Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wealthy or Well-being?

As we sit in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, the reality of $1.3 trillion dollars no longer circulating in our economy has become to hit home everywhere. Practically every state in the country is faced with deficits and budget shortfalls requiring cutbacks in state services, education, health care, police and fire.

Ironically however, Wall St. investment firms continue to hand out massive, multi-million dollar bonuses to its staff while teachers are laid off and communities around the country see the lives of their children being impacted. Yet, there are no protests anywhere. Somehow, we've come to accept that this massive accumulation of wealth by a small group of people is normal now and but for the opportunity to be in their shoes, we don't begrudge them the right to be where they are.

How did we get so out of balance? When did wealthy overtake everything else in importance? When did financial wealth become more important than well-being?

I recently had a discussion with a man approaching his 60's who is now actively engaged in his well-being every day. Yet, as he said, he spent most of his life--until almost 50, focused only on being wealthy. And he did accumulate great wealth--but at the expense of his family, his community, and his health. Only after he'd accumulated more than he could possibly know what to do with, did he stop and when he stopped--he discovered he had no idea how to live life.

As he said, "I didn't know there was any other option than to put my nose to the grindstone and make lots of money--because that was the ticket to happiness. Then I got lots of money and was trapped by it because it had prevented me from really participating in life--people, relationships, connection to the earth--all of what I now consider important. But I was totally unaware that there was even another option. I'm angry about that--now that I can see the difference between wealthy and well-being, I'd take well-being any day."

And I think that has become true of so many people--especially those trapped in the Wall St. mania of 'wealthy at all costs". We've traded wealthy for well-being and in doing so are creating a country that's lost connection with what is truly important. Our well-being is being decimated as we close schools, leave millions unemployed, watch our earth being destroyed in the pursuit of ever-greater wealth.

Wealthy or Well-being? Its a choice. In Life Puzzle terms--wealthy is the 0-5 unconscious, well-being is 6-10 proactive, conscious, whole life making. Which do you choose?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dear Bill Gates

Your Feb 27th Washington Post article, How Teacher development could revolutionize our schools holds a lot of very good points. Clearly we have a great need for good teachers and good schools and our current system has gotten bogged down in producing both of these. I think one of the key reasons is as you say, "we do very little to measure, develop and reward excellent teaching". And the way our systems are set up, it will be very hard to change that any time soon.

I would like to suggest another approach to this issue that would enable not only greater outcomes for our children and their learning but could improve our economic system as well. As we sit in the Great Recession--with 15 million unemployed and an expected 'jobless recovery', we have in front of our eyes a solution that could result in a stronger economy, healthier and smarter children, more resilient communities and even a way to improve the environment. That solution is to recognize that a successful economy in the 21st century will require high functioning humans and the best place to start this is not in our schools, but in our homes.

I am proposing Mr. Gates that we begin to invest in a new business sector altogether. Let's invest in the business of human capacity development. Let's hire, train and manage Human capacity development professionals who work in their homes and as part of a community team network to provide human capacity development to their children.

Now, you might be thinking that this is to pay for parenting--but that's not it at all. Because while all the hired staff of Human Capacity Development professionals may be parents, the reality is that not all parents are Human Capacity Development professionals. There-in lies the difference Mr. Gates. Human Capacity Development Professionals are just that--professionals trained in whole person/whole community development. They go to work every day, will be highly networked using technology and all of them will be focused on the high achievement outcomes for their children with developmentally appropriate measures.

While of course we want our schools to improve--in truth, long before a child ever reaches school there is so much human capacity development work that needs to happen. If we fund this new sector of Human Capacity Development Professionals, we will be taking a quantum leap forward and enabling our schools to receive children who are far more ready to learn than what our current schools are receiving. And we know this also has a huge impact on teacher's success although they have no control over their student's readiness at this point. Thus, many teachers spend far too much time having to deal with this primary issue--all of which could be solved if we created a new business sector to address this need.

Your foundation is working with 3000 teachers, I would like to ask if your foundation would also support a pilot project of 30 Human Capacity Development Professionals and a management team? If you are interested in this concept, I would be pleased to provide more details.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tying shoelaces

One of the core reasons I created the Life Puzzle model was to address this fact: Human beings have to be taught how to be human. I came to realize that most adults--even those having children, truly do not understand that simple, basic fact. I've had adults tell me again and again that they assumed children, after a certain age, would just figure it out. That as parents, they needed to provide food and shelter and some schooling--but then it was up to the child to figure it out for themselves.

Yes, we know when they're quite young we have to take care of them. But it seems to me that about the time a child can tie their own shoelaces or pour their own milk...we begin to see them as capable of figuring out how to do the rest of their lives.

But the honest truth is--children don't figure it out by themselves. Left to their own devices, they'll end up making lots of knots with their shoe laces instead of tying it correctly. They need lots of guidance and they need adults to show them the big picture of what it takes to be a human being--and then the little steps to get there--as in how to correctly tie their laces or build a great life.

If all of us adults understood this, we'd engage in more dialogue with our children, spend more time helping them practice so many of the things they need to learn--just as we sat patiently and practiced tying shoe laces with them. Don't assume they'll figure it out--assume the opposite in fact--that a good conversation about every little thing they need to learn is worth the time to show them you care and that its okay to 'not know'. Then they'll assume their parents are there to fall back in when confused and unsure.

Every day on our streets you can see the impact of children being left to figure it out for themselves. It isn't a pretty picture. Changing it starts with us adults--realizing human beings don't just happen--we have to be taught to maximize our human capacity. We needed help learning to tie our shoe laces so they didn't come out all knotted...and we need help learning to become human so our lives aren't a knotted mess too.