Positive Adds Good

We need to reinvigorate what it means to have something positive happen. Having something positive happen means something good happens that would not be present otherwise. A good feeling, a good deed, making others happy, developing new skills and abilities. Making new connections to others with similar interests or better yet with people that have different interests. Learning something new, and so much more.

Unfortunately, many now associate positive to mean something bad does not happen. It can’t just mean something bad does not happen. That sets the bar way too low. We must do better and we should strive to do and be better.

This idea was captured by Patrick McDonnell’s May 18, 2022 Mutts comic here. Please take a look. For me a positive means to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share how you generate something positive.

Lets reinvigorate what positive means by causing things to be better for everyone and everything than they could be otherwise.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Accelerating Forward Faster

COVID has changed us forever. Never did we believe a virus could change our society as dramatically as it has. COVID has caused us to quickly move even faster than we thought possible. Unfortunately, in some ways we could be accelerating forward faster.

Our justified fear of the spread of the virus and problems associated with COVID has overly emphasized prevention by crowding out the promotion and improvement of health BEYOND the absence of disease. We can be and do better. Improved well-being amplifies the power of prevention. Prevention has been wonderful, but as I noted earlier, Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! or at least it is insufficient when health improvement is our objective. Positive health amplifies prevention so we can accelerate forward faster.

Health is the PRESENCE Of WELL-BEING, it is not the absence of problems. Think about it, you feel good and have joy when you do things that make you feel good and or do good. Avoidance can only lead to temporary relief, not well-being.

Well being is caused by interactively developing physically, mentally and socially through conscious actions. Prevention efforts keep us from doing things. The BEST WAY TO PREVENT PROBLEMS is to be as healthy as possible. Prevention is a by-product of improved well-being. Study after study shows those engaged in health causing behaviors and thoughts in multiple dimensions, which my studies have labeled as social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical, vocational and environmental, benefit with improved well-being and higher life satisfaction due to the cumulative effect of these multiple well-being enhancing actions. There is no magic bullet.

To be able to prevent bad things, we must be strong mentally, physically and socially resulting from the development of those assets. Prevention, if taken alone, encourages us to isolate and become stagnant. Only when we take action can we get healthier and stronger. If you are interested and have time, I detail this in this Creating Better presentation.

Exponential growth

Another factor related to our difficulty, as Michael Lewis describes in The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, is from our problem understanding exponential growth which explains the rate a virus can spread. After all, isn’t it hard to believe a penny doubled every day for just 30 days would amount to over $5 million dollars? Even crazier, folding a typical piece of paper 50 times would end up being over 7 million miles long???? HUH?

Of course this is hard to believe, see the videos below that attempt to help us grasp the concept of exponential growth:

Exponential Growth:

Overall, we should be taking actions to enhance our well-being which will amplify our ability to prevent problems as a by-product of improved well-being. In other words, we can accelerate forward faster and experience better well-being with a side of prevention. This future will happen when we work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions from which everyone and everything benefits. Please share how you make your life better do everyone and everything benefits!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

“Finance adds No value”

I recently listened to the April 2022 Deming Institute podcast, “In Their Own Words”, entitled and linked: Kevin Cahill’s Reflections on Dr. Deming and the Deming Institute (April 2022). Andrew Stotz hosted. Andrew Stotz is an awarded, successful financial analyst.

Mr. Stotz indicated how Deming’s work had impacted his thinking and career. Deming also provides a solid basis for all I do with health. His ideas about continual improvement of the process so the product takes care of itself and systems appreciation are at the basis of all I have done. Personal and planetary health are interconnected and as we continually improve the lifestyle process with an understanding of how it impacts everyone and everything – we can achieve the desirable aim of regenerative communities by living regenerative lifestyles. You will see Dr. Deming mentioned often in multiple posts on this blog and he has also been a basis for many of my peer reviewed published articles.

The part that caught my attention in the recent Deming institute podcast was when Andrew Stotz, despite being a financial analyst, said, “Finance adds no value” He went on to explian:

“Finance adds no value….Ultimately it’s the products and the service, and finance is a support function just as human resources… it’s when finance starts being the head of the business that you get into trouble…Never make the right finance decision over the right business decision.”

Andrew Stotz

This may be a stretch, however, to me his statement that finances cannot provide value is similar to how I have adopted what I learned from Dr. Deming. As I have noted, Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! if improvement is the goal. He even states, good finances are a by-product, and cannot be the aim, just as research has shown prevention is the by-product of good health, not its aim. Prevention and problem solving only stop bad things from happening but do not make things better than where we were before the problem occurred. We could not get healthy after COVID occurred, we had to create a better life first and the protection against COVID from good health was a beneficial by-product. Those without co-morbidities have done better.

Mr. Stotz comments about finances by explaining that money desires should not drive actions, because earning money is the necessary result or by-product. These ideas were outlined in this post, Money Is a Lagging Not a Leading Indicator which demonstrated that

Money must follow, it cannot lead.

