The future is a terrible thing to waste. And yes, the future is unknown.
What is known is that: 1.) we are here today and 2.) how we act and what we focus on today that will potentially impact the future.
So, each of us has some choices about – how we act and what we focus on.
We face many challenges of:
poverty – local, regional and global,
thinking trough our interconnectedness and interdependence (our social responsibility) to improve sustainability – at the micro and macro levels,,
fast paced technological change leaving some far behind,
tapping and developing the potential of all young people through educational opportunity around the world, and
many more challenges.
Let’s ask ourselves: What kind of future do we want for our communities, our region our world? How much do we value the common good?
My answers can be summed up by this Gandhi quote: “I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest good for the greatest number. The only real, dignified doctrine is the greatest good for all.”
As the United Nations encourages improvement in situations around the world it describes ‘development’ as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – from the World Commission on Environment and Development’s (the Brundtland Commission) report Our Common Future (1987).
This thinking is consistent with the Great Law of the Iroquois Nation which is often quoted as: “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.”
Behaving in ways that respect the future and the common good is not a new idea.
I believe that for me and other persons living today, that there are real accessible ‘practices’ and ‘points of focus’ that do address issues of the common good. They may not be easy to discover or act on, yet how we act and what we focus on matters.
The future of our children and grand children, let alone the futures of generations yet to bone – these futures should be our motivation. The challenges are many for each of us to “grow” these efforts. And the future is worth it!
Let’s use the present to get to the future. How can we build upon our current strengths and opportunities to move toward a desired future?
Action is a better than doing nothing.
Appreciate the nature of adult learning
Embrace the uniqueness of each adult and interact in ways that sincerely appreciate and connect with the individual
Celebrate the fact that your work requires effectively listening to and understanding the individuals you serve so that you can help them identify and connect with their specific growth
Respect the complexity individuals face as they explore and address their own growth related to thinking interdependently
Accept that while individuals are learning about and becoming engaged in thinking interdependently this might lead to a real sense of disequilibrium
Reframe and embrace the challenges that present themselves as learning opportunities for those you serve
Establish an appreciation for and understanding of the adaptive and developmental nature of becoming more comfortable and able to initiate and/or engage in interdependent thinking
Acknowledge and remind adults that the transition from mostly thinking independently to often thinking interdependently will take time and will require letting go of old ways and for a time, being unsure of new ways to interact
Support the adult and invite him/her to revisit their motivation (both personal and for the common good) for entering into this potential major change in their approach to interacting, engaging and thinking with others
Maintain a core focus on the individual continuing to increasing his or her ability to listen for understanding – this is a major behavior for those engaged in improving their ability to think together
Articulately and with sensitivity point out your impression (if you hold the perception) that the adult(s) you are assisting seem to be engaging in polite parallel thinking as opposed to the engaging in thinking interdependently
While thinking interdependently individuals must be welcoming, friendly, and sincere
Celebrate the growth of those you serve
I really believe that tomorrow belongs to those that can collaborate and create in concert.
I don’t believe that for an effective collaboration to exist that everyone will have the same high level of commitment to every decision or action. Yet, I do believe that as people work together there are times when a individual will hold a high commitment to an idea and there will be other times when the same individual will hold a medium or low commitment to an idea. In all of those situations this individual can be part of an effective collaboration.
For a collaboration to exists, it is my experience, that there needs to be enough people with high commitment and few or none in the group in disagreement at a level where they would want to “block” the idea – then a consensus has formed.
As people work together and build new consensus ideas, it is likely that any individual will play different roles in the support of the new consensus ideas.
For my experience, ideas that are strongly supported by over 65% of the people are ideas that can be considered to be a reasonable consensus. And again, as long as members of the group are not going to block the implementation of the idea, the idea can move forward and come to life.
Over the last 45 yours I’ve been involved with groups that have used a “fist to five” approach to checking for consensus. What you see below is a description of what a “fist of five” approach might look like. In the example below, the zero or the “fist” is not set to be a “block”. If you want to uses same concept and have the zero be a “block”, that would be more than acceptable as well.
For a strong consensus to be formed at least 65% of the group would need to be a “4” or a “5”. And there would need to be some, maybe 20% to 30% as “3’s”.
I strongly believe that today’s and tomorrow’s challenges are and will be complex and thus will require people who can and will think interdependently. And that tomorrow will belong to those that can collaborate and create in concert.
Think about how you can work better with others.
Then work better with others.
Collaboration is a good thing!
Here is what some other people think about collaboration:
1. “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin
2. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
3. “If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless.” – Darryl F. Zanuck
4. “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
5. “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
6. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton