Changing Paradigms For A New Era

May 29th 2012

The youth left the village in search of truth; left his young wife and child, the family, the tribe, the land he loved. Insatiable desire drove him to search for the truth. Never sleeping two nights in one place he roamed the world inquiring for the truth. Finally after years of hardship in a remote village under the always-snowy-mountains he met a sage who pointed out the highest mountain and said the truth lives there in a dark, frozen cave. The youth set upon his journey without delay, arduous and dangerous was the climb but he did not give up. The caves atop the mountain were dark and eerie. He saw an old woman sitting on a rock, her back to him. When she turned he almost died of fear so ugly was she, her skin burnt by the sun and frost, toothless and old. The truth agreed to grant him his wish. Days later when they were done he asked her permission to return to his village to share the truth with all. 'Yes,' replied the truth, ‘but don’t tell them I am old and ugly; tell them I am young and beautiful.

The nature of truth is elusive. We accept many things as ‘truth’: truth we inherit from generations past, from cultures and schools of thought. Before a new paradigm arises the old must collapse, however our natural tendency is to resist and hold onto the old, familiar paradigm even if it doesn’t serve us well at all. As a warm up for the examination of some old paradigms let's ask ourselves a couple of questions - please answer them in your head quickly before you move to the suggested answer.

Q. What is healthier to our health - tap water or boiled tap water? A. Unboiled tap water is healthier since tap water is treated chemically before it arrives at our homes, mainly with chlorine, yet water is known to contain lead, arsenic, herbicides and pesticides, residual medicines and a myriad of other harmful chemicals. The logic behind boiling tap water is to eliminate any biological contaminations however there is no life whatsoever in the chemically-rich tap water. When tap water is boiled, evaporation further concentrates its chemical content, making it far more hazardous to our health.

Q. Which is more fattening - a slice of white bread or a slice of white bread with butter? A. The bread is much more fattening than the bread and butter, since the fat in our bodies is made not from fat but from excess blood sugar (glucose). The faster a carbohydrate turns into glucose the more fattening it is due to peak levels of glucose in the blood. The butter (fat) on the bread significantly slows the conversion of the bread (carbohydrate) to glucose hence making it less fattening than bread on its own.

After looking at these rather mundane issues I'd like to examine some widely accepted 'truth':

Knowledge is Power goes the saying, but is it? I'd like to challenge the term 'knowledge'. Knowledge is usually something we don't know, for what we have learned from teachers, preachers, institutes, books or media is not knowledge but 'belief'. History for example is usually a story told from a cultural narrative which often conflicts with stories from other cultures. Furthermore knowledge in our age is almost redundant, we can 'google' any question, making knowledge readily available to anyone instantly. It is interesting to note that Facebook not Google is the most popular place on the web, showing us that connectivity is power.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Not necessarily. That which doesn't kill us can break us, can bend our backs, can put a limp in our step, can diminish our spirits, can make us bitter and cynical. That which doesn't kill us but makes us stronger is an indication of grace and providence. If you want to be inspired by the ability to turn adversity into strength see my fellow O2 team member Sam Cawthorn who learned and teaches how to bounce forward like no one else.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. So heartless and wrong. Without the goodness of others none of us would survive. Moreover the most essential things we have in life are free: water, air, families we create, friends we cherish. Life on this planet is a gift; every lunch is free, let's cultivate gratitude.

Increasing population on a planet with finite resources will lead to mass starvation, strife and wars. This self-fullfiling 'truth' is the mother of all evil for with the idea that there is not enough comes the rationale: it better be mine. Thus wars over resources between societies, corporations and individuals have become normative conduct. While the logic behind the theory is clear this equation does not take innovation and technology into consideration, the ability to discover and further develop more resources due to the ingenuity of humanity. For example fossil fuel exhaustion only means transition to better sources such as solar, wind etc. In fact the truth is 'there IS enough' and working with the abundance model promotes cooperation instead of ruthless competition.

Competition is the best strategy for survival. No it is not. An eco-system is a connected system where all components are inter-related, inter-connected and inter dependent. By aggressive competition we win at the cost of others that are losing; this weakens the entire eco-system. Co-operation based on relative advantages and niche dominance create a symbiotic system, and healthy eco system that produces more, not less, for all life that makes it. Co-operation is the most efficient strategy for our survival.

Many may have heard the famous Aesop's fable ‘The Cricket and the Ants’ where the cricket is chirping and singing to its heart content while the ants are working hard to collect food for the winter. In the winter the poor cricket knocks on the ant’s door asking for a ‘free lunch’ and the ants send him away to suffer in the bitter cold. The fable concludes with the rationale: ‘people who indulge in foolish pastimes will inevitably lose out'. My friend the Galilean violinist, George Youssef Saaman, shared with me that the end of the story was omitted by the editor. Here is his version to the true fable. During the following summer the cricket tried to mend his careless ways and work like an ant, however the ants were now not doing so well. Something was missing, something essential - they just couldn’t work without that sweet music playing in the background. It is 2012, the time as always is now. The old truth is collapsing as new paradigms emerge and it's up to you to embrace that change and embark on a journey of extreme leadership in the upcoming new financial year.

Finally i want to share with you my conspiracy theory: there is no conspiracy it is us, all of us that are responsible for our companies, teams, societies and the world.


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Changing Paradigms For A New Era
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