Creating a Better Workplace

Tuesday Sep 14, 2010

Moth Header

To be upfront and honest, I work for a multinational corporation. My company used to be small and was birthed from a company well known for their ethics and the treatment of their employees. It was then acquired by the aforementioned multinational corporation who then acquired another small company and merged us together. In my 3 years with the company, I have visibly seen the degradation into what I can only imagine is the fairly (stereo)typical corporate workplace environment. One which for the most part is a fairly unfulfilling way to spend 8 hours a day.

We’re taught to believe that money is the only thing that matters in business. We all innately know that this is incorrect, but I still see it all around me. People think that if it pays the bills and then some, then they’ll tolerate the crap at their work. People also separate work from their personal life, leading them to endure work and using the money they earn to work towards their goals in their spare time. This is, of course, a futile effort in the pursuit of happiness. With work being the place where we spend most of our waking hours, it is essential that it is contributing greatly to our happiness while we are there.

As a nation, we all need to increase the standards of our workplaces so that they better fulfill us. One of the things I’ve been working on lately is better defining what I want out of life. Here is what I’m working towards so that my working life and my creative output are most fulfilling for me.

  • One of the main things I’m working towards is for my working life to become more integrated into my life as a whole. I spend so much time at work, while at the same time, it stays fairly isolated from the rest of my life. I’m not that passionate about my job, and that has rippled effects throughout my life. I want a job that is inspiring and fills me with passion. More precisely, I don’t want a job, I want my creative output to be play and something I would do anyway. Right now, I go to work, and then have to fit my passions, social life, and everything else into the small amount of time that’s left. If my work was my passion, than my schedule would be freed up immensely. I also want my business relationships to be deeply integrated into my life. I have visions of small town businesses where you know your customers and are part of your community. I also have this same desire in my role as a consumer, as I want everything to be more local so I can meet the grower of my foods and the producers of the products I consume. I have a desire for my work to visibly contribute to the benefit of others rather than to be a small part of a long convoluted chain, where I never see the fruits of my labor.

  • I want to work in an environment where everyone has equal power and there aren’t hierarchies of authority and power. All organizations (including companies) should be comprised of individuals who actually want to be there of their own free will as opposed to being coerced into being there or into doing things. No one likes to be forced into doing stuff they don’t want and we shouldn’t tolerate that from the companies that we form or in the coworkers we work with. It is all too common, for managers or anyone with authority, to step into the role of the decider, a position made famous by George W. Bush, where it’s more important to be a strong leader and make decisions than it is to make the right decisions. The idea behind this is that it maintains cohesiveness and steadies a rudderless ship and that any forward motion is better than no forward motion. The problems though start to arise when the decisions start to be made farther and farther away from the people who have the most experience and perspective of the situation and also the people who will have to deal with the ramifications of the decisions made. The act of leveraging the power they have gained from the authority of the corporation causes both subpar business performance but more importantly is demoralizing and demotivating to all those who are trivialized. This is the death knoll of the organization as the employees stop trying and do just enough to collect a paycheck. Growth and profit are the harvests of the productivity of the creative mind. A metaphor of life and liveliness as creativity is the product of joy and self-motivation.

  • I want to only work in a state of bliss. I know, that’s a little vague and pie in the sky, but that’s where I’m heading. To accomplish this, it needs to be recognized that performing work can be joyous and that the work I need to perform to be joyous changes over time. When I look at my workplace as well as others, I see people who are shoe-horned into performing the same tasks repeatedly. This fulfills the needs of the employer, but not the needs of the employee. I’m certain that a workable arrangement exists that can meet the needs of both employer and employee. I’m also certain that the company would receive much more value from their employees if they had them working on things that excited them, despite their changing nature over time.

  • The working environment as a whole should be beautiful. Far too often, working environments are cheap, sterile, and bland. It is essential that we work in a place that satisfies our sense of beauty, that furthers our passion and contributes to the joy we feel while at work.

  • I want to decouple my time from my work. Firstly, I want to work when it’s suitable for me to work. Traditionally, you show up for a fixed period of time and that’s when you work. This doesn’t work well for me as it forces me to work at times when I am less productive, perhaps when I am still tired or motivated to be working on something else instead. I also want to decouple the money I make from the time I spend working, to spend more time working on passive incomes streams that provide value to large numbers of people over a long time.

