Seven Foundations of Personal Revolution
Taken from ‘Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness’
by Oli Anderson
[* Twitter: @Olijanderson *]
Personal Revolutions and Personal Revolutions Values Index, etc. Copyright © Oli Anderson 2015 All Rights Reserved
The 166 Personal Revolutions in the complete course consists of:
#1: Physical Laws / Sociocultural Laws
#2: Activity / Passivity
#3: 80:20 / 100:0
#4: Control / Inevitability
#5: Present / Past
#6: Responsibility / Victimhood
#7: Contribution / Blame
#8: Process / Event
#9: Death / Life
#10: Uncertainty / Certainty
#11: Causes / Reasons
#12: Flux / Stasis
#13: Reality / Turning Away
#14: Human Order / Universal Order
#15: Need / Self-Interest
#16: Solutions / Problems
#17: Planning / Coping
#18: Action / Ideas
#19: Reality / Assumptions
#20: Dedication / Interest
#21: Chosen Path / Predetermined Path
#22: Long-Term / Short-Term
#23: Similarity / Difference
#24: Make Happen (Create) / Have Happen (React)
#25: Shades of Grey / Black and White
#26: You vs Me / Me vs You
#27: You Think / They Think
#28: Purpose Driven / Destiny Driven
#29: Learning / Knowing
#30: Significance / Success
#31: Entrepreneur / Employee
#32: Dialogue / Debate
#33: Read / TV
#34: Boring / Bored
#35: Person / Reptile
#36: Human / Person
#37: Force of Nature / Nature’s Plaything
#38: Compliment / Criticise
#39: Embrace Change / Fear Change
#40: Ideas / People (Talk About)
#41: Gratitude / Entitlement
#42: Your Voice / Your Parents’ Voice
#43: Brutal Honesty / Self-Deception
#44: Brutal Honesty / Honest Rationalisation
#45: Reason / Faith
#46: Faith / Reason
#47: Plan / Planned For
#48: Fallible / Infallible
#49: Imperfect / Perfect
#50: Servant / Slave
#51: Negative Visualisation / Positive Possession
#52: Wholeness / Fragmentation
#53: You Belong to The Earth / The Earth Belongs to You
#54: Self-Acceptance / Self-Esteem
#55: Shared Vulnerability / Neediness
#56: Self-Transcendence / Self
#57: Self-Creation / Self-Discovery
#58: Realistic / Catastrophic
#59: Vision / Blindness
#60: Accountability / Acknowledgement
#61: Situational / Dispositional
#62: Meditate / Masturbate
#63: What You Need To Hear / What You Want To Hear
#64: Acceptance / Surrender
#65: Your Decisions / Cultural Decisions
#66: Collaborate / Assert
#67: In Steps / All At Once
#68: Systems (Interdependence) / Silos (Independence)
#69: Context / Concrete
#70: Substance / Symbolism
#71: To Do / Not To Do
#72: Positive Thinking / Wishful Thinking
#73: Intelligence / Intellect
#74: Ownership / Disownership
#75: Reflect / Deflect
#76: Self-Reflection / Self-Definition
#77: Purpose / Accident
#78: Interpretations / Facts
#79: Self-Investment / Tearing Others Down
#80: About Them / About You
#81: Authenticity / Pretence
#82: Ritual / Habit
#83: Solitude / Loneliness
#84: Future / Failure
#85: Higher Self / Lower Self
#86: Friendship / Acquaintance
#87: Belief / Defeat
#88: One Thing / Another
#89: How / What
#90: Change in The World / Change from The World
#91: Moments / Things
#92: Impact / Intention
#93: Potential / Pathology
#94: Conscious Choice / Habit
#95: Your Reality / Their Reality
#96: Originate / Imitate
#97: Mix it Up / Same Old, Same Old
#98: Unleash / Explode
#99: Opportunity / Failure
#100: World Class / Local Hero
#101: Impact / Cost
#102: Problems / Symptoms
#103: Progress / Perfection
#104: Participation / Observation
#105: Social-Responsibility / Self-Responsibility
#106: Motivation / Fear
#107: Listening / Having Ears
#108: Seek Value / Expect Value To Appear
#109: Alongside Others / Above or Below
#110: All of You / Part of You
#111: Doing / Arguing
#112: Internal / External (Locus of Control)
#113: Surrender / Control
#114: Wisdom / Power
#115: Open System (Becoming) / Closed System (Being)
#116: Self-Guidance / Self-Control
#117: Presence / Distraction
#118: Boundaries / Barriers
#119: Potential / Present
#120: Acceptance / Resistance
#121: Unconditional Love / Conditional Love
#122: Reality / Expectations
#123: Forgive / Begrudge
#124: Presence / Projection
#125: Mental Partner / Mental Master
#126: Teach / Learn
#127: Make Time / Find Time
#128: Influence Reality / Create Reality
#129: Comfort / Complacency
#130: Need / Greed
#131: Spirituality / Religion
#132: Love / Life
#133: Polarise / Pacify
#134: Purpose / Meaning
#135: Experience / Concept
#136: Love / Bondage (Co-Dependency)
#137: Choice / No Choice
#138: Opportunity / Problem
#139: Collective Intelligence / Individual Intelligence
#140: Broken Heart / Closed Heart
#141: Trust / Calculation
#142: Clarity / Concentration
#143: Strength / Confidence
#144: Thrive / Survive
#146: Passion / Peace
#149: Interdependence (Relationships) / Independence (Things)
#150: Nature / Nurture
#155: What You Need/What You Want
#157: Action / Fruit
#158: Total Compassion / Partial Compassion
#159: Consciousness/ Conscience
#160: Give Value/Take Value
#161: Confrontation /Avoidance
#162: Standards (Values)/Rules
#166: Character (Self) / Personality (Ego)
Intro to Seven Foundations
Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness is a book designed to break down the philosophical questions of the ‘good life’ and the psychological concept of ‘self-actualisation’ into their constituent parts so that readers can work towards designing their lives and systems around them accordingly. It uses a combination of practical philosophy and design thinking to do this, ultimately asking us to move as closely as we can towards and with ‘reality’ (whatever the hell that is) so that we can build our lives and organisations on the strongest foundations that we can.
This book, Seven Foundations of Personal Revolution, takes seven of the most foundational chapters from the wider course (166 and counting in total) in an attempt to get people ready for a total revolution, if they feel like they’re ready for one, or to at least learn a few things about themselves and the world around them if not. The summaries of the Seven Foundations are given on the following page, but the short version is that if we learn to accept our own ephemerality, embrace the change of life as it unfolds, and dedicate ourselves to building a purpose around our values, we will be more likely to find a meaningful life by merging the best of ourselves with the best of the whole reality of which we are a fragment.
