If we want to have a really good life, we need to be more selfish. As one the greatest thinkers of our time, quality management guru W. Edwards Deming explains:
Besides, as Joey from Friends explains, nobody can be selfless:
Well it is not that we can’t be selfless, it is more that being selfless is being selfish.
Coincidentally, when we are selfish and selfless, we create synergy because we help others do and and be better which helps all of us have a better life. Being selfish so we can be selfless makes synergy happen because we generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. If you read more of my posts you will see that this is what I refer to as the practice of paneugenesis.
Referencing various Starbucks initiatives that aspire to have a positive impact on society, Safian asked Johnson whether the company was engaging in do-goodism for its own altruistic sake, or because it’s good for business. “It’s both,” Johnson replied. “And that’s a beautiful thing.”
We live in an uncertain world, nothing related to human behavior is certain. Ironically, although we all seem to dread uncertainty because it generates safety or comfort concerns, it is what is necessary for us to develop into who we want to be. Besides, although we say people hate change, it is what people voluntarily choose on. a regular basis. We choose to get married, go to school, get a job, change jobs, have kids etc. and these are all major changes we choose.
I often talk with my students about professional development. I explain to them once they leave school, something they think they want, professional development is their responsibility. After school, they will no longer get a syllabus each semester with an agenda about where to focus and what to learn. After graduation they have to create their own plan. I also emphasize that continuing to learn is not an option, it is a necessity due to the rate of information and knowledge expansion in today’s society. The Human Capital Trends Report for 2014 by Deloitte Consulting and Bersin found “…knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half life of 2.5-5 years…” which confirms the need for constant development. (Chism, 2015)
Uncertainty is a part of life and people often choose to avoid uncertainty because it is the safest and is where people say they feel most comfortable. Choosing this path, the one without uncertainty, also means there is little or no chance for growth and development. This relates to school and class syllabi. When students enter the class the plan for the class is outlined in the syllabus and this plan should push the student beyond what they know or their state current state of certainty. If a class does not do this, it is unlikely they will learn anything new.
If new information is reframed or understood as confirmation of what is previously understood, nothing new can be learned. It is for this reason, it is suggested we embrace uncertainty so new ways can be developed. New ways are needed because as Nate Silver describes in “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail – but some don’t“, we live in a probabilistic world. To improve our odds, we must find better ways.
How we choose to live our lives, our daily actions, represents how we attempt to make our prediction come true. The prediction is how we see our future in our minds eye. We can make accomplishment more likely, increase our chances of having the life we want if we understand desired outcomes are probabilistic. By probabilistic Silver explains that this means there is a percentage or probability an outcome will happen. He also emphasizes that because of inherent uncertainty, that probability is never 100%.
Silver suggests we should understand that probability is an estimation. If we embrace our predictions as uncertain, such as the prediction of the future we experience in our lives, we can continually improve that probability by adjusting our behaviors as we learn more. Each day we learn more about ourselves and others. As we learn more we should keep adjusting our actions, build new connections, and increase our knowledge so that the probability or the likelihood of our predicted outcome has better odds. Nate Silver says adjusting our probability of an event happening is using Baysian Thinking and is the best way to have an accurate prediction.
To help us better understand this idea, he uses each statement below to show how each successive statement provides a better picture of reality by incorporating more about what is learned.
From “The Signal and the Noise”
…Consider the following set of seven statements, which are related to the idea of the efficient market hypothesis and whether an individual investor can beat the stock market. Each statement is an approximation, but each builds on the last one to become slightly more accurate.
No investor can beat the stock market.
No investor can beat the stock market over the long run.
No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk.
No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs.
No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs, unless he has inside information.
Few investors beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs, unless he has inside information.
It is hard to tell how many investors beat the stock market over the long run, because the data is very noisy, but we know that most cannot relative their level of risk, since trading produces no net excess return but entails transaction costs, so unless you have inside information, you are probably better off investing in an index fund.
To use this to make your life better then, it is recommended that you keep updating your plans to generate comprehensive improvements by learning how you can better create pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Therefore, the best way to improve your odds is to keep learning more as we also embrace uncertain times. Read, learn, and continuously challenge your thoughts so you get information about how to improve your ideas by knowing how to update your plans.
Remember, as you work to create a better world for everyone and everything, we all thank you for your efforts.
According to Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs, our basic physiological and safety concerns need to be met before we can self-actualize or become who it is we want to be. He also talked about the need to create synergistic world in his article, “Synergy in the Society and in the Individual”.