There are many bloggers who I follow who are very inspirational to me on this subject. I’ve been a long-time reader of Steve Pavlina as he’s very open with his life in a manner that allows you to easily envision yourself in his shoes. As an entrepeneur, he is very successful and I appreciate his insights. Everett Bogue of Far Behind the Stars and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens are both bloggers who focus on minimalism. While Steve Pavlina inspires me to build stuff up, they inspire me to pare stuff down, to strip the extra baggage out of my life thats been holding me back. Along with Cody McKibben, from Thrilling Heroics, they are all young bloggers, who I could imagine becoming, who work for themselves and who have structured their businesses in ways that allow themselves a tremendous amount of freedom.

Human Beings or Human Becomings?

Monday Jul 5, 2010

You are more than a human being, you are a human becoming.”

– Og Mandino, from The Greatest Miracle in the World

Becoming and being are the yin and yang of our lives. One inner one outer. Today, we value becoming to the exclusion of being; we applaud human becomings. The secret is balance.”

– Unknown

These two quotes recently showed up in my life and I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. The first quote, I read in David Wolfe’s book, The Sunfood Diet Success System. It’s a really simple quote, but it’s depth is as vast as our egos. The second, I enjoy because it is calming to me in this era when time moves so fast. I’ve been noticing a lot of people in my life who are trapped by their own beliefs in who they are and how it limits their becoming of who they want to be. This lesson seems pretty universal to me as we all have egos that enjoy the status quo.

The difference between being and becoming

What does it mean to suggest that we are human becomings as well as human beings. The word “being” is a form of the verb “to be” which can be rewritten as “I am” for use as we’re concerned with. It is often used in the form “I am … something.” An example of this would be “I am healthy” or “I am unhealthy.” Each of us has a different definition of what healthy is, but regardless, to declare “I am healthy” is to create mental boundaries that define what you are. Now contrast this to the phrase, “I am becoming healthy.” Here, instead of being healthy or not healthy, you are in a gradient in between the two, and area of grays between the black and white. “Becoming” has opened a doorway or a path from unhealthy towards healthy. It implies change and transitioning and with a positive mindset it implies growth. Being is static. Becoming is dynamic.

One of the interesting quirks of the human mind and more particularly the subconscious is that it will try to make its own internal worldview true. This is particularly clear, when someone gets the flaws in their worldview showed to them. There are many examples, but a good popular one is from the movie A Few Good Men, “You want the truth, You can’t handle the truth.” This highlights an ego that cannot accept that the ego is wrong. Some people fail to see what is right in front of their face, such as corrupt politicians of their political party. Some people, when confronted will say something like, “I would never do something like that.” And honestly not remember the issue at hand. Similarly, the brain when having control of the processes of the body, will use those processes to mold the body to conform to worldview.

You are more than a human being, you are a human becoming”

We all innately know that life is a process of change and that nothing exists which is truly static, but for many people the construction of their ego and worldview in their subconscious loses the understanding that all is in a process of change. Let’s look at a person looking to transition from unhealthy to healthy. Similar to what was stated above, the phrase “I am unhealthy” creates a mental barrier where the mind must create obstacles preventing the person from being healthy. So even if the conscious part of the mind is thinking, “I want to become healthy,” if the unconscious mind knows, “I am unhealthy,” then the person will experience obstacles in their path towards health. To a worldview that doesn’t understand “becoming,” there is only “I am unhealthy” and “I am healthy.” The path from unhealthy to healthy is a switch, or a vertical wall. In the engineering world, we would call it an impulse. Please see Figure 1. In this worldview, it is either all or nothing. It is extremely hard to become healthy with this worldview, because their own mind will create so many obstacles preventing them from actually becoming healthy. Now let’s look at a worldview that deeply understands that life is under constant change and is always in the process of “becoming.” The path of becoming is a gradual progression of manageable steps from unhealthy to healthy. It’s slope can be as steep or as shallow as one can imagine. There are infinite paths from unhealthy to healthy. (On a similar side note, one of our challenges in achieving what we want is to not define the path to our goal to the extent that we miss out on taking other paths to that goal which would get us there quicker, but that’s a topic for another post.) This path is broken down into smaller steps that the brain can accept as being achievable. Whereas a person might not be able to understand what it’s like to be healthy, maybe they can understand the joy of a runner’s high. This is a path that is much easier to progress on.

