Tag Archives: philosophy

Who are You in the Organizational Design?


The Company Body

I happened to read again Plato’s Ethical Theory some days ago and I can’t not share his marvelous collaborative perspective. His simplest question was:

What makes a person good or a society just?

And in brief he asserted:

In each of us the soul animates the body. The soul has three separate parts, called Faculties. An individual is good when the three parts of the person’s soul exist in harmony and are not in conflict.

To get an idea we can have a look at a group structure. Every society must have three groups of people: Workers, Soldiers and Leaders with defining characteristics.

  1. Workers produce all the things we need for everyday life; they are focused on desires and appetites, interested in satisfying their needs.
  2. Soldiers need to defend what workers produce and find themselves often in dangerous situations; they are emotional and have a lot of high spirit.
  3. Leaders think rationally and use their reason or intellect to make decisions and lead the affairs.

Thus, an Individual can be Good or a Society Just only if the Workers and Soldiers learn moderation and self control. Because how can a society flourish if the Workers and Soldiers do not control their desires and emotions? If they are not under control, Workers will sleep or play too much and not work and Soldiers need to channel their high spirits in a certain direction and precisely to be brave and courageous. While Leaders should be wise and make good decisions to train the other two groups.

If you have all that you will have a Good Person and a Just Society!

In my late research – the Company Body - in a Collaborative Organization we have more than three parts to stay in Equilibrium.

We need a

Dreamer + Feeler + Thinker + Hunter + Speaker + Checker (double) + Advisor (double) + Energizer + Processor + Mover (double) + Reacher (double) + Holder (double) + Maker (double) + Hooker (double) + Backer (double) … better look at the top pick above …

which are all dependent on three main Working Principles.

Interdependence

- What do Organizations depend on?

People, for instance?

To take an example, the parts of a Human Body form a System although they have no independent ‘will’ or ‘consciousness’. Similarly, the People forming an Organization make of it another System but, conversely, they are distinguished by ‘will’ and ‘consciousness’. These two systems related to each other are respectively a Sub-system (Person) and a Super-System (Organization). What equals the two are Interdependence & Value Recognition. A Person is in nature a complete and ‘independent’ system and this consciousness leads us often to not take into due consideration our ‘interdependence’ on other systems within an Organization. On the other hand, an Organization is another independent Super-system which, whenever considers people ‘interchangeable’, doesn’t recognize unique value to its mutually interacting parts and undermines its own structure.

Hence, the problems in communication and sense of belonging and motivation we deal with in current management and organizations are directly related to the full understanding of these two factors: Interdependence & Recognition.

Value

- Why is conflict between Parts so common?

Going on in the example above, each part of a Human Body pretends a preferential treatment. Relax when tired or short of energy, attention if neglected or need to be healed when hurt. And, the Brain, the locomotive of the Human Body’s train is, in principle, well disposed to give each part what it asks for. The situation becomes complicated if all the parts are given special privileges simultaneously. If, for example, we happen to love chocolate, our Mouth is continually eating some. But then, when one of our Teeth starts hurting and craving for pain relief, our Brain, by making some mysterious calculi, decides to give it a painkiller. Our Tooth stops complaining and our Body happily goes on its way. Though, this reveals to be a temporary happy condition. The same Tooth, some time after starts demanding attention again. And our Brain, copying the previous best practice solution, gives it newly another painkiller. In the end it is time to see a dentist and remove the decay provoked by too much sugar! Everything is fine again. Well, not really: painkiller after painkiller what a bad Stomachache while the Brain was committing to satisfy, in the meantime, the needs of the other Body Parts. Thus, we can see how the conflict is intrinsic in the Parts themselves since they are not independent, but complementary, carrying out their own functions and simultaneously working as a Whole with the other parts.

Likewise, each Person in an Organization has different personality, skills and needs. They can be ‘pivoted’ in broader categories of prototypes of ‘personality’ ‘skills’ and ‘needs’, nonetheless they remain potentially ‘in conflict’ since different and the price of dealing with such a ‘conflict’ is always high. Some people to hire are exceptional but too expensive. And some others simply have the basic necessary skills for a specific position. We are willing to pay an exaggerated sum for what we need independently on real value when we think we absolutely have this need in emergency situations. Illusion or real need?

