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Philosophy Tuesday

January 8, 2019

“If we come here and say, “Well, I didn’t intend to cause global warming on the way here,” and we say, “That’s not part of my plan,” then we realize it’s part of our de facto plan, because it’s the thing that’s happening because we have no other plan.”

— William McDonough

I love this quote for how well it ties back into the notion of systems and the path of least resistance.

When we don’t make a plan, the system makes one for us.  And the easiest is to just do what the system says to do.  Because to us it feels like that’s just how things are; we’re surrounded by it.  Its reality.  And so we punch our ticket and get swept along.

That system, though, may itself have never been planned, and rather came together by either accident, happenstance, or, often, by the messy collision of several other (perhaps/likely themselves unplanned) systems.  It’s system-ception – systems begetting systems begetting systems.

Everything we do has an outcome, a result.  And when our de facto plan spits out outcomes, whether personal or global, that aren’t as fulfilling a result as we’d like, we can be very accurate when we note that it was unintentional.  Because they’re the result of actions taken with literally no intention – just automatic engagement.  We’ve slipped into the path of least resistance.

Oops!

But our systems are just systems.  Unlike the properties of physics, they don’t have a force in reality.  They may have arrived by happenstance, but we can tweak them.  Replace them.  Transform them.  We needn’t get caught up in blame or shame or fault.  We can step up with intention, create from first principles, and be mindful of and design towards all the desired outcomes.

Until our de facto plans line up with our intended ones.

2 comments

  1. […] flowing. It becomes easiest to simply go with the flow, no matter whether the outcome is a good or deleterious one, whether for ourselves, others, or the world as a […]


  2. […] is especially potent to dovetail it with the conversation about systems and on the notion of the path(s) of least resistance.  These systems, be they writ large or the […]



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