Tag Archives: change

The King’s Social Experiment

No More Lands To Conquer

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a troubled king. This kind used to rule his land with an iron fist, as the kings before him. This had led to peace and prosperity, but very little freedom. The people who had been born into families that made money continued to do so, and the families that were born into poor peasant families continued to be poor.

But because they had little choice in the matter, most accepted their lives as destiny. To argue against them, to try and “move up” through he social ladder meant certain death. It was strictly prohibited by royal decree, punishable by death, to take on a vocation different from your fathers.

This continued for several generations. The taxes of the kingship increased year after year, and the farmers produced more and more crops. Without giving any thought to changing their way of life, the workers were free, so to speak, to focus on their given vocation. Horseshoe makers developed the best horseshoes in the land, and soldiers developed the finest fighting skills and technologies of war that any kingdom had ever seen, and this particular kingdom was unrivaled.

But this particular king had sensed that he people were unhappy. When he’d toured the villages, and the barracks, and the farms, he didn’t see anything in their eyes except for duty.

One day he was having a discussion with his eldest and most trusted advisor (who, of course, came from a long line of advisors).

“When I look at my horse, all I see is fear and obedience. When I look at the people, all I see is fear and obedience. Are not men more important than horses?” he asked his advisor.

“Both men and horses are important. They belong to the kingdom, and produce results. But men are capable of creating better ways and more efficient ways to produce the same results. A horse relies only on its master.”

The king thought.

“But what if a farmer thought of a better way make horseshoes, or what if a horseshoe maker thought of a better way to make war?” the king asked. His advisor thought.

“That would be impossible. Destiny has chosen the horseshoe maker to make horseshoes because that is all he knows to do. Likewise for the farmer and the soldier.”

The king thought. The advisor was growing nervous; no king had ever asked such questions.

“But what of long ago? How did the first horseshoe maker come to be? And the first farmer?”

The advisor thought. He tried his best to pacify the troublesome inquisitiveness of this young king.

“The horseshoe maker has always been. It is only now, so why question before?”

He could immediately tell that the king didn’t like this answer. The king turned and left. Three days after, the king called a council meeting with his top advisors, lawgivers, and several leading members of the community from different areas of responsibility.

“Today, my people, we will be trying a grand experiment. I do not want our citizens to be shackled to the trade of their fathers. If a farmer wants to become a solider, he can do so. If a horseshoe maker wants to bake bread, so be it. However, I will allow changes to only be made during the first week of every third year. Once the changes are made, they must be obeyed, according to the laws. Those that do not maintain their positions, will, of course, be put to death.”

There were several concerned murmurs at this decree. Some seemed happy, others appeared distressed.

“The first open period starts today, and lasts for one week. Make sure that all understand this new law. That is all. Dismissed.” The king said, and left.

A few jumped up and ran off to tell the people of the villages, surely they would be overjoyed. A few reluctantly stood, sure that the king had brought certain doom to his well functioning land.

Within the next week, there was much commotion among the people. Several would have liked to change vocations, but feared what would come to pass if things didn’t work out. But a few changed. A few bread makers became warriors, and a few horseshoe makers became farmers.

Curiously, none of the soldiers left their calling. Their pride wouldn’t let them. The army enjoyed the largest influx of people, while farming suffered the largest exodus.

This presented the king with a new set of problems. With a much larger army, conquering new lands was much easier. But with less farmers, there was less food, and sometimes there was even shortages, and rationing was required. The king seemed to be highly distraught. While his kingdom was swelling in size, it was becoming poorer and poorer, with few farmers to till the fields, and produce the energy to fill the bellies of the warriors.

“I have made a mistake.” The king complained to his advisor.

“Have you?” asked the advisor. The king looked at him curiously.
“You’re army is bigger than ever. You have no need to grow your own food. You can simply take from other lands what you need.”

“But won’t that make the problem worse? Wont’ we have even more people to feed, and less food to go around, after we conquer new lands, and increase the size of our population.” The king asked.

“So long as you continue to expand your empire, the soldiers will take what they need from the newly conquered lands. And the farmers, not needing to produce for the soldiers, will produce enough for the citizens here.”

The king thought. It seemed like a good plan, for now.

“But what about when there are no more lands to conquer?” The king asked.

“My king, by allowing people to change vocations, you have changed history. Who knows the future will bring. Surely there will always be new lands to conquer.

The king thought. And smiled. It was a good plan.

And so the age of conquest, and tyranny, had begun.

How To Use Life’s Problems To Your Advantage

How To Powerfully Blast Through Any Obstacle With Ease

The other day a friend of mine and me were talking about how different people deal with adversary. His girlfriend is currently going through a crisis at her work, and the people that are employed there are having some difficulties.

Because of the economy, it is quite obvious to everyone that business is slowing down, and although the owner hasn’t come out and said anything, changes are coming, and they aren’t likely going to be pleasant. It is a small operation, and they don’t have a lot of reserves to fall back on. Lately it has become evident, at least through the company grapevine, that making payroll every month is getting more and more difficult for the owner.