Well, when a Human Body experiences excessive stress – whether from internal worry or external circumstance, such as a conflictual workplace for example – a bodily reaction is triggered, called the ‘fight or flight’ response, originally discovered by the physiologist Walter Cannon. It represents a genetic wisdom designed to protect us from bodily harm. When the ‘fight or flight’ response is activated, a Human Body undergoes a series of dramatic changes. By its very nature, the ‘fight or flight’ system bypasses rational mind. Feelings are distorted, exaggerated. Focus is narrowed to those things thought to be desperately needed. Then value becomes the lens through which People (and Organizations) see the world. The higher the value, when the ‘fight or flight’ response mechanism is activated, the higher the price we are willing to pay for getting it. And this dramatically and equally affects organization costs and people’s life choices.

Collaboration

- Where is the difference between an Organization whose commitment-maximizing logic aims to utmost productivity and the Human Body of a winning runner whose effort-maximizing logic aims to reach first the finish line?

In an athlete’s Body there is no internal competition: arms, lungs, feet, heart, brain, eyes, muscles, bones, cells – the Whole Body – collaborate and run together. Can you imagine the ‘scenario’ if Heart and Lungs or Stomach and Liver didn’t collaborate … ?

Nonetheless, competition is everywhere. All living organisms must constantly compete with each other for the resources and mates necessary to survive. Evolution by natural selection, as first postulated by Charles Darwin. Although, the same Darwin also said that “In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

- Why do we so often forget that We are Our Organization? And what changes if we do forget this?

Personal Happiness and Work Efficiency, for instance?

Further Reading

Coffee Breaks

 — The power of unconscious processing in productive work

The Network Organization

 — Collaborative Intelligence & Circles of Systems

Written by

The more the water, the higher the boat @almadakaj

 

The beauty of being human


why we need the world to be imperfect to appreciate ourselves

Imagine for a moment, if you had super powers, an eternal life, and you lived in paradise. Everything is perfect.

Sounds beautiful?

Try to imagine that vision for a while much longer, imagine all you have wanted to do in your life is to make art for a living and eat caviar everyday.

Oh wait, you can make art all the time now because you do not have to make a living, and you could eat caviar everyday even if you may not need food for sustenance in a perfect world.

You will have no dreams to chase, because all your dreams are already true, you will have no food to crave, because you can eat whatever you want, you will not experience hunger, will not know what is like to taste something divine because everything is divine.There is nothing to fix, nobody to help.

Multiply that moment eternally. Tell me if you see joy in your existence if you had everything in this perfect world, forever.


We are horribly mistaken. We think, “oh if only I can do anything I wanted in my life”. We are mistaken that we seek the power to do anything, but what we really want is, to escape doing what we don’t like doing now.

Or perhaps we just like the idea of being able to do anything when the rest of the world has to do something. Is it self-empowerment that we seek, or power over the weak?


If there is a perfect world and a perfect you, you wouldn’t know how it feels like to sweat blood, drop tears and still realize that despite all the challenges you are facing, you are still totally invested in making your life worthwhile living.

The challenges we face, the pain we feel, is almost the only chance of us peeking into our inner-reserves, finding out who we really are.

Are we wimps or are we titans?


The joy of living comes from our lives being imperfect. We know the strength of our love for our loved ones when we know we unconditionally accept their flaws. We know we are loved when our loved ones accept us for who we really are. People who are extremely rich and beautiful, we think they have it all, but how would they ever know if they are being appreciated for who they are? It is a curse they would have to live with, a burden they have to carry.

We run marathons because we know how it feels to be able to endure and reach that finishing line. We start businesses because we want to know if we are capable of growing an idea or if our expertise is worth something to people. We participate in social causes because there is a joy in wanting to make the world better.