The wisdom of redefining our worldviews in terms of becoming rather than being is profound, because becoming removes a lot of the obstacles from achieving our goal. A person who “is unhealthy” is not going to go for a run or to eat a better diet, whereas a person who is “becoming healthy” is someone who is on the path to health. The first step towards achieving a goal is to understand that you are on a path to becoming the person who has already achieved that goal. Similarly, another shift can be made at the end of the goal. Some people are on endless paths, where they are never healthy enough or never wealthy enough to be happy. At some point, it can be wise to switch mindsets from, “I am becoming healthy,” to “I am healthy.” This isn’t necessary or always adviseable. If your happiness comes from the process of becoming rather than the state of being your ego thinks you should be in, then your happiness is limited only by your willingness to improve rather than where you are. Or in other words, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”

Becoming and being are the yin and yang of our lives. One inner one outer. Today, we value becoming to the exclusion of being; we applaud human becomings. The secret is balance.”

I really like this quote but for a different reason. While the first quote is true in that each day we are becoming bigger, more expanded versions of ourselves, the reason to exist it not solely to become greater. Our existence is experiential, or in other words, we exist to have experiences, and these experiences lead us to growth. Our awareness of what we experience is a point of focus. We choose what we want to focus on whether we realize it or not. We can choose to focus on the becoming or on the being. For example, we can choose to experience, “I am becoming happy,” or we can choose to experience, “I am happy.”

While we are “becoming,” we also exist as a certain state of “being.” This being, can be as joyful as the process of becoming. The realization of becoming is to become aware of your power to create the life you want to experience and the realization of being is to become aware that every experience is a path towards growth (towards Godliness). How can you be unhappy, when every experience is leading to further and further greatness? Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin which both lead to further happiness. Once this is realized, you can choose a path which provides you with pleasure rather than pain. At first, you are happy for pain, because it is the path to pleasure, and later you choose a path which doesn’t lead towards pain, by focusing on creating pleasure before the pain is needed to redirect your path.

If you find yourself in a space where you are experiencing, “I am unhappy,” or in other words pain, what you are really experiencing is the way the universe tells you that you need to take action to experience something that resonates more deeply with your true self. If you fail to become aware of your unhappiness or in what experience is causing you to experience that, then life cranks up the volume of pain until your perception can become aware of it. To master being and becoming, become more sensitive to the causes of your pain, and then use your creativity to change your path.

The Game of Life: Why We’re Here

Monday Jun 7, 2010

Check out these awesome bocce balls from Michelle’s league play at the Nomad World Pub.

These past couple years, I’ve been exposed to so much information over the Internet that has broadened my perspective of life. Recently, I came across an interview with Ian Crane on One Radio Network which really resonated with what I’ve been feeling lately and inspired me to try and solidify my thoughts on life and why we (or at least me) are here on this planet. So bear with me as I try to make sense out of this and communicate it in some legible manner.

As I was growing up, I was well aware of the homogenizing forces that society places on its individuals that dull us to a uniform state of mediocrity. Society has little understanding for the purpose of life. It is posed as one of life’s eternal mysteries. One that will never be answered. With all the information I’ve absorbed, I feel like I’m in a place where it makes sense why I’m here. I hope you gain something from this whether it be exposure to new ideas, a deeper understanding of me and my motivations, or further solidification of your own view on life.

As a society, we’ve been pushed away from religion and towards science. Religion is no saint and has many flaws, but this movement towards science has resulted in the move towards agnosticism and away from spirituality or a belief in a greater power. There has been discussion that consciousness is a byproduct of evolution. This concept that consciousness springs forth from matter doesn’t feel right to me. Instead, I believe that consciousness comes first, and that from this consciousness matter is created. Another way to say it is I believe we all have souls, and that our souls are bigger than our lives on Earth. Before we are born, we still exist as souls. After we die, we still exist as souls. We choose to inhabit these bodies for our brief existence intentionally and with purpose. One of the main purposes is so that we can have certain experiences that our soul would like to experience that can be most readily accomplished through our time on Earth in a physical format.

