An amazing colleague of mine who now has 2 children says to me, “What did I used to do with all my time?” She was comparing her situation now to before she had kids. She comments, “How did I not have everything done and do more?” After many of us have kids, we wonder, what did I used to do with all my time? How did I not have extra time to do things?
While kids are exceptionally rewarding, they are very time consuming. I think this also relates to a switch of priorities. I know my kids situations supersede most other concerns which means all else I do gets pushed down. This discussion also got me thinking about how we think about everything and confirmed to me that how we understand is really just a measure of what things are based on a comparison of what we know.
Kids provided me with another example of how comparisons give us meaning. My girls used to always ask me to time them to do things. They would ask, “Daddy, Daddy…time me putting my pajamas.” I would say go and watch them race to their room. Then they would return out of breath asking their time. I would tell them something like 66 seconds. They would say, “Wow, that was fast wasn’t it Daddy?” Of course I would say great but I was left wondering. Then they would say, “Daddy, Daddy…time me brushing my teeth.” I would say go and watch them race to brush their teeth. They would return out of breath asking their time and I would tell them something like 44 seconds. They would say, “Wow, that was fast wasn’t it Daddy?” Of course, now I know that it was too fast because they should take more time to brush their teeth. The difference is teeth brushing has a criterion measure of 2 minutes or more to do it well while putting on pajamas has no time criterion.
This conversation also reminded me of a “fun” presentation I did during my PhD program at Arizona State University. The presentation was titled, “The Value of Research”. The presentation pointed out that for any measure to have meaning, it must be comparable to things we know. For instance if I say I my height is 175, this means little to American’s but is clear to Europeans who would know that I was referring to centimeters tall. For Americans to understand I would need to say I am 5 feet 9 inches tall.
At work, what we do is measured by making a comparison to standards to determine if we are working at, above or below what is expected. In the presentation I went on to document that time actually does go faster as we age. Analysis, as shown below, indicates as each year passes, a smaller percentage of time elapses based on our perception of what we know time to be.
The idea that everything we look at is a measure in comparison to what we know is one reason for instituting the concept of Continuous and never ending improvement. We should improve because when we look at what has been done, we realize it can be better next time. The most important caution however is to think of the system implications. We must determine how changes may impact everyone and everything. Short term solutions such as burning fossil fuels which is just ancient sunlight, may destroy everything we care about. We must find better ways (see here, here, here,here, here, here).
We want to make things better because we adapt. What was great, from cell phones, to camera’s on cell phones, to automatic lights on cars, these improvements become the standard. Thus as is explained by the Kano Model, we must continually prime the pump with better ideas so we can continually improve.
Another thought to ponder: Can anything be new AND improved? If it is new, it is something different maybe a better product, but not necessarily improved. If it is improved, it is the same product just different and can be compared to previous version. Can anything be new AND improved?
More thoughts about the idea that all we see is a comparison:
- When kids first see something, may not have ability to make a comparison
- When they say it hurts, it may be the most pain they ever had and that is why they are so upset
- As kids age they now know the pain is something that they can bare because it has happened before so they become less upset
- It has been suggested we cannot withhold judgment because we judge automatically
- Are all judgements a comparison to what we know?
- How can we use this innate process to improve our lives?
Be sure when develop new ways, we think systematically and how this impacts and has effects on the whole system. Remember, the best solutions are pervasive so they generate reciprocal benefits for personal and planetary health.
Take Away: Use our innate ability to compare and contrast what is to what was to institute ways to Practice Paneugenesis with Selfish, Selfless, Synergy by generating comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Make it a Great Day, Week, Life….
Craig Becker, PhD