Spring is in the air (thought it may not feel like it in some places). Even such a welcome change can be hard going on our bodies because when seasons change we have to adapt to new temperatures. In this post, Dr. Domenico Lepore talks about Change, what drives us, and Vision.
It may seem ironic, but change is the most unchanging part of our existence:
• our pancreas replaces most of its cells every 24 hours
• the cells of our stomach lining are reproduced every 3 days
• our white blood cells are renewed in 10 days
• 98% of the protein in our brain is turned over in less than 1 month
• our skin replaces its cells at a rate of 100,000 cells/min
In spite of the constant flux we are in, we resent and resist change as a threat to our happiness. We might go so far as saying that human cognition has a very limited ability to cope with structural changes when it comes to learning. In fact, the ability that humans have to adapt to physical changes is far greater than our ability to adapt to mental changes.
We are all subject to mental models, i.e. the way we think about our world and the assumptions we make about it. Some of these are necessary for our survival. We need to believe that when we open the door of our house there is something solid outside and that we will not step out into an abyss. However, there are other assumptions that, when unchallenged, limit the way we perceive the world around us, and therefore, limit the kind of solutions and progress that we can make.
Conflicting drives and vision
We all have drives that shape how we learn and translate what we learn into consistent actions. These drives shape individuals as well as organizations, and they are responsible for the mental models that limit our perception.
We can only understand these drives if we pierce the outer layer of the self and we connect with the energy within. This energy, we can call it “life”, is what originates all of our faculties. Whether we look at this from a business, scientific, philosophical or religious perspective, the issue of our inner energy is central for any development in how we understand humans and change. These forces can be broadly divided in two main categories:
1) purely physical drives
2) the equally strong drive that humans have for meaning (transcendence)
Purely physical drives are connected with the primal fears that any individual brings with them. These forces trigger all those actions aimed at restraining our behaviors and they act on us in a way that makes us develop the need to control the environment we are in. The development of these forces is very heavily influenced by the way we experience the world, by the defining moments of our life and by the social and cultural fabric in which we develop our relationships. We need to harness and refine the forces that shape the fundamental need for control that is common to any person if we want to avoid being dominated by them.
On the other hand, the drive humans have for meaning, or transcendence is an innate desire that we all share to go beyond our current state and see ourselves projected into a different and greater dimension of existence. This is the reflection of an often untapped level of consciousness. This is what many call “soul”, i.e. that part of us that calls for new challenges and yearns for a higher level of spirituality and meaningfulness. We may call this vision. In the very same way in which we need to exert “bodily control” over our environment we also need to project a “soulful vision” of ourselves into the future if we are to live a fulfilling life.
In our next post, we will look further at the fundamental conflict regarding change that we may verbalize as Control vs. Vision.
This post was by Dr. Domenico Lepore and is an extract from his book ‘Sechel: Logic, Language and Tools to Manage Any Organization as a Network’.
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York. Angela’s new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization for our complex times, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.