The Process Of Self- Renewal

Life is the endless process of self-discovery. John Gardner

This blog is my review of a series of my essays, “The Reinvention of H B”, in 1983, 1997 and 2011. I was 57, 71 and 84 years old when I felt a need to write these essays. Somehow I had a 14 year itch to stop and reflect. I believe you are never too old and you are never too young to pause and reflect. In fact this has been a theme of all my writing. Growing up is a process of constant learning. To discover is to learn; reinvention is a learning process. The goal of growing older is to avoid becoming grown up. Consider it an on-going process of constant self-renewal.

The “Reinvention Of H B Again and Again” was because of this Will Roger’s quote:  Even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there. These reinventions became part of my other essays: “Composing My Further life”. My theme became: “You can’t grow clinging to the status quo.”

This revival of my reinvention themes is a way of reminding me to  continue theprocess and to encourage others to consider reinvention. This review of the way I reinvented me is not saying this is the way you should reinvent you — or even that you should reinvent you. It is fun for me to relive some of my self-renewal processes and it may be interesting to others and maybe even useful. What might be useful is sharing three of my change strategies that became part to my renewal process.

Do different things and do things differently

To renew of course means to change. Two possible ways to change are 1) do different things and 2) do things differently. During the 42 years of reinventing I did different things. For example: from keynote speaking to writing blogs. And I did some things differently. For example: from enjoying nature backpacking in the wilderness to enjoying nature by walks in nature at the local beach and in the local mountains.

 Stop – Start – Continue

During workshops I often proposed the renewal strategy of Stop – Start – Continue. During my 42 years of reinvention I applied this strategy to myself. For example: I will obviously stopmeeting with friends and relatives who have died because I can no longer do so. I will stopcomplaining about being older and stoppointing out the disadvantages. (although this is easier said than done).  I will startnoticing the virtues of my age: more freedom to choose what to do and how to do it; more wisdom from life experiences, fewer obligations. I will continuewriting but seeking a difference audience (doing things differently). I will continuewith my outdoors activities as long as I can.

I realize this review may be more of a benefit for me than for my readers. I wanted to emphasize the importance of avoiding growing up by reinventing oneself: Reflection, review, reinvention, renewal. Try it; you might find it a process of self-discovery and self-renewal.

When you’re green you’re growing. When you’re ripe you’re not.  Ray Kroc

Posted in Beliefs | 1 Comment


The Skill Of Being Flexible

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Winston Churchill

Twenty five years ago in The Futurist Journal(Sept.-Oct. 1993), I introduced the word “flexpertise”, a term coined by Lewis Perelman in 1985. Flexpertise means the ability to continually adapt, innovate, and change.  Because of today’s world of constant change and the current political state of turmoil, the need for flexpertise has never been greater. We certainly don’t have a president or two political parties with flexpertise. And much of the voting public isn’t flexible or changeable.

According to Perelman: The “flexpert” is open-minded, comfortable with uncertainty, delighted with change, and capable of unfreezing and refreezing beliefs, knowledge and attitudes. Flexpertise helps you get off the paradigm. Does this sound like any politician you know?  Or any voter? Does it sound like you?

What America’s population needs now is a mindset that is not fixed. And it needs attitudes and beliefs that are not dogmatic, and a point of view that is open-minded. Basically we have two choices: To be flexible or to be inflexible.

Choosing to be flexible is choosing to be responsive to change, adaptable, characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements,the ability to be easily modified. It is being resilient, adaptable, changeable, malleable. I believe this choice will benefit the future of America.

Why would someone intentionally choose to be inflexible? Choosing to be inflexible is choosing to be rigid, fixed, resolute, inalterable, ironclad, stubborn. Do you know some people like this. Are you inflexible? Inflexibility limits your learning, eliminates options, restricts growth. I am aware that there are probably few people who are totally flexible or totally inflexible.

If we don’t expect politicians to be flexible, how about the voting public? How about you? The ability or inability to change is the key to our future, which itself is changeable. I have often promoted the personal strategy: Become as capable of change as the environment. When the environment is changing, being flexible is not only an advantage, it is a necessity. You can’t always control, or even predict, the change that happens to you; but you can control the change that happens by you. If you are a flexpert.

 Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

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Why I Love Metaphor

 It is easier to think about something while thinking about something else, than  it is to think about a thing when trying to think about it. Unknown

Most of you probably know that I love metaphor. This blog is a review of why I love metaphor, written for me, and shared in case it is of interest to you. You may also love metaphor, many do. They have been respected for many years. The greatest thing by far is to be master of metaphor, Aristotle. Following is a combination of my reasons why thinking metaphorically is helpful, and some quotes of my favorite metaphors.

For me, metaphors (and similes) can generate new ways of thinking that are novel and revealing; they require me to find and create meaning. The opening quote explains the virtue of metaphor: It distracts our logical, rational thinking. The purpose of using a metaphor is to take an identity or concept that we understand clearly, and use it to better understand the lesser known element. For example: Life is like drawing without an eraser, John Gardner. Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes onSamuel Butler. (I know these are similes, not metaphors.)

