The Way Forward Is Inward
Why does the image of a person standing at the summit of a high mountain, their hands overhead, reaching for the sky, inspire us? Is it because they symbolize a moment in our own life when we may have achieved a personal goal or “reached for the sky”? This upward gesture reflects an upward swelling of inner joy that is happening in that moment.
Unless the hiker in the image is able to defy gravity, the next step forward they will take will be downward, and perhaps inward. The inward part is the most important. There is no guarantee that the descent will be risk-free because for most of us, the trek down from a peak moment in our life can often be more challenging than the climb up.
The Holmes and Rahe stress scale confirms this.
Perhaps this is why the challenge facing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is a pivotal one for America. Admitting to an act of racism, the governor has two choices:1.) To resign as Governor in disgrace, or 2.) To personally steer the government of his state in a different direction: toward equality for all citizens of his state, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or religion.
Caught in the glare of the news media, could the entire state of our union rest on the choice he makes?
We can all rise together, or divided, we shall fall. Based on the work that I do, I see a path forward. The way forward requires a transformational shift of focus.
Here’s why. Research shows that the human mind processes 20–60,000 thoughts a day, and most of the “self-talk” of people — as much as 85% — is negative talk.
Many children, for example, have been conditioned to think of themselves by the negative labels others place upon them. They may think of themselves as: Messy. Rowdy. Obnoxious. Irresponsible. Dirty. Talks too much. A poor reader. A slow learner. Too fast. Too slow. Overweight. Shy. Insensitive. Careless. A jerk. A nerd. A jock. ADD. A loner. Teacher’s Pet.
When studies are done of very young children, they find them to be “two legged” laughing boxes. They laugh at anything and everything. Whether someone plays “Peek-a-boo” or they stand up and fall down, laughter comes easily. A young child will laugh up to 300 times a day.
By the time we reach adulthood, most adults will only laugh 10–12 times a day, and often behind a hand covering their mouth.
The ability to break out of a lifelong pattern of negative thinking, can happen in an instant, that is: the moment we open ourselves to change. To change, however, requires the support of our neuroplastic brain.
Neurons which fire together, wire together.
Science reminds that to change, we have to set up daily habits that reflect an inner change. Our character, in fact, can be defined by our daily habits, or lack of habits. However, to translate a personal change into political change — as in changing the way the State of Virginia transforms its leadership and management — requires a shift of structure and focus.
The challange Virginia faces is to make a rapid shift to a diverse, inclusive equality in governance.
Achieving diverse, inclusive equality in governance requires that their leaders tap into and link up the intelligence systems of human beings today. The behavior and thinking pattern of the State of Virginia leaders and policy-makers and the problem solving outcomes must reflect “we the people” of the state.
A diverse, inclusive equality in governance equals cognitive diversity.
As we engage with each other as equals in a governing body — whether we are serving on a committee, a commission, or a policy-making team — we begin to think differently. We begin to think together, like a whole system.
Ideas or solutions that may have been polarizing or suppressed over a lifetime now are exposed to the light of day and either embraced, discarded, or evolve to match the “best practices” of our time.
The best we humans can do at this moment is to stay sane, with enough energy in reserve to be able to adapt to the existential problems we face — in an ever fluctuating environment — in the moment, moment by moment.
Right now, the task at hand for the State of Virginia is to reorganize its management and leadership— based on a balance of creative, diverse trait strengths and a diversity of cognitive skills — so that policy makers and decision-makers will be able to maintain a continuous adaptive, resilient response that best matches the needs of the communities they serve.
When leaders in business, government, and in our communities are able to achieve this level of transformation through equality, they will find the inner strength they need to meet the needs of the communities they serve and the challenges America and the world faces today.
This progress can be measured, and if successful, it will go viral.