Systems to help you thrive

The Kuang Si Falls, sometimes spelled Kuang Xi or known as Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls, is a three levelled waterfall about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. Breathtaking cascades of water make the Kuang Si one of Luang Prabang

In response to the pandemic, we started having weekly meetings for the Learn and Get Smarter community, to brainstorm and support each other in helping our businesses -- and especially our online courses -- survive and thrive during these challenging times.

Over the past several months during these weekly meetings, we've been using the structure of a cognitive strategies course (learning how to learn), as a container to help us organize our collective thoughts. 

Trello board showing brainstorming ideas for our cognitive strategies course

The question we've been focusing on is:

How can we best learn how to survive and thrive, on all levels,

during these challenging times?

What's emerged over time from our group discussions, is that SYSTEMS THINKING is a very helpful cognitive strategy that we can apply to our lives on all levels during these times of chaos, complexity, and disruption.

At the community meeting on July 11th, 2020 we experienced powerful synergy as we shared what's been working well for us during these unprecedented times.

With so much bad news out there these days, it was uplifting and inspiring to hear what's been working WELL for community members during the pandemic.

Looking at our lives from a wholistic perspective, on all levels from the physical to the social/emotional to the financial to the spiritual, some of the positive developments that community members shared include:

  • Developing improved systems for basic physical survival functions like getting groceries through Instacart
  • Having more time for projects such as reading, cleaning, and personal development
  • Seeing family more often than before via regular online meetings
  • Younger family members teaching older ones by sharing digital products through screen sharing
  • Exploring creative ways to interact socially, such as through Air B n B's online experiences
  • Having more efficient business meetings
  • Being able to accomplish more in our businesses, virtually than is possible in person
  • Not polluting the planet through unnecessary car and plane travel

Community member Rob Ruder has taught us about how systems work, and explained different types of feedback loops (balancing loops vs. reinforcing loops) that operate in systems.

Balancing systems establish a fixed amount of capacity that throttles new inflows coming in to the system. A coaching program (which can only allow as many clients as the coach has hours available) is an example of a balancing system. Rob explains that balancing feedback is GOAL oriented. The prime example is the thermostat in a house. You set the thermostat where you want it to be and it controls whether additional heat is added to the house or not in order to maintain the target temperature. Your GOAL is to maintain a specific temperature, and the thermostat's balancing system is designed to do that.

Reinforcing systems allow continual increase  in the amount of new flows coming in to the system. An online course (which can have an unlimited number of students enrolled) is an example of a reinforcing system. Rob points out that reinforcing feedback is GROWTH oriented. Inflows into the system create more in a continually reinforcing feedback loop, which continues until the system runs into a balancing feedback system.

Globally, in terms of increasing production and pollution and so forth, we've had a continually growth-oriented reinforcing system since the end of World War Two, but now have hit  limits of the planetary stock of oxygen vs. CO2 and so on...which triggered a balancing feedback loop in the form of the pandemic.The planet was getting out of balance.... so eventually, a balancing feedback loop imposed itself on the global ecosystem, enforcing behaviors (such as drastic reductions in travel and production) that allow for better maintenance of critical planetary systems such as temperature control.  The pandemic has produced tremendous disruption for individuals and businesses and communities, but may work well for the planet as a whole.

In our own lives, we also see interactions between balancing and reinforcing systems. We like and need the stability that balancing systems help us maintain. But too much stability can lead to stagnation, burnout, and boredom, which impell us toward a desire for disruption and growth.

While it can be painful to have our routines and lives disrupted, there can also be benefits.

We learned the term "purposeful chaos", where disruption serves as a catalyst for growth, helping us challenge ourselves as we find new ways to adapt to the conditions around us.

We decided that next week, we will start to build a community document or template for sharing ideas, methods, systems, tips and tricks that we have each discovered, that help us survive and thrive in these challenging times.

This is an ongoing collaborative  process… come and be part of it!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Click on the green button to register for the meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.