Businesses, as Kevin Cahill explains, often want to just seem to be keeping up so they go with the new management fads or “the flavor of the month” rather than maintaining a constant aim. As he notes, this does not work out well, especially over the long term. This linked 4/24/2022 Close to Home comic humorously captures this idea about just doing something because it is a current idea.

Mr. Cahill then provides a great example of the outcomes from a focus on value or money when he contrasts Apple and Enron. One company was guided by financial statements while the other was guided by providing value. Apple, which he cites from Walter Isaacson’s book, Steve Jobs, says Apple had the aim or mission to create “insanely great products”. In contrast, the now defunct Enron’s mission was to make more money. The result: Apple is worth a trillion dollars and Enron went bankrupt.

In looking back, I realized I have cited Steve Jobs and things he has done almost as often as I have cited Dr. Deming. To me both provide great examples of how we can help generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

I hope you listen to the Deming podcast and that it motivates you to study Deming’s methods. Deming was my inspiration and it has helped me a lot in my career. Please share what you learn and how you implement his ideas to benefit everyone and everything so “everybody wins” as Dr. Deming used to say!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Do people want to be healthy?

A recent discussion with a respected colleague brought this, “Do people want to be healthy?”, question to mind. We then realized it was a complicated question. Of course people do not want to be sick, mainly because it means they cannot accomplish anything they desire, but this doesn’t mean they want to be healthy. Health is not an end goal, as the World Health Organization and most acknowledge, health is an enabling resource, not an end result.

From an employer perspective it seems pretty clear. Of course they want healthy employees, but not for health reasons, they desire healthy employees because they want dedicated, passionate, creative, and productive employees. Without health, none of those outcomes are likely. Health makes desired goals possible, but it does not achieve those goals. Health is the latent or hidden, underlying construct of all we want in life. Without health, very little is possible.

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Peoples conscious actions also seem to suggest they do not want health – or at least health is not what they prioritize. People will stay up late, eat unhealthy foods, skip exercise, or resort to other substances they know are not health enhancing to accomplish other goals. Even so, people will almost always say their health is important and they want to be healthy. Why then do our actions and the goal of health not match? Could the prioritization of other things be why people often give up their goals shortly after New Years?

According to Dr. Wendy Wood’s convincing scientific work, much of this can be explained by habits. As she explains, habits are what people do when they are not thinking, so they are not conscious actions. As most of us know, intentions help us feel good but don’t allow much to be accomplished.

She outlines these important findings in her work and in her book, Good Habits, Bad Habits. As she documents, habits are the actions we take when not thinking. Therefore when we are rushed late or thinking of other things, we resort to our usual, not desired or intended behaviors.

Hardcover Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick Book
by Wendy Wood, PhD ©2019

How Can Health Be a Priority?

For health to be a priority, we probably should focus on what people want to achieve more so than health. Most people want to thrive. Does that mean we should focus on thriving? Probably not, thriving cannot be achieved directly, it is the result of meaningful work, fulfilling relationships, meaning, belonging, purpose and much more. The focus therefore, to achieve thriving, has to be on generating meaningful work, building stronger relationships, finding common purpose, and contributing to meaningful goals.

Health, therefore, is not achieved directly, it is the by-product of a good life. Wait, isn’t that backward? It is like Shawn Achor explains in the THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE: THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY THAT FUEL SUCCESS AND PERFORMANCE AT WORK. I also recommend you watch Achor’s wonderful 10 minute TED Presentation: “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance

Maybe this means Obliquity is how we get health. Obliquity suggests complex goals, such as health, are best achieved indirectly. In other words, indirect methods provide a better chance for health and also for reaching achieving what is desired.

Quality Management

Quality management endorses similar ideas. They note you cannot create quality with inspection at the end, quality must be created by continually by improving the processes. Inspection can’t create quality anymore then scales manage our weights or checkups produce health. Desired outcomes must be caused to happen through processes that lead to the precursors of those desired outcomes.

As noted previously, James Clear supports this idea when he explains…

“Friendship happens on the way to something else If you “try to meet new people” it feels weird and forced. The more you aim for friendship, the more it eludes you. But if you aim to learn or achieve something with others, friendship happens naturally during the shared pursuit.”

James Clear 9-9-2021 Newsletter

The idea of Paneugenesis, or the generation of comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits may be an effective way to get what we desire as it also produces benefits for others and our environment. Please share your thoughts….

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

“Think Again” Very Helpful Book

Front Cover

Adam Grants book, “Think Again: The power of knowing what you don’t know” is a very good and helpful book. Especially for the current times. As James Lovelock exclaimed,

“We live at a time when emotions and feelings count more than the truth and there is a vast ignorance of science.”

James Lovelock (in Revenge of the Gaia)

For some reason, I did not think I wanted to read Grants book, however, I am now glad was able to “think again”and read it. As we all aware, sometimes we become stuck in our beliefs and are hesitant to rethink because we are afraid it can make us look bad.