How does this relate to guns? We all want a safe society, that should be the default. If ALL we want is safety, NOW is the time to talk about guns. If we want more, “Now is NOT the time to talk about gun control.” Let me share some thoughts…
“Now is not the time to talk about gun control!” has been the stance of politics after each shooting tradgedy. Could that be correct? Of course easy access to guns is a problem, however only eliminating access to guns does not create what we want, a more caring society. If don’t use guns, aren’t there other ways to cause destruction?
Might it be more helpful to focus on how to make this a more caring culture? We are all in this together, nobody gets out of here alive, and we can’t take it with us. We could be lifting others up, rather than pushing them down and upon reflection, lifting others is actually selfish.
Selfishness is probably the best way to be selfish. Bill Clinton explains with Stephen Colbert.
Helping other people live and be better, acting “selfless”, enables a better world plus the helper gets the beneficence of knowing they are part of the solution, a selfish benefit. This action then creates a better world, a selfish, selfless, synergistic benefit.
If we did enact stricter gun control, how would we know if it worked? How would we know if it produced any benefits? Proponents would suggest less mass shootings would indicate it is a good policy. While less mass shootings is good, really all that means is we didn’t drop below the status quo, not that the world is better than it was before.
This way of measuring a benefit suggests if NOTHING bad happens, it is a successful program. Nothing however is not a benefit, it is just a non problem. Better would mean more nurturing caring relationships, increased well-being, improved social dynamics, and a kinder world. That would benefit everyone and everything.
Nate Silver along with many others explains we live in an uncertain world. Almost nothing that deals with human behavior is certain. As Nate Silver describes in “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail – but some don’t“, he explains why and how we live in a probabilistic world. The best we can do is increase the probability of desired outcomes.
Its time to start talking about the Idealized Outcomes we want to create and taking action to make it happen. What kind of world should we create? What are the characteristics of our idealized world?
The characteristics of that desired world are the precursors. Precursors such as caring, love, kindness, a helping nature, service, thriving, satisfaction and well-being. The benefit of this approach is that even when less mass shootings occur, which is good or even if no mass shooting ever occurs, we still benefit. Our actions will have created a better world for all.
If we take the traditional approach of limiting gun access, which is wise, it would likely limit mass shootings but the overall outcome is just less bad, not more good. We must do what can and should be done to create more good, not JUST less bad.
We should develop processes to create those desired precursors of an idealized world. Taking actions to make the world better means our actions will have desirable consequences, even if bad does not happen. Additionally, efforts to create the idealized world will decrease the probability of undesired outcomes such as a mass shooting.
In other words, we should work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
This can be done by using this 4 step Paneugenesis Process:
1.Operationalize an Idealized Outcome – make sure all involved parties know what is to be created and be sure that it is better than what can be now. The outcome should have pervasive and reciprocal effects that carry meaning and impact to and beyond the individual.
2. Discover Precursors– what must exist now to make the idealized outcome a reality. Discover what skills, abilities, traits, environments are necessary and or must exist to realize the idealized outcome. These precursors are conditions that must be created and are not currently present.
3. Optimize the Process– what must be done to create those precursors that will enable the idealized outcome and precursors to be created and realized. Go do that now! Do what must be done to create and put in place the necessary precursors discovered.
4. Plot Progress – find measures that document and demonstrate progress is being made toward the creation of discovered precursors and or idealized outcomes. Progress measures that indicate movement of actions taken in your process are being made toward the creation of the new, desired reality. Documenting progress is necessary to give meaning and purpose to the process and to help participants maintain motivation.
For information on how the model can be applied to health promotion, see this article. You can also see the video below:
I look forward to enjoying a better world that you help make happen. Thank you, we all benefit from your efforts.
I find it important to make sure I have perspective. For me it is important or I miss the issue. By perspective I mean a point of view or a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something. By definition perspective is a true understanding of the relative importance of things or a sense of proportion.
Generating and using clean, renewable energy is a way to practice paneugenesis because doing so generates comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Using clean energy creates good jobs that create a positive ripple that will power our lives.
I am even more convinced of the need for clean energy from reading “Merchants of Doubt” which accompanies the documentary you can access here and in this post: Do Not Let Deniers Doubt Dissuade. The book outlines the systematic way industry and government have attacked and discredited good science.
We can help this by urging Duke to move to clean energy. Although it will require change, moving to clean energy would be a smart and profitable move for Duke. To learn more you can read “A Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future in North Carolina” and watch the video below.