Now my friend’s girlfriend has a side business that she has been secretly cultivating for a few months, and she is almost at the point where the income from her side business is the same as her salary. So she has the luxury of being an observer without running around trying to protect her livelihood in any way possible. And she has noticed some startling, or perhaps not so startling things about her coworkers.

She said they basically fall into two different categories. The first category are the people that have faith in their abilities and skills to find employment elsewhere if need be. Then there are those that seem to be getting more and more terrified as the days go by. These people have been working for this small company for a long time, and don’t know how they will survive if the company has to start letting people go, and they are one of the people.

An interesting paradox is that the people that seem to be most relaxed and confident in their skills seem to be doing the most to try and help the company stay afloat. They are the ones putting in extra hours, trying to come up with creative solutions to generate more business and income. The ones that seem to have the least amount to lose if the company goes under seem to be the ones that are trying their best to keep it going.

The second group, on the other hand, is doing the opposite. They seem to have the most to lose if the company goes down. And paradoxically, their behavior more on pure self-preservation rather than trying to help out the company. They seem to be more worried about positioning themselves so they aren’t the ones that get laid off. And she says they are doing so in really underhanded, and less than professional ways. Backstabbing, gossiping, spreading rumors that are not true, banding together to smear the reputation of others. Their behavior seems to be making the problem worse.

I remember reading a book about human behavior many years ago. There are things called paradoxical problems that pop up frequently in the human experience. As we move through life, we encounter all kinds of problems, in various forms and levels of severity. How we deal with the problems that come up can define our lives and how much pleasure we can experience. Usually we come up with familiar problems that we’ve overcome before, so they can be a valuable learning opportunity to foster growth and the development of useful skills.

Other times, however, we encounter problems, and for whatever reason, our best response to the problem, one that we think we help, actually makes the problem worse. And the more we try and solve the problem, the worse it gets directly as a result of our actions. And of course we respond with more of the same, which makes the problem even bigger.

Of course, we rarely realize the problem is getting bigger because of our actions. We usually blame some other, seemingly external cause. Our situation, the behavior of other people, some general state of society, likes the economy or whatever. These paradoxical problems will persist until we “step out” of ourselves and view our behavior and the problem as if we are completely on the outside looking in.

The method described in this book explained how to do this. You need to figure out your objective, take some action, then step back and judge your actions from a third party perspective and see if they effected the situation in the direction that you wanted. Then adjust accordingly, until the problem is overcome.

The reason this can seem difficult is many times our response to situations are unconscious, and we really aren’t aware of what we are doing. For example, if you wanted to lose weight, and you decided to try a new diet. Through sheer will power you kept on the diet for a couple weeks, but then gave up.

After giving up, you felt dejected and depressed, and you turned to the one thing that usually gives you comfort. Food. This of course makes the problem worse. You’d likely keep it up until you decided to diet again, and of course the same thing happens.

The solution is to decide upon a clear objective. Losing weight is kind of vague; it will help to be more specific. How about losing while enjoying the benefits of good food? That might be easier. So next time you try a diet, you’d step back periodically and ask yourself if you are meeting all the criteria of your objective. Are you losing weight? Are you enjoying the food you eat? If both answers are yes, then you’d likely continue your diet, and you wouldn’t fall of the wagon, and get dejected.

If you were losing weight, but weren’t enjoying the food, then you’d simply adjust to a different diet plan, until you found one that satisfied both requirements.

By doing this, you’ll learn a valuable lesson about yourself. You are much more resourceful than you think, and you can overcome any obstacle you come up against, providing you look at it with the right mindset.

Change – Hit the Ground Running

The other day I was having lunch with a friend of mine. He was a little worried, because he just found out that he was being transferred. He wasn’t only being transferred to a different city; he was being transferred to a different job function as well. The place where I live, it is fairly common for companies to do this, and when they do, the employees usually have to choices. Accept the transfer, or find another job. Because the latter is tantamount to professional suicide, the only real option is to take whatever the company decides to dish out.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been faced with a large and unexpected change in lifestyle, but it can be pretty intimidating. Especially one that involves something as important as your livelihood. Many studies have shown that the older people get, the more we like the same routine over and over again. It’s one thing to change lifestyles again and again when you are young, as many people do when they change schools, make new friends, and generally grow up and learn about life. It’s something else altogether to have this happen when you think you are well established in your career, your family, and your community.

The key thing to consider when facing issues like this is that you always have the ability to learn new skills. The one thing about humans that separates us from all the other animals is our ability to change and adapt. And the heart of changing and adapting is the ability to not only learns new things on a regular basis, but to figure out how to apply old learnings in new situations. I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to experience this, but it really is a natural part of human behavior.