What we truly want is to realize potential, be it in ourselves, in others or in the world at large. There can no be such realization if the world is perfect.

The idea that the world can get better only exists if
the world is flawed.


There is something intrinsically beautiful about being human which no amount of words can describe in human language. That we are all deeply flawed creatures with dark desires and yet some of us is trying so darn hard to put aside our flaws, our weaknesses, our egos, to try make something out of it.

Artists may instinctively understand that the best art is created during chaos and disarray. Try making art in a minimalist, sterile room (you will probably be distracted by trying desperately to keep the room clean). We need provocation to display our potential. We love having hard problems to fix. For solving hard problems allows us to know our capacity. Even those of us who have found joy in simple contentment, it is precisely the choice of feeling contentment in the midst of all the madness that is going on, that brings that inner peace.

The beauty of being human, is that we are both strong and weak at the same time. There is a paradox of being able to be weak that ultimately displays our strength; that sometimes trying to be strong all the time makes us weak.

It is how we choose to navigate the paradoxes, the dualities, the contradictions, the understanding that we cannot choose the cards we are dealt with, but we can choose how we play them.

That free will, the will to make that choice to either accept the status quo, or to consistently stretch our own potential despite all of us being flawed human beings living in a imperfect world, is inherently what makes being human so beautiful.


Would you contemplate for a while that what you truly want is not paradise, but rather a sandbox where you can be creative in?

And that the sandbox contains sand that takes on a somewhat organic form, that you can mould with your hands but it will never take on a permanent, unchanging form. You know you will be able to either shape your creations to be even better, or knock it down, so another kid can have the space to make a potentially better replacement — and all the kids in that sandbox can be amazed, with the cycle of disruption and creation going on in that sandbox.


This post is written as part of an ongoing writing experiment to write on Medium the same way I tweet, mostly unedited, unfiltered, unscheduled, and the stubborn refusal to self-censor my idealism for this world.

Further Reading

The ‘Stubborn Gladness‘ of Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Favorite Poet

 — “When you weigh the sorrows against these tiny moments of grace—on the balance, it is still worth it to be a human being.”

Written by

I work to make you tell beautiful stories @medium. Advocates change through technology + authenticity + empathy. Writes long emo posts. http://winnielim.org

 

Finding a reason to exist


apparently I am not the only person looking for one

Somehow in the formation of my birth, I must have missed a step. My brain was not programmed to survive on auto-pilot like the rest of human race.

As soon as I was capable of reasonable thought and questioning, I was wondering why I had to exist.

I was 5, looking out of a 10th floor window, wondering how it felt like to jump. That was my first memory of a suicide ideation.


There were no apparent triggers, no obvious unfortunate events which led me to think that way. My survival instinct was simply missing right from the start. Most people don’t question why they live — they would survive at all odds, they would go on with their lives because they are afraid of death.

I was born, unafraid of death.

Death felt like liberation to me. At age 5. Waking up everyday was tedious, going through the motions of what we call life, felt robotic. I started a virtual time-machine in my head, propelling myself ahead a few decades and tried to envision my life:

School -> some 9-5 job -> marriage & kids -> work really hard for retirement -> retirement or working at MacDonalds because of inflation-> old age & sickness -> death.

I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t appealing to me at all. It wasn’t enough incentive for me to contemplate repeating that robotic routine of living for the next 7-8 decades of my life.

Skipping to the end was incredibly tempting.


The thought of ending my own life would plague me for the next 2-3 decades as I believed ending it prematurely was better than being forced to live a meaningless existence.

But somehow, I hung on. Despite all my darkness and endless frustrations about the human race, even though I thought a lot about it, I was severely tempted to do it, exacerbated by countless painful events in my childhood, but I didn’t choose to act on it.

I didn’t know it back then, but on hindsight, I always had this very little, tiny shadow of knowing, an unexplained intuition that life could be more.


I found my own reasons to live when I turned 30. It seemed like an overnight transformation which took place the first time I stepped into San Francisco, but in truth it was probably a cumulation of a long, gradual self-discovery process in my 20s.

