As I listened to the April 30th 2021 Friday Morning, NYT Daily Podcast,”Odessa, Part 4: Wellness Check“, I was stunned at their focus and how it seemed to relate to life. At the end of April 2021 there is hope that we are coming out of the pandemic. This 4 part NYT Daily Podcast has described the experience of a High School in Odessa Texas during the last half of 2020 as they attempted to have in person classes during the pandemic.
I enjoyed the podcasts focus on the progress they made to have school despite difficult times. I was then confused when their ending question was, “What is the permanent damage that has been done?”. They also stated they were asking this question about the impact on these 17 year old students.
I stopped walking as I was listening because I realized it related to me and my story. At 17 years of age I was the passenger of a car that collided head on with another. Despite difficult times because of the accident, I carried on. What was my option? In my incident, the driver and the other 2 passengers were killed and I suffered a severe head trauma that left me comatose. The Odessa podcast shocked me because I wondered why they were asking about the permanent damage being done instead of how and why some did well and how how they can do better.
If you are interested, more about my accident and its impact on me, it is described in the linked Positive Health tab here and at the top of the page. The link opens to the essay: The Power of Positive Health: Why I am so passionate about Wellness.
In my recovery, I also wondered, “What is the permanent damage done?” I am sure there is some, however it it is not where I focus. I focused then and still do, on discovering how I could make progress. This focus was possible because of the significant positive help from family and friends, most especially my parents. Can you have this type of influence on your family friends and or organizations.
A progress, not problem focus is helpful because my success, and the triumphs of anyone, come about by finding ways to do better or more good. Progress cannot develop evolve or happen, unless by accident, by only learning how to experience less bad. Bad or difficult things will happen, they are inevitable, however we will only be capable of overcoming those difficulties if we have a capacity that enables us to adapt and “carry on” in a better way. Searching for permanent damage will not enable us to do better or have more capacity. To move forward we must develop our capacities and enhance our collaborations. It is also valuable to remember the self-worth reinforcing feelings accomplishment generates, especially through trying experiences, by focusing on progress, not problems.
As noted often on this blog, research from my work and that of many scientists has documented how it is more effective and powerful to generate more good, or comprehensive improvements, than it is to diminish bad. Even though less bad may not be the focus, it is often the complementary side effect. For instance higher quality products and services generated by quality management methods also result less bad in the form of in lower costs and less waste.
The most notable proponent and promoter of quality management methods can be seen from the work of world changing quality management Dr. W. Edwards Deming. His promoted quality methods provides a processes to generate more good and as a secondary benefit, less bad. His quality management methods are relevant and useful everywhere because as he stated, by doing things this way, “everyone wins”. I prefer everyone benefits because if someone wins, it suggests there are also losers. Quality management methods like paneugenesis helps everyone and everything benefit. If it does not, it is not being done correctly.
Dr. Deming’s work is certainly foundational to what I do. A foundational principle of quality management is continual process improvement. I have translated these quality management techniques to wellness and lifestyle process improvement. My work has also shown the most effective way to generate more good and practice paneugenesis is to work toward creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Shakespeare provides another related perspective when he explains that there’s not good and bad, it is just what we label it. For this situation, we should choose progress, not problems
The labeling perspective is also shared by Ben Saunders who trekked the South Pole. At the end of his Ted Talk, “To the South Pole and Back – the hardest 105 days of my life”, he suggests we focus on progress
“Happiness is not about finish lines…If we can’t feel content here, today, now, on our journeys, amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit, the open loops, the half finished to-do lists, the could-do-better-next-times, then we might never feel it.”Ben Saunders
If we truly want to make progress and overcome problems as necessary side effect, our focus has to be on progress, not just problems. Please share how you focus on progress and how this has helped. Thank you for all you do to help all of us make progress!
Please share your thoughts and questions below.