Each ‘Revolution’ is built around a spectrum (A/B), the right hand side of which will generally lead towards yourself and the world, the left hand side of which will lead you away from these things. After a description of what this ‘Revolution’ means in terms of my experience, you are given an opportunity to look at your own experience with a series of Self-Guidance Questions that are designed to get you to know yourself a little better and then take more effective actions in the world as you go about your life. If you take the time to read one chapter per day and ask yourself these questions with an attitude of curiosity, this next week could be one of the most productive of your life.
The lessons shared in this book have had a profound impact on the way that I view the world and the possibilities that I see for both myself and the other human beings that share it with me. The final lesson for any of us always seems to be acceptance and the problems that we currently have usually only linger because of ignorance; when we take the steps to know ourselves and reality our life usually becomes a better one because the process of learning is the process of removing friction from our lives. I hope you get something of value from these Seven Foundations and that it opens the door to wider self-discovery.
Seven Foundations of Personal Revolution
1: You’re going to be dead one day (#9: Death / Life).
2. Nobody can save you but yourself. It’s all up to you (#2: Activity / Passivity).
3. Everything changes, including ‘you’ and ‘your’ thoughts (#12: Flux / Stasis).
4. There are no events, only processes (#8: Process / Event).
5. Uncertainty will take you further than certainty (#10: Uncertainty /Certainty).
6. The only choice you have to make in each moment is between wholeness and fragmentation (#52: Wholeness / Fragmentation)
7. Life becomes ‘meaningful’ when we choose a self-directed purpose and dedicate ourselves to it. (#134: Purpose / Meaning)
It is up to you and you alone to take the purposeful action that will guide you into yourself and then out into the world.
1: You’re going to be dead one day (#9: Death / Life).
Put your hand out in front you and stare at it for a few seconds. Think about moving your fingers and watch them obey your mental command. Now think about how one day that will all be over. One day that hand will be no more and the mind that controls it will by most accounts be gone too. You will be buried or burned and either way away from it all. As somebody much wiser than me once said, life is a game and all the pieces end up in the same box. That includes you too. And the clock is ticking even as you read this. Value the limited time death has given you and use it to serve life.
If death is the worst thing that can happen then learning to accept it makes everything else either bearable or inconsequential. Don’t fear death, fear not living. Accepting its imminence and overcoming the fear of death is one of the most important steps on the process to living a meaning life. Don’t run away from it or sweep it under the carpet. Really reflect on the fact that your life will be over one day, but also take the time to realise what an empowering and wonderful thing that is. It means that each moment of your life is precious, it means that each moment of your life is a gift that should be appreciated, that each second of your life counts for something, and that all of the people around you and each of the situations that you find yourself in are miraculous, purely due to the astounding odds of them unfolding at the same ephemeral moment in time and space.
Death is the doorway into a deeper and richer life. If you fear death, then in a way you’re already dead. Death makes our lives meaningful and motivates us to make them more so. Everything I have said about time being the most precious asset you have stems from this simple and irrefutable fact about existence: your opportunity to experience it all will one day come to an end. No matter how scared you may be to do something, no matter how bad things might get, you can take comfort in this simple fact and use it to keep going. Whether you think life is intrinsically meaningful or whether you believe that meaning stems from our projections onto the world, death and the transitory nature of it all can only serve to strengthen your conviction that ‘meaning’ is a possibility. Running from the inevitable will only lead to a safe but ultimately meaningless existence.
Death wakes more of us up than it puts to sleep. Life is fragile and precious and strange and remains to be so regardless of your religious persuasion. Even if you have been brought up to believe in an afterlife, convinced to some extent that this life is less important or significant than what is to come, acknowledge that the same appreciation of your temporariness or fugacity will serve to make your life ‘better’. Remember that, if there is any God, then he or she only helps them that help themselves (why should ‘he’ bother to do something you could do yourself?). Use your time here to make the most of yourself and to give the gift of your potential to the world around you. Take meaningful action to increase the value of this gift daily, remembering that the events may be in God’s hands, but the process and momentum that you build are always in yours (see #8: Process / Event).
Fear of death in all its forms (physical/ego/etc.) is the number one cause of unhappiness and mediocrity. Take risks. Don’t be afraid. Be motivated. You’re hurtling towards death and before you get there your body and your mind will lose their vigour. Use this knowledge as a force to propel you to greatness before it’s too late. Live the best life that you can by seeking meaning in the most real of all facts about it all; one day it will all be over, this makes the good times great and the bad times bearable. Life is now, not later or, even worse, never. Choose to live it whilst you can.
1. Look at your hand, seriously (if you have one). One day you won’t be able to move those fingers anymore because they’ll be gone. Reflect on that for a moment. What happens?
2. Look around you, seriously. Everything you experience in this moment will either crumble or be destroyed. Imagine the walls breaking away, the buildings crashing against the earth and forming piles of dust and detritus. How do you feel?
3. Look at yourself, seriously. Focus on your breath and realise that one day you will take your last. What happens? Look at the people around you (if there are any): acknowledge that they’ll all be gone one day. What happens?
4. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you have to do today to go peacefully and with grace? What’s stopping you from doing it RIGHT NOW and how can you change that fact?
5. How afraid are you of dying? How does this fear stop you from living fully? How can you overcome this fear? What do you think of the following quote by Epicurus: “Why should I fear death? If I am, then death is not. If Death is, then I am not”?
6. Who do you know that might be dead in the next few years? What do you need to say and do before they go? What might you need to let go of? What qualities or virtues do you need to embody in order to make these last few years count?
7. Watch a clock for a minute. How much more valuable is each minute once you realise you’ll never get it back? What time can you make better use of as a part of your daily schedule? Where can you snatch parts of your life back?
8. What was it like before you were born? Why should after life be any different? What is there to fear if we remain unattached to the contingencies of identity (we are not our opinions, expectations, or thought patterns, for example, we just have these things whilst here)?
9. Regardless of religious beliefs, as an experiment: What would you do differently if this life was all you got? If once you were gone you were gone for good. What are you postponing until the afterlife that you could get RIGHT NOW?
10. How can you take comfort in the fact that one day all of this will be over instead of fearing the fact?
2. Nobody can save you but yourself. It’s all up to you (#2: Activity / Passivity).
Life can either be something that happens to you or something that you make happen. This statement isn’t particularly revolutionary or ground-breaking but the point it raises is something that we can easily forget: you call the shots, you have the power, you are ultimately in control of your life and how it unfolds. Nobody is going to save you but yourself and the ‘best’ and only way to do so is through action.
