Ideas

Hey Stanford. How About Collaborating With Other Smart People and Coming Up With Some More Useful Words to Describe Women's Negotiating Techniques?

Remember when people used to post ads in newspapers for significant others? 

SWF looking for male 5"5 or taller, must be nice, like to laugh, do fun things, meet new people.  555-5555. 

My dad saw an ad like that decades ago and said, "What does that word 'nice' even mean?  How vague.  How

Do Children of Type Nines look like them?

It's a long weekend and I don't feel like writing something serious this morning, so I'm posting something fun.  As my girlfriend has sent me pictures of her babies for the last year and a half, I can't help but notice they both look so much like her and not her husband, who is a Type 9.  I know this is totally subjective, but I wonder if that's a thing with Nines,

Most Exciting Book on my Nighstand Right Now

I got this book for Christmas and I've been looking forward to the day where I could sink my teeth into it.   It's The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three by Cynthia Bourgeault.  I started re-reading it this morning.  The author is an Episcopal priest and has been studying Gurdjieff

Losing Jobs to China

I follow two blogs daily- Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, and Joanne Wilson, an angel investor.  They're both super astute observers of the economy, entrepreneurship, politics and culture.  Fred wrote another great post this morning about the conversation around losing jobs to China, that we (but mostly Americans right now) are bemoaning the loss of manufacturing jobs to China, when automation will mean that they will eventually lose their jobs anyway, so why can't politicians help constituents see the bigger picture instead of stoking their fears?

We are now well into a transition from an industrial economy to an information economy. It seems to me that part of that transition was the move of industrial jobs to lower and lower cost regions in an ongoing march to reduce costs. But that march may end with massive automation and very little labor in the manufacturing process. That means that these low cost regions that “stole our jobs” will also lose these jobs eventually.

The US and a number of other countries around the world are building new information based economies. That is the long term winning strategy.

So while we can critique our leaders (business and political) for giving up on the manufacturing sector a bit too early, I think the US has largely played this game correctly and will be much better off than the parts of the world that have taken the low cost manufacturing jobs from us.

The discussion amongst Fred's readersin the comment section is centered on the future of jobs in America, and given my limited knowledge of stats in this area, I'll just stick to what I know.  Computers and machines can't create a field of presence between two people, and they can't come to presence like we can.  Because they remember the crash of 2008,  Millennials are spending more money on experiences than things; they want to be at live events, creating memories and bonding with their friends rather than accumulating things.  They remember seeing that houses and things can be re-possessed, and they don't want that happening to them.  Their spending patterns will indicate where the jobs will be in the coming years.

Enneagram teacher extraordinaire George Gurdjieff called us machines- and the more we meditate and become self-aware, the more we see how true it is that we operate on automatic.  Non-meditators guffaw when you say something like that, but when you start the self-observation practice, you eventually start to see tiny, short glimpses of our automatic nature.  So if you haven't done a lot of meditation or self-observation, you can't compete very well against a machine.  But... self-observation leads to self-leadership and with leadership skills, you can create a field with others... or without having to go into too much depth about what that means... you can create a meaningful experience for others.  An experience of presence.

That said, what kinds of jobs will be left for us?  I pay some attention to the modelling world and models have experienced a tremendous shift as well- consumers don't just want to see their beautiful bodies and faces- they want to know about their consumer choices, what they do in their time off, where they vacation, how they make hummus... The modelling industry isn't about just showing up for a photo shoot and posing with a brand's clothing.  Increasingly, models' personal lives are more well-known to us, more accessible, and they are sharing more with their followers.  They have youtube channels, they share their recipes and pictures of their pets with their Instagram followers, they're going back to school and the fact that we know about that, care about it, and are following in their footsteps means we care about the lifestyle behind their brand.   So if we take that same angle to business, going into business means creating a branded experience.  Customers don't just want a product thrown at them- they want the look, the attitude, the political statement, the integrated lifestyle of what the brand represents- the meaning behind it is just as important- or more important than its quality.  If you're going to create an integrated lifestyle behind a brand, you're going to need a capacity for self-reflection.  

Those are just some very scattered thoughts this morning.  I do believe that the disembodiment that's been happening since the dawning of computers has led us to find different ways of being around .... more... bodies.  The new sharing economy is a manifestation of that- Uber and Airbnb for example.  Those who have the self-knowledge and presence of mind to "create a field" for others as we say in meditation circles, or "create an experience", as they say in marketing, will win over robots.

A Call to Inject the Third Force into Feminism

One of my favorite bloggers, Joanne Wilson, often posts about feminism in tech and entrepreneurship, and while I'm glad for such a smart cheerleader and champion, I see the feminist moving is in great need of an esoteric boost to maintain itself as a serious voice with the next generation of torchbearers.

