Posts Tagged ‘humanity’

Flexible Focus #67: A-Chart vs B-Chart

by William Reed on September 1, 2011

In this series we have introduced two levels of focus for the Mandala Chart, the 9 frame A-Chart 3X3 Matrix and the 64 frame B-Chart 8X8 Matrix, developed by Matsumura Yasuo, the founder of the Mandala Chart Method. You might compare them to two different levels of magnification in a telescope or a microscope, where the shift of focus instantly transports you to a new world. Only in this case the same lens can take you to either the microscopic or the telescopic view, in any mindscape you can imagine.

Moreover, like the longitude and latitude lines we impose on the earth for navigation, the Chart can help you get your bearings and understand the relationship of the parts to the whole. Without this you are like a mariner set adrift at sea without compass, map, or sextant. No wonder so many people are lost in life.

The difference with the Mandala Chart is that instead of a GPS (Global Positioning System), it serves as an LPS (Life Positioning System).

Lessons in Flexible Focus

Most people have great difficulty with flexible focus, perhaps because they lack such a tool. The history of civilization is filled with fascinating examples of people who were unable to see or appreciate new points of view. Sadly, the response has all too often been destructive, leading on a mass scale to war and genocide at one extreme, and intolerance and redundancy at the other.

Racism clings to a single and arbitrary view of other people, as if to say that one frame in the square is right, and all of the others are wrong. The only perceptions that are allowed in this limited view are those which reinforce the bigotry. The two sides are reduced to a black and white view that allows no room for color. Against that background read the fascinating research, Genetic Studies Show that Race is Not a Scientific Concept. The genes which affect our external appearance amount to a mere 0.01%. Under the skin we are 99.99% the same.

While hindsight is 20/20, foresight appears to be almost legally blind, particularly among experts and people at the top of their field. This has been true in the fast evolving world of computers, where people have made some embarrassingly short-sighted predictions, such as the Chairman of Digital Equipment Corporation saying in 1977 that,

“There is no reason that anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Guglielmo Marconi, pioneer in the invention of radio, was thought by some to be mentally unstable for suggesting that voice could be transmitted through the air over great distances. Decca Recording Company rejected the Beatles in 1962 saying that,

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

Read some of the laughable bad predictions experts have made in the past. And yet predictably even ten years from now people will laugh at what today passes for common sense. So it has always been.

Why Stop at 64 Frames?

Clearly the Universe doesn’t stop at 64, so why should the Mandala Chart stop there? Theoretically you can drill down forever, but you will find that the deeper you go the more you return to the 3X3 Matrix view at that level. Mentally, it is similar to the process of juggling. It is easy to toss one ball between two hands, but more of a challenge to toss two three balls between the right and left hand. Only a handful of professional jugglers can to juggle as many as many as 8 or 9 balls at a time. Apparently in juggling the human limit breaks down quickly past the number 8.

The I Ching, or ancient Chinese Book of Changes, also starts with 8 Trigrams, which are combined into 64 Hexagrams, reflecting the same structure of the Mandala Chart. Wealth Dynamics, which is based in part on the I Ching, is also based on 8 Wealth Profiles, which combine into 64 possible partnership patterns. And of course the Mandala itself stems from the Buddhist description of consciousness, using the same number of frames. Apparently as in juggling, our consciousness reaches its limits past that number, and tends to revert back to the simpler Matrix view when pushed past the limit.

A-Chart eMandala

B-Chart eMandala

There are also time limits in working with the Mandala Chart. An A-Chart can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to fill out carefully, and a B-Chart Mandala can take up to 90 minutes. Beyond that it becomes impractical from the time management perspective. Nevertheless, in contrast to the unidimensional view of inflexible focus, a 2×2 Matrix or 3×3 Matrix already has 4 to 8 more degrees of freedom, and is well worth taking the time to explore.

As an exercise in expanding your awareness of the many dimensions to a task, try taking the time to complete a B-Chart Mandala. A good place to start is with the Template for a 100 Year Life Span. It is easier to do when the subject is you.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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One of the most sought after answers in our society is perhaps to the question “Where do leaders come from?” We depend greatly on them, but what do we do to ensure that the future has the people with the leadership capability that we will need.  If they are born, there is not much to do. If they can be developed, then we have a responsibility to systematize the process by which great leaders can be created.

Recent research in talent, in leadership, in accomplishment and human development is leaning further and further towards the development through experience path.  Malcolm Gladwell has made famous the concept of “10,000” hours in his book Outliers.  If you practice for 10,000 hours you will become world class.

If you practice for 10,000 hours…

…What should you practice?

This leads to the question: What is at the core of leadership?  What are the habits of successful leaders?  The Origin of Leaders is a journey through these traits and a reflection on how previously successful leaders have been able to develop these skills.

Welcome to the journey.  I look forward to your comments.

Imagination: the nucleus.

Sir Ken Robinson, the creativity expert you may know from TED, gives a great speech about what it is that has brought humanity from living in caves to living in skyscrapers, speaking on mobile phones, reading on kindles, traveling in jets and building rocket ships.

I watched the film “Inception” last week with my family.  What is the most enduring parasite?  “An idea”.

Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses.  It is seeing something that is not yet here.  It is seeing a different future.  It is seeing a combination of existing products that has not yet been tried.

Why is imagination so important?

Imagination defines humanity

Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. It is not our genes that have us living in penthouses and connecting on facebook.  Our difference is The human cortex, the layer of brain that is most highly developed in humans, is very young in evolutionary terms – but crucial in every other respect.   The cortex is where we begin to live intentionally.  We don’t just respond to the world, but can begin to see a new world and thus plan and act accordingly.

The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind, to imagine.

2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?”  Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do.  A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose.  A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose. The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind, to imagine.

Aristotle concludes the Ethics with a discussion of the highest form of happiness: a life of intellectual contemplation.   Reasoned imagination is the highest virtue.

The second reason is driven by the requirements of a leader. A leader must see a future that is not yet here.  The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others.

How can you develop your imagination? Here are some ways:

  • Spend time bored.  Read fiction.  Write a new ending to a classic book.  Make a hero into a villain, and a hero into a villain. Write yourself into the book.
  • Throw photos on the floor and then explain the connection between them
  • Watch TV in another language and explain to a friend what is happening
  • Visualize a horse with sheep’s coat and a dolphin’s head.  Imagine a rubber car.
  • List 10 small improvements you could make to the seat you are sitting on
  • Tell bedtime stories
  • Develop 2×2 matrix on an area of interest…  and develop scenarios for changing positions
  • Write a new ending for Seinfeld, CSI, M*A*S*H, Desperate Housewives, SITC…  or your favorite show
  • Go to an ethnic restaurant and order something you have never had before
  • Go to a railroad station or airport and take the first train or plane to depart
  • Imagine a world without oil, cars, telephones, internet…  fill in the blank…

Develop the courage to share.  Leadership is emotional labor, when you are doing it right; it puts you on the edge.  In the words of Scott Belsky, author of Making Ideas Happen, you must “break the stigma of self-marketing”.  Learn the difference between the skeptics (good) and the cynics (get away from them).  Please share your results here.

The next post in this series looks at another vital component of leaders.  It is a characteristic that is required to achieve success.  No company has ever achieved market leadership when this characteristic has not been part of its CEO.

Stay tuned!

Conor NeillConor Neill is the professor of Leadership Communication at IESE Business School in Barcelona and an entrepreneur who has founded four companies. Years ago, he was a manager in the Human Performance consulting practice of Accenture. He loves rugby, mountain climbing and will run a marathon next march. Conor frequently blogs at conorneill.com and tweets as cuchullainn
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