This doesn’t mean that you have total control over the obstacles that arise as you plough onwards and make progress towards your goals, it just means that you have an attitude that allows you to keep going in the face of these obstacles, to push forwards instead of being pushed back. And where do we find the strength to do this? By knowing what we want and why, not just blindly stumbling through the dark, hoping that something that suits us will come our way (see #59: Vision / Blindness)
Decide what you want to BE, DO, & HAVE, and take incremental steps day after day to attainment of these goals. Don’t worry about getting it all at once as that will only serve to overwhelm you. Break it down into manageable chunks and bask in the satisfaction that comes with taking daily steps towards becoming the person you want to be. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it.
Whenever we find ourselves stuck, whenever we find ourselves lost or confused by the chaos of the world, we can be sure that the only way to free ourselves is to take action of some kind. Action is the only thing that ever changes anything and in a world that ever changes, it is the best way to keep ourselves in the flow of the world unfolding.
For this reason, it is essential to our health and happiness that we dedicate ourselves to some kind of a mission or purpose that transcends the mundane hustle and bustle of daily living and lifts us to a higher state of being. As discussed at length throughout Personal Revolutions, our ‘highest’ missions or purposes are linked to our values, and eventually allow us to transcend ourselves and give more of ourselves to the world by making these values more valuable to others (see #30 Significance / Success)
Always try to ensure that you are contributing to the process of your chosen mission on a daily basis, through positive, self-directed action. Always be striving to move towards your greatest vision, be this to start your own business, to build your own empire, or even something simpler and more human, such as to raise a family or build a house. Knowing your mission will make it easier for you to maintain an attitude of activity and will allow you to pivot back into action during periods of quiescence or setback.
1. What could you do differently to live life more actively? What qualities do you need to develop? What do you need to know about yourself and your mission or purpose? What process can you dedicate your days to so that your actions become more purposeful and self-directed? Where are you heading and how will you get there?
2. What are you waiting to have happen that you could make happen? What information are you waiting to fall into your lap? What answers are you seeking? What conditions are you waiting to arise? Where are you waiting for permission or a sign that what you want to do is what you should be doing? How can you take steps towards actually doing it?
3. What areas of your life could you take more control over? Where are you too passive? What have you convinced yourself that you don’t need even though your heart is singing for it? Where might you have become complacent? Where are you rationalising your goals away because you lack the courage to step up and take action? What’s stopping you and how can you stop it?
4.Where are you giving away control to someone or something that has the result of holding you back? What decisions could you be making by yourself that you have deferred to something or somebody else? What externalities are you using as an excuse to prevent you from doing the necessary inner work? How can you change this?
5. What qualities or virtues do you need to develop to start taking a more active approach to your life/goals? Where do you need to be more courageous or disciplined, for example? Where do you need to be more creative? More accepting? More patient? What else? How can you work to develop these things?
6. What obstacles stand in your way at present? Where do you have most leverage for working with them? What can you learn from the obstacles themselves? What do you need to accept about them? How can you ensure that you can learn from what is in front of you? What attitude can you develop to turn stasis into activity?
7. How clear are you about what you’re moving towards? Write down your goals for the next year (at least). What are you aiming for in the most important areas of your life? What are you neglecting? What is the clearest vision you can create for your own future? What do the actions for realising this look like?
8. What do you want to BE/DO/HAVE? List as many as you can and think about what you need to start doing to get them.
9.What small step could you take RIGHT NOW that would move you in the direction of your values, vision, and goals? What can you do after that and then after that? How can you build action upon action to ensure that each day you move closer and closer towards your values and potential?
10. What successful actions have you motivated yourself to take in the past that serve as evidence for future success? When have you been in the ‘zone’? When have you felt most alive? How can you tap back into this energy so that your actions in the present become more efficient and effervescent?
3. Everything changes, including ‘you’ and ‘your’ thoughts (#12: Flux / Stasis).
Nothing is static, everything is fluid. That includes you, yourself, and everything in the world around ‘you’. The ‘self’ is a process comprised of ever-changing concepts. Disidentifying from this process and observing it increases your power over it and aligns you with a reality in flux. Take a look: each of the four walls in whatever room you may happen to presently be occupying will crumble with the passing of time, each of the individual human beings around you are going through mental and physical changes, time and space themselves are fluid and moving; if you’re out in the world, the earth will shift and the mightiest of mountains will crumble. Nothing in the phenomenal world of human experience is absolute or unchanging. Treating things as though they have these impossible properties can only cause conflict with who and what you are and the world around you.
Yes, some of the things around you will be in a relative state of concrete permanence, but this is only because you’re looking at these things from the vantage point of your blink-and-you’ll-miss-it human lifespan. Get in synch with the fluidity of the world around you by learning to appreciate the fluidity of yourself. Acknowledge that throughout your lifetime, you are swimming through an ever-changing ocean of time and space as you’re going through a continual process of learning and changing and changing some more. Don’t cling to what makes sense to you today because inevitably one day things will be different.
Learn when it’s time to let go and when it’s time to shed your skin. Paint your masks in many different colours and expressions throughout your lifetime. Today you might be the novice; tomorrow you might be the teacher. Today you might know enough; tomorrow you might be out of your depth completely. Learn to be aware of the changes that you’re going through in order to go through them successfully. Don’t voluntarily remain in the cocoon of comfort and familiarity. Make the changes you need to make to enjoy your life with grace and acceptance: Accept the fluidity of all and everything and move with the natural flow of your own life in order to experience all it has to offer
1. How have you changed mentally and physically over the past few years? What gradual or subtle changes are unfolding within and without right now? How can you learn to accept these inevitable changes so you can better work with them?
2. What changes have been most prominent in your world over the last year or two? What have they taught you? What does change have to teach you in the present?
3. What changes, good and bad, can you envisage on the horizon? How can you ready yourself? What processes do you need to work? What skills and qualities do you need to cultivate?
4. How do you normally react in the face of change? Do you run and hide or run with? How does you current attitude help or hinder your happiness? Do you need to loosen up or are you too loose? How can you find balance?
5. How can you ensure that you learn from change in the future? What expectations do you need to carry about who you are and what the world is?
6. What qualities do you need to develop in order to be able to embrace change as it unfolds? What action will help you do this?
7. What changes would you like to see in your life? What do you need to do to ease the transition? What steps can you take right now?
8. What changes are you currently going through? What are you resisting that might be holding you back? How can you create less friction for yourself?
9. What comfort zone do you need to break through in order to make necessary or much needed changes in your life? Where do you have limiting beliefs about yourself or the world? Where might the fear, pride, and desire of your ego be holding you back?
10. What changes do you need to work on accepting so that you can live a more fulfilling life? What inevitabilities do you need to make peace with? How can you do so?