I'm a feminist in the sense that I'm a woman who's bowled over with gratitude every time I'm reminded of what the suffragettes went through to bring us the vote.  One of the first things I plan on doing after I've crossed over to the other side is to run over and get a spot at their feet to hear their stories (and then right after that, I'll be making my way over to the story-telling area by the men and women who fought for the 40-hour work week, some other heroes of mine.)

The problem is that feminism has gotten a bit long in the tooth in its current day incarnation, and it's definitely not because our hearts aren't in the right place, it's just that more is being revealed to the Western consciousness that we can work with, and it's becoming clear that without that material, we're stuck in dualistic thinking.  Watching feminists blast out the same subejct matter today without using the "third force" is getting lame and boring, and it absolutely shouldn't be, but what new thing is there to be said on the topic that hasn't already been said?  Why isn't it having the same cutting edge as it used to?

I only have 7 minutes to complete this blog post, so just really quickly, dualistic thinking is- let's say- the plane, or the medium, in which the human ego operates.  It sees reality in binary opposites.  When we meditate, however, reaching more and more integrative states neurologically, we bring the third force into play, revealing a third, but previously hidden dimension to reality that we couldn't see before.  This is called the Law of Three among Gurdjieffians, people who study the Enneagram and/or who read the works of 19th century esoteric George Gurdjieff.  (I've written about it before, and this is a video explaining it.)

There.

Now to veer off course for two seconds.  I don't actually believe in gender.  I think we're at a time now when plural genders have officially been recognized by western thought, that we can squint into the murkiness and see that personality actually runs deeper than gender, and those quirky personality differences within gender sterotypes are actually real categories of personalities that have been lurking under the broadly painted brush strokes of blue and pink. 

 My attempt at drawing George Gurdjieff, 2012.  He remains a controversial figure, but his insight into the human condition and its connection to the laws of the universe are undisputed.

My attempt at drawing George Gurdjieff, 2012.  He remains a controversial figure, but his insight into the human condition and its connection to the laws of the universe are undisputed.

Another widely held theory we must divest ourselves of to get to bring this baby home- Newton's first law of motion- that what goes into motion stays in motion.  We all know that when we put our minds to losing 20 pounds, if we do the same exercises over and over again for eternity, we're not going to lose 20 pounds.  We usually reach a point where we have to do something new or extra to keep the momentum going.  Like eventually we're going to realize we have to eat fewer fats, or start keeping track of our meals in a food diary.  With forward motion comes clearer consciousness, which, at certain points in the cycle, needs the Law of Three injected in it to keep the forward motion going.  That injection might look optional at a certain point, but given enough time, we're going to see how mandatory and essential it is to our homeostasis.  Gurdjieffians call this the Law of Seven, and it correlates to the musical octave of do to do, with two ternary injections in each cycle of seven to keep its forward trajectory going.

Therefore if feminism is an organism, and if we're to maintain its forward momentum, we need a third force injected right about now- that of mindful awareness of our egos so that we can see 1) in its fight for equality of the sexes- a very justified fight, it is inadvertently revealing a deeper current, a new and deeper level that is actually the essential battle ground for humans- that of our ego, id, and superego; or as the ancient Egyptians would have called it, our Set, Horus, and Osirus; and 2) once women have this awareness practice under their belts, they'll be infinitely more equipped to not only say new and innovative things about gender that haven't been revealed to human consciousness before, but they'll be able to develop in themselves what feminists have been saying it takes to do the practical things they need to take their place in this world like stand up for themselves, break glass ceilings, and demand and take advantage of flexible work schedules and quality child care.

Consider this a scribble on a napkin before work.  There is much more that can be said, and someday I will write a book about this, but I wanted to address some thoughts that have been coming together in my head.  We can't stay binary any more- we are going to run into the ground if we don't incorporate deep self-awareness practices like mindfulness as men and women.  Mindfulness is mandatory now.

Book Idea

A few years ago, I decided I was going to write two books; one at age 42 and the other at age 52.  (I was 32 when I made this plan, and 10 years away seemed safe enough.) 

The first book was going to be about the Law of Three, the Enneagram, and Feminism, which was going to be a game-changer that fills a lot of the emptiness of 21st century feminism; I wasn't sure of the second topic. 

Someone else has already tackled the Law of Three in the context of Christianity (although she does cover gender) in the beautifully-written, lucid, and intelligent book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three in exactly the same style I'd envisioned.  I am so very grateful for the intellectual model to follow that is the uncontrovertible authority on this topic, Cynthia Bourgeault. 

My second book, I've decided is going to be about politics and the Law of Three.  I believe great imapasses can be overcome if people learned how useful it could be in the public arena.  It's basically a problem-solving "tool" or mechanism, with the do-nothingness of meditation.  Its simplicity and exceptional practicality are one more reason I am so deeply in love with the Enneagram.