The Blind Men and the Elephant, written by John Godfrey Saxe in 1872, may be the most popular metaphor of all time. The original purpose of the parable was to show the importance of communications (sharing the different ways we see things). To me, the  metaphor is related to the concept that “what you see is not all there is”. Today this concept is well accepted but usually ignored. The blind men “see” the elephant by what they touch and feel — and they interpret that to be the whole elephant. I have called this “wholeness blindness.” The way you see things is the way yousee things — it is not all there is. The Blind Men Metaphor brings all of this into one focus.

In his 2006 book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt came up with this metaphoric image as he marveled at his weakness of will. I was a rider on the back of an elephant. I’m holding the reins in my hands, and by pulling one way or the other I can tell the elephant to turn, to stop, or to go. I can direct things, but only when the elephant doesn’t have desires of his own. When the elephant really wants to do something, I’m no match for him. 

That metaphor has caused much discussion about the role of the human rational and emotional mind; what I have been writing about for years. And, of course, the role of beliefs in decision making. Believing is seeing and seeing is doing has been my formula. Haidt’s metaphor brought out the modern view of our two part mind: rational/intuitive, fast/slow thinking, System I/System II; left brain/right brain. My blog about his metaphor is one of the most popular (Sept. 9 – 28 – 2015).

My writing about positive uncertainty and a collective worldview that is open and inclusive has been influenced by these and other metaphors. Thank you metaphors.

A Closing Favorite Elephant Metaphor:

Humankind traveling through life is like the fly on the back of an elephant who thinksit is steering. The elephant doesn’t mind, and it makes the ride more enjoyable. Unknown


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Am I As Good As I Used To Be?

 Comparison is the death of joy.  Mark Twain.

History always wants to compare. This is also true of sports and personal legacy. Why?I ran across the Mark Twain quote by sports writer Daniel Brown while getting annoyed reading about the Golden State Warriors legacy after winning the NBA basketball championship again June 8th. That is what caused this blog.

The Warriors are well known for their joy. They are a team with a caring culture of comradery, having fun together. That is what I like about them; it became myjoy. All of the current comparisons about which team is the best team of all time, which player is the best player of all time, who is better than whom?, etc. doesn’t make sense. These comparisons are killing this joy. Why is it so important to rank, rate, compare what is happening now compared to what happened years ago? As with most comparisons in history, sports and personal legacy, this is like comparing apples and oranges. Today is like apples, 20 years ago is like oranges. Why can’t we just enjoy?

This experience with the concept of comparison has caused me to think about my tendency to compare my current life with my past life. I often think about my life today by comparing it to what I can no longer do. I can no longer go backpacking, play tennis, climb up ladders, dig in the garden, etc. This comparing could be killing my joy.

In 2011 I wrote a series of essays: “Composing My Further Life.” I borrowed the title from Mary Catherine Bateson’s 2010 book with the same title.  And I asked myself her initial question: Am I still the person I spent a lifetime becoming? And do I still want to be that person?

Now, instead of comparing me now, to what I used to be, I am thinking more about what I want my present life to be, rather than comparing it to my past or future life. I don’t want to kill my current joy. This doesn’t mean I don’t think about my past and future; I choose my thoughts carefully. I remember and imagine the positives and negatives; comparing isn’t necessary. I am the one who creates my joy and pleasures, regardless of how it compares to my past joys or other’s joy. The current experience of reading about the Warriors’ joy and Mark Twain’s quote, has caused me some enlightenment.

Am I as good today as I used to be? I admit I asked myself this question when writing my Composing My Further Life essays. There I was comparing again, spoiling my joy. Thank you Mark Twain and Warriors. Apparently my sport’s addiction has been beneficial. The quote and the sports world comparing the Warriors’ victory and players with others was a valuable lesson. This has caused me to realize that comparison wasn’t beneficial. Comparing what I can’t do now, to what I can do now, is a way of killing my joy of what I am doing.

Now I will try to remember my past with pleasure and enjoy the memories, and have joy in my present — without comparison. Wish me luck.

Be yourself; everyone else is taken. Oscar Wilde



Posted in Wisdom | 6 Comments


Decision Rules And Custom

 Have a place for everything and put the thing someplace else.                                              That’s not advice, It’s merely custom. Mark Twain

Advice about how to decide is not hard to find. People love rules that tell them what to do — and they hate them. It is another paradox. We want to be captain of our ship, but we also want a pilot’s manual. Rational procedures for deciding what to do were once  the pilot’s manual. Mark Twain makes the point that conventional rules and customary practices often are not the same thing. People make rules and then don’t follow them. But most people don’t practice conventional wisdom — they practice being caption of their ship. That is merely custom.

Today, what is practiced is now what is also preached. Decision making by the rational book is not the current rule. Conventional wisdom and decision rules  now treat intuition as intelligence. Intelligence and intuition are now considered equally important mental capacities. It is not either/or; it is both/and more. Having a place for everything may be intelligent strategy, but putting some things someplace else may be intuitive practice.