It is a myriad of complex reasons, but it could be summed up simply:

I had found my true self, not whom I was conditioned to believe I was, and I started to have hope in humanity.

I started to believe we could be better. That I could be better. That because I was really getting better at being a better human, perhaps humanity would too.

If I had been so jaded, so disillusioned, so numb and so broken, and I could change my mind about how life can be, if I could somehow make more people see that their lives could be different too, would we all make that leap into a better humanity together?


I read this Medium post wrote by someone who calls himself a existentially depressed idealist high-schooler.

I did a double take at the first second, I was like, how could you be existentially depressed and an idealist at the same time?

Then I remembered. I was depressed and suicidal, because I was hopelessly idealistic about the world. I couldn’t understand why humanity seemed to be so unabashedly selfish when it was obvious to me that being compassionate and generous was the only selfish way to survive — that humanity can only be sustainable through sharing and amplifying each other’s resources.

It was really depressing for me, to live in a world I believed wasn’t capable of change. Why would I choose to live in a world like this? Ending my life seemed more efficient. I don’t have to put myself through an existence I didn’t love, and people don’t have to put up with my negative presence. Win-win.


But I would like to write this in response to that post. That it does get better. And it will if you can take the first step in convincing yourself to believe it will get better. That if you try reading beautiful stories that exist on Medium and elsewhere, you would discover that being human is tremendously beautiful.

It is us human beings, who are capable of making conscious choices to better this world. It is us human beings, who would give up our own lives for each other when the time calls for it.

Yes, the world is in a mess. The mess has been bigger or smaller compared to history, depending on your own perspective. There are tons of selfish, greedy people in this world.

But you cannot deny that there are the ones who makes us proud. Proud of being human. There are the ones who spend their entire lives dedicating to our cause.

The cause of making us a better humanity.


For the longest time I hesitated to write about my previous existential crisis, because it could be framed negatively in a million ways possible.

But once in a while, I come across someone like the boy above, who has to cope with his existential crisis precisely because he is so fucking serious about life. And it breaks my heart. Every single time. Or every time I read about Aaron Swartz or David Foster Wallace, or the thousands of unknown people pondering over their own existence, trying to find a reason to keep on living.

I write, because I want to stand for an example to the ones after me, that it is possible to lead a meaningful existence, if only you have the courage to give meaning to it, yourself.


We care so much, and that gives us the cruel irony of not wanting to be part of this mess. But perhaps if you see beyond the mess and into the horizon, therein lies a set of unimaginable possibilities.

What we need are not reasons to exist, what we truly need are reasons to keep on believing.

That we are all truly capable of more.


This post is written as part of a continuing experiment to use Medium like how I use Twitter, which means not consciously self-censoring my thoughts and publishing whenever I want to.

Further Reading

I’ve Become Comfortably Numb

 — The post that triggered me to write this one.

Existential Depression in Gifted Children

 — This is not an isolated issue.

When you love people

 —  “Being a human being, you have the conscious ability to choose love above everything else, even in the worst, darkest situations, you *still* have the free will to choose love.”

Existential crisis

 — An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of his or her life: whether his or her life has a…

Finding a reason to exist

 —  @branch if you want to participate in the conversation.

Written by

I work to make you tell beautiful stories @medium. Advocates change through technology + authenticity + empathy. Writes long emo posts. http://winnielim.org

 

On Courage, Vulnerability, and Just Being Human – Love removes us from our pedestal


“You have more courage than me,” he said in response.

I had just confessed to someone that I had begun to think of him as more than a friend.

The feeling was not mutual, but having courage was my consolation prize. It’s good to be courageous, but I hadn’t thought of my bold proclamation as an act of courage — I thought of it more as an act of impatience on my own part.

I didn’t want to wait and see what, if anything, would unfold with the right portions of time and space and dare-I-say destiny. I couldn’t quite muster the energy to do the socially acceptable thing, to stick it out, to drop hints and pick up on semi-subtle cues. I just wanted to know where I stood, for better or for worse. The quick way. Ripping off the Band-Aid.

