”  I then ask, “How do you know they will fit?”  The typical response is, “You just do.”  I push a little more, “How?”  They look at me unclear why I am asking the obvious, “You can just feel it.”  I clarify, “So, you can just feel whether someone you do not know will be a good friend or a welcomed member of the family?”  “Yep!”  I dig a little more, “How?”  “You can see it in their eyes.”  Okay.

I then try another experience, asking if they have ever hired someone to work for them.  Many say yes.  What I want to understand is how they knew the person could do the job.  From a purely rational perspective, it seems that the only way to know that someone can do any given job is that she is already doing the job.  Right?  So, the only people you hire to do a job are already doing the job.  Now people look at me weird – that does not make sense.  They tell me, “I would not hire someone to do a job, if they are already doing the job.  I hire someone who is not yet doing the job.”  Playing incredulous, I ask, “Really?  Then how do you know they can do the job?”  A woman in a lecture in Mexico City cleared this up, by saying, “There are basically two different cases here.  In one case, I hire someone who is already doing a similar job, elsewhere.  In the other case, I hire a person who has never done anything like this before.”  To see if I am clear, “In one case, they have demonstrated similar capacities elsewhere, and you think they might be able to bring the same proven capacities to your work environment.  In the other case, they have not yet proven they have the capacities.”  Everyone nods their head, typically, telling me that this is their experience.  I start with the first case, “You then believe that a person with proven capacities, who can do the work elsewhere, say the bookkeeping process, in another group, can probably do it in your group?”  People usually clarify here, “Over time.  It will take them a while to acclimate to our culture and processes.  But, yes, I can see that they can do this.”  I reply, “Fine.  You have convinced me that you can do this.”  Now to the second case.  I dive in, “How do you know someone will be able to do the job, if they have never proven they can?”  The response I have heard, over and over again, in English, Spanish, German, and Dutch (the last two through translators), is that, “You can just see it in them.  When you meet someone, you can see the potential in them.  There is a light in their eyes.  When I see this, I know they will fit well.”  Here I push back, to check whether this is an experience common to everyone in the group.  So far, most everyone agrees.  “Yes, I can see this, and often I am right.”  Okay.  So, people actually seem to know something about people before the physical evidence of it ever shows up.  They call this potential their light.

You might also experience this possibility in relationship to your own self.  Have you ever been inspired by the thought of a new experience, an experience that you had never tried before?  Maybe it was cooking a new meal, like a Spanish paella or a pasta dish.  Maybe you saw yourself learning to play the fiddle, harmonica, or flute.  Maybe you saw yourself sitting on a beach or rafting down a river.  Even though you might never have had that experience before, somehow you knew you could.  You could see it in you.  I think I can.  And, it feels quite natural.  This is the potential you see in your own self.  The you that just has not shown up yet.  Just because you have not done it yet, does not mean that you cannot do it.  It is your next experience.  I suggest that you do this all of the time.

When sharing these experiences, people often suggest another, related experience.  A woman in Germany told me, “I also experience this with a new group of people.  Last year, as I began to form a sports team, I could see clearly how we might perform together.  It was very exciting.”  Have you had the experience of seeing a group of people achieving certain outcomes, performing together, before they ever came together?  How did you know that it would work?  Again, people have convinced me, “You can just see the potential.”

Thus, it seems that people see the potential in themselves, in others, in groups, and in many new situations.  They seem to do this all of the time, seeing into the potential, the possibility, and they experience this seeing as very real.  So real that they make significant decisions based on this potential they see.  They describe this knowing, this level of reality, in terms of light.

Is the possibility level just a perceived reality, with light being just a metaphor for the experience?  The science of physics suggests that the potential or possibility in a system also exists on the physical plane, and that it can be measured.  Since what we see in possibility seems to be related to the light we see in it, I will start with what physics says about light-energy.

Physics defines light as electromagnetic radiation, which is energy in the form of transverse magnetic and electric waves.[1]  Said another way, light is energy, and it travels very fast, at the speed of light.  Furthermore, Einstein showed that everything in the universe travels at the speed of light.[2]  Everything.[3]  Now this gets a bit complex, so I will try to simplify.  Basically, everything moves through space-time, through an interweaving of space and time, at the speed of light.  Some of it moves mostly through space and barely through time, while some of it travels mostly through time and barely through space.  This is a mind twister.  The relevance is that to move at the speed of light, in space-time, everything has a relationship to this light.  While people usually think of light as what they see, the light shining from the sun or from a lamp, physics uses the term much more broadly.  Now I will add a second piece to what physics shows us.  Science also makes another mental leap.  It suggests that at the quantum level – a very, very small level – everything exists in fields of potential.[4]  The photon is both there and not there, everywhere.  Now, for one last leap, Einstein showed conceptually and rigorous research supported experimentally that energy and matter are two different forms of the same thing: matter is stored energy, and energy is liberated matter.  E=mc2.  Related by the speed of light multiplied by itself, a very large number, this equation shows that there is an immense amount of energy in all material things.  Sometimes people see it, usually very little is seen.  This is interesting, because it becomes a question of how – how to see more of the extraordinary energy resident in the thing.  To sum up and pull together these three insights from physics, everything is related to light and exists as potential everywhere in space-time.  This is what people said, from their own experience of seeing their own self – I can see the potential in the light in your eyes.  You shine.