This reminds me of James March’s “Technology of Foolishness” (see my blog of 1-24-16).  March describes how playfulness is part of playing with the rules. Playfulness is the deliberate, temporary relaxation of rules in order to explore the possibilities of alternative rules. Playfulness allows experimentation. At the same time it acknowledges reason. The suspension of the rules is temporary. My present intent is to propose play as an instrument of intelligence, not a substitute.

 “Playfulness”, as a decision strategy, could become conventional wisdom AND custom.Be practical and playful, intelligent and intuitive, focused and flexible about what you do. Treating intuition as intelligence is treating intuition as real. Intuition is defined as: the faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition.Intuition allows us to see and use possible creative strategies, playfulness. Creative strategies are not always conventional wisdom.

Rigid decision rules are not good decision strategy. Decision making rules are to guide you, not control you. Let playfulness also guide you. Today we live in a world of rapid change, and change itself is changing. Therefore, shouldn’t we be changinghowwe decide whatwe decide to do? Custom becomes real.

Fuzzy thinking, a branch of mathematics, is defined                                                                                          as “rational thought tempered by intuition”.





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Today Matters

 The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating, John Schaar.

Once upon a time there was yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday was well known, today was as usual, and tomorrow was somewhat foreseeable. Today we have a whole new world. There are many different versions of yesterday, some of it is ignored. Today there is nothing usual. And tomorrow is unpredictable. Yet, what we do today determines what happens next. Therefore, today really matters.

Since tomorrow hasn’t happened yet; it needs to be created. Our image of tomorrow may be the most important factor in determining what it will be. Herein lies the problem. We have dramatically different beliefs in our collective minds about what we want tomorrow to be. Yes, it is our future; but it is a different future, because it is our immediate future. It will happen soon and we can see the results right away.

Creating an immediate future, like creating a more distant future, requires three beliefs: the future is not predetermined; it is not predictable and it is persuadable. Believing that tomorrow is persuadable is necessary in order to do something about it today. It is a necessary strategy for creating our desired future one tomorrow at a time.

Today we live in a world of chaos with widespread cultural and belief diversity. The cultural evolution of our collective minds recently has been mind boggling. It seems that we are going backward, not forward. Certainly not better. My recommendation for tomorrow’s cultural evolution, of course, is a collective open and inclusive worldview. Open-mindedness makes us receptive to new ideas and inclusiveness makes us consider the common good. I have written many blogs about these concepts.

The battle cry today is: “In order to have a better tomorrow, we need a better leader.” Not just a better leader, but a visionary leader — to point the way. I suggest that our future doesn’t depend on a visionary leader. It depends on everyone becoming a leader. Tomorrow’s future depends on everyone doing it together. Tomorrow is everyone’s responsibility today. You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today, Abraham Lincoln.

 Because it is easier to be the result of the past than to be the cause of the future, to create a better tomorrow may require us to learn from yesterday and to invent tomorrow. Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. It is waiting to be created — right behind our eyes and with our behavior.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi






























The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt
You must be the change you wish to se in the world. Mahatma Gandhi






We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. R. Buckminster Fuller



The future starts today, not tomorrow. Pope John Paul II


Posted in Future Sense | 2 Comments


 The Consequence Of Political Polarization*

 Bandwagon Bias Is The Culprit

Polarization: Division into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs.

Bandwagon Bias: Our tendency to go along with belief systems of groups we are involved with. Also known as: Bandwagon Effect and Bandwagon Fallacy.

Group Think: The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

The belief systems of today’s republican and democratic political parties are a good example of polarization, the bandwagon bias and group think. This, of course, has always been true of American political parties. But recently it seems to have gone to an extreme. The worldwide consequence of this phenomenon today is staggering.

The problem with polarization, bandwagon bias, and group think is that they inhibit good decision making. Possible Political Polarization Damage:

  • Lacks personal responsibility
  • Discourages creativity
  • Ignores the common good
  • Precludes compromise and negotiation
  • Eliminates critical evaluation
  • Results in irrational or dysfunctional decision making
  • Sees no need to examine the possible alternatives or the potential consequences — just go along with my side (“my side bias”)

Going along  with the belief system of one’s group, causes these consequences that are harmful, and even dangerous, for a democracy. Notice: this collateral damage to a democracy is also true when the electorate is also polarized. When both the congress and the voters are polarized, the damage is doubled. And in both politicians and the voters there is often more than two sides. Is there a solution?

The solution is a revival of a sense of national identity that is both inclusive and meaningful, Francis  Fukuyama.

 We can only hope that citizens dissatisfaction fosters political engagement through activities such as protests, mobilization and pressure on public officials. Democratic activities are the best, and only, way to resolve crises in democracy, Didi Kuo.

I, of course, have been promoting a collective worldview that is open and inclusive. Can politicians and voters become open and inclusive? What do you think?

*This blog is the result of my reading the article, “A Deafening Divide” about political polarization, in the Stanford Magazine, May 2018. Nine Stanford scholars comment.

Posted in Democracy in Danger | 2 Comments