Right now, it feels to me, that we are in a unique transitioning period. Before the transition, we are more or less powerless, or more precisely we give a lot of our power away. The result of this is that in many areas of our life, a relatively small amount of people are making decisions for the rest of us that benefit them at our expense. After the transition, we have consciously chosen to reclaim our own power to create for ourselves the lives that we wish to live and the world that we wish to live in. This is the experience that my soul wishes to experience. It is clearly evident by where it drags me and the motivations I intrinsically have. I strongly suspect that the world we live in is setup in such a manner, so as to promote the motivations in large numbers of people to progress through this same transition from a mindset of victimhood and powerlessness to one of power and the ability and desire to consciously create our lives as we see fit.

Let’s briefly examine how we give our power away in a few areas of our lives. In politics our influence on society is reduced to the ability to participate in a political voting system in which only those who are backed by large campaign contributions are able to finish the process. With regards to food, the most readily available forms of food are created by large corporations which are devoid of nutrition and loaded with chemicals. Our education and economy are based on systems which corral people into jobs with bosses and management rather than entrepreneurial businesses. Our legal system is a convoluted mess where only the rich can afford the experts to navigate the system successfully. Our laws are created by lobbyists, through politicians, to strengthen big businesses and eliminate competition.

What happens is that people start experiencing pain-related emotions that are caused by the world/lives they create through their own inaction. They are creating worlds where they are serving others, rather than themselves. This dissonance between what they (un)consciously feel they should be experiencing and what they are actually experiencing creates unsatisfied emotions in a person which drive them to seek out remedies and methods for rectifying their situations. This sets them on the path of personal not-affluent/responsibility in that area of their life.

We are in a period of time where, as a society, we have given away so much of our power to a select few, that as a a society we are causing ourselves the pain necessary to inspire us towards personal responsibility. I feel innately drawn towards living only the best life for me, so I step ever closer towards that. I also feel innately drawn towards helping others live their own lives the best they can. This is a task that none of us can ignore, because deep inside we all want to be surrounded by amazing happy people, and we can only achieve that if we help them to become that rather than pushing others down to try to move ourselves forward. This blog is part of my steps forward on the goal of helping myself and others achieve more and more personal responsibility over the world we are creating. I hope you are willing to support this cause as your own as well.

One thing that I think is interesting, is that even if this worldview isn’t perfect, it is still a worldview that is conducive to getting good results because it is own that is geared towards action and obtaining happiness, rather than staying inactive and receiving what you get.

Building Consciousness into Institutions: An Introduction to Unconsciousness

Monday Mar 15, 2010

Birds In Tree

Lately, a lot of thoughts have been stirring through my head regarding how we, as a society, have created so many corporations, government, and other institutions of culture and society which seemingly act against the betterment of the people they intend to serve. As individuals, we spend a lot of energy acting against the betterment of ourselves. It is essential that we consciously choose to act in ways that are congruent with our desires and our own self-improvement, both as individuals and as communities. This is the first of several posts that will put my constant musings into written form.

The Plasticity of the Mind

The human mind is often viewed as a static entity which is formed during childhood and adolescence and becomes set during adulthood. This however is not completely true. It appears true because people get caught up in their routines and habits, but it is not a certainty. The brain is made up of neurons, which link together to create neural pathways. When you learn something new, your brain creates new neural pathways so that you can understand it. The more you think about something and understand it the stronger the neural pathways become. The more time you spend understanding something and the greater your certainty that what you know is true, the stronger the pathways become. For those interested in memes, our neural pathways is where they take physical form.


Our brains act in both conscious and unconscious fashions. The brain is predominantly unconscious, however as our species evolves, we are becoming more conscious. Unconscious thought controls much of our bodily functions, but it also holds the bulk of our foundational knowledge and forms the basis of much of our actions and reactions to stimuli. Unconscious thoughts should be considered as patterned responses. The brain receives a certain combination of inputs and it associates them to a certain preconditioned response. Even when we are thinking consciously, our brain is pulling information from our preconditioned neuropathways. It is very important to be aware of our own thoughts, as so much of our thoughts are unconscious patterned responses that we have acquired at some time in the past that possibly isn’t true or is counterproductive in our ability to accomplish our goals.