Some people resist change completely. I’m sure you know people that resisted change so much, by hanging on to old ways that they’ve really lost out when a new and better way to do things came around. The hallmark of a modern society is the natural ability to adapt and change with the times.

When I caught up with my friend a few weeks later, he was ecstatic. He had applied the skills form engineering into his new job as a regional sales manager. Because he was able to combine skills from different areas, he vastly exceeded his supervisor’s expectations, earning him a top spot in the company. And his wife and kids had similar success. All from being able to accept, embrace, and realize your full potential and the ability to use change to your advantage.

The Skillfull Bees

Once there was a group of bees. They lived in a rather large hive, which was located in a fairly large forest. They had been living there for about a year, and were aware that their growing hive would need to find another place to live soon. Now bees are a particularly strange animal. Most animals live in a kind of social organization. Wolves, dolphins, hummingbirds, they all have their own set of social rules or instincts that they live by. Some closer knit than others, like dolphins or wolves. Some more loosely based on family ties as in hummingbirds or walrus’s.

Bees are an exception. Bees are much more influenced by social instincts than other creatures. It is not accident that the word for a group of bees, “swarm,” is used in mathematics to describe any number of different collections of elements that can collectively be described as a single entity. One hive of bees can almost be treated as a single animal, according to many scientists. Not unlike many different cells in the body of a mammal, each bee has a specific function, and does not stray from that function. A bee separated from its group will not survive very long.

It’s interesting to compare this to human beings. Several studies have been done (anecdotally of course) where human babies that have not been provided with a physical connection with others has been severely developmentally disabled. Humans need physical contact with other humans as much as we need food and water. Some argue that this need is much more pronounced in early life, but it never disappears altogether. We need each other.

And the particular group of bees in this particular story is no different. They, collectively, realized that with the growing number in their group, they needed to find a new home that would support them. And so they decided, collectively, to begin actively seeking new resources. Now when bees do something like this, a peculiar thing happens. Some of the bees whose job it is to find food, and then through an elaborate set of signals and dances alert the rest of the group where it is, must use this same bee technology to find a place that they deem suitable for their new home.

It’s kind of like when you develop a skill of some sort, and you realize that you can transfer this skill into another area of your life. Because you have certain skills, you can easily use this skill in another part of what you do. And it’s important to realize that you have these skills, and that there are many ways to use them.

So the bees, through their magic of bee technology, quickly shifted their behavior to achieve a new goal. And before they knew it, the collective had re established itself in a new home, which was bigger and brighter than ever before. And that is something to think about.


The Excitement of Change

So there I was, standing just off stage.  I had done this exact same thing a year ago, but I didn’t remember it being so incredibly pulse quickening. Boom. Boom. Boom. Why was my heart beating so fast? I was so calm just a minute ago, when I was safely behind the curtain, watching all the people scurrying around like caffeine infused mice readying for the performance. But now, just off stage left, waiting for my cue, I peak out into the hall. Lower level. Full. Upper level Ful. Boom. Boom. Boom. What is happening? Why is something I didn’t think was a big deal a minute ago now giving me palpatations? There is my cue, as I step out…

Kind of like I step out for my walk every morning. I usually walk a kind of a loop that looks like a figure eight. On the top part of the figure eight I stop at a convenience store and buy a a small shot of yogurt drink. Good for the digestion, you see. The digestive track is something that you don’t really pay attention to until there is something wrong.  Like a couple time’s I’ve had the unfortunate (and uncomfortable) experience of having to pay attention to my digestive track, if you can see what I’m saying. So I make it a point every morning before I actually step out, to grab enough change from my change bowl, next to my front door, so I’ll be able to have the money to pay the girl at the convenience store for my yogurt drink.

Funny thing is that when I was a kid, I hated yogurt. And when I think back to why I did, I conclude that it was only because adults told me it was good for me, and therefore I should drink it. Becuase of course I’m sure you’ve realized many times before that it is good to do what is good for you, right? Of course I later discovered that sometimes it’s not always a good strategy to reject ideas simply because they don’t belong to you. Naturally the opposite is true. I don’t think you should accept new ideas automatically. You probably already know that it’s good idea is to check them to make sure that they are good for you, first. Good for you like yogurt. And delicious too. Which is why I make it a habit to remember to grab my change before I leave, so I can pay for the yogurt when I get to the convenience store. Because no money, no yogurt. (Or honey, if you’re into that as a morning drink).

Which is why, in retrospect, I guess it was good that my heart started pounding before I walked on stage. Because as soon as I walked out there, and realized why I was there, the nervousness was somehow able to magically change into excitement.  Obviously I enjoyed my small part (the introduction), the kids enjoyed their singing (It was for a kindergarden performance) and everbody was able to relax and be happy. And thankfully my body was smart enough to automatically grab the resources  it needed before I stepped out.

It’s amazing what happens when you trust yourself enough to come up with whatever you need whenever you need to perform well, isn’t it?