It’s been nearly 30 years now since the term “Abundance Mindset” was introduced by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and while we’ve benefited greatly, his idea still faces powerful forces promising relief from scarcity.
For nearly 40 years, I’ve wandered past this cornerstone on Georgia Tech’s campus, but it was only just today that it caught my eye. Perhaps the effort to translate from Latin to English had been the hurdle in the past, but today, the phrase “Light and Truth” popped up in my head effortlessly.
The training I received at Georgia Tech while earning my engineering degree has strongly influenced my worldview, and the phrase “Light and Truth” sums this up rather well. Many colleges and universities refer to this phrase intending to prepare the next generation of leaders. The idea is that we advance ourselves by facing the light and commitment to learning the truth.
Without getting too philosophical, there is an idea that truth is an absolute which exists independently of any single human’s thoughts and that our goal is to come to an agreement amongst ourselves — through reason — on what that absolute truth means. Performing independently verifiable (there’s that Latin root again) experiments to confirm or refute our idea is called science.
Not everyone attends Georgia Tech, and this has often led me to frustration. My training focused my problem-solving on the elements of the problem that matched up with science. When you build a bridge, you pay attention to the length of the span, the distribution of stress forces under load and crosswinds, and the strength of the materials and foundation. You set aside whether the color is pleasing, whose business friend might get the contract, and how the funding might be negotiated. Sure, there are reasonable ways to make those decisions, but the first set of decisions is independent of the people involved and the second set of decisions is completely dependent on the people involved.
My idea of “Light and Truth” was much like the philosophical idea of truth existing independently of who was thinking about it. I would hit people over the head with facts — and I found a good bit of success this way — but some significant failures too.
Letting those failures come to light, I came to see that each person carries their own truth — even when reasoning about facts. Again, without going too far into philosophy, we’re finding that yes, truth probably is different from person to person.
And so, the phrase “Lux et Veritas” has changed for me, although I still hold onto this idealistic notion that advancement requires that humans come to agreement. In particular, we can’t hit each other over the head with facts. We have to develop the skill to argue persuasively for our particular truth, and that means understanding the other side’s truth. It is even possible that your own truth may change to accommodate experiences that are not your own.
Light shows us the way. If we face the light, we are probably facing the truth. If we find darkness, if we find fear, if we find blame, we probably need to look somewhere else for truth.
As the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
About a year ago, I had run across Simon Sinek’s talk about leading others by focusing on the “why” rather than the “what” or the “how”. People will align with your “why” — if your “why” is worthy and can be communicated concisely.
Rambling thoughts, try to pull together.
Shifts in communication, feelings of helplessness, anxiety and depression — all whole we’re living in an age of abundance. The contrast strikes me.
I still have this silly notion that I can change the world, but I now know I have to change myself first.
For more than a year now, I’ve struggled with how to shape without being grouchy.
I’ve been thinking about my personal “Why”. This and how I might boil it down to make it concise. I sort of knew it wasn’t going to be just one thing, and I struggled to simplify this down. This list goes to 11.
There were themes that ran through my thoughts:
- Growth isn’t just movement toward a destination. Growth happens in how we handle the choices. Growth is the development of skill in recognizing and making those choices: The Journey is the Destination
- Growth can be upward, but not a line. Maybe a spiral because there are cycles: failure and success, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. These ups and downs are opportunties to step back, observe where we are, and decide what is meaningful.
- There are other cycles: Helping and being helped; teaching and being taught; pausing and moving forward. These cycles are the drills we repeat as we develop and grow.
- Pausing to reflect whether or not we can do better — and reflect on what “better” means
- Thrive: not just materially, but emotionally, socially, and spiritually as well.
I wasn’t sure how to write these down. And I’m still writing the story of my own experience.
To write down my purpose, my reasons for creating Angel Factories, I followed a pattern provided by Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why“: To <take some action>, so that <I find some benefit>. These are my “why’s”:
- To walk deliberately, so that I can know my path.