The book helped me learn to embrace confusion and to be excited when I found contradictory information. It also helped me rethink about “Rethinking” and it enabled me to realize that when I discover thoughts could be better, it was a good to change my thoughts. This was one of the best things I got from the book.

The ideas in this book also resonated with me because I remember I had heard about how one of my hero’s, the management guru Dr. W. Edwards Deming would regularly “think again” about his successful ideas. Even though he was highly successful, he never wavered from rethinking his ideas and update them so was able to continually improve.

The podcast,“I Make No Apologies for Learning” by Ron Moen and Cliff Norman for the Deming Institute document and demonstrate how Deming would continually think again about his work. The podcast is based on the response he would provide when people noticed his message had changed and evolved after he would “Think again” and learn. He wanted all to yearn to learn so they could think better. I encourage you to listen to this podcast.

   Artwork for Ron Moen and Cliff Norman of Associates in Process Improvement (API) - "I Make No Apologies for Learning"

“I Make No Apologies for Learning”

Ron Moen and and Cliff Norman Podcast

In the podcast they explained that Deming was not always easily accepted because he challenged peoples core beliefs and inspired them to think again. However, as they explained, thinking again took a lot of effort and many were not willing to make that effort. For me, it has been significantly beneficial to “think again”.

While it is impossible to list all the wonderful ways Grant inspired me to rethink with this book, I will mention a few that were helpful to me, please see if any may help you:

  • Doubt is helpful because you question your methods
  • Task conflict helps find better ways, no conflict means apathy
  • Question how, rather than why which also makes it less controversial
  • When not able to entertain different ideas, “What evidence would change your mind?”
  • To many facts will dilute their impact and audience gets defensive
  • Ask, can we debate about the ideas, not emotions
  • Acknowledge common ground in any debates, it can invite rethinking
  • As facts change, change your opinions
  • Challenging core beliefs causes emotional reactions
  • Confidence is the result of progress, not just its cause
  • Work to IMPROVE, not prove oneself
  • Seek to evolve ideas rather than confirm tehm
  • We need to rethink because of the accelerating pace of change in the world
  • A debate is not a war but a dance where you don’t always lead
  • Use curiosity and ask questions
  • Asking questions helps people rethink
  • Uncertainty signals confident humility and can increase your credibility
  • Contested views leave people with blurred vision and guards to be set
  • The act of resistance fortifies our psychologic defense system
  • Good communicators make their audience, not themselves feel smart
  • Acknowledging complexity disrupts overconfidence and spurs rethinking
  • Our beliefs are shaped by our motivations and desires of what we want to believe
  • Skeptics are scientific and can entertain new ideas
  • Deniers are dismissive and often twist facts to fit beliefs
  • Limitations are holes in the research but portals to future discoveries
  • Emotion should be in conversations, restricting them stymies rethinking
  • Inspiring messages are scrutinized less and often forgotten, need to invite rethinking
  • Respond to confusion with curiosity and interest
  • Confusion is a cue that there is new territory to explore
  • Happiness is more about frequency of emotions than its intensity
  • Meaning is healthier than happiness
  • Often people overemphasize pleasure at the expense of purpose
  • Enjoyment wanes, meaning tends to last
  • Passions are developed more so than discovered
  • Happiness depends on what we do, not where we are
  • Interest doesn’t always lead to effort and skill, sometimes it follows
  • Aiming at something or someone else to improve often leads to happiness as a side effect
  • Questions to ask ourselves about our ideas:What leads to that assumption?
    • Why do you think that is correct?
    • What might happen if it is wrong?
    • What are the uncertainties in your analysis?
    • What are the advantages to the idea?
    • What are the disadvantages to the idea?

Thinking again can help us generate comprehensive improvements through the creation of net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits, or by practicing paneugenesis.  I look forward to hearing about the how you thought again and were able to generate benefits for everyone and everything.

Please share what you learned when you thought again so we all can benefit! Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Wellness Days Generate More Good

My former Ph.D.mentor and and dissertation chair at Arizona State, Dr. Bill Arnold, recently sent me this NBC News article, “Employees are tired, stressed and burned out. That’s why I give mine ‘wellness days” with the header, “Your Point”. The article makes the point I promote that employers should treat employees as adults and give them freedom to use their days as desired. If employees are misusing the policy, attention should be directed toward a better culture. Work should be rewarding, as Dr. W. Edwards Deming often explained:

image of quote by Dr. Deming: People are entitled to joy in work.

To enable people to have a better work experience, to enable joy, employees should be provided “general leave” days, rather than sick days, to use. If people are sick, then those general leave days are used for sickness and cannot be used for desired activities. This policy therefore rewards people who are healthy by giving them the opportunity to have days off with pay to use as desired. This type of “Wellness Day” Policy can generate more good, not just less bad or fewer sick days (see Beyond Order and Status Quo). This policy will also encourage people to strive for higher levels of health, which will also benefit productivity and research shows also results in less sick days, as a by-product.

