Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Confidence and Character, a book review:

Confidence : How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End

Turnarounds aren't easy.

Try not to lose twice in a row, is the essence of a turnaround for the better or worse. That is to say, if by losing twice you conclude there's no point in trying to win, there's trouble ahead.

The Signs of a losing streak include:

- weak accountability
- deteriorating relationships
- disappearing initiative.

This insight makes sense when you consider that humans on an evolutionary time scale have moved in packs, been accountable to inflexible tribe taboos, and been required to exercise vigorous initiative just to survive the day and eat.

The cure here is HOW - honesty, openness, and willingness.

It is to tell the truth before you can change the situation. In other words, just speak or write aloud what's got to change, even though there seems at present no way to change it. This creates self-accountability.

Then openess becomes important. Reaching out to one person is great, but the harsh reality is that humans understimate their need for support. Again on an evolutionary level, we have normally had the support of dozens of tribe members and numerous family members continually available. So when we moderns imagine that having ONE PERSON to ring if in trouble is enough, we gravely overestimate our abilities. I would suggest that the level of support must be at least a magnitude greater than we believe. So if, to get to gym, you think you need three people's varied levels of support, you probably really need thirty. And if to start a business you need ten people, you'll probably need to reach out to a hundred.

That is why the persistent practice of openness is crucial to winning in any situation. Openness acknowledges that the reality is larger than you, and that you are an active player in the realities of others which you share.

Finally, willingness is the key to initiative. Being willing to do something is good, but there are other more powerful ways to be willing:

- being willing to reflect on perceptions and question them.
- being willing to discuss steps with someone practical.
- being willing to be gentle in observing yourself and mind impartially.
- being willing to accept reality.

These are all important modes of willingness that are often overlooked. Willingness is an enormous source of power.

Finally, in dealing with lack of initiative, willingness becomes an emphasis on building on actions, not retreat, creating, not criticising, and staying engaged rather than isolating.

Willingness can help you to: stay calm, dig deeper, work harder, seek support, use small steps to achieve big goals.

Willingness can be used to resist the quick fix and deepen the process of growth immeasurably.

Someone has to take charge. If you lack an insightful manager or empathetic relatives, you may have to draw your own plan.

In crisis, then, human instinct is trained mostly to shrink from support, diffuse accountability, slow down and diminish intitiatives. But the frequently useful response may be in fact to seek more support than you think you need (because it is common to underestimate in it since it has been natural to have a tribal support system for most of human history), seek more accountability (in the sense of recording systems as well as caring people to report to) and more initiative, choice, action, intention and reflection on the whole process, not less.

In other words, a more intelligent and vigorous response is required to show greater love and kindness to the self. More gentleness and reflection is required also to buffer this vigorous approach. All in all, this book provides interesting insights to this process on an organisational level.


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