In 2014 I wrote this post, Dad Our House is on Fire!…People are Amazing! I wrote this because I was in awe of the amazing generosity we experienced after our house burned down and we lost most of our belongings. As I noted in that post, despite the awful news we hear 24/7, I believe most people are good. I also believe people want to help others. Scientifically this makes sense because it makes us feel good.
To my delight, I once again was in awe of amazing generosity of others. As I noted in 2014,
“… my belief that people are amazing has been confirmed.” Again!
My belief that people are good has been confirmed again – people are amazing! This time it was confirmed when my wife and I went Lowes to pick up some lattice for our yard.
I have a Prius which has a hatchback and almost everything fits. This time however we were about 2 inches shy of being able to get the lattice into the hatch. As we picked up the lattice to return it to the store. a gentleman, with broken English gets our attention and says, “do you need help?” We explained we did and he then offered to carry the lattice pieces in his truck to our house. People are amazing!
We loaded the lattice in the back of his truck and asked him to follow us. Of course, if you believe the news, he would have driven away with the material. He did not. He kindly brought the material to our house, helped us unload it and said he was glad to help. We offered to pay him, but he refused. People are amazing!
Overall, it was a nice, net-positive pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interaction. This is a way to practice paneugenesis because it helped generate more good, not just less bad. That act encouraged me and my wife to pay it forward, thus causing a positive pervasive ripple, as it also reinforced our belief that most people are good and kind. People are amazing!
Make it a great week by being the amazing person you know you can be. Also please share your stories of yourself or others paying it forward!
The book was fascinating to me because it highlighted and made clear why We are Just Talking Apes and how There is Only US, There is no Them as I attempted to suggest previously. I loved Zoobiquity because it documented how similar all living things are on earth and that “we should be looking at the overlap rather than the differences” between species due to our shared ancestry.
I was fascinated as they demonstrated how other animals also have foresight, regret, shame guilt, love and revenge. These are things I thought I saw in our dogs, but I thought I was anthropomorphizing their behaviors. I guess I was not.
Examples of similarities in the book included how all animals, like humans can Faint when scared. This led to a better explanation of our instincts that are generally only described as Fight or Flight. A true description of our reactions is “Fight, Flight, or Faint” when startled. As they documented, faking death, like when we Faint, had survival benefits and may be why it lasted through our evolution.
I thought most interesting was how they showed some behaviors that many attribute to bad character, also exist in the animal kingdom. For instance, there is a section that describes eating disorders in the animal kingdom that mirror humans eating disorders. (see Intriguing links between animal behavior and anorexia nervosa by Treasure, Janet & Owen, John) Other behaviors such as homosexuality, trans sex and even sex between species exists in other animals meaning it evolved for a survival reason and is still in our DNA.
In other examples they document the proliferation of STDs in the animal kingdom. After all, they don’t have antibiotics or any type of protection. In another similarity, they document how teenage animals act similar to human teenagers. The similarity relates to their behaviors. As explained, teenage brains don’t register danger as adults do and this may be why they take what seems to be “stupid” or unwise actions. They however explain, “These risky behaviors can encourage encounters with threats and competitions that may hurt them but actually end up being helpful for success later in life.” They even suggest that it may be more dangerous when adolescents don’t take risks than if they do. If risks are avoided, they are not prepared for life.
Overall, these many comparisons and similarities indicate that what happens are not necessarily flaws or problems of humans, it is hard wired into us. These actions are just part of our shared DNA, those actions however can also be influenced by our environment.
Sex, Drugs, &…
They also showed how animals in the wild sometimes get hooked on drugs, who knew? They also explained that animals have varied sex drives, high or low, and some animals even use some of the same techniques to attract mates as can be seen in humans. It was amazing to learn. They even suggest that an “Orgasm is not the byproduct of sex, it is the bait from erotic ancestry” that enables, or supports reproduction.