In other words, give employees wellness days so they can use those days to fulfill their potential. After all:

Are we living in Orwellian’s world? Why should we only paid for a day off if we are sick? Doesn’t this policy reward sickness?

Of course providing for sick days is important, which a General Leave Policy also accomplishes, but more is needed. People need days outside of work for importantthings in life such as attending a child’s performance, a child’s graduation (personal experience), or going to see a fantastic exhibit. All these things are important to help the employees have a better life. Keeping employees from doing what they want will negatively impact their productivity and attitude about work. This policy also means when they will miss work, it won’t be a surprise. With his policy employees will plan for the days missed which will also boost productivity when they miss without preparation. The policy highlighted in the article described their wellness days as:

With our five annual wellness days, we encourage people to stay out long before they become ill, no questions asked. If they do decide to share what they did, we love hearing how the concert, bike ride or time with their kids helped them recharge and feel even better.

The idea of Wellness Days is similar to the famed Google 20% time rule that encourages employees to spend 20% of their time on whatever they want. They trust the employees to do the right things and the payoff has been powerful (as noted in the linked article below).

Google Says It Still Uses the ’20-Percent Rule,’ and You Should Totally Copy It: Do they still really do this at Google? In a way, it doesn’t matter. You should copy it regardless

The idea is pretty simple: It’s that you, or a team, or a company–anyone, really–should divide your time working, so that at least 20 percent is spent exploring or working on projects that show no promise of paying immediate dividends but that might reveal big opportunities down the road. 

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20 percent of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote in 2004, before the company’s IPO. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

A Wellness Day policy that provides paid time off work for general leave, rather than sick days, is a way practice paneugenesis because it is likely to generate more good, not JUST less bad. Wellness Days are more likely to enable employees and their organizations to generate comprehensive improvements because they will now have the capacity to create net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share wellness days policies that work and also let us know how they have helped. Thank you.

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Moving Toward Better in 2022

It was reported that former President Barack Obama would often say, “Better is good…” . It seems he was suggesting progress was important. What does that mean? Is better, actually better, or does it depend? From what I am learning, the phrase “Better is good…” is incomplete. Are the parts better or is it a better system? Better parts generally result in short (acute) and not long-term (chronic) improvements. To make 2022 truly better, the parts must be made better ONLY in ways that improve the whole system. Isn’t that Selfish, Selfless, Synergy so everyone and everything benefits? Our actions in 2022 must not just make the part better, that better part needs to make the system better. #SelfishSelflessSynergy

As Peter Senge explained, we do not perceive reality, we only see the world based on what we know how to perceive. This means we don’t perceive the reality of things we do not already know. This idea is made clear by the joke about the blind men and the elephant. We understand our part without always understanding what it means to the whole. Systemic thinking can help us work to be better in 2022.

The snake and the buttons for downloading data in R shiny | r-critique.com

As Russell Ackoff explained, we have spent most of our time finding deficits or problems with parts and improving parts, as we see it, without improving the system. As Deming and Ackoff have shown us, optimizing parts without improving the system can destroy the system. So what can we do?

Dr. Russell Ackoff explained that we need to stop just solving problems and instead disSOLVE problems by creating a better system. Composting represents a simple example I have written about often. In this situation, instead of focusing on decreasing food waste, I think about “growing soil” by using food scraps as an input to healthier soil. Of course, this action eliminates food waste or “disSOLVES” the problem with a better system as recommended by Russell Ackoff.

As I posted before, Will Allen did this and didn’t just fix the parts, he created a whole system of growing soil, providing jobs, offering healthy food, building community and more from which everyone and everything benefits (see Growing Healthier Food, People and Communities). In other words, it is really it’s all about the ripple (see It is All about the Ripple) of the interactions within the system. The question for 2022 is how we can apply this to all that we do.

Although I knew of Russell Ackoff and read a couple of his books I now am realizing the depth of his genius. For me, this means I will learn more from Dr. Ackoff from his many books, articles and presentations so I can better understand how to generate comprehensive improvements.

To wet your appetite, I posted a 10 minute presentation of his entitled, “Beyond Continual Improvement” and someone posted as, ‘If Russ Ackoff had given a TED Talk. I thought it was excellent. Please share what you will do to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions in 2022.

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Spooky Simple

The 2021 Halloween Message is about getting things done. To get things done you have to do it. It cannot get much simpler than that. Often we think we have to believe it or understand it to do it, however recent research confirms, we think or believe it after we do it. In other words, according Andrew Huberman’s work

Beliefs do not change our actions, Actions change our beliefs.

Andrew Huberman, PhD – Stanford

The simple message, if you want to get something done – do it. Can it be that simple? I am sure there is more to it, however I know when I implement the 10 Minute rule, which means to just commit to doing something for 10 minutes, I get things done and feel better for it (see Jerry, James & Kelly Help Us Get Things Done).