Unconsciousness: Productive or Counterproductive

When it comes to achieving your goals, the importance of our unconscious programmed thoughts cannot be overstated. Our unconscious thoughts pervade everything we think. It is of the utmost priority that our unconscious thoughts support the goals we wish to accomplish. If we are unaware of the unconscious thoughts that act against our achievement of our goals we will struggle mightily against ourselves in addition to the external world. As an example, you can look at the social conversations of people of different skill levels. This is an area where many people wish to improve their lives. A person with good social skills will make a conversation look effortless. Their brain has created strong neural pathways which help them make connections with others and to say things that keep the conversation rolling and make people feel good about themselves. They have a confidence that what they say will be the right thing to say. A person with poor conversation skills hasn’t habitualized the same neural pathways. They have a harder time saying timely things that move a conversation forward and keep the other person interested. Since the neural pathways aren’t strong, they will have to exert more conscious brainpower trying to keep the conversation going, which could be better used in enjoying the other persons company or guiding the conversation where you would like it to go. Often times the person will refrain from adding to the conversation because they are concerned with saying the wrong thing. Their subconscious beliefs tell them that saying the wrong thing makes the conversation awkward and inhibits them from saying anything at all which ironically makes the conversation awkward. Someone without this limiting belief will keep saying stuff, regardless of whether it is having a positive effect. They will not have a smooth conversation, but the other person will find them more interesting than someone who has nothing to say. If they are a good conversationalist they will help smooth the conversation out. The most important part though is that through practice the person with poor social skills is training their brain and strengthening their neural pathways which will lead them to competency. The person who refrains from adding to the conversation is missing out on this practice and stays perpetually in the awkward conversation. If the person is aware that their limiting belief is getting in the way of their goals, they can muster up the courage to focus and overcome their beliefs.

Consciously Programming our Neural Pathways

Learning is a habitual process, meaning the more a thought occurs, the stronger and more certain the neural pathways become. The brain can either learn consciously or unconsciously. We, as a society, focus a lot on conscious learning, as in choosing a major for college, but that that can only get us so far as so much of what we learn is unconscious. This is something the advertising industry knows all too well in their attempts to get us to associate certain things or emotions with their products, so that the first thing that comes to mind is the thing they are trying to sell.

How does the brain incorporate all this information? Where does it come from? More importantly, how do we become consciously aware of it? The people we are around most often, will have a profound effect on us. In my own personal experience, I have been able to notice the changes in my own actions and behaviors as I’ve switched the friends I’ve been with. Many personal development experts recommend surrounding yourself with the people that you want to become like. This is because you will assimilate some of their habits, world views, etc. Another powerful example of unconscious learning occurs through personal relationships. With regards to children, the expectations that have been put on children have been shown to have a strong correlation with their performance. Children that get a sense from their teachers and family that they are limited, often live up to those expectations. Similarly, children that are gifted also live up to the expectations put upon them. In the workplace, we often have top down hierarchies, where the top of the hierarchy makes decisions and pushes them down to those below them. Over time, it often occurs that those below them tend to stop making as many decisions. They only make the decisions that they are “allowed” to make. This is a severe detriment to the company as a whole, because the further away from the source of the communication the less effective the decision making process is going to be. It has also been shown that when you take a group of peers and you give one of them the title of “leader” they tend to trust in their own decision making more and will be more dominate in the group to the exclusion of the followers. So much in our life we are relegated to consumers, where we choose from a few different options that are available to us. It is becoming more and more rare for us to choose which options are available to us to select from.

In order to maximize our ability to achieve our goals, we need to consciously program into our subconscious the neural pathways that will help us achieve the results that we desire and to breakdown the neural pathways that remain as obstacles to us. We need to understand that any bit of information or meme comes from a source and it will have its own frame of reference that it will be based from. It is challenging but important to be aware of the frame of references and assumptions that information carries with it. Surround yourself with media that conveys the frame of references you want. Instead of watching TV that tells you how little you have, watch inspirational youtube videos of people just like you that have succeeded in doing what you want to do. Put up messages in your workspace that you notice in your periphery that reinforce what you want to become. Work with people who empower you and have tendencies you want to acquire.