There were some unpleasant things in the book. A disturbing section explained humans believed animals did not feel. This existed until fairly recently — though some still believe this, especially about fish. Humans had the false belief that animals could not feel because we could not understand how they thought. Animals react differently to pain, some withdraw rather than vocalize it, at least that we can hear. They relate this to how many thought even babies did not feel pain up until the 1980s.
The authors discussion of pleasure and then drugs was also enlightening. They explained how pleasure and rewards initiated behaviors that helped us survive and negative emotions altered behaviors when survival was threatened. They then relate this to drugs by explaining people become addicted because drugs can falsely signal we are doing something beneficial to our fitness that helps our survival. They also provide an enlightening discussion about how this relates to and feeds addictions.
Nature or Nurture??
An insightful point they demonstrated was that it is not a Nature or Nurture answer, but a dance between each. As was explained, Nature & Nurture are not a divide but rather an endless feedback loop of information that enables adaptation. For example, they document that animals, like humans, can get fat when there is an abundance of food and no predators. They also document animals, like humans, will consume processed foods to their detriment because of the false signals created by these ultra-processed foods.
Overall, again and again, from drugs, to sex, to relationships, they document how these are issues for all in the animal kingdom, not just for humans. It had a copyright of 2012 however it is very current. The most current part was how it seems to have led to the development of the new World Health Organizations initiative, “One Health”.
‘One Health’ is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combatting antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat)..
Many of the same microbes infect animals and humans, as they share the eco-systems they live in. Efforts by just one sector cannot prevent or eliminate the problem. For instance, rabies in humans is effectively prevented only by targeting the animal source of the virus (for example, by vaccinating dogs).
Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics. Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.
We can Do More
One Health is a great start, however it seems to only focus on how we can better avoid, treat and or prevent problems. In my view it does not put enough emphasis on how health is created and improved.
From my reading it became even more vital to work towards generating comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and EVERYTHING benefits. All living things are connected and the aim of all living things must be to live in a way that makes life more livable.
Natterson-Horowitz & Bowers seem to agree, at the end, they explain:
The fate of our world health doesn’t depend solely on how we humans fare, rather it will be determined by how ALL patients on the planet live, grow, get sick and heal.
Natterson-Horowitz & Bowers in “Zoobiquity”
Let’s create all good, we can’t wait for people or animals to become patients, we must proactively work to make life more livable and better for all.
“It’s the economy stu**#?!” was a famous catch phrase when Clinton ran for president and in a book by Paul Begala about George W. Bush’s presidency. As the title states, “It Still the Economy, Stupid”.
This idea seemed to catch on because the economy seemed to be instrumental in peoples lives. Most people cared about the economy because they thought the state of the economy would have an impact on their lives.
Research continues to document that the things around us, such as the economy, greatly impact what we do and what we think. From a more general perspective, it’s not the economy, it’s the environment that is most influential.
Social Cognitive theory (also referred to as Social Learning Theory) explains how thoughts (cognitions), behaviors, and the environment continually influence one another. As any one of these factors changes, so do the others. Therefore, when we alter the environment, our thoughts and behaviors will also change, reciprocally. It is what is referred to as reciprocal determinism. If you are interested in learning more, you can watch this short video.
The power of the environment drives many recommendations. The simplest recommendation is to have healthy food in your house, prepared, and it will more likely be the food you eat. This simple point was driven home for me when I saw how we changed our home environment for our new puppy. For some reason he liked to play with our bolt cap covers on the bottom of the toilet (see pictures). To solve the problem, we put out toys and removed the bolt cap covers. He now plays with better toys and we don’t have a problem. All of this happened by “simply” changing the environment. How can you change your environment to get the outcomes you desire?
Simplicity, however is sometimes overrated, there is always more than one causal factor and this alone make simplicity incomplete. Still, Einstein was a fan,
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Preparing healthy food and having it available in my home generates a health promoting environment that makes health more likely. Making healthy food available is a time multiplier (see Be Fruitful and Multiply – Time That is…) I find myself, upon reflection, using time multiplier options all the time. Many actions, that take time initially, can create an environment more likely to generate desirable outcomes. For instance my wife and I share the notes App on our iPhones. It took time to set up, however now whenever we run low on things, or need to get something, we put it on our shared list and we are more likely to get and have things in our environment that we need. In this way, our digital environment helps our home environment.