For the record, you know you’re not terribly hopeful about something when you refer to getting an answer as “ripping off the Band-Aid.” You expect, it seems, that there will be pain involved.

So I didn’t think of it as courage. In fact, I thought of it as weakness. It was a white flag. A last call. A surrender of sorts, a last-minute take-it-or-leave-it deal because I am a fairly proactive person and wanted to get a head start in moving on if it wasn’t going to happen.

Not so long ago I was with friends at dinner when the topic of attraction came up. I asked them, “Why are we so ashamed, anyway? Why does ‘liking’ someone always make us feel embarrassed, like we need to hide it or treat it with kid gloves?”

I wondered this because ever since elementary school when cooties are still the resident plague, we tease our friends about their crushes and threaten to reveal their secret to the person of interest, or to the entire class if we’re feeling particularly scandalous, or to anyone for that matter, because that’s how sensitive this stuff is from the very beginning.

Love is potent, to be used carefully and wisely and only in the right doses and at the right time. We handle it with care. If it were packaged it might read, “Fragile” or “Do Not Bend.” Or perhaps we wouldn’t even need these written warnings because somehow we just know that we are dealing with something volatile, something dangerously reactive, that can change forms quickly and be harmful if exposed in the wrong set of circumstances.

So why is it considered an act of courage to express this particular emotion? Is it because it leaves us vulnerable, arms outstretched and bare, with nothing up our sleeves? Is it because we always wrestle to maintain the upper hand in life, and love is one of the only things that, when done properly, strips us of that secure sense of power and superiority that we don’t quite know how to function without? Is it because for that brief, confessional moment and possibly all the ones that follow it, we assume an essence of subordination, and subordination has always left a bad taste in our mouth, unsettled, like we must still have work to do if we aren’t yet standing at the top of an impenetrable self-made mountain of infallibility?

Love removes us from our pedestal — the one we thought we were standing on. Maybe, then, it is precisely what we needed because it is life’s way of keeping our rapidly growing ego in check, of kicking us down a peg, of reminding us that just when we thought we had it all figured out, someone might walk into our life who we are for whatever reason crazy about, and that is humbling, because it shows us that we are not the be all, end all of our own existence, or of our own completeness. We need other people. We want other people. And we are not entirely in control of whether they will want us back. Maybe, in the end, that is what keeps us human.

And maybe that is why there is a certain courage in vulnerability. If nothing else, it is a reluctance to run from our own humanity, our own imperfection. Vulnerability is looking rejection square in the face and saying, “So what? It won’t be the end of me.” And I would say anyone who can do that has at least a little bit of courage.

Written by

Writer, Photographer, Occasional Microbiologist, and Iced Chai Connoisseur; Tell me things @ andoncsecz@gmail.com — Follow me @alexadondon

 

Everything You Say Will Speak to Someone


We are always looking for that new perspective

Everything you say will speak to somebody, somewhere. We are out there searching for love, for happiness, for the golden ticket that will take our worries away and grant us a life of pervasive pleasure, of smoothly-learned lessons, of constant self-improvement. We are always looking for that new perspective, the one that will make all the difference in the way we see and perceive the world. We are hanging on by a thread that somewhere there are a few short lines of rhetoric that, once we come in contact with them, will remove the struggles and the burdens and the dead ends and transform them into something that strengthens us rather than draining us.

Why do we read quotes from people whose lives were deemed “inspiring”? Why do we seek advice from the older and the wiser, the ones we think will know better, who have been here, who can shed a light on our path of darkness that we wouldn’t find without their help? Why do we read article after article of people’s arbitrary thoughts — their lists on how to live a better life and how to live a worse life and how to wake up and realize that you’re life as it is just might be better than you’ve been giving it credit for? We wouldn’t do it if we weren’t looking for something.