4. There are no events, only processes (#8: Process / Event).
‘Happiness’, success, financial reward, misery, failure, poverty; none of these things or anything else that life might ‘throw at you’ is an acausal event that just happens out of thin air. They are all the intellectual understanding of cumulative effects of processes that have been building up, and which you have either wittingly or unwittingly contributed to the unfolding of as time has progressed. If life is transitory and time is precious, then every moment of your life presents you with a potential opportunity cost. There are two types of ‘busy’: 1) Constantly distracting yourself from what is true. 2) Constantly working to create something real. The Personal Revolution truly begins when you use your time to work on the second of these processes and use your life to create something real. If the mechanical events of your day don’t contribute to the overall process of your vision, values, and purpose your life is being wasted.
Let’s take ‘success’ as an example, success here being the attainment of some goal that you’ve set for yourself, perhaps writing a book (ahem). If you spend your time playing video games or watching Seinfeld reruns when you could be writing, then you’re failing to contribute the necessary action to the process. As we’ve stated already in #4: Control / Inevitability, the clock is ticking and the actions you either perform or don’t perform will take you either closer to or further away from your goals.
Important: Nothing of value is an event in itself. Reading these Seven Foundations, or even Personal Revolutions itself, will only be effective if you treat it as part of the process required to make meaningful changes in your life and to get into the swing of self-actualisation. If you treat it as an event, expecting the act of reading alone to be sufficient for your needs and desires, then you’ll be ultimately disappointed. No single action will change your life for the better; at the very best single actions will get the ball rolling and help you build up momentum, but they won’t give you everything you want. You have to strive constantly and continuously to both achieve your goals and adjust to the way reality changes once you’ve done so.
The power of process over event doesn’t just refer to the actions that we take, but the thoughts and beliefs that guide these actions. Cultivating the right attitude is an important part of the process of finding the ‘Good Life’ (whatever that means to you personally). This is why it is important to gain command of your thoughts and impulses, learn to internalise your locus of control so that your instincts and emotions don’t detract you from the path your heart wants you to walk (see #112: Internal / External (Locus of Control)). Knowing the path isn’t enough, you have to be able to manage the terrain and this involves cultivating certain skills and qualities.
Thinking in terms of processes instead of events helps you thrive in a complex and ever-changing world and serves as lodestar for thought and deed. Cultivate awareness of the web of processes that influence your future. Knowing this means that when things don’t go as planned you don’t have to change your goals, just the process designed to fulfil the achievement of the goals in question. Furthermore, this distinction helps you to see the truth about life itself: Life is a process, not an event and you’re either contributing or not contributing to it right now.
Your life comprises two main processes: The necessary, which is out of your control, and the symbolic which you can influence. In the simplest possible terms, the necessary life processes involves the impact of the cards that we have been dealt and the limitations that these cards impose on how we play the game, as well as the necessary and unchangeable conditions of our reality. Though there is still a lot of room to manoeuvre and to make creative decisions within the confines of this necessary unfolding, there are certain inevitabilities that will pop up along the way that we have no choice but to accept (see #4: Control / Inevitability).
The symbolic process of our lives is the world of potentiation that exists in our minds, as well as the perfections and ideals that we strive for, despite these things only ‘existing’ as part of the illusions that we carry and project onto the world. As human beings we live, at any moment, in both the World of Necessity and the World of Symbols; if we live only in the former, we risk becoming heartless, only in the latter and we become too soft and out-of-touch. The ideal state is to be aware of both of these processes so that we can live as the bridge between them, accepting what is as it is, and bringing and breathing life into what can be. ‘Being the bridge’ is ultimately what Personal Revolutions is all about (see #166: Character (Self) /Personality (Ego)).
This distinction between process and event is one of the most important shifts in thinking in terms of aligning yourself with the reality of a world in flux and the illusion of stasis that our conceptual understanding of the world encourages us to buy into (see #12: Flux / Stasis). Everything in reality is a process, because everything is constantly changing and undulating, and everything exists along a continuum, not as a static idea in the mind; you already are whatever it is you want to be (happy, successful, creative) – all you really need to be is more of it. If it isn’t moving, it isn’t real; it’s an illusion: Work a process or action and turn the volume up by dedicating yourself each day to value-based, self-directed action that narrows the gap between where you currently stand and where you need to eventually be. Move forwards and the world will move with you, stay where you are and it will move anyway.
1. What events are you looking forward to and how have you contributed to the process recently? What internal and external actions have you taken? How are you getting closer day by day?
2. What activities do you often volunteer to participate in that don’t move you forwards? Where are you giving away your most precious resource (time) without due attention or care? What processes are you allowing to suck the life out of you?
3. Try to list as many of the different processes that you’re contributing towards: Which are helpful? Which are hindering? What will is the most likely of possible futures if you keep working the processes that you’re working?
4. What values are honoured in the processes that you are most motivated about? How can you continue to ‘make your values valuable to others’ as we say in #30 Significance / Success? What are you doing to contribute to the betterment of yourself and the world around you?
5. What process is the reading of this book and the answering of these questions contributing towards? What actions can you take to speed things up? How can you ensure that there is as more process than event here?
6. What are you treating as an event that is actually a process (e.g., being unhappy, having a job you hate, being single/married etc.)? What are the benefits of seeing these things as processes? How can you become more aware of this limited way of thinking?
7. What processes are you aware of that you are currently neglecting or unable to give due attention to? What do you need to change to get in the swing of things? What’s stopping you? How can you give the process a jump start by jump starting yourself?
8. What big goals have you achieved in the past? How did you feel about them differently once achieved versus when chasing them? What does this teach you about life and yourself? What does it teach you about processes?
9. What goals have you given up instead of changing the way you chase them? What other processes can you develop to attain the same end? How can you attack the same problem from a different angle?
10. If your life as a whole is a process, not an event, how are you going to start managing things differently? What start can you make right now?
5. Uncertainty will take you further than certainty (#10: Uncertainty /Certainty).
Few things in life are certain. In fact, many of the things that most matter to us are enveloped in uncertainty, be it ‘love’, ‘god’, or anything else that stands outside or beyond words. Death and taxes are sometimes given as natural certainties, and, of course, we already covered the natural physical laws of the universe in #1, but when it comes to our ideas, opinions, and interpretations about things, a stance of absolutism and certainty can only lead to ruin and stilted development in the long-term. As Socrates and many others have shown us, the wisest thing that we can do is to admit that we know nothing, to work from an assumption of personal openness to uncertainty and cultivate a constant attitude of curiosity in order to keep growing and moving with the world around us.
The world is only static in the mind so any attempt to grasp at it completely is doomed to failure. Convincing ourselves that we have absolute certainty about something, that we truly ‘know’ it, forces it to slip through our hands, because as soon as we tell ourselves that we ‘know’ something as a concept we have placed distance between its reality and ourselves. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be confident in your beliefs and belief system, but it does mean that you should look at these things in terms of probabilities of being right, not being black or white about it all, and never closed off to new information or the possibility of being exposed to such (see #25: Shades of Grey / Black and White). This is actually a very ‘scientific’ way of seeing things: we believe it to be true until it’s falsified, and there is always the chance that it will be.