Idea from this post: Design your environment to make your desired outcomes more likely. The environment enables or inhibits desired outcomes. Though it will take some work initially to create the environment you want, the time spent creating that desirable environment, will save your time – as Rory Vader explains, it is a Time Multiplier.
Behaviors Become Habits
It is important ot remember that any action taken sets the foundation for a habit. (see What We Do Without Thinking, Sharing “Atomic Habits” Wisdom from James Clear … and more. The environment we live in determine if engaging in that behavior will be easy or more difficult. Understanding this means we should design your environment to make desired behaviors easier so a better life can take care of itself because as behaviors become habits, it will be what we do without thinking. Habits are also great time savers, or time multipliers.
Please share how you design you environment to generate comprehensive benefits by enabling more net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
To enlighten means “(to) give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation”. Upon further reflection, I realized that we learn more by asking questions, often unexpected, questions that may seem to be off the topic at first.
An example of asking a different and somewhat off the mark questions happened when Marshall & Warren discovered that it was a bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, not stress and lifestyle that caused peptic ulcers (see this 1984 Lancet article). This amazing discovery was possible because they asked good questions. That paradigm improving work helped them to eventually win the 2005 Nobel Prize.
As I attended a fantastic 2022 Appalachian Energy Summitt presentation about how North Carolina was going to get to net-zero carbon with transportation, a question broke our rabbit hole thinking. The discussion was about electric cars and continued with a discussion about the need for a recharging infrastructure, fast charging stations and or battery exchanges, and the need for policy. As we learned, despite available technology, without supportive policy, change is unlikely. As we continued down the rabbit hole of electric cars and their benefits, then infrastructure, fast chargers, and exchange batteries, someone asked a question: What about trains? High speed rail?
It stopped us in our tracks (pun intended). As he stated, even if we have all this, we still must drive, ugh… If we had trains, we could arrive rested, socialize, read, do work if desired and travel easily. He also pointed out the possibility of trains helping NC get to net-zero emission if done right. As I reflected, I realized how different our conversation would have been if we would have thought about what the best way would be to travel, rather than how can we just convert what we currently do toward something better. This question enlightened.
A Problem focus is limiting
Questions enlighten. If we start with the understanding we want things to be better and deprivation will never work for the long term, it will help. Deprivation means doing without. Unless we have a better substitute, it will not be desired. Seeing the new way as better requires framing and promotion. Simply eliminating a problem is less bad, not more good and it limits our thinking toward the problem, not a possible paradigm improving solution as documented by Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden & Build Theory of Positive Emotions (see Build a Net Positive Life for ALL).
This is important because we always move towards what seems better. But to get us to move in that direction, the good must be 3x better than the loss is bad (refer to Critical Positivity Line or the Losada Line). The positive must be 3x more beneficial than the loss because evolution taught us to be oversensitive to losses. We function with what experts call loss aversion. Loss aversion is part of us because it enabled us to survive. Therefore, if we want paradigm improving answers, we shouldn’t ask, what is the problem? As Einstein explained:
Asking a different question enlightens because it can enable us to use different thinking. In health we seem to only ask, what causes sickness? Why are we asking that question when we want to know, “What causes health?” Asking the right questions can help us think about how to create comprehensive improvements that are much more than just not bad.
Prevention benefits mean nothing bad happens, it does not necessarily create more good. By definition, it will just get us back to where we were before. Of course this is good, at least not worse, but why not create better? Time and again we look for errors that could have been eliminated, suggesting less errors is higher quality. Unfortunately, less errors only mean things are less bad than they could have been, not truly better. To me that type of thinking sets the bar too low.
