Step One Is This:
One of the issues holding us back is arrogance. We have no time and not enough resources to continue to think we know it all, and I mean “we“ as a species as well as “we” as each of us individuals in our own work and lives.
- It doesn’t matter if someone has no degree in architecture. If they are working with materials and educating people about the synergies between airflow and a timber frame wall design, perhaps a licensed, long-practicing architect can learn a new trick, or a slightly different way of understanding energy loss or material management, or the intensity of effort in hand assembling a structure.
If you go in thinking you know it all, you certainly know all you ever will know. How sad.
- It does not matter if someone has raised three kids to successful adulthood, they do not have the right to then arrogantly instructing a new mom or dad “how to do it right”. Times have changed and each and every person had different skills, understanding and relationships. Offer ideas, yet respect the moment.
- It does not matter if you are the biggest company in the world, and creator of a search engine that fundamentally shifted us into our current exponential growth of information exchange, now is the time to engage in the explosion of ideas inherent in co-creation through GitHub and other creative commons approaches to software innovations. Love your brain, but know the power of varied perspectives.
- It does not matter if you think that a higher power created you to conquer and control nature. You are deadly wrong. This world has been around for decades compared to our seconds of life, and nature has solved more problems that we have defined…hopefully even more than we have created. It is time to understand biomimicry and bioplilia and everything else we can mine from nature’s vast repository of experience. (see asknature.org for a brilliant start) You live on the planet, and you are part of nature, and this is a shock to some.
Set aside your arrogance. Choose to interact with the world as a novice, to approach every moment as a possibility for greater insight or even brand spankin’ new ideas that have never occurred to you. It is not possible that one person can have all the answers, even in their specifically chosen, long-developed, exceptionally specified realm of work. We cannot look for an Einstein anymore, not because we don’t have the skills or brain power as individuals, but because change is constant and accelerating exponentially, and because with this population, the chances are there are several Einsteins in existence all at once – imagine their collaboration, and seek inclusion in the work.
Rest assured, no one is trying to take your title of “king of the lab” and there is no need for you to jealously guard your expertise. Increase your value by sharing; plaster your name all over it, that’s wonderful! There are a couple of powerful things that will then happen. First, you become the go-to for people wanting to learn more about that thing, that widget, that idea. Second, someone out there will no doubt amplify and add their idea to your knowledge base. You will reap that input and grow in your own skills, if you are confident enough to take in that new information, and learn.
Afraid someone will think you are not intelligent, or not so important if you ask questions and engage in curious discourse? It’s easy to say that’s their problem. Easy, but not reassuring. Better to understand that if you are too afraid of showing your lack of knowledge, you will never gain the value of new information and inputs. You will be stagnant, and very quickly ineffective in our accelerating world of progress, and certainly quickly of no use to others.
I’m not saying I’m good at this. I have found, with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, that the times I am most arrogant are the times that I am most defensive of my “place” in the world, my position, or title, or role. Or the times I am trying to impress my family, or a colleague or even a friend. But I am growing to recognize that it is only through the healthy combination of curiosity, generosity and integrity that I can ensure my own growth and my continued relevance to the vast amount of work that is at hand.
It’s not just about sustainability, resilience, technology innovations, climate change issues, or political unrest and silliness. It is about the “flattening” of the world, as Thomas Friedman puts it, where the acceleration of change is increasing, yet our ability to adapt to new ideas remains a linear progression, leaving us consistently behind in our acceptance and application of new modalities. (see “Thank you for Being Late”). I suspect only though co-creation, crowd-sourcing and being curious and receptive of a wider base of inputs will we be able to ramp up our ability to adapt, and reduce our inherent resistance to change. And we really must do these two things, as a species and as individuals.
Step one is this: leave your arrogance at the door.
Thanks for your generosity, your integrity, and your curiosity,