Consciousness and the Post-Industrial Economy

Monday Feb 22, 2010

No Swimming

For a long time now, I have had the understanding that our world (or at least the US which I live in) needs to change the way that we “do business” because the current antiquated way is seriously failing our needs. I have been struggling to put together a complete understanding of where all the weaknesses are and what an ideal solution would look like. However it is becoming clearer in our collective consciousness every day.

We as a group are raising our consciousness. This should come as no surprise as we have been raising our consciousness for a long time now. This is the reason we have chosen to participate on this planet. We are however crossing a certain threshold which is very important for our advancement. In the terms of Wallace D. Wattles,  (The Science of Getting Rich), we are leaving the competitive plane and are entering the creative plane. In Gabriel Cousens terms, we are leaving the Culture of Death and entering the Culture of Life.

Life by its very nature increases life. From the moment life was created, it has started its upward path of creating from itself the advancement of life. We started with small single cell creatures which advanced into communities of single cell creatures, which advanced into multicellular organisms which are communities of different types of cells all working together for mutual benefit. Our body is very much comprised of beneficial organisms such as bacteria which many would not call “us.” A lot of our economic theory is based off of thoughts similar to Darwinism or evolution which paint a picture that the universe is brutish and cold. Only the strong survive and reproduce. The weak are eliminated. You must trust no one and dominate others to succeed. This is a very partial picture, to say the least. The symbiotic relationships found in so many ecological communities make it very clear that cooperation is the equal of competition if not more important. In the competitive plane, we advance at the expense of others be it other humans or the rest of the world. In the creative plane, our actions advance everyone together. Business benefits all stakeholders, not just one.

The current system is designed to reduce us to material consumerism. It was created by some of us in the competitive plane to make it easier for them to outcompete us. It obfuscates how the world works and inhibits us from learning how to do stuff ourselves and makes us dependent on them. It hides the sins of industry and politics while encouraging us to give our power to those who we may or may not trust or who may or may not have our best interests at heart.

The world we are creating is one in which everythings becomes transparent. All stakeholders are involved and responsible for their choices. Gone will be dirty deeds done under the cover of night. The internet removes the gatekeepers from the media and allows information to transfer instantaneously across the world. If someone decides to short change their employees it becomes available for all to see. If a politician sells out his populace, the world sees.

Our social structures by necessity will need to be recreated to reflect this change in consciousness. Similarly, correctly done, the structures will help progress advance the change in consciousness that is occurring and help to entrain bystanders ever upwards in the same way that our current structures are holding them down.

Dave Pollard conveniently released his blog post Imagining Post-Industrial Society.  He does a great job characterizing the differences between the Industrial Society and the Post-Industrial society.  Please spend the time to read it, as the rest of the post is influenced by his.

Of the characteristics of this new age which will be developed into our new structures are as follows. These I believe to be the most important ones.

  • The advancement of all. Our structures must be designed for the advancement of all stakeholders.
  • Reclaim your power.  Power must be centered as locally as is reasonable.  When it is being used faraway, it’s hard to ensure its being used justly.
  • Transparency in all aspects. This empowers all of us to take full responsibility for our actions. Actions taken on behalf of us, must suit our conscious.

Dave stated that “it’s hard not to conclude ‘you can’t get there from here’.” I think that it’s inevitable that we are going to get there. It’s inevitable because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to fight against the natural ways of doing things. The amount of energy we expend to hold ourselves down is an amazingly large amount. As our consciousness grows to allow us to create more natural structures, that tremendous amount of energy will be free for constructive use. The increased transparency of information is happening through the internet.  It’s an example of how technology and structures, and how we interact with those structures can change our perception and consciousness.  The internet has also connected us in ways that just weren’t possible before.  It has allowed us free access to information that has been traditionally expensive.  Information like, how do I start a business?

With every structure or relationship you are a part of, ask yourself, “Does this advance all the stakeholders involved?”  The design of our social structures is essential.  They must be consciously built to reinforce the ways that you want to interact with them, because they will alter your consciousness with respect to how they were created.  This is a topic I intend to more fully explore as it is deeply close to my heart.