Have you ever met a seriously stubborn person that was truly happy? Probably not. An attitude of stubborn certainty places you in a constant battle with the world around you: you constantly have to defend your views and opinions and because these things are just your interpretations of data, you will eventually meet somebody or something that clashes with you because they have interpreted things differently, either about the world, you, or themselves (see #78: Interpretations / Facts) . This is especially true if we’re ‘certain’ about the barriers that exist between ourselves and others and the rigidity of our self-concepts.
Cognitive dissonance is when you notice a discrepancy between self-concept and reality. Don’t fear being wrong about things every once in a while. If you want to flourish and grow as a person, you have to learn new things, and if you already know everything (or think you do) then you can’t learn anything at all. Learning to become comfortable with uncertainty may initially make you feel as though you have less control over the world around you, but in a very real way the stance of not knowing and constantly learning puts you in synch with the very real conditions of a universe that is constantly changing and bringing new information to the table. Learn to improvise.
This notion of uncertainty is especially true to how we deal with our self-concept, defined here as the idea that we carry of ourselves and who we are in and to the world. In very simple terms, our ‘self’ is just a collection of ideas about who we are based on our past experiences and who we want to be. Just like everything else in the universe, however, each of us is in a constant state of flux as we progress through our lives, taking up different roles and acquiring new strengths or weaknesses along the way (due to our aging bodies, illness, etc.). Being too certain about who we are and neglecting the new information about where we actually are and what we’re actually capable of can only lead to unnecessary tension and conflict with the world around us.
Many of us have met people whose self-concepts are out-of-sync with the reality of their situation: Fathers who still see themselves as playboy teens and end up tearing families to shreds, middle-aged ladies who can’t grow old gracefully because in their own minds they’re teenage beauty queens, people who were successful in the past, have little or nothing in the present, but lord it over others based on fleeting highs now over. Though there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with any of these things, thinking in analogous terms and clinging to the certainty of who you are places barriers between you and relative happiness. Whatever we try and cling to will fight to fall out of our hands.
Detach yourself from your opinions about yourself and the world around you. Don’t cling to certainty in an uncertain world. Keep moving with the universe around you and learn the incredible lessons that are available to you in the short time you’re here. Live harmoniously, not in resistance.
1. List ten things that you’re certain of: Where might you be wrong?
2. What facts of life are certain outside of thought? How does thought cloud our vision? How does it cause unnecessary fragmentation between things? What can we find in the gap between concept and reality?
3. What are the benefits of seeing your beliefs as being probably right, as opposed to absolutely? What are the benefits of thinking in terms of interpretations over facts? How does this open you up to a more open world?
4. What examples from your past can you think of where you were certain you were right only to find out you were wrong? Where might this be happening now? What can you learn about life and humans in life?
5. Think of the ‘stubborn’ people you’ve met in your life. Were they ‘happy’? What does openness to uncertainty lend to ‘happiness’?
6. What’s so bad about being ‘wrong’? What is it that we so need or be ‘right’ about? What does the ego get by constantly seeking control over the world?
7. How certain are you about who you are and your identity? How has life shown you in the past that you were wrong and how did you ultimately benefit from the experience? What happens if you reflect on the idea that there is no ‘self’?
8. What are the benefits of seeing your opinions as being something that you have, not that you are? What other parts of your identity and experience can you apply this have/are logic to?
9. What are most stubborn about? How does it hold you back? What is it about this that makes you want to cling so hard? What might you be trying to hide from or escape from if anything?
6. The only choice you have to make in each moment is between wholeness and fragmentation (#52: Wholeness / Fragmentation)
All fragmentation is illusory and the way that we think about the world divides and fragments what is already whole. We have made great progress and built societies upon the pantheon of knowledge that divides and breaks and compartmentalises, but we mustn’t forget that knowledge is just a tool for understanding and working our way through the wholeness of the system that we’ve found ourselves in. It might sound simplistic, but there’s only one of everything and you’re a part of it. Everything can either take you closer to yourself and the world or further away. Choose where you’re headed in each moment, either towards wholeness or away from it into fragmentation.
To understand this, you must understand a simple fact about perception: Objects and subjects depend on each other. Without a conscious subject to view it there can be no object, and the apparatus that allow us as experiencing individuals to see objects in time and space shows us a representation of these things, never the things in themselves. When I talk here about the intellect causing fragmentation, I mean that without a subject placing objects and concepts within time, space, and causality, there is only one undivided whole. Occasionally, in moments where we are able to ‘step outside’ ourselves, such as when making love or when seeing something resplendent and sublime in nature, these conceptual boundaries between objects and subjects are blurred and we get a taste of wholeness (Abraham Maslow referred to these moments as ‘Peak Experiences’ – acknowledging this process will bring more of these moments to your life).
To understand this look at your desk, or the objects in the room around you: when you look at a pile of objects on a desk you use the intellect to fragment the whole pile. Really, there is no pile. It’s all one. And the desk is not separate from the floor. And the floor is not separate from the room. And so on. All divisions exist in the mind alone. There is only one. It is only our concepts which divide, something that offers great functionality and survival value in making our way through the world, but which distances from reality as it actually stands in itself (though we will never be able to comprehend this fully). This simple switch in perspective takes us out of the prison of independence and into the flow of an interdependent reality. But you can’t flow if you don’t let go.
This isn’t to suggest that the wholeness is benevolent or omniscient or omnipotent, though of course you may experience it in this way, and many before us have certainly labelled their experience of ‘oneness’ with the whole as being ‘God’. If anything, the wholeness is beyond all of these labels, because labels only exist in the intellect and the shared symbols of our cultures and societies. If anything the wholeness is nothing, though not even that; it simply is, a striving and a pushing forwards without intention, and however things unfold will be how they unfold. Remember the most Stoic lesson of them all: It is what it is.
Ultimately, the only choice you have to make is to either get in with the swing of it or choose to resist. The more you distance yourself from it and those around you the more fragmented you become. Turning inwards is a vital tool for finding peace in the world. But make sure you turn inwards whilst looking outwards and, every so often, paying attention to the intrinsic connection between inner and outer. At the most basic level, the wholeness permeates all that seems separate and that includes you. It flows through you because the world as you experience it begins in your head.
Without trying to sound cryptic, and at the risk of being dismissed as nonsensical due being counterintuitive, the wholeness is ineffable and beyond words. Words are a product of fragmentation, each one being a mini-concept that we use to share nuanced descriptions of selective areas of the wholeness that we hone our interest upon at a given moment.
