There is a natural human desire for certainty and predictability. This is balanced by a similar urge towards curiousity and learning. In a balanced system, the drives guide an organism to navigate a changing environment by preserving habits that seem to “work” and innovating where current efforts aren’t bringing the desired outcomes.
Unfortunately, we currently live in a decidedly unbalanced system. Broad social forces, from the educational system to advertising, to economic insecurity trigger fears that in turn activate a stronger need for certainty. The result: more people willing to buy more snake oil and an endless supply of people willing to sell it.
Here is the simple truth – there is no simple recipe for material success if that success is seen as greater than average wealth. If there were, everyone would do it and it would, through market forces, cease to be effective. There are, however, time-tested ways to increase happiness and effectiveness in a changing environment. Basically, these involve learning to learn, being responsive (not reactive), and embracing the process (not getting stuck on the outcomes).
Throughout the book we will make suggestions about particular tools or interventions, or ways to make sense of a particular situation. These are always intended as ways to stack the deck in your favour. It is your job as a reader to resist the urge to read these suggestions as some sort of magic bullet that can be slavishly followed to guarantee that the goals you set are the goals you achieve.
Likewise, we explicitly recognize the role of practice and mastry in lasting success. Conceptual knowledge of techniques is an important first step, but the effective application of techniques requires a developmental process, focused practice and time. As the Zen saying goes, “enlightenment happens instantly after years of practice.” To many people in contemporary society want the enlightenment moment without the hard work. The ability to specialize has, in fact, been one of the lasting gifts of an advanced industrial economy – a gift that is currently at risk in the transition to a distributed information economy. By extension, the advantages of specialization suggest the need for new ways to collaborate in an increasingly fragmented economy.
We invite you to engage the book in the same spirit in which is was created: value learning over knowing; ask if it resonates with your experience and if not, how can you experience add to the discussion; be self-critical and self-aware – know your own biases and assuptions; and apply the suggestions here in a spirit of experimentation and learning. In other words, join us in the adventure.
We are looking for collaborators on this project. There are several ways you can get involved.
If you would like a chance to talk about the ideas we are developing, join the Facilitator Seminar - a free regular web-meeting to discuss concepts in the book.
We are developing the book on FastPencil - an online writing collaboration tool. If you would like to be added as a collaborator on the book, visit the project site AND please send an email to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) – the technology can be buggy.
And, of course, you can leave comments here or on our Facebook Page.