The thing about reading people’s thoughts, though, is that it isn’t actually arbitrary. It is relevant. It is close to home. Their experience from yesterday is something we will encounter days or weeks or years down the road. Or, at best, they may have gotten over something we are going through now. They see the light at the end of the tunnel while we are just beginning to realize that we have entered a tunnel, that there will be a lot of narrow space and darkness, that there is only one way out at the end of a long, recurrent road. They can help us. They can advise us. They can show us a new perspective, one that was not our own, but one that is better and that we can willingly take on. One that will make this easier, more rewarding in the end.

My favorite poem is The Road Not Taken. It’s the one you might remember from middle school english class. There are two roads. You can take one and not the other. It is implied that one of the two is the preferred route of many people and that the person in question decided to take the other, and that it made a big difference. Presumably a positive difference.

The other road. The #2 door. We all wonder from time to time what lies on the other side of it.

What if it is the same? What if the two roads connect at the end, overlap, leading ultimately to the same destination? You are standing there at the divergence where the one road ceases to be only one and becomes two alternate, mutually-exclusive journeys. You are standing there, at the precipice, and you are the same person regardless of which direction your next step favors.

You are a person of certain values, certain preferences, a set of experiences shared with you in their entirety by no other individual, and all of that combined is what brings you to this point in your life. You can choose one path or the other, but with every step along that path you will still be you, you will choose each step of your journey as it comes. Based on which road you selected, the view might be different. The location may change. The physical surroundings might vary depending on that one initial choice.

You will meet different people, naturally, as a product of where in the world you are. You will have different resources available to you. But the one calling the shots is still you. It’s not to say you don’t change throughout your journey, not to say that our experiences have no power to shape us and mold us and a little at a time alter us, but no matter how far you travel down that road you will still be the person who stood at the beginning of the journey. Hopeful. Scared. Waiting for the next thing.

We are all on that journey. Every morning when you wake up, you have two roads in front of you. Pick one. Keep walking. And do all the good that you can along the way, “for you shall not pass this way again.” Your words, once you form them, will speak to someone. Because everything you say will speak to someone.

Originally published on Thought Catalog.

Written by

Writer, Photographer, Occasional Microbiologist, and Iced Chai Connoisseur; Tell me things @ andoncsecz@gmail.com — Follow me @alexadondon

 

The Essence with No Substance


The history of science is marked by the assumption of substances that were not there. Ether was a substance we assumed was needed for light to travel in space, just like phlogiston was a substance that 18th century scientists assumed carried heat. Yet, from all the substances we have ever assumed to be there, but are not, there is hardly one with a larger social impact than the substance known popularly as the human soul.

The idea of a soul, as a substance, is an attractive idea. It is the idea that the human experience is made of something extra. Yet, the idea of the soul as a substance, as a ghost, as a phantom, is an idea that—although more humanistic than scientific—is not only ready for retirement, but ready to be replaced.

The soul, as a substance, is nowhere to be found. Bodies are by all means material and there is no reason to believe that there is anything in them that is not biological. Yet, we are often afraid to lose the idea of the soul as a substance because we fear that with it, we will lose the mystery of the human experience. A naïve interpretation of our material nature can leave some of us feeling empty, and this anticipation of emptiness can cause restraint. My contention, however, is that the mystery of the human experience is ill served by the assumption of substance-like soul, since the mystery of the human experience hinges in a reality that is unsubstantial, yet more mysterious and profound. That reality is the duality between matter and information.

Consider a deck of cards. Now consider shuffling them. Shuffling a deck of cards changes the information that is embedded in them, but not its weight. The information that is embedded in the deck of cards is unsubstantial, but nevertheless real. Yet, the information that is embedded in the deck of cards cannot exist without the cards. After all, information cannot exist if it is not physically embedded. This duality between matter and information, but more precisely between information and physical fields—that can also be massless—is the essential duality needed to explain the mystery of life. It is the duality between matter and information gives the human experience the gravity that is absent in stones, and the complexity that is missing in the sun. It is this duality the one that endows the universe with much of its mystery.