As I note often, doing things is good for you, selfish and they can be good for others, selfless, and if done right, help everyone and everything. Try it out, engage in pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions to generate comprehensive benefits. Those actions will provide information to support the belief that you are a good person and part of the solution.

Thank you for what you do and please share the beneficial actions you take so we can learn from your successes.

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Be Led by Your Dreams

I had the great opportunity to attend my youngest daughters delayed college graduation from UNC Chapel Hill on Sunday October 10th 2021. This classes graduation was postponed because of COVID. The graduation was nice and the Keynote was done by the legendary coach Roy Williams. During his speech he shared a saying that drove his teams.

Be Led by Dreams, Not Pushed by Problems

Roy Williams

This captures all I am trying to do and what needs to happen. We need to create a new reality. Yes there are multiple problems, however solving those problems isn’t enough, we must create a better reality. Nature means living in ways that make life more livable for everyone and everything. We must be led by our dreams, not pushed by our problems. Below is Coach Williams message.

I also feel this saying was expressed by Chris Stapleton in his song, “Starting Over” when he sang, “…Nobody wins afraid of losing…” We need to do better, not just avoid doing bad. We must “Start Over”, better.

These thoughts were also expressed by Greta Thunberg. She Connects Climate, Ecological, and Health Crises in this short video. While she does highlight problems, moving toward, or being led by our dreams of a better life for all will crowd out the problems:

Start over by being led by your dreams – make a better reality. I am interested in hearing how you generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share how you make it a great day, week, year, life.

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Trees & Forests Can Help Us!?

I recently read and reviewed a very interesting book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World. It amazed and inspired me. The wisdom in the trees is amazing, we can learn so much about how we can make our lives better for everyone and everything by learning how trees manage their lives. As Peter Wohllenben documents, with clarity and support, forests practice Paneugenesis because they generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Below is the review I posted on Goodreads and Google books.

Wow – what different thoughts I have after reading this book. I was surprised at how much this book impacted my thoughts. Understand I also have an informed bias. I am an environmentalist and believe we not only must live sustainably, but we also have to fix all we have broken. My reading indicates this book supported that belief while also helping me gain an even better and deeper understanding of the innate interconnections of all living beings on earth.

The book nudged me to see trees, and plants for that matter, as living beings, but on a different time scale than us. Trees live 500 to 1000 years so they change slowly. This slow rate of change has caused us to see trees as things, rather than living beings. Wohlleben makes a strong case for how and why trees are living beings. He even got me to understand how trees may have emotions and feelings. As he states and makes clear, “… Trees are not competitive crusaders but members of a connected, related community system.”

I was amazed over and over again by the hidden capabilities of trees and forests. Trees also form a community and are connected. They also help each other, even other plants thought to be competitors because it is the whole, the forest, that takes priority. I was continually awed. For instance, I was amazed to learn about all the natural defenses trees and forests develop to use for floods, heat and cold that are lost when trees are moved from the forest to a city.  

I was also amazed to learn how trees clean the air. Trees also react to their surroundings. Trees send out scents to attract predators or push away greedy plants or animals when needed. I was also amazed to learn if trees don’t have time to rest due to lights in a city or are not able to experience the coolness of the winter, they die earlier. It was also interesting to learn how helpful it is for the well-being of trees to have relatives, such as mother and father trees, close by. The mother trees nurture their babies, just like us. I was amazed to learn that trees also suffer from loneliness and die early when they are removed from a forest.

In other words, trees practice paneugenesis and therefore generate comprehensive improvements by making life more livable. They are act selfishly to keep a forest abundant because it provides their greatest chance for a good life, it acts selflessly by helping others when they need it, and these selfish, selfless, symbiotic actions cause synergistic benefits from which everyone and everything benefits.

Near the end of the book, he stated: “Forests are not first and foremost lumber factories and warehouses for raw materials, and only secondarily complex habitats for thousands of species, which is the way modern forestry treats them. Completely the opposite, in fact.” In a similar way, this is the point I try to make with my work focused on health. We do not first and foremost take actions and do things to prevent bad consequences from happening, and only secondarily improve well-being, which is how our “health” care system and society works now. Results document the complete opposite is the more beneficial path.

We should engage in actions that enhance our society with a systems appreciation so our actions generate comprehensive improvements that benefit everyone and everything. This is the system of the forest that Peter Wohlleben explained in his book, “The Hidden Life of Trees: what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world”. Nature can teach us so much…

I was inspired to learn more about what the trees and forests can teach us so I am now enjoying Suzanne Simard’s book, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.

