Balance

Shockabuku. A swift spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.

Urban Dictionary / Grosse Point Blanke

As I was writing yesterday’s blog, I found myself reflecting on our attitude towards the Covid-19 Crisis. I think the clue is in how we term it.

We term the virus a crisis, rather than the position we have created for ourselves in dealing with it. It allows us to blame the virus. It is wrong headed. We have become unbalanced.

Covid-19 is not the crisis – our collective hubris is.

I suggest there are a number of areas that has precipitated the crisis that is our response to the virus – all of which we can do something about if we choose.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Victor E. Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning.
Our attitude to Knowledge

Maybe our material success in commerce in the last two hundred or so years has encouraged us to conflate knowledge and science. To allow ourselves to be convinced that unless we can prove it, it doesn’t count as knowledge.

Paradoxically, our impressive capabilities with science has taken us to an estimate from quantum physics that we actually understand, on a scientific basis, between 0.1% and 4% of the Universe, depending whose estimates you choose.

Ancient knowledge is not to be discounted. What we are part of has been considered by humans since the earliest times. The wisdom of indigenous peoples is deeply impressive and resonates intuitively. They understood, in a way we have forgotten, the interconnectedness of everything. That has not changed.

In between what we can prove, and what we know in other ways lies truths we need to pay attention to.

Our understanding of Connection

We have allowed Connection to become a technical thing. Bandwidth, Speed, Measurement. Things we can measure.

There is another paradox. There seems to be an inverse power relationship between degrees of technical connection and emotional connection. We can garner hundreds of “likes” and thousands of “friends” and not know the people next door, and be deeply lonely. We may be the most technically connected hermits in history.

Older wisdoms regarded connection differently. They regarded our relationships with all around us, from animals, to trees, to planets as sacred. They recognised and honoured our interdependence.

In between our impressive ability to communicate superficially at a technical and intellectual level and our natural, if a bit submerged ability to connect at more meaningful and spiritual levels, lies the answer to what the crisis has brought to our attention.

A need to balance our technical creative genius with respect for what is already here.

Our Notions of Value

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Robert F. Kennedy. March 18th 1968.

Kennedy’s groundbreaking speech at the University of Kansas still sets a benchmark in what real leadership can be – inspiration, passion and actionable values. We have lost a lot of that of late.

His central tenet regarding what we measure versus what we value has an eternal value.

I can’t help feeling that our current version of shareholder capitalism has runs it’s course and become corrupted by a mindless pursuit of growth that benefits few and endangers many. The idea of “trickle down” has long since been proven fallacious.

I think Capitalism is important, and can be beautiful – but not in it’s current form.

Between Capitalism’s power and our Human creativity lies the answer to the harnessing the growth we need in pursuit of sustainablity for all of us on the planet.

Our Patience

We have becomed accustomed and conditioned to a NOW!!! world.

It doesn’t serve us well. We would I think do well to reflect on finite games (those with rules, timescales, winners and losers) as against the idea of the infinite game (played for the joy of it, and ensuring the game continues). Let’s call it humanity.

Many people who make a real difference, from Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) to Jacqueline Novogratz (Acumen Fund) have shown the virtue of “patient capital”. Impatient Capital brought us to now, via the Financial Crisis.

The most meaningful conversations are patient – looking for meaning and the subtleties of opportunity. It’s what we’re experimenting with at Originize.

Between the urge for speed in linear, impatient Kronos time, and the more considered patience based Kairos time is conversation and the pursuit of meaning.

Beauty

One of the least accurately defined, but best undertood terms in any language. We each know what it looks like, feels like and sounds like for us as individuals. We stand in awe when it presents itself in nature or in some of man’s creation.

One of my favourite books in Soetsu Yanagi’s “The Beauty of Everyday Things“. In it he talks of “Mingei” – things that are “wholesomely and honestly made for practical use…calls for the careful selection of materials in keeping with the work to be done and attention to detail”.

If we applied these principles to our businesses, we would end up with enterprises we are proud of. Not spectacular, “high growth”, and divisive, but evidently beautiful in their service to all of us.

We have reached a point where we have to make a choice.

Balance

We are in a still resolvable climate change crisis because we have lost our sense of balance. Covid-19 has brought it to our attention.

“They” will not resolve it.

We will, one person, one group, one business at a time. We can do it by paying attention to what we do. By what we value, what we measure and what we each need. Balance.

We are defined by what we create. Why don’t we choose to create beautiful?

Published by Richard H Merrick

Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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