Our bodies are pregnant with information, and are also hungry for it. Genes are not carriers of matter, but carriers of physically embedded information. Yet genes—although important in determining our hardware—are hardly the ones responsibly for the entire mystery of the human experience. Our constant engulfing, processing and regurgitating of non-genetic information populates much of our “unsubstantial soul”. Our eyes sit proudly in our faces, not to eat photons for energetic purposes, but to capture the information about our surroundings that is carried by them. Our mouths are used for talking more often than for eating. Our ears are finely tuned to absorb the information carried by the immaterial ghosts that people exhale as they speak. Our hands have evolved to become input output devices, which we use to build the objects begot by our imagination, and to learn about the world as we fidget with other people’s creations.

And it is by noticing that our essence is literally insubstantial that we recover the mystery of the human experience, but also the mystery of our collective experience, since information is not exclusive to humans, but something that transcend us. Your clothes, car, and home are not made merely of atoms, but primarily of information. It is not the economic value of objects, but the humanity of the information embedded in them what makes these extensions of our humanity, and transcendental links between each other. The objects that populate our world embody the “substanceless souls” of others, since they are made of information begot by humans and carry with them parts of our existence, bringing transcendence to our lives.

Yet our collective experience is not limited only to our ability to deposit parts of us, as information, into objects. Because we are made of information, and the soul is not a fixed ethereal substance, is that we can so effectively combine in our bodies the essence of others. It is because I am made of information, and of a body that can engulf and process information, that I can absorb the ghost of a language that my parents did not speak, and the ghost of scientific ideas and concepts that I did not imagine. It is because I am made of information, that I can be possessed by the ideas of Boltzmann, Darwin and Prigogine, and I can regurgitate combinations of the information they begot, and once deposited in matter. It is because we exist in this duality between matter and information, that we can deposit parts of us in our environment, literally not metaphorically, by doing something as simple as writing a book or building an object. It is because we are made of information that we can have parts of us leave our body to be later re-embodied in the flesh of someone. As bodies we are mortal shells, yet as information we can live forever.

So when we understand life as information, we understand that the idea of a substance like soul is ready to retire. Like phlogiston and ether, we now know that the substance like soul is not there. Yet its absence does not leave a void. The substance is not needed once we begin to understand the beautiful duality between matter and information, a duality so ancient and profound, that even though real, is nevertheless a source of endless mystery.

Written by

Making The Invisible Visible. MIT Media Lab Faculty. http://t.co/s8zeV4PA07 http://t.co/YrTgeWKvK2 http://t.co/AGNbDqTbTQ https://t.co/b6VvZGdPeF

Published December 28, 2013]https://medium.com/p/6d28c6a631b

 

Show Me A Man, I’ll Show You The Ideas He’s Built On.


The powerful business of ideas.

I have watched it play out time and time again.

Everyone around me, every person I have ever been able to observe or read about, seems to go through this process:

  1. Encounter an idea.
    “money = happiness”
  2. Allow it to become part of them.
    “That makes sense, it has to be true.”
  3. Allow the idea to shape their views.
    “I should find a job that pays the most, rich people are where it’s at.”
  4. Allow this new disposition on life to play out through actions.
    “I have three job offers and even though I don’t think I’ll have the most fun at the highest paying one, but I should be happier because I’ll make the most money so I’ll work there.”
  5. Finally, see those actions change the course of that person’s life. “How the heck did I end up in a job I hate for the last 20 years? Why aren’t I happy?”

It’s an incredible process.

It affects my own friends and family in some fantastic and horrifying ways. Family members believing fallacies about who they are and how the world works, taking them down dark paths. Friends changing their views and ultimately, their actions about how relationships and people should be treated. What is crazy to me is that most people don’t think twice about this process. In fact, I don’t think most people think too much about how they think or why they think the way they do at all.

Lets explore a question for a moment.

What makes you, you?

It’s a tough question to ask. Let me clarify what I mean when I say this. What makes up the components of what people see about you and what you know about yourself. The way you treat people, the way you treat yourself, the choices you make, your overall disposition on life, your stress level, what you care about, how tolerant you are of others, and any other thing that you relate to yourself, big or small, that makes you, uniquely you.