Please enjoy this short introductory video by Dr. Simard:

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Method to Improve Judgements

I recently read the 2021 book, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein. I posted a paired down version of the review below:

“Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement” was a good surprise for me. Daniel Kahneman and Cass Sustein’s were two of the three authors of this book. Their books, Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast & Slow” mentioned in many posts such as Unique Well-Being Influences of Experience and Memory) and Sunstein’s “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, & Happiness” (also discussed in many posts) were both great books. This book for me was an extension of those works and how to use the ideas presented in those books more effectively. It certainly shifted my thinking from believing it was just bias that could cause errors, to understanding how our diverse thoughts can be more effectively coralled in ways that result in better judgment. The book also helped me understand why noise is an unseen and therefore uncorrected problem and why a focus on improving our decision process can help.

Nate Silver’s book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t” differentiated the signal from noise in the data with a focus on recognizing the signal. This book explained more about the noise. It explained how “Noise” can cause errors when we use our mind as a measuring instrument. Noise, which can happen on occasion, because of hunger, other concerns, and inattention to details can lead to all of us generating different judgments, even to the same situations. These different judgments lead to increased variance. More consistency, a suggested goal, could occur by lowering the variance through better methods or processes. Improved processes was also the main successful method Dr. W. Edwards Deming promoted to improve quality.

I also now better understand the idea of “Wisdom of the Crowds”. They also acknowledged wisdom does depend on the crowd. The idea of wisdom in crowds is how multiple views aggregated can cancel out errors. Cancelling out or averaging errors cannot happen with single shot assessments by judges or insurance adjusters. To make these single shot judgments less problematic, they recommend improving the decision process by treating those single shot judgements as recurring events. In other words, just as Deming demonstrated with quality management methods, continual process improvements should be the focus – the decision making process in this case.

I was surprised to learn that the powerful impact of anchoring was so pervasive. Anchoring seemed to be a repeated issue or source of errors. Anchoring, as has been shown, happens in situation when the first event, such as a price mentioned, becomes the anchor or reference point from which all else is measured or judged. One of their suggestions to counter anchoring is to use base rates as an anchor. 

It was also explained how anchors are formed from first impressions, first statements and more. After an anchor is established, generally without our conscious recognition, we then use confirmation bias to distort new information so it fits that anchored or our original impression. We do this because we seek coherence. It seems none of us likes to be confused so we attempt o create coherence.

Noise is a very good book that helped me understand how our built in biases such as anchoring, planning fallacy, present bias (endowment effect), confirmation bias , substitution of easier answers for more complicated questions, overconfidence, loss aversion, availability and others impact our judgement. They also offered many ways to improve our judgement. Specifically it seems they are suggesting we slow down so we can use our logical brain, rather than our intuitive brain to make better judgements – what they call Decision Hygiene.

Basically, their generally suggestions to make better judgments, and be more accurate, are to take an outside view by determining a base rate, structure judgements based on several independently determined assessments (independence of assessments is vital), resist premature intuition (to avoid the anchoring effect), and then aggregate multiple independent judgements prior to making overall judgment. They also emphasize the superiority of relative versus absolute judgments. In other words, if you are interested in improving your personal or organizational judgments, I recommend the book, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement”.

An important lesson I was reminded of from reading this book was not to let one area be most important. As we build a better life, it all matters. As I show in my work with the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale (SWPS), all areas in our life can make a meaningful contribution to helping promote personal and planetary well-being. In other words, my research and that of many others has shown that we can help generate comprehensive improvements by creating reciprocal, pervasive, selfish, selfless, synergistic physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, and environmental interactions that help everyone and everything benefit. The missed point, often because of the push for significance in research, is that the results are from the longer term accumulation of impacts and all contributions matter. If you are interested, you can review any of the peer reviewed articles I have published with colleagues. To access, you may need to go to libraries and use Google Scholar. A recommended search is Becker, CM, salutogenesis, health, and well-being.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about promoting selfish, selfless, synergy so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Make Work/Life Balance a Benefit

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Work-Life Balance is defined as: the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy. That is confusing, by definition that means you do not enjoy time at work. W. Edwards Deming, the famous quality management expert strived to help people experience “Joy in Work”

If we are entitled to Joy in Work, doesn’t that mean work should be a benefit, not a balance? Why are we only shooting for balance? What does that mean? We should generate a Work Life Benefit! We should design our life at work with the aim to have our experiences at work and life outside of work be reciprocally beneficial. Life should be mutually beneficial and reinforcing.

We gain skills at home and work by developing relationships and understanding how to be more competent at tasks. Our increased competency in each area of our lives should make the other parts better – if they are not, some adjustments are needed. Realize, this is a choice.

The idea that the impact work has on us is a choice was explained in the Harvard Business Review Article, Work-Life Balance Is a Cycle, Not an Achievement by Ioana Lupu & Mayra Ruiz-Castro. The article explains balancing work and life is “… not a one-time activity, but rather a cycle of continuous re-evaluation and improvement.” The article however is mostly focused on how to make sure work doesn’t cause problems. They recommend using these 5 steps:

  1. Pause & denormalize
  2. Pay attention to your emotions
  3. Reprioritize
  4. Consider your alternatives
  5. Implement changes

These steps can be valuable if used proactively to make work and life mutually beneficial, not just less damaging. I recommend we change the perspective towards seeing how we develop and become a better person and actively make work a benefit, not a burden.