(If you look at the Enneagram symbol to the right, you'll notice it's composed of a circle, an equilateral triangle, and an odd-shaped hexad.  The circle relates to the Law of One, the triangle relates to the Law of Three, and the hexad, believe it or not despite its six points, relates to the Law of Seven, all holy numbers in several mystical traditions around the world.)

City Planning, Politics and the Human Body

 In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

There's a distinction to be drawn between North-enders and Sout-east-enders in my city, Regina.  I don't know how it ended up this way- maybe the division started with the Ukranian labor workers' families being excluded from Regina elite life when the city was being laid out, or a certain type of person wanted to move close to the university or the Legislative building, or maybe only certain types of people were welcome around Wascana Lake.  Either way, North-enders and South-East-Enders have turned out to have quite different "personalities".  I think it's the same difference that exists between LA and NY, between Canadian Liberals and Conservatives, and between American Democrats and Republicans.  In Regina, ask a house-shopping East-ender to look at houses in the North end, and they might do it, but they'll probably bristle first.  Ask your North-ender clientele to if they'd consider moving to the East end, and they'd probably only do it in desperation.  I don't know the stats about this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say there's about as much wealth in the North end as in the South East- construction is booming at both ends- so I'm not attempting to disparage either ends of Regina.

Now I COULD TOTALLY BE WRONG ABOUT THIS; this is just an idea that floated through my brain a couple weeks ago, and i wanted to write it down.  

My dad used to repeat this axiom, that small minds talk about things, mediocre minds talk about people, and great minds talk about ideas.  His belief- which isn't actually his, by the way- is part of the heritage of the West's deification of the head- I'm going to say this started around the turn of the 20th century.  IQ tests determined peoples' entrance to university and if they could get certain jobs. This belief has cost us dearly.  This of the lack of progress that has happened because of stringent partisanship.

Ancient religions, however, acknowledge plural brains- and this is my argument- that Regina's North enders and South-East enders use different "brains", and hence have two different wisdoms.  In the Chakra system, there are 7 "chakras" laid out vertically on the body- centers of energy that relate to different functions of our psyche.   The lower chakras have to do with one's foundation, how one defends against the outside world, and how we move.  Action is the key word here.  The basic human right at the first (the lowest) chakra is "to be here and to have".  There is a lot more I could go into to describe this more, but I have to run, so this is going to be short and sweet.  Evolutionarily, this is the first part of the psyche to develop- the part that defines our boundaries, our separation from mother.  In the elementary school where I work, I notice a lot of KDG, grade 1 and 2 teachers are body-types.  Their wisdom arises around a body intelligence.  (This isn't to say that body-types are less intelligent!  Not at all.  Just at the top of my head, one of my intellectual heros, Carl Jung, was an Enneagram type 1w9, Martin Luther King, an Enneagram type 8w7, and Abraham Lincoln, an Enneagram type 9- great thinkers with their wisdom around the body).

The next set of chakras are around the heart, and we won't go into that so much, but you could probably associate that with down-town Regina.

The next set is the head.  The fact that the university is in the south end probably has something to do with this, but South East enders, known for having the highest ratio of university degrees in one riding (the one with Ralph Gooddale as the MLA) is overall, a head space.  Again, it's an error to put head intelligence above body intelligence- it unfolds later in human development, and it sits on top of the body, but later in life, these head people stumble over themselves if they don't consciously develop a body intelligence, ie. if they don't put their ideas/thoughts/values into action.  Same thing with the body types- when they start to get conscious about their development, often it's their head center that needs opening.  

This is super rough, but as a heart/head centre person, I can acknowledge the brokenness that comes from being undervaluing the body/action/movement.  Enneagram wisdom has a lot to say about the integration of the whole body.  The disdain of one centre of intelligence for the other is at the root of the spiritual poverty of politics- the polarity between two ways of viewing reality.  What they really need is integration with each other.

mentorship- giving and receiving

 image from leap.utah.edu

image from leap.utah.edu

I've always had a hunger for a mentor relationship- I always felt I could do more than what I was doing- and every once in a while you want someone to come along and give you a push.

On the other hand, I've been fortunate to get what is the next best thing, if not better: great teachers. 

Growing up, my dad was always harping on us kids to stretch ourselves intellectually, and it didn't take much- a few years of university- before we crossed the line of what, to him, was acceptable bounds for intellectual roaming.  He's still religious, and I am no longer.  He doesn't understand why I couldn't stay intellectually rigorous yet stay within the confines of our faith, and I don't understand how I could have. 

In high school, our church had a great youth leader named Cory who was really passionate about theology and made it cool for us.  We would look at Greek and Hebrew passages and dissect what they meant in different translations.  It was one of his passions to teach us how to debate (and win) with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, and it was where my head was at at the time, so I soaked it up.  I ended up attending a liberal-leaning Christian college to get my degree, and when I reconnected with him years later on Facebook, we sadly had very little in common anymore.  Doesn't mean I don't look back on those three years fondly, though.

