Longcut is the Shortcut

I learned the truth of Beverly Sills quote while I was doing the Ropes Course at the US National White Water Center in Charlotte, NC. While on the course I attempted to follow my daughter through the advanced path on this course. I wasn’t planning on doing the advanced course but I was doing well and she said there is only 3 more stages. I got on the advanced course and although challenging, I was progressing. Then I got to the most challenging last section of the course and I was tired. This part required us to walk over swinging wood boards.

Swinging boards on rope course 

As I got to about the middle, I selfishly thought, I need a break. I then thought it might be easier to take a shortcut by sitting on the boards and scooting over the boards to the finish.

My attempted shortcut caused me to get my cord tangled and required me to do several extra boards to be able to complete the course. The shortcut I thought I was taking was really a long cut.

This was an analogy to life. Evidence from research indicates that shortcuts supposedly designed to create a better life may produce short term gains but most times result in poor long-term outcomes. Many, such as Martin Seligman, PhD, in his book Authentic Happiness, attribute our desire for shortcuts to a better life to be related to the increases in depression.

As Dr. Seligman demonstrates, happiness, progress and success must be earned. Rewards cannot be given to us.  If they are given to us, what is being rewarded? Value generally becomes associated with price. The cost in life is not money but time, effort and diligence. Paying with personal effort enables us to purchase a better life, a valuable commodity. 

Life often teaches us that what appears to are shortcuts are not faster or more efficient. Vital to this approach  is perspective. It is not that life has to be hard, it is the best and most rewarding way. It is not the required path, but choosing to do things better can be rewarding.

Today I learned that the interaction which appeared to be the long cut because it required me to work harder to exceed expectations and finish the ropes course, was actually the shortcut. Using this harder path was the only path that could allow me to earn a glowing sense of accomplishment. As it turns out, the harder path was the fastest way and it was worth the effort.

In life I choose to make the effort needed to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.Please share the benefits you experience by making an extra effort to exceed expectations.

P.S. If you are interested, John Rosemond’s linked 12/7/2020 column. This column provides a long cut that is really a shortcut for parenting:

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Children

Be Well’r,

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Logic of Ending Pandemic Response Team

Breaking News:

Did Trump Administration Fire the US Pandemic Response Team?

I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it.

According to FactCheck.org® regarding plans to defund public health agencies prior to the coronavirus outbreak, they stipulate (see Fact Check.Org for more detail):

Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts: It’s true that the president’s proposed budgets have included funding cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but Congress hasn’t enacted those cuts.

In other words, it is not clear what exactly happened.

This is not a democratic or republican issue. Logically, why should we fund an agency and people only to respond to an emergency? From an efficiency standpoint, it would be a waste money. After all, since capable people are working, we could just mount a defense if something happens. Calling on them only when needed keeps them working on other matters until necessary. That is logical.

This the paradigm or current way of thinking for our “acute”, fix it when its broken, health care system. This thinking also dominates much of our lives. Regular Harvard Business Review contributor and author Umair Haque makes this clear in his multiple publications. By default, the fix it when it is broken or pathogenesis, problem origin thinking, has captured our thought and action process. This seems to be how things are done and how the system is designed.

Multiple promising alternatives seem to provide a better way. Umair Haque outlines a better way with better processes and outcomes in his many publications such as, Betterness: Economics for Humans, The Betterness Manifesto – Harvard Business Review, The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business and on Harvard Business Review: The Awesomeness Manifesto.

Based on these works, my work and that of many others, evidence suggests a better way exists. On December 7, 2014 I also suggested a better way when I commented that team to respond to emergencies seemed inefficient in my post, Evolve Maintenance to Improvement to Create +3’s. In this post I noted,

Maintenance means to maintain what we have. Of course that is good and better than making things worse and may be needed when something doesn’t work. From another perspective, it may be valuable to not see this as a problem but as an opportunity. These situations are an opportunity to create better if the focus is on true improvement and the aim is to create a +3 so everyone and everything benefits. Recall +3 relates to Exceeding Expectations.

A way to put this idea into practice is to evolve maintenance programs, groups or people to Continuous Improvers. As I have often discussed, the paneugenesis concept and model’s basic aim is to produce gains and make things better than they could be otherwise.

To put this into practice, I have my students do projects aim is a thriving, better than possible now outcome. I explain, the outcome should mean things are better than they could be even if nothing unforeseen happens. This challenges them because topical issues in their chapters include Disaster Preparedness, Violence Prevention, Smoking Cessation, Physical Activity, Sexual Health, Eating Well, Substance Safety, Injury Prevention, Oral Health and Organizational Wellness. Some topics that are health promoting such as physical activity, eating well and sexual health seem direct, but others related to injury, violence, or cessation are not.

All however pose a challenge because just because we are physically active or eat well – they must develop a process and desired outcome that would document a thriving organization. In our rich society, positive outcomes are expectations. Everybody knows health promoting actions should be done. They therefore have to design a project such that everyone and everything benefits and the by-product is the topic they are assigned.

Great results included bringing construction management, interior design, and public health students along with many others to develop unused spaces in dorms that were on the basement level. Creating a basement area through student driven projects would provide great learning experiences for the students as it developed a network or professionals on campus. This process would create a study area for students not available previously that they could use on a daily basis. Then, as a by-product, these basements provided a place to go if a disaster happens. The process also created networked group of professionals ready and able to respond to a disaster, as a by-product. If in the future a disaster did not occur, these actions have still made it better for all.

Another project proposed transforming unused space on campus into an eSports arena. Computer programmers, interior designers, construction management, marketing students, and business students all could be involved to develop skills while creating a state of the art eSports program. This eSports program however would utilize active programs to increase physical activity as it also made social interaction more likely thus generating physical activity and social interaction as a by-product as it created and built a better campus.

For other topical areas, a caring community’s by-product would be violence prevention, a more walkable campus would increase interaction and physical activity whose by-product would be injury prevention. The ideas are endless, the difference is that the starting point is the idealized outcome of a better community than is possible now, not the problem hoping to be avoided. Thinking of the problem to eliminate may not make things better unless it is the aim.

Other examples created a desirable community through the development of skills necessary to enable a better life with a by-product of less problems and the by-product capability to handle problems that do occur. As noted by Steven Pinker, reason overcomes violence.

The processes that result in “Betterness” and “Awesomeness” as described by Umair Haque is what I call Paneugenesis because it generates comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. In other words, ending the Pandemic Response team makes sense if we use the prevailing style of management. Unfortunately that method focuses on what to after it breaks so it is not as effective as focusing on how to make things better than before by using the Paneugenesis Process whose by-product also leaves us more prepared.

The Netherlands used this approach in the 1950’s after a flooding. Please see the 60 Minutes story and others of how they created a better community that as a by-product, also prevented flooding.

 

Please share your thoughts below about how you will create improvement, not just maintenance. Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

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

Thank you for reading, please comment below and contact me:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com