Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How to save the world one unique snowflake at a time

Let me begin this by giving some context, setting the stage you might say. Picture me standing in my back yard. I'm lathered in sun tanning lotion, and wearing nothing but a pink thong. In one hand is a mason jar filled with apple juice, and the other is a cigarette.


I'm barely aware of my surroundings aside from the warmth of sun on my skin. My attention is focused inward. I'm having cyclic thoughts. I hear my own voice, and it's like I'm giving a lecture to an imaginary audience. The words begin to form cohesion, and I know, before this first cigarette goes out, that I have to write a blog entry.

Recently my best friend introduced me to the idea of systems thinking. In simplistic terms I'll say that systems thinking is a type of problem solving that involves and relies upon collaboration. Typically it's used to try to deal with issues of great complexity where a single layered solution wouldn't be feasible.

Obviously we live in a time where society is facing a multitude of problems. Global warming, poverty, violence, these issues along with many others are too diverse and multifaceted to be solved with a single answer. It's going to take groups of people, organizations, communities, countries to come together to face and hopefully overcome these challenges.

There are billions of us on the planet.  If we work together maybe our species will have a chance at survival. This entry isn't about me encouraging you to be an activist, or to switch career fields. My goal here is to suggest a change in attitude and practice on a much smaller scale. You don't have to save the world in order to make a difference.

The friend I mentioned earlier is more like a brother to me. We've know each other since childhood and over the years we've shaped each others lives. When we spend time with other, whether at a park, or having a meal in a restaurant, we tend to talk about everything, politics, evolution, psychology etc.

The problem with he and I is that we are stuck on a tiny island. Both of us are introverts, and so we tend to keep to ourselves. This means that our ideas are like mathematical equations scribbled on napkins. They end up being tossed aside and thrown away.

I'm not saying that our ideas are going to lead to a cure for cancer. The point is that they live briefly, and then diminish without ever really having the potential to cause change because they were never shared. Over the past couple of weeks I've been persistently trying to encourage him to blog. Just to write, about anything.

So far he has been a bit resistant to the idea. Here are some of the reasons.


Self Doubt



In the video linked above Brene Brown talks about how shame and self doubt stops us from being innovative and courageous. Near the end of her lecture she give us this example "Who do you think you are?" I think a lot of us face these words when we are on the verge of sharing ourselves, our opinions and ideas.

We live in a world where only "experts" are expected to have any knowledge or useful input. Our society has placed more value on certificates and accreditation than on ideas. It assumes that as citizens we lack the ability to discern between nonsense and valuable data, therefore, we must only rely on information from "approved" sources.

You don't have to be a master at something, to have an opinion or give meaningful feedback. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or what level you've obtained within a given structure.

I'm a middle aged guy, with only a high school level education. I've no career, and I suffer from undiagnosed manic depression. I am the epitome, at least at face value, of that person our society labels as "lazy", useless, ignorant etc. Yet over the course of my life, I have changed the lives of those who knew me well. Not only have I seen these changes for myself, but many have said to me that they are "wiser" "more thoughtful" and more engaged as a result of our interactions.

So you see, if I can have an impact on the way a person thinks, and or lives their life, you can too. All you have to do is share, honestly, and sincerely, without the agenda of reward or recognition. Exchanging ideas is like adding an unknown ingredient into a recipe. Worse care scenario is that nothing happens. Alternatively, there's the chance that by doing so you might discover a whole new dish, or inspire someone else create something on their own.

Like ripples in a pond, the potential for possible outcomes is infinite. It starts though with the individual. The effort is what matters most. I invite all of you to start your own blog. It's free, easy to set up, and can be a vehicle for transformation. Your voice matters, and so does your story. Don't be afraid to share it with the rest of us.