- To know my path, so that I can see my choices.
- To see my choices, so that I’m sure to follow my dreams.
- To follow my dreams, so that I can find my soul purpose.
- To find my soul purpose, so that I can engage with what is real.
- To engage what is real, so that I know what is meaningful.
- To share what is meaningful, so that I bind myself to loved ones and our community.
- To serve my loved ones and our community, so that we thrive.
- To thrive, so that we have enough to help others.
- To help others, so that we become angels.
- To become an angel, so that I can walk deliberately along my path.
The “Why’s” form a cycle. At any given point in your life, you may find yourself in one spot or another. It doesn’t matter where we start; we always come back around to where we started, but with more experiences under our belt, and more suited to deliberately walking our path.
Tighter loop (maybe a diagram?):
- Step back to Observe (space between the thought and the reaction)
- Choose Angel Work (orient yourself)
- Live as an Angel (deliberate, abundant, in alignment with your soul)
I’ve been smiling lately, thinking about the good friends I have and what we’re able to share. These warm connections are lighthouses, steering me around the political shoals of my Facebook feed. The politics of division both frustrates me and begs my empathy, an empathy I carry close to the surface. I seek healing.
Each of us comes into adulthood believing we’ll either count for something, or should be counting for something. We know about “upward” regardless of which way we’re currently facing.
We also recognize we’ve got both a past and a future — where we came from and where we’re going.
We’re always building bridges between where we are and where we want to be.
It takes a little longer to realize that while we’re on different paths, each person believes their choices of path are appropriate for them and their situation. Provided the opportunity to choose another path, we may or may not make that path our own.
In choosing our paths, we are both students and teachers. Sometimes we give help. Sometimes we accept help. Sometimes we’re the bridge between the two, helping others to see the gap without judging either the teacher or the student, or even ourselves.
Honest acceptance of where we are on the path is key to knowing what bridge-building role we can play.
I had coached my daughters’ soccer teams. Engaging the strong players to help the weaker players builds the bridges toward an effective team.
I had led cyclists of different abilities, alternating between the front of the group and the back of the group to ensure everyone was enjoying the ride. Fostering a sense of acceptance amongst the riders of different skills allows everyone to find a riding level that is suited to how they feel on that ride.
I was the smart kid in school. I thought others might be impressed or at least appreciative when I had the correct answer and made sure everyone knew, but as you might guess, this didn’t always work out well for me. Even if I was right.
Continue reading “Winning Hearts and Minds”
Leave it to a poet to find the words that inspire.
Thoreau’s words reach inside of me and grab hold. Living deliberately. We’re only here for a short while, so I don’t want to end up with regrets. (LINK Regrets here)
There are many gifts for which I thank my Mom, but a thread of truth running through them all is only light can dispel darkness. My Mom collected inspirational quotes, and by sharing them, instilled a life-long appreciation for uplifting thoughts and ideas. Growing up, and even into middle-age, I didn’t realize how so much darkness could enter my life.
This should turn into a story about how we came to be Angel Factories. The Long Answer below is a good place to start.
Yes and No.
Kind of Short Answer
We’re encouraging the development of people, organizations and communities who provide leadership toward “higher goals” — but higher goals which are not necessarily specific to any particular religious doctrine.
Spring 2011, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition hosted 500 cyclists of all ages on a bicycle tour of the newborn BeltLine. To enjoyably and safely escort several hundred riders through Atlanta’s urban and hilly motorscape, about 40 capable volunteers were trained to lead. Those ride leaders were called “Bike Angels”.
The bike part was knowing the routes, obeying bike-appropriate traffic rules, and keeping the group together.
The angel part was more ethereal, but had the following qualities:
- Leads by example
- Offers positive and uplifting encouragement
- Watches over and directly intervenes only if necessary
- Opens the doors to happiness, if not love
These angel qualities are latent in all of us. Angel Factories recognize, develop, and bring forth those latent qualities.