Anything conceptual is fragmentary: time, space, and causality. Each of these things stems from our cognitive apparatus and is projected onto the world. Though it would take a whole philosophical tome to give arguments for this (Schopenhauer’s discussions of Kant in World as Will and Representation is a good place to start), we can give a basic demonstration of this important point here by considering a basic disjunct between the concreteness of our concepts and the fluidity of the ever-changing world around us.
Perhaps you are reading this in a room with objects positioned seemingly statically at a particular time and space. In a way this is just a part of your selective experience of the whole. The illusion however is that these things are static – the world itself is in constant flux, the illusion of stasis rests in concepts and symbols alone. The real world is forever shifting and this applies to anything and everything in it (see #12: Flux / Stasis).
You might by now be wondering what the purpose is in getting you to reflect upon the whole in a book like this. There are a number of reasons and all of them can serve to make you a happier and more functional, more compassionate human being if you choose to see what’s there.
Man has a great desire to give himself to something bigger than himself in order to deal with the horror of his own smallness (see #50: Servant / Slave). Acceptance of the whole means that whatever you give yourself to is ultimately bigger than yourself because it is connected to universal systems and the unfolding of everything. It also means than you are much bigger than you may have been led to believe because everything that exists is both within and without.
Forevermore, the wholeness is not just outside of you but also within. This doesn’t just apply to you though, but to everybody and everything around you. To differing degrees, each of the species and plants on the planet is a manifestation of the same underlying wholeness. How can it not be? There is only one of everything.
Accepting and understanding this makes you more compassionate and allows us to live a life of chosen servitude over slavery in helping those around us. By helping or hurting others we are only helping or hurting ourselves. By only ever thinking in terms of distance and fragmentation we become detached from the reality of the universe. There is great power and numbers but you are beyond all of them.
Most problems in medicine and other highly technical fields and industries stem from the fact that objective measurement of whole human beings only ever goes so far, never all the way. Whether a ‘soul’ or simply the emergent property of all the disparate conceptual pieces that make a human being ‘human’ above and beyond reductionist physical facts, whatever we are can never be accounted for purely by numbers. We are all infinite at heart.
Carl Sagan famously said in the book Cosmos that we are the universe experiencing itself, entities borne in the great furnaces of the stars and evolved over millions of years to be here now. Ideas of ‘oneness’ or wholeness, or however else you may try to label it, are particularly unfashionable in the age of materialist science and the belief that it will one day lead to ultimate control in the form of a ‘theory of everything’, but there is no reason, in my view, why the idea of wholeness needs to be dismissed regardless of your philosophical or theological perspective.
If we accept that the world each person lives in is a product of the ideas in that person’s head, then every object, person, and experience, is just reflecting back at that person what is already inside of them. All conceptual knowledge places distance between you and whatever you are trying to define. That distance is the barrier of your own fragmentation. It isn’t inherently bad in itself, nothing is, but it will always take you a step or two away from where you actually are and need to be.
If you believe in science you are a product of the whole universe (‘the universe experiencing itself’), if you believe in God then you are a product of the whole of God, or if not in the pantheistic sense, the whole of God’s will. The only possible exception to this rule is if you are of a fragmentary persuasion that is founded on the assumptions of an outdated, Cartesian flavoured duality between mind and body. This duality is fragmentation of the self. We are not composed of separate ‘parts’, although the way we divide ourselves through concepts for the purposes of understanding may make us think in these terms. We are whole systems within whole systems. The mind is the body and the body is the mind.
A danger in seeing yourself as fragmented in this way is that you may feel that the wholeness or God, or however you have experienced awareness of this phenomenon, is only something external to you. These dichotomies do not exist. The clearest we can grasp this is conceptual terms is in shades of grey instead of black and white, in spectrums as opposed to oppositions. The truth is that there is no oppositions, there just is. Internal and external are the same thing and so, therefore, are you (see #25: Shades of Grey / Black and White).
I know this section may seem like ‘woo’ but it isn’t. I’m not saying that the world of experience and intellect is one that we shouldn’t reside in. We need these tools to function and analyse and make progress in the world. All I am saying is that we need to ensure that we do not forget the role of ‘wholeness’ in the sense of being aware of our interconnection and interdependence with everything else. It is what we have come from and it is what we will to return to. If you look at political history, you see that is a story of increased inclusion, the desire for wholeness made manifest. Progress is the story of becoming defragmented.
We are each a part of something bigger than ourselves. We don’t need to seek self-transcendence because we can already transcend ourselves with our awareness of the world around us. Take pleasure in the beautiful and the sublime. Shut the fragmentary chatter of your mind off every once in a while and use it to tune yourself into the vastness and the wonder of all that sits around you. From the utmost mundane to the utmost resplendent, it’s all the same and you’re a part of it. Whatever it is, it is what we began is where we will end, and what we currently are and have to be a part of is all there can be because there is nothing else.
1. How cynical are you about ideas of ‘spirituality’? What is the clearest account you can give yourself of this side of yourself? What is spiritual ‘connection’ to you? What is it to experience ‘God’ or ‘wholeness’ or any other label you wish to give to this facet of the human experience? How do you account for this? Do you need more or less of it in your life? What activities can you partake in to increase this connection when necessary? Am I just talking bollocks?
2. What thoughts or beliefs do you hold about yourself that tend to place distance between yourself and others? What thoughts do you hold about others that serve to do the same? Where are you causing unnecessary fragmentation?
3. Where are you passing up opportunities for wholeness and connection to others and the world around you? What’s reaching out to you but you’re currently unsure or unavailable for? What’s holding you back? What could you be moving towards if you were more courageous or open to being vulnerable for a while?
4. As an experiment: think of the important relationships in your life. What, if anything, is the link between wholeness and the ‘good times’? What can you learn from analysing this kind of information? What can you do differently or be aware of to have more effective relationships in the future?
5. What kind of things can you do to find a sense of ‘wholeness’ within yourself? What do you need to be aware of? What do you need to learn? What do you need to do? If you have no idea how to answer these questions, how can you start to answer them? What books can you read? Who can you talk to?
6. How connected do you feel to the systems around you? How connected are you to your family members? You neighbours? Your community? Your nation? The world at large? The universe as a whole? Where is there room for growth if you are so motivated? What actions can you take? What projects can you start?
7. As a thought experiment: What boundaries or distinctions exist outside of thought? Imagine that you’re viewing yourself and your situation from a telescope a billion light years away. How do you see yourself? How do you see the world?
8. Think of a cause that arises a sense of compassion within you. What is it about this cause that touches you? How is this linked to your own life story and values? What is your emotional link to the rest of the world?
9. How does your internal state tend to affect your external world? How do you see yourself and the world differently when you’re in a good or bad mood? If the idea that the world is what we are makes sense to you then what might you need to work on or do differently?