In university, my sister introduced me to an equally intellectually vigorous, but left-leaning Bible Study group, and our leader was very passionate about pushing us to think critically about what our faith meant in today's day.  We read some great books that had a big effect on all our lives.  I'm eternally grateful to him.  I've since left that way of thinking altogether, but again, those were some great, fertile years.

One of the university classes I took was with Dr. Ward who taught American Political Thought.  His classes were super exciting because he made questions about Benjamin Franklin, race and gender really relevant, and there were always good discussions.  We always left the classes buzzing.  In case it isn't obvious, the big narrative in my life is the trajectory from a conservative religious household with a limited understanding of my faith to an agnostic liberal point of view.  Over time, a new problem emerged, though.  I ended up having to drop out of university (I already had a degree anyway) because I couldn't get out of the head space and couldn't finish my assignments on time because I kept on thinking about more and more things to include in my essays.  Not good.  I had to get out of there.

The big shift started in 2010 when I learned about the Enneagram and how my personality type needed to DO instead of FEEL and THINK all the time, which was actually new territory for me.  It still is- I'm at the beginning of a new trajectory and I feel like I'm still very much taking baby steps.  I have a mentor now named Sam with whom I speak once a month, and she is so positive even when I don't know what I'm doing.  I also have a coach too, and he introduced me to a mindfulness practice where I've gotten more acquainted with the gut space.  For my type, action means a loss of identity which is like floating untethered in space kind of territory- if you ever want to understand why some people are absolutely terrified of success, learn the Enneagram- you can ask me what my type is. 

While I was working on my business, I worked as a secretary at an elementary school this past year, and there was a grade 8 student who would come into the office when she was done with her homework and chat.  I loved talking to her- I found out she was really bright, taking online classes at a university, and studying Greek history, medicine, and psychology in her spare time.  She wants to go to Harvard, so I said, "you know what? Come work for me for this summer and I'll get you doing research assistant stuff."  We're going for tea tomorrow so I'm excited to see what comes out of that.

We all know this- people slip through the cracks really easily.  We all have these big dreams, and then as we grow up, we get weighed down with having to pay bills, and we go work somewhere and get comfortable.  Even if you just challenge someone for a small window of time and get them thinking in a way they haven't thought before, or doing things they didn't think they could do before, it makes a huge difference- you don't have to be a mentor for life.  I'm grateful for everyone who cared enough to challenge me, and I hope I can give back to the same measure and more.

"Terra non est centra mundi"

The best quote I've heard all month came from Paul Holdengraber, the director of public programs at the New York Library who said that he approached all his subjects with "a euphoria of ignorance", which is exactly how I feel about my course.  Like him, I'm producing Science and Alchemy School because I'm fascinated by the topic, and I'm excited to have some really great speakers enlighten us as we learn how two profound systems of inner growth-- astrology and the Enneagram-- are modeled in our planetary system, and how, in turn, we are, in our biological make-up, products our planetary system.  We belong to each other.  Not only is the universe's unfolding a fascinating story, but it's the cradle for our own psychological unfolding, and as both narratives come together in the 21st century, enabled by technology and research, there is also profound meaning.  Science and mysticism are revealing themselves to be intertwined in fascinating ways in our modern-day universe, so these are exciting times.

Another quote I heard this week was from Russ Hudson's talk on the historical context of the Enneagram.  "It takes time for ideas to cook."  That's an understatement.  In about 150 AD, a Alexandrian astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician named Ptolemy wrote Almagest, which became the standard textbook on astronomy for generations of students to come.  Indeed, for the next 1200 years, it held its place as the authority on the planets and stars, how they moved around the earth, which was the centre of the universe. 

  Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.   Image from Wikipedia.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.  Image from Wikipedia.

It took a man named Nicolaus Copernicus in the mid-sixteenth century to get the gumption- and the science together- to challenge Ptolemy's ideas, and his resulting book was ignored by the Church.  Copernicus was a Polish cleric who studied religious law, medicine and astrology, (since it shed light on the nature of his patients' illnesses), and as he did so, found that Ptolemy's calculation tables were a little cumbersome.  Over the course of his adult life, he developped a heliocentric model of the universe, and his ideas didn't become accepted until the 19th century. 

Talk about taking a while for ideas to cook.  Yesterday, Joanne Wilson profiled a city in South Korea that decided to go without cars in one particular neighborhood for one month.  It took TWO YEARS to convince everyone to get on board.  People just didn't think it could be done. 

I love new ideas.  I soak them up, although sure I get threatened by my fair share of them.  But I like to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible so I'm never taken by surprise.