In other words, our aim each day should be to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions at work and home so everyone and everything benefits. As we do that we will develop not just a work/life balance, but a work/life benefit.

Please share how you create work/life benefit.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Get in the box

I noticed I had several drafts about the same theme. In all these drafts I was wondering, why do people believe I think outside the box?

Out of the Box thinking is described to be when people think in an original or creative way.

I had always assumed that thinking outside the box meant you were being creative and finding better solutions. I assumed it meant you did not accept traditional norms and that a person thinking outside the box was not doing things the way they were always done. This is accurate, in a sense, however there is more to “Outside the Box Thinking”, at least according to Wikipedia, and it all started with 9-Dot Puzzle.

What Would be “Thinking Outside the Box?

I work in the health field and my focus is on what creates, generates or causes better physical, mental and social well-being. How is that original or out of the box thinking? Couldn’t that represent in the box thinking, just from a different angle? While I don’t go directly at well-being, I focus obliquely on factors associated with improved well-being such as relationships, personal and group development, physical activity and food selection. Although the goal is not specifically well-being, it is pretty direct. We also know that John Kay explained to us why, For Complex, Oblique(Obliquity) is More Effective.

Well-being, life, health and society are about as complex as it gets. This then suggests that traditional and prevailing approaches may not be as effective as they could be. This may also may explain why traditional approaches in health, business and the environment could benefit from a different perspective. From an outsiders view, it seems they started by thinking outside the box and need a better perspective. Lets review:

For Business: thinking generally focuses around how to decrease costs and avoid problems…Instead of thinking how can we serve customers better while we also, simultaneously, clean the air, land and water from their uses. In other words how can we be multipliers of our time (see: Be Fruitful and Multiply – Time That is…) For many, and based on how society has progressed, it appeared our “Take, Make, Waste” system was effective. However, if we take a different perspective in the box, as Ray Anderson did with “Interface”, that takes into account that everyone and everything is connected. Using this approach, Ray demonstrated how we can be even more effective, efficient, profitable as we also improve everyone and everything. (see We Must Make It Better – Saving the Planet not Enough!)

For the Environment: thinking generally focuses on how to clean up problems, using the “Take, Make, Waste” to bend nature to our will….Instead of thinking how an we work with nature as all other creatures on earth has done to live in a way that makes life more livable. The idea of living in ways that generate a “Net Positive” has been outlined by Jane Benyus, Kate Raworth and many others (see: Parallel NOT Linear Means Create Positive AND Prevent Negative, Aim to Thrive, Not Just Grow for a Better Tomorrow)These ideas have also been operationalized by McDonough and Braungart in Cradle to Cradle and Upcycle.

In Health: thinking generally focuses on how to treat diseases and or avoid risk factors…Instead of thinking how can we increase physical, mental and social well-being. The majority of the focus and effort being used by health is how to find disease and treat it. It is as if we are trying to be a day late and a dollar short with regard to improved well-being by “Thinking Outside the Box”. We could be in the box using Antonovsky’s salutogenesis and focusing on what causes health. Many of these ideas are capture here: We Need to Use the 3rd Alternative

As I reviewed this information about “Thinking Outside the Box”, a proverb came to mind:

“To change and to improve are two different things.”

German proverb

Time for a Reboot

Sometimes we need a new start, a reboot. We need a reboot because now some things are backward, upside down and confused. Let’s get in box and use a better perspective. Life is all about probabilities. It is time to turn the tables in our favor by getting “In the Box” and using a better, “Net Positive” focus and perspective that uses oblique factors related to helping everyone and everything.

A “Net Positive” results from using a Selfish, Selfless, Synergy focus. Selfish, Selfless, Synergy efforts help generate comprehensive benefits by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits, or the practice of paneugenesis. Please share you engage in #SelfishSelflessSynergy so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Progress, Not Problem Focus Essential

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.

The same question was asked in an April 8, 2021 NYT article, “Does It Hurt Children to Measure Pandemic Learning Loss?” This article questions if we are stigmatizing a generation. I encourage you to read this linked article and share your thoughts.

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!

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Stop the Death of Expertise

I recently read Tom Nichols The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. He had originally written this essay, also titled “The Death of Expertise”, as a precursor to the book. If you find the essay interesting, which I did, I recommend you read the book.

He also documents the importance of trusting others. Specialization is good, we get higher quality and it means we do not need to know everything, which we couldn’t anyway. This also means we need to have trust. Even better, we can be part of the solution when we become experts in our own domain. Experts empower selfish, selfless, synergistic actions. #SelfishSelflessSynergy

I liked the final points in his essay about things to think about with regard to interactions with experts. His book does a great job explaining and describing all these points. He writes:

“Here, presented without modesty or political sensitivity, are some things to think about when engaging with experts in their area of specialization.