10. How much ‘internal chatter’ do you tend to experience on a daily basis? Where do you lead your thoughts and where do they lend to lead you? What activities you can you do to regain control here if needs be? How attached are you to the mind and the fragmented view of the world it presents? What do opinions do you need to detach from? What patterns do you need to let go of? What barriers do you erect that place distance between the world as it is and the world as you fear it to be?
7. Life becomes ‘meaningful’ when we choose a self-directed purpose and dedicate ourselves to it. (#134: Purpose / Meaning)
Purpose precedes meaning, yet when we reflect on our lives there is a tendency to first reflect on what is meaningful, find nothing, and then slip into an existential coma. Usually, the things that we want in life reflect something much deeper that we need: Behind every inviolable goal burns an irrevocable value, behind every curtain that we pull in the face of the world is the window to the light of our soul, and, if we don’t think to peek once in a while, the lives that we build forever remain a pale imitation of whatever they could have been (see #9: Death / Life).
Purpose is a palace built on the most solid, secure, and lasting foundations, not some rickety shack built on the tenuous mass of earth above a sinkhole. Be the builder of your own life, tend to your own garden, but ensure that you understand the land before you start constructing the edifice or mindlessly planting seeds. Meaning is an experience, not a thing, and you can only really experience it when you find and live your purpose.
Marcus Aurelius once said, “Even if the universe is without purpose you should not be without purpose yourself.” When you define your purpose, whatever else you do becomes imbued meaning because purpose imbues actions with significance. As we have said in the Self-Guidance Questions section of #59: Vision / Blindness, your purpose is best found by asking yourself what value you can add to the lives of others that many others probably can’t. How can you make your values valuable to the world around you? Purpose starts with self-awareness and ends with a sense of responsibility that transmutes this awareness from personal success to worldly significance (see #30: Significance / Success).
Learn what you can about yourself and ask yourself what is revealed about yourself in the most extreme moments of your life; for example, extreme sadness or extreme happiness reveal what we value most clearly. Look behind the curtain: if something moves you, if something stirs you, if something inspires you to leap out your chair and out into the streets, then it is telling you something about yourself. Probe these things for the values behind them and make a note of the values being honoured or dishonoured. Every time you feel the lightning flashes of insight dancing across your brain, ask yourself what such afflatus reveals to you about who you are. Use this information and channel it into living with purpose. This is the poetry behind the mundane; the ritualistic above the merely habitual; your rocket from the limited earth to the vastness of the sky (see #82: Ritual / Habit).
Traditional wisdom says to ‘know thyself’ but perhaps a better approach is to ‘know thy purpose and reveal thyself’. Your purpose might sound trite, corny, or lame when you are able to articulate it, but that is only because it is sourced in the highest and we are living through the lowest. It may be connected to virtues that are going out of style, to truth or beauty or justice, to wonder or compassion or the spirit. Here’s an example: I tend to see my own purpose as being to break down barriers between people and to bring them closer to each other and the ‘Truth’. I want to help people stop being so afraid of themselves and the world, to realise how simple it is to be simply satisfied simply if we stop clinging to things and learn to give up control, to let go of the illusion and wander through the great garden of reality. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but it enriches life tenfold once your taste buds take over. That might sound pretty cheesy but it’s something to work with.
Where does this grandiosity come from? From the realisation that there are certain values that I can’t shake off. That behind every time my big mouth has got me in trouble it was a veil that covered the respect I have for the ‘Truth’, that every time I felt my heart turn inwards on itself when I saw somebody suffer it was a veil that covered the respect I have for ‘Compassion’, and that every time I felt moved when I saw people come together, it was a veil that covered the respect I have for ‘Wholeness’, ‘Unity’, or ‘Togetherness’, however you want it to be labelled (see #52: Wholeness / Fragmentation).
Are these values unique to me and me alone? No, of course not. What is most true of one of us behind the curtain is true of all of us. It is only made manifest to differing degrees based on who we are biologically and where we have been socially. Are these values an innate birth right that will never change or do I only value these things because I am from a broken home, because my kidney abandoned me, and I died mentally and physically a couple of times? The fact is this: it doesn’t matter, only that they are there, it is what it is, and you must decide what to do with it all. Why we are here, in the way that we are here, is less important than who we are whilst we’re here.
If you value the truth, speak what you can of it and act in accordance with it, whenever you can and must, no matter the levels of verbal resistance or short-term discomfort. If you value compassion then act compassionately towards everybody and everything, no matter the difficulties or resistance, the challenge that some people present, and the vices that thwart you or cause you to lapse info ego and defensiveness. If you value wholeness or unities, then work to bring people together, lead by example, change the way you communicate, break boundaries by breaking your own heart once in a while and allowing yourself to be vulnerable (see #140: Broken Heart / Closed Heart).
Channel these values into your purpose by figuring out how you can increase them within the context of your own life and your own environment. This is your purpose because nobody else is you. It can be as simple as changing your behaviours or as ambitious as bringing new projects into the world: A group for people to speak about their understanding of the truth, a free course that teaches basic listening skills and opens the door to compassion; learn to mediate and facilitate, step up and say what needs to be said, having the courage to reach out to an old friend who would otherwise remain distant until one of you has their candle blown out. If there is one lesson in Personal Revolutions it is this: Embody what you know yourself to be (see #81: Authenticity / Pretence).
When you have found your purpose and live in accordance your life will become a ‘meaningful’ one. Meaning doesn’t exist out there in the world ready waiting for you, though events and objects will be presented to you that offer information for interpretation. Your life becomes meaningful when either start to appreciate the significance of these things because of the impact that they have, or because you start to live significantly to others by having an impact on their lives. We live in a world of relationships, not things, and so to feel a sense of meaning and of being in the world, you have to relate to the world around you (see #30: Significance / Success).
Meaning is essentially a shared experience, though of course there are certain causal connections between things in the world that can be said to ‘mean’ that one thing happened before or after another, but this is just another product of the time, space, and causality that the brain uses to fragment the whole of whatever is really ‘out there’. In an interconnected world meaning comes from an interconnected purpose; meaning is static, purpose evolves and moves as a part of the great dance, and whatever is static in a world in flux is not and cannot be real. Make your life meaningful by developing a value-laden purpose and channelling it into vision followed by goal-directed process. Build a purposeful life and a meaningful one will follow.
1. Look at your life. Where are you looking for meaning and failing to find it? Where might you have been hoping for meaning to just present itself? How might you benefit from forgetting about meaning for a while and focusing on purpose? What purpose can you dedicate yourself to and watch life become more ‘meaningful’ as your actions increase in terms of impact and significance?
2. Reflect again on the goals that you have set for yourself. Look at the process you have built and dedicated yourself to. What boils beneath the surface? What are the underlying values? What links each of these goals in the widest possible sense? What is the wider purpose in terms of the value that you can offer to yourself and then the world?