Dr. Deming often explained it doesn’t make sense to focus on getting better at things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Inspecting at the end of an assembly line, he would explain, could not produce higher quality products, it could only catch errors. Quality management meant focusing on doing all the steps better, through informed decisions made possible with process behavior charts. Process behavior charts also enabled better connection between the steps so all could be done better. It matters more how things work together than how anything works independently. A continually improved process is far more effective than an improved ability to find errors at the end.
Isn’t searching for and finding errors what we usually do. We measure for errors rather than showing what could be. I thought of this as I listened to the June 3, 2022 NYTime Daily Podcast, “The Cost of Haiti’s Freedom“. I encourage you to listen here.
It wasn’t so much about what they lost that sparked my interest, but later in the podcast the information they calculated about what good could have been created. If rather than paying the “double debt” back to France, Haiti could have invested in themselves and could have had a thriving island of educated citizens who would have had a better opportunity to live up to their potential and contribute. Nothing says it would have happened, but it could have…
It seems this linked Mother Goose and Grim comic strip, posted the same day as this post was attempting to make the same point. How much better can that camel perform??
As was explained in the NYTimes Daily podcast, at about minute 12, Haiti paid France $560 million dollars. Then they said, if that money had stayed in Haiti, it would be worth $21 billion dollars to Haiti which could have been used for schools and roads. That was in raw dollars, according to calculations by economists, they determined that it could have been worth $115 billion dollars if the money was used wisely. They explained that this was the opportunity cost of the money that went to France. In other words, it is what Haiti could have been – a country with electricity, water, schools and health care.
They suggested that it was magical thinking. Is it magical thinking, or is it seeing a future that we want to create and then working to make it so? According to John List in his 2022 book, “The Voltage Effect: how to make good ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale“, this type of thinking is what was the best chess players do. They use backward induction to figure out how to create the best outcome. Is that magical thinking? No – it is backward induction or Prospective Hindsight (see Use Prospective Hindsight to Create a Better Tomorrow) It is what is used by everyone who creates better outcomes than what currently exists. It is also what I suggest we do with the Paneugenesis Process by first creating an Idealized Outcome, an outcome that cannot be now, but could be if we redesign reality to make it so.
John List explained, this evolved from Zermelos Theorem. According to what is posted on Wikipedia, backward induction is:
…is a process of reasoning backward in time. It is used to analyse and solve extensive form games of perfect information. This method analyses the game starting at the end, and then works backwards to reach the beginning. In the process, backward induction determines the best strategy for the player that made the last move. Then the ultimate strategy is determined for the next-to last moving player of the game. The process is repeated again determining the best action for every point in the game has been found. Therefore, backward induction determines the Nash equilibrium of every subgame in the original game.
Although life does not allow perfect information, shouldn’t all of us use backward induction to determine our next move? My point, in simplistic form. If we want to improve, we must start with what we want, i.e. a regenerative world, not just a sustainable one (see Getting Better as We Fix What we Broke).
We can live a lifestyle that not only makes our lives better by living it, by eating a plant strong diet, by being active with friends and family, building our minds be cooperating, and by learning and creating new methods to generate comprehensive improvements through the creation of net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits so everyone and everything benefits. This is the Practice of Paneuegenesis.
This can be made more likely by measuring for benefits, rather than problems to avoid. Dream of a better future not possible now, an Idealized Outcome seen through Prospective Hindsight. Then use backward induction to figure out how to create that desired reality. It will be exciting work to generate and contribute toward creating a better world for everyone and everything. Please share how you are using the same strategy the best chess players use, backward induction, to create a desired outcome that helps generate comprehensive improvements.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.”
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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 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
Also Archbishop Tutu described getting joy in this way…
“… if you set out to be joyful you are not going to end up being joyful. You’re going to find yourself turned in on yourself. It’s like a flower. You open, you blossom, really, because of other people.”
Archbishop Tutu in “The Book of Joy”
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….
“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.
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
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.
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:
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…