Connecting the scientific perspective of physics back to the creative human expression, in their book, initially published by the Harvard Business School Press, the Zanders see that, “All around us is vibrancy and energy.  The universe is sparking with generative power.  But how do we tap into the source – where can we find an electric socket for vitality?  Do we have to pump up the energy on our own to carry out the day, or can we catch the current of another wellspring beyond ourselves?  Suppose for a moment that vital, expressive energy flows everywhere, that it is the medium for that existence of life, and that any block to participating in that vitality lies within ourselves.”[5]

I want to bring in one more distinction here about the experience of the possibility level of reality.  A friend of mine refers to this experience as living in vertical time.  In vertical time, you experience “no time.”  Have you ever realized that you have no idea how much time has passed?  It felt like seconds and it could have been hours.  Often associated with deep reflection or meditation, this is when you experience vertical time. This is what happens when you access the light levels of possibility.  In vertical time, as light, everything travels at the speed of light, thus there is no time in the space-time continuum, and therefore infinite possibility is always there, as there is no time that experiences the change.

[1] As described in (“Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,” 2007).  Some physics dictionaries refer to light only in the realm visible to the human eye, electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength of 400-750nm, while this dictionary includes the invisible realm outside of the realm visible to the human.

[2] Physicist Brian Greene describes the logic and math of Einstein’s observation that everything travels through the four dimensions of space-time at the speed of light (Greene, 2003, pp. 50, 392n).

[3] In physics, there is an understanding that everything in the universe is moving at the speed of light, which includes us.   What gets tricky is how to understand what it means to travel at the speed of light through space-time.  The amount of energy that this represents is mind-bogglingly huge.  At the equivalent of 670 million miles per hour, when I walk at 5 milers per hour through space, all of the rest of my energy goes into moving through time.  Moving through time takes a very large amount of energy, energy humans barely notice.  Walking down the path to my house, Einstein suggested that I am crushing through the time dimension of space-time, with most of my light-speed, and barely moving through the space dimensions of space-time.   The relevance of this here is two-fold.  First, an enormous amount of energy goes into the ability to move through time.  You experience two forms of this energy used in moving through time, which we can characterize as horizontal time and vertical time.  In horizontal time, you experience “the passing of time.”  In vertical time, you experience “no time.”  Have you ever realized that you have no idea how much time has passed?  It felt like seconds and it could have been hours.  Often associated with deep reflection or meditation, this is when you experience vertical time. This is what happens when you access the light levels of possibility.  In vertical time, as light, everything travels at the speed of light, thus there is no time in the space-time continuum, and therefore infinite possibility is always there, as there is no time that experiences the change.  If you have this experience, I suggest you know the experience of moving at light-speed through both space and through time.  You do this because you are a light-being, Homo lumens.

The second part of light-speed that is relevant is that a huge amount of energy is required to transfer something from the light realm of the possible, where time seems to disappear, since all energy is given to moving through space and not time, to the verb realm of this world.  The amount of energy required can only come from something equally large – light itself.  Thus, if you move at the speed of light through space-time, and you work in both the light realm of the possible and the verb-noun realms of the probable, then you must be a form of light.  The funny thing is that this shocking statement does not actually surprise most people, upon reflection.   Listen to how people talk about their own self.  He sure is bright.  What a shining light.  You lighten up my life.  I am delighted.  She is enlightened.  You are glowing.

[4] Two recent texts bring together many of the seminal papers on quantum theory (Hawking, 2011) and an interesting story of the field (Baggott, 2011).

[5] This description of the experience of possibility provides yet another example of how people describe their experience of life in terms of vibrancy, energy, and light (Zander & Zander, 2002, p. 113).

Perceived Levels of Reality

The 1st of a 9-post series on Perceived Levels of Reality

Having looked at five relationships through which people experience harmonic vibrancy (self, other, group, nature, spirit), as well as three circles of the vibrancy experienced (low, medium, high), as in the figure below, we see that people in the three circles experience very different realities.  This 9-post series explores the differences in those realities.



To cut to the punch line, as one expands from scarcity to abundance, reality also expands from working with the visibly tangible to including processes of development to working in the possibility realm.  In each circle, people work with different processes, tools, and capacities, because they use different realities.  Now I will describe those realities, starting again with your own experience.

In the inner circle of low harmonic vibrancy, where scarcity dominates, reality consists of the visibly tangible.  This includes what is available at hand, right here, right now.  In the middle circle of medium harmonic vibrancy, where occasional abundance comes through, perceived reality includes both the tangible here-now capacities and the developmental processes of those capacities.  Both and.  At the middle level, one works with what is here and what is being developed.  In the outer circle, where abundance dominates, perceived reality includes tangible capacities, developmental processes, and possibility – three levels.  Once again, both and.

I emphasize “perceived reality,” because all three levels are always present, yet they are not always perceived.  It seems that the level of scarcity/abundance and harmonic vibrancy one experiences relates directly to the levels of reality perceived in the agreements in human interactions.

In their national bestseller The Art of Possibility, the Zanders tell a story to highlight the difference between seeing scarcity and seeing abundance.  “A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.  One sends back a telegram saying, ‘SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES.’  The other writes back triumphantly, ‘GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES.’” The authors go on to explain what they see in this story, “To the marketing expert who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness.  To his colleague, the same conditions point to abundance and possibility.  Each scout comes to the scene with his own perspective; each returns telling a different tale.  Indeed, all of life comes to us in narrative form; it’s a story we tell.”[1]

Looking at the stories hundreds of people have told me about their experiences of harmonic vibrancy, some of which I shared in earlier blogs, I find that the ability to perceive and work with these three levels of reality differentiates those groups that experience low, medium, and high harmonic vibrancy.  Furthermore, these three levels highlight what to do to achieve higher levels of harmonic vibrancy and abundance, which I will describe in detail in subsequent posts.

[1] This story comes from (Zander & Zander, 2002, p. 9).