1. The power to transcend paradigms

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1. The power to transcend paradigms

“Transcending paradigms may go beyond challenging fundamental assumptions, into the realm of changing the values and priorities that lead to the assumptions, and being able to choose among value sets at will. Many today see Nature as a stock of resources to be converted to human purpose. Many Native Americans see Nature as a living god, to be loved, worshiped, and lived with. These views are incompatible, but perhaps another viewpoint could incorporate them both, along with others.”


The ability to chose at will our own value sets is a huge thing. Meadow’s says it is the biggest most powerful human capability. Few have developed this power. It is the fundamental power since all of our other choices come from what we value. The necessary insight is that we have some choice in what we value, in what we  believe. We certainly mirror the beliefs and values of others (social construction of reality); yet the choice is ours. Take the default choice or take a leap into personal value creation?

Big shifts: Joy in place of fear.  True connection in place of using and being used (I-Thou in place of I-It). Embodied presence in addition to cognition and emotion. Community in addition to autonomous individuals. Freedom AND solidarity. Flourishing in addition to treating illnesses.

What we value most is sometimes relegated to the spiritual realm. That is a separation that we cannot afford. To re-think, re-feel, re-sense , re-imagine health and well-being we will benefit from reflecting deeply on what we really care about most. What do you care most about? It matters here.

I personally find that human connection, helping others and being helped, working toward common goals and common purpose, are intrinsically and deeply satisfying. I find that the alienation of treating myself and others instrumentally to get something from them or to get something done by them in the name of efficiency is the least efficient way toward wellbeing and health. Treating myself and others with respect, touching rather than pushing, is wellbeing and much health comes from this way of being together.

Health care is a complex system and not all actions have equal effects in complex systems (non-linear effects are a hallmark of complex systems). Unfortunately people commonly choose less effective leverage points to effect complex systems–especially when they are in the system. This tendency has understandable drivers–desire for quick fixes (impatience), short term time horizons (fear or excitement), narrow scope of influence (weak relationships), perverse incentives (e.g growth at any cost), lack of concern with the outcomes of the whole system (narrow self-interest before all else), purposeful ignorance of side effects (asocial behavior), etc. Our most powerful place to intervene in healthcare is from our own deepest values and through our own beliefs and assumptions. Assumptions about health, illness, death, human nature, professional control, professional identity, community, choice & freedom, solidarity, social networks, the nature of power, the power of organizing, the role of business, the nature of complex systems, the nature of our own minds/emotions/bodies…

We can begin to sense (ideas come later) our inclinations, our leanings, our pre-rational attractions, and thus we can begin to find both what attracts us as well as our blind spots. Of course we can enter into dialogue with others who have different assumptions. We can even do this formally as communities with facilitated Dialogue. Our beliefs and assumptions frequently blind us to the power of counter intuitive leverage points. Too often we find that we have lost our curiosity, our connection with our deepest cares and our caring for the whole. This is remediable by taking some time every day to be curious about what we really care about.

As we develop our capability and capacity for innovation–let’s do our best to design the system in ways that produce what we need and want–rather than showing up as being well meaning dilettantes, polishing our favorite part of the broken system–fiddling while Rome burns.