3. Be honest with yourself: How purposeful are the majority of the actions that you take? Are you just plodding along on autopilot or are you living out a self-directed and lasting purpose that makes the majority of your actions matter? How often do you do something with the end in mind? How aware are you of your place in the scheme of things overall? Where do you live out the human ritual with the totality of yourself? Where are you merely treading water?
4. Reflect again on your values, virtues, and qualities. How can you use these things to heighten the actions that you take and make them more purposeful? How can you maintain awareness of where you are at present and where you hope to be in potential? How can you work the process of bridging the gap to build creative momentum and bring more purpose and meaning to your life?
5. Look at the highest and lowest points of your life so far. What was revealed in these moments about yourself and the world that makes your values clear to you? What was missing in the low moments? What was present in the highest? How can you use this knowledge about yourself to bring more purpose to your days? How can you channel your values into your life if not all the time at least more often?
6. What virtues do you want or need to develop in order to live more purposely as the highest and best version of yourself? What higher level human qualities do you want to cultivate? What do you latently embody and could become a paragon of if you put in the effort? Do you want to live out truth? Justice? Patience? Whatever it is, what do you need to do to do it?
7. Be honest with yourself: What resides within you and what are you going to do with it? What energy do you have to share with the world? What truth do you hold? What virtues have got a grasp on your soul and can only be shaken off through action? What can you do to release the secrets that you hold about yourself into the wider world around you? How can you grow out and then through yourself by living out your virtues through purpose?
8. As an experiment: Look at the Personal Revolutions Values Index at the start of this book and try to familiarise yourself with those that are most important to you. What values are you living out adequately? Which are you paying too much attention to? Which might you be neglecting? How can you find and maintain a sense of balance?
9. How can you be true to your values by working them into an action-based process? How can you live more authentically by knowing who you are and what you will be? What qualities do you need to develop in order to live with integrity towards yourself? How can be true to your own truth even in the face of resistance? What do you need to do to prepare yourself? How can you keep learning and keep growing?
10. Be honest with yourself: What do you know yourself to be away from the confines of social pressure? Who are you at your best or most human? What is the strongest and clearest version of yourself available to you at the moment? What process do you need to develop and what actions do you need to take in order to best embody what you know yourself to be?
Personal Revolutions is for you.
Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness is a book about being human for human beings. It is an attempt to build a practical philosophy of the ‘good life’ and ‘self-actualisation’ by using design thinking to break these things down into as many of their constituent parts as possible and giving readers an opportunity to increase their awareness of them through value-based, purposeful action. Each chapter (or ‘Revolution’) helps readers to raise awareness of themselves and their world by focusing on a particular window into the human condition and then allowing them to cement this awareness in terms of their own life and experience through a series of ‘Self-Guidance Questions’.
Both individuals and tribes can benefit from the information and ideas in Personal Revolutions:
Individuals: If you’re an individual reading Personal Revolutions, you will be given the opportunity to look at your life from the ground up and to build a value-based process of action that helps you to live a more authentic life and to ‘make your values valuable to others’. Ultimately, this involves looking at yourself and your world, the state of interdependence that you share with others, and the effects of any self-limiting beliefs and ideas that you carry on what is possible for yourself and the world. Most people reading Personal Revolutions will find that they are capable of so much more than they have initially been led to believe and hopefully be able to motivate themselves to go out there and ‘put a dent in the universe’, either as part of a tribe, or by building a new one. Personal Revolutions is a ‘short course in realness’, and the final lesson is that ‘reality’ is always the way to go and that acceptance is the only way to get there.
Tribes: If you are reading Personal Revolutions as part of a tribe, either as a leader or a follower, it will help you to create systems that allow as many people as possible within your tribe to thrive authentically and creatively in a way that is most authentically human. In this sense, Personal Revolutions offers great value for anybody working in Service Design, or anybody else who has ambitions to create systems that engender and support the whole of human nature, to the greatest extent possible, instead of the mere fragments that many mechanistic systems are currently built upon. By combining practical philosophy with ideas from design thinking, systems theory, coaching, and leadership, Personal Revolutions helps us to appreciate the power of our thought and intellect, but also its limitations, and the relationship between our thoughts about the world and our place and potential within it. By sharing the ideas and understanding in Personal Revolutions with other members of your tribe, you will be able to build value-based systems that support the growth of both themselves and the human beings operating within them.
Whether reading as an individual or reading together as part of a tribe, Personal Revolutions will help you to increase awareness of yourself and your world, better understand the relationship between the two, and then build upon that awareness with self-directed, impactful action.
Personal Revolutions Culture Shift Map
The Personal Revolutions Culture Shift Map is a tool designed to look at where individuals stand in relation the wider cultural shifts around them and the attitudes that tribe members need to cultivate in order to be able to shift in the same direction. The collaborate on or make use of similar tools join us at Personalrevolutionstoolkit.com.
Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness is a book designed to break down the philosophical questions of the ‘good life’ and the psychological concept of ‘self-actualisation’ into their constituent parts so that readers can work towards designing their lives and systems around them accordingly. It uses a combination of practical philosophy and design thinking to do this, ultimately asking us to move as closely as we can towards and with ‘reality’ (whatever the hell that is) so that we can build our lives and organisations on the strongest foundations that we can. This book, Seven Foundations of Personal Revolution, takes seven of the most foundational chapters from the wider course (166 and counting in total) in an attempt to get people ready for a total revolution, if they feel like they’re ready for one, or to at least learn a few things about themselves and the world around them if not. The summaries of the Seven Foundations are given on the following page, but the short version is that if we learn to accept our own ephemerality, embrace the change of life as it unfolds, and dedicate ourselves to building a purpose around our values, we will be more likely to find a meaningful life by merging the best of ourselves with the best of the whole reality of which we are a fragment. Each ‘Revolution’ is built around a spectrum (A/B), the right hand side of which will generally lead towards yourself and the world, the left hand side of which will lead you away from these things. After a description of what this ‘Revolution’ means in terms of my experience, you are given an opportunity to look at your own experience with a series of Self-Guidance Questions that are designed to get you to know yourself a little better and then take more effective actions in the world as you go about your life. If you take the time to read one chapter per day and ask yourself these questions with an attitude of curiosity, this next week could be one of the most productive of your life. The lessons shared in this book have had a profound impact on the way that I view the world and the possibilities that I see for both myself and the other human beings that share it with me. The final lesson for any of us always seems to be acceptance and the problems that we currently have usually only linger because of ignorance; when we take the steps to know ourselves and reality our life usually becomes a better one because the process of learning is the process of removing friction from our lives. I hope you get something of value from these Seven Foundations and that it opens the door to wider self-discovery.