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#8 | THE GOOSE AND THE APPLE

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”

—Wayne Dyer

The Charles River Esplanade is a meandering urban green space separating Boston’s Back Bay neighborhoods from the Charles River. Filled with hardwood trees, playing fields, and exercise paths, the Esplanade traverses more than three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University. On any given day this scenic byway is filled with walkers, joggers, bikers, bench sitters, and geese—lots of geese.

I was walking on the Esplanade one January morning when I witnessed a short sequence starring the geese that caused me to pause and reflect.

I was crossing an arched stone bridge. Beneath me ran a shallow stream partially covered by patches of thin ice. In a pool of open water twelve geese were casually drifting about when one of them spotted a half-eaten apple on an ice sheet nearby. As that goose moved with intention toward the apple the others began to take notice. Soon a race was on. Wings and feathers were set in motion as a cacophony of honking spontaneously erupted.

The original goose was first to the apple, but he knew time was of the essence. He slid across the ice, neck extended, trying to gather the entire prize in his mouth. But the apple would not cooperate. It slid and bounced its way back into the water where multiple geese fought for control. Moments earlier this flock had been peacefully gathered together for safety in a display of tribal unity. The presence of a single apple had been enough to make them turn on each other.

I reflected upon the implications of what I had witnessed for humanity. The instinctive wiring of life on Earth is grounded in a scarcity mind-set—the fear that there are not enough apples for everyone. Long before white men ventured onto the American plains, Indians fought, killed, and tortured other Indians for control of critical natural resources and hunting grounds. To be sure, like the geese, Indian tribes also came together and cooperated with each other as well. That’s really the point: Humanity, like all life on Earth, has always maintained a delicate balance between competition and cooperation.

How do our primal instincts advance or hinder social harmony and human collaboration in the twenty-first century? Might those instincts at times prevent us from seeing clearly, even keeping us fixated on the wrong problems?

The World Health Organization estimates there is 1.5 times enough food presently available to feed everyone on the planet. This would suggest that distribution, not scarcity, is the problem. Digging deeper in search of root causes, humanity has radically uneven economic productivity. The average household income in the United States is approximately $66,000, compared to $13,000 in Venezuela, $7,500 in Cuba, $3,400 in Ukraine, and $530 in the Congo. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not optimal.

Why is this so? And what’s the solution?

One remediating strategy would be to take most of the money from places like the United States and send it to places like Cuba. That’s the scarcity mind-set model, and it wouldn’t work. Within a generation the income would be unevenly distributed again back in places like America. There is no net global benefit to lowering income in America. By the same reasoning, there is no net benefit to lowering income levels in Colorado ($77,000) in order to grow them in Mississippi ($46,000). (As an interesting aside, the highest average income levels in America are in the District of Columbia, $92,000.)

An abundance mind-set would recognize that there are massive opportunities for productivity growth around the world. Getting there would require leaping two hurdles. First, we would need to initially over-invest in communities that have historically been exploited. Second, we would need to expand the conditions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to all the peoples of the world. Freedom for all is the solution, and that includes economic freedom. Corruption prevails wherever democracy and free markets are restricted. In America, for example, the historic problem has been the exclusion of some from the full rights of our democracy. We don’t need less freedom for some; we need full access to freedom for everyone.

My favorite current example of annual income disparity is that of Hong Kong and China. The annual household income in Hong Kong is $50,800, compared to $10,410 in China. So what is the Chinese Communist government’s strategic response to this discrepancy? It’s to make Hong Kong more like China. How do you think that’s going to work out?

Primal man, like the geese on the pond, fought over the scarcity of apples.

Modern man has the potential to grow more than enough apples for everyone.

A mind-set of abundance, not scarcity, is the path toward more apples for all. We need more freedom and democracy, fully accessible and evenly applied. Rising up does not require a corresponding volume of pulling down.

“The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom.”

—Ludwig von Mises

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

Sources:

https://foodfirst.org/publication/we-already-grow-enough-food-for-10-billion-people-and-still-cant-end-hunger/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20Food%20and,world’s%202050%20projected%20population%20peak.

https://www.worlddata.info/average-income.php

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/median-annual-income/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

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This is the eighth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#7 | THE FUTURE-BASED SELF

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

 

“What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.”

—Buddha

Despite an incalculable myriad of differences in backgrounds, experiences, and opportunities, every living human shares one common truth: We must all move into the future from the spot we presently occupy.

Wherever you are at this moment is your launching point for the future, and nothing can change that. We take our next step from the piece of ground we now stand upon.

“Everyone has three selves: a past-based self, a future-based self, and a present-based self. The past-based self is the person an individual thinks he or she used to be. This self-concept is influenced by powerful memories. The future-based self is the person the individual imagines he or she is going to be. This is influenced by powerful goals (or the absence thereof). The present-based self is a combination of the other two selves, with either the past self-concept or the future self-concept dominating.”

—Dan Sullivan

An essential component of self-awareness is recognizing whether or not our thoughts are led by the future or the past.

I have learned this lesson the hard way many times, most recently through my voice condition. In 2010 I acquired spasmodic dysphonia (SD), a rare neurological voice disorder that makes speaking difficult. At its worst it feels like a seat belt has been tightened around my throat when I talk. The condition is particularly restrictive in group settings, on the telephone, and anywhere there is background noise.

In 2018, after living with SD for nearly a decade, I began seeing a hypnotherapist by the name of Maggie Clement. Once a month I would travel into Portland and meet with her in a small first-floor brownstone office near Maine Medical Center. The first half of each session was an open discussion where Maggie would ask me questions and listen as I described my emotions and experiences with respect to SD.

“How often do you think about your voice?” Maggie asked me one day. “And when you think about it, are your thoughts positive or negative?”

These two questions would come to mark the turning point in my ability to navigate and transcend my affliction.

I left her office that afternoon and drove home in a reflective silence.

The following day I began counting every time I thought about my voice. Additionally, I noted whether the thought was positive or negative.

I realized that I thought about my voice more than one hundred times a day, and each time, it was negative. I was constantly thinking about the difficulties I had encountered in the past and then projecting an expectation for continued difficulty in the future.

For example, if I was going to a restaurant that evening I would momentarily think of it dozens of times that day, with the expectation that the chatter and clatter would overwhelm me.

It turned out I was unaware of both the frequency and fragility of my thoughts. I did not know, until Maggie called me out, that I was constantly worrying about how my voice would perform in the future based on my experiences from the past.

After months and months of training Maggie helped me to break this self-fulfilling prophecy. Today, thanks to my heightened self-awareness, I recognize a negative thought about my voice as soon as it arrives.

“Ha, I’ve caught you!” I now say to myself when such moments manifest. “Now, go away. You are nothing but a self-contrived negative thought about the future based on past experiences.”

Today I deliberately put positive thoughts in my mind with respect to my voice. I envision it performing. I imagine myself healing.

The difference in my vocal performance has been dramatic. I still have a shaky voice at times, but it no longer dominates my thinking or expectations. As a result, I’ve improved a condition that the medical community defines as incurable.

This was one of many lessons I learned regarding the limiting powers of a past-based mind. Thankfully Maggie taught me that this was my mind we were talking about, and as such, I had the ability to fill it intentionally with future-based optimism.

“The future-based person achieves freedom from the past.”

—Dan Sullivan

(Note: Dan Sullivan is the creator and author of the book and audio series HOW THE BEST GET BETTER: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS.)

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the seventh in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!