Get To Maybe

from the Yoga series by David Robinson

from the Yoga series by David Robinson

A few days ago a I had one of those rare mornings when the revelation door opened and a whole beautiful box of thought toys spilled out and hit me on the head. My favorite came when the “3 kinds of problems” model from a terrific book, GettingTo Maybe, crossed wires with one of my favorite concepts to teach: control your controllables and let the rest go. It goes like this:

The authors of Getting To Maybe define three kinds of problems to illustrate that, at the core of most organizational (and relationship) dysfunction, is a confusion of problem type. In brief, the three kinds of problems are:

1)    A simple problem (baking a cake. If you have a recipe and ingredients, you can get to cake almost every time).

2)    A complicated problem (a moon shot. It require much more expertise, higher math, technology, and tons of money but with the all of the above, landing a human being on the moon is solvable).

3)    A  complex problem (raising a child. No amount of math or “how to” books will help because there isn’t a prescription. The only useful action is to engage. Another word for complex problem is “relationship”).

People and the institutions that they (we) create don’t like the mess of complexity so they (we) pretend that their (our) complex problems are merely complicated. We are great creators of rules and laws and pretend that our rules and laws are unassailable and apply equally to all people in all situations (which is to ignore our complexity and pretend that people are merely complicated).

So far, so good.

When “the control your controllables” wire crossed the Getting To Maybe model, I realized that simple and complicated problems are really about variable control. They are about knowing HOW before you start. They deal with the knowable. Success is determined by the control of the process. In the paradigm of simple and complicated problems, each step is a prescription. It is life as craft assembly or paint by numbers. Needing to know HOW is essentially a desire to control the experience. It’s why we deny the complexity of our lives and pretend that we can know…

Complex problems (relationships. life) are another animal altogether. Success is based on quality of engagement; the variables can never be fully known or fully controlled. In a complexity, we have the experience first and make meaning second. We are present with what is right in front of us, not what we want in front of us. Complexity cannot be controlled. In the complexity paradigm, HOW is something that can only be known after the fact. It is life as art or a path of discovery. Awe is found on this path. So is wonder. It is to accept that we are more mystery than map.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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