Tom Nichols, Death of Expertise

We can all stipulate: the expert isn’t always right.

But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. (Because, likely, it is.)

Experts come in many flavors. Education enables it, but practitioners in a field acquire expertise through experience; usually the combination of the two is the mark of a true expert in a field. But if you have neither education nor experience, you might want to consider exactly what it is you’re bringing to the argument.

In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible. The University of Google doesn’t count. Remember: having a strong opinion about something isn’t the same as knowing something.

And yes, your political opinions have value. Of course they do: you’re a member of a democracy and what you want is as important as what any other voter wants. As a layman, however, your political analysis, has far less value, and probably isn’t — indeed, almost certainly isn’t — as good as you think it is.”

I also provided the review below on GoodReads.com and Google Books to encourage more to read this important book:

Death of Expertise is a Great book. There are so many valuable insights, I strongly encourage you to read the book. I can only highlight a few I thought were of value.

He explains, expertise is not dead but it and respect for it is on life support. The main idea I got from the book was how people are mixing up the fact that everybody’s vote counts the same in this country with the idea that our opinions are of equal value. As he points out, in clear detail, experts are of great value, importance and service to society. They help us make sense of the flood of information available. For example, he appreciates dentists because he knows even on a dentists worst day and on his best, his ability to dentistry would be wholly lacking despite what he could read on the internet.

Yes everybody can have an opinion, but educated opinions from schooling and experience are of significantly greater value and it has been what has made our lives possible. It is the ability of people to become experts at different functions that allows us to have a higher quality of life. Nobody can do everything well. Yes we could all probably build our own houses as they did in days past, but then the quality of our houses would be severely lacking for most who not have the requisite expertise.

He also suggests that much loss of respect for expertise seems to be a way to protect fragile egos. As he notes, everything is not a matter of opinion, some things are right and wrong. Yes, sometimes experts are wrong, but is rare and that is why it is news. We all must understand we can be wrong. Some of this problem has been fed by the media that now focuses more on entertaining than on informing and fact-checking. Of course the internet is a huge source of problems because all the information appears to be of equal value despite about 90% of the information on the internet being incorrect. Deciphering what is right and what is wrong is difficult for a layperson. For example, he notes the public claims they have been misled to which experts and policy makers respond, “how would you know?”

This relates to his discussion of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This effect helps us understand why the least informed are the most confident in opinions. They are confident, though wrong, because they do not have the understanding to know there information is insufficient. I am sure if you are reading this blog, you know how much you do not know, but it is still easy for all of us to point out mistakes and to believe we have a more thorough understanding than we do. That is the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Predictions by experts are hard because science helps explain and understand more than predict. It is also hard to predict because it is impossible to account for all possible intervening factors. Predictions by experts, however, are almost always much better than by those less informed. Of course there are time when uninformed get it right, but it is rare. The difference in how often experts or laypersons are right would dramatically impact our lives and we are better because we more often rely on experts.

Death of Expertise in Higher Education
He also provides a great chapter about Higher Education. As a professor I especially appreciated this information. He suggests it is important to universities to focus on helping students become more self-reliant and resist knowledge being viewed as a consumer good for students purchase. As he points out in one example, it is easier for students to email the professor with a question than to find the answer themselves. Students often think of emailing a professor like communicating with a customer service department, this however does not help students become more self-reliant. There are also more difficulties because if the professor pushes students to do their own work, they may come back with a “customer is always right” retort, putting higher education in a precarious position.

To me this is one reason society should help support higher education more so students are not forced to go into debt to get a university education. Higher education should be seen more as a privilege and societal obligation to improve. He was concerned that students are being taught to be picky consumers rather than critical thinkers. He is also concerned that students are learning that feelings matter more than rationality and facts because often emotion trumps everything else.

Throughout the book, he also emphasized that facts, which can be obtained on the internet, is not the same as knowledge or ability. I teach an Applied Principles class and students are always amazed how difficult it is to apply what seems like common sense information.

In his discussion of “Wisdom of Crowds” he acknowledges that the average of many guesses, like for the weight of a pig, will be very accurate. This suggests crowds can have wisdom but it does not mean all in the crowd are wise. While this suggests the Wisdom of Crowds is valuable, it does not mean crowds should run society. A wisdom of crowds does not translate well into creating a coherent policy. Small groups of experts are needed for that because they are needed to aggregate the publics irresolvable demands.

As I noted, there is so much good in this book, I could only skim the surface of what I found interesting and of value. I strongly recommend you read it. If you want a sampling, you can read the short essay, “Death of Expertise” he wrote and suggested inspired him to write the book. Enjoy…

I hope this inspires you to build on your expertise and to value and use that of others. Developing expertise is a way to practice paneugenesis because it will help generate comprehensive benefits by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfish, synergistic interactions so everyone and eveything benefits. Thank you for helping everyone and everything benefit. Please share your efforts so we can learn from your selfish, selfless, synergistic actions. Thank you.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.