Where did these things come from? Why do you act the way you do? Why do you think the way you do? It all stems from the ideas we’ve decided to let into our lives. Let’s go through one small example to see what I’m talking about:

The Idea:

“I will always have debt.”

If someone takes this idea, believes it to be true, lets it shape their view on things, allows it to affect their actions, then eventually their whole life will be changed by this single statement.

I can see someone who has added this idea to themselves think things like:

I will always be in debt so why save anything anyways? I should just enjoy life and what I have because it would be stupid to try to save. What would be the point? That new TV I always wanted? Let’s get it! Take out a loan to get that new sweet car? Heck yeah!

And as they make choices, both big and small, they start to play out this idea and solidify it’s grip on their lives. Add more debt, not pay off their current debt; choice by choice, they are letting an idea dictate their own personal reality. Lets replace this idea with something different and see what happens:

The Idea:

“I can be debt free.”

I can see someone who adds this idea to themselves say something a bit different, like:

I know I can get debt free, how the heck do people do it? I’ll go ask people in my life who seem to know, or maybe I’ll find some great books on getting out of debt, maybe I’ll just watch some video or take a class on it. Heck, I’ll just start by Googling it and go from there! I do not need things that are expensive right now, it will pay off later when I’m debt free. I can find plenty of fun things to do that don’t cost money.

Just as before the idea leads to a different thought about life, the individual, and ultimately a different path through our actions. The ideas that we have about ourselves and the world around us are the powerful building blocks that begin to shape us into who we are, and who we will become.


Whatever You’re looking For, You Will Find It.

If you think the world is a horrible place, you’re right. You will find example after example of the disgusting, cold, heartless things this planet has to offer. If you think all people are out to get you, you’re right. You will focus on every single time someone stabs you in the back, screws you over, and is dishonest with you, and the way you treat others will only compound and confirm your suspicions.

Conversely, if you think that the world is an amazing, beautiful place, you’re right too. You will find endless examples of its beauty, goodness, hope, human love and betterment, and every kind act this planet has ever done. And if you think people inherently want to do the right thing, you’ll find that you’re also right. Your focus will be on the good things people have done for you, the sacrifices people have made for you, and the way you treat people will only confirm the goodness of people and yourself.

Crazy how that works, isn’t it? Life can always “suck” or be an incredible adventure. You can change the world or be completely insignificant all by what ideas you have allowed to shape you. But there is good news! Whether you think so or not, you choose what ideas you let in.

Don’t Be Held Captive.

Here’s what I mean. Don’t allow something to control you, you have more power than you give yourself credit. But as soon as you give that power away, you become a “victim” in your own life, allowing life to happen to you. The ideas you may already have accepted may have just come from prior, unintentional, life experience and you’ve just kind of got what you’ve always been exposed to.

Someone once said that life is 10% action and 90% reaction. What I think is implied in that is that there are things that happen to you that you can’t control but that is only a part of life. If you really think about it, you have a lot of choice in life and it’s up to you to exercise that choice. The same goes for what ideas you accept and allow into your life. You choose them even by not choosing.

Think carefully about this.

It is exciting, liberating, and terrifying all at once. Force yourself to keep an open mind, actively look for fantastic ideas about yourself, others, and the world and add them into your life. Analyze what ideas you currently have accepted and challenge them. Throw out the shitty ones, the useless ones, and the destructive ones and replace them with ideas you really want.

Go Forth And Be Intentional.

I want to leave you with a challenge. Set some time aside this week and ask yourself, “What ideas have I allowed into my life?” Write them down. Seriously consider why you let them in your life. Then, start to expose yourself to new ideas every week, write down the ones you like, the ones that challenge your current ideas, and the ones that frustrate you the most. Try to understand them and seriously consider working them into your life. Repeat over and over and over until you die. I hope that all of us are intentional idea collectors and appliers.

It will change our lives; it will change the world.

Further Reading

Kevin McAlear

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I love traveling, technology, wisdom, inventing, ultimate frisbee, leadership, wine, philosophy, humor, culture, differences, relationships, & building systems