Snap out of it!

A while back, following a keynote speech and during Q&A, someone in the audience asked a heartfelt, yet somewhat rhetorical question.
“So, how do I communicate to people that our approach, our culture, needs to change?”
My immediate impulse was to hit her with a stick.
Like Zen masters reportedly would do to knock someone out of her attachment to conventional reasoning.
But I was on a stage and far from her.
And anyway, I didn’t have a stick.
So, I gave her a koan-like question to ask “those people.”
A seemingly self-evident one designed to snap them out of it, to open their minds.
“Ask them if your organization, your culture, is producing the results it is designed to produce?”
As I glanced around the auditorium for a reaction, all I could sense was collective confusion.
And their visceral desire to shout out the, apparently, obvious response.
“Of course it’s not, idiot. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have asked you that question.”
But no one dared blurt that out.
Instead, they just sat there, perplexed.
Because they were deluded.
They believed that their organization was NOT producing the results it was designed to produce.
And they assumed that the reason had something to do with their people, with them.
In fact, their organization is producing precisely the results it is designed to produce.
So is yours.
So is your community, your family, your government, your country.
So is your life.
Because . . . the design determines the results.
So snap out of it!
Stop fighting the existing reality.
Stop trying to change the people.
Stop trying to change your mind.
If you don’t like the results, change the design.
The great systems theorist and designer Buckminster Fuller put it this way.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
To change your beliefs, change your behavior.


The real definition of insanity.

During a recent conversation, my daughter crowned an argument by reciting a popular saying.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Clever kid.
“Perhaps,” I replied.
“But isn’t it also insane to do the same thing over and over and expect the same results?”
She was dumbfounded.
I was being quite sincere.
What happens to experts and most other comfortable people?
We end up making the conscious unconscious.
Our beliefs become fossilized and seduce us to continue “our ways.”
Our existing knowledge and situation dulls our senses to the reality of the changing world.
Our minds become protected by layers of fat we call experience.
And we rationalize our habits for dealing with the world—doing the same things over and over—with our comfort and brilliant achievements.
This story, this self-reinforcing delusion, is the real definition of insanity.
We’re insane to think we can save or consume our way to peace and happiness.
We’re insane to believe we can control people or work them to the brink of meltdown with no blowback.
We’re insane to imagine that we can ravage the Earth to our heart’s content.
We’re insane to focus on the urgent at the expense of the important.
And we’re insane to use the same thinking and methods and expect wildly different results.
Have you been doing pretty much the same things over and over?
Does it feel compulsive and unsatisfying?
Then stop.
Get out of your office.
Leave your store.
Step away from the factory.
Turn off your computer.
Heaven forbid, power off your cell phone.
And open your child-like eyes to the reality of the world.