Our thinking has not adapted to our modern environment. We still keep to our hierarchal relationships at work and power struggles at home. We worship the heroes and heroines in media, culture, and our work. This way of life has worked and why we still cling to it like suckling babes. The human species is spread over the Earth as a fabric covers that satiated sleeping babe. Social media reveals we now exist in a network framework where relationships and interactions are more important than our social standing. We have unknowingly switched to a new paradigm of “power through” as opposed to “power over” others. Because many of us are unconscious of this switch, we still cling to the old ways of competition and hierarchy. The businesses we work for are often stuck in the old paradigm and struggle to integrate the newer generations. We all need to open our minds and allow ourselves to evolve as our working and personal environments change.
There’s a great article on the interactioninstitute.org website, “Thinking like a network.” I suggest you check it out at: http://interactioninstitute.org/thinking-like-a-network-2-0/ It puts forth 10 network principles to guide thinking and actions. These principles are intended to support social change. I find the network principles in line with what I’ve been trying to put together as the Biz of You. The biz of you is not just a selfish pursuit of happiness but an attempt to make the best out of the life we live which necessarily involves interacting with others. We can not have our biz without the biz of others. The principles of the biz of you simply apply to our node in the network we all share. It is for these reasons the network principles below create another valued perspective on how we can all manage our biz within our part of the network.
1. Adaptability instead of control. Our ability to iterate and change as necessary as situations unfold serves to support our long term aspirations.
2. Contribution before credentials. Ego gets in the way of the rapid change necessary to take advantage of the ever unfolding opportunities around us. What we do determines our presences not our title or expertise.
3. Giving first, not taking. “The key to generate is generosity.” When we give freely and share our ideas, people open to us and share their own. We become more that what we would have waiting for something to happen. In more hostile environments this sharing will feel like everyone takes and takes. However, over the long-term our ideas spread and others will eventually follow our open approach. If not, then that environment will eventually atrophy and die as it will struggle to keep up with the larger environment where networking is the new paradigm.
4. Resilience and redundancy instead of rock stardom. Modern life is a team sport whether that be while playing games, at work or in the bedroom with our spouse. The richness of our interconnections has more to do with our success than being the hero that saved the day that one time. Hero worship in our organizations and in our lives needs to go by the wayside and retract in to the entertainment that it is.
5. Diversity and divergence rather than the usual suspects and forced agreement. Our ability to play and engage with those in our networks creates the potential for innovation. New ideas emerge from diverse ideas coming together to form what has not been formed to date. To do this, a playful interaction that builds off one another instead of putting each other down is necessary.
6. Intricacy and flow not bottlenecks and hoarding. When we become rigid, hoard, and exclude others, we start the dying process. “Networks are key to supporting life and liveliness.” This is why we have to keep reaching out and keep ideas and energy flowing so we can utilize every breath we have in this finite life of ours.
7. Self-organization and emergence rather than permission and the pursuit of perfection. The whole is greater than the parts. Change comes about via experimentation (i.e. play).. “Vying for the predictable means short-changing ourselves of new possibilities.” One of the great promises of networks is connecting with something larger than ourselves which in the long-term creates more meaning in our lives.
8. Shift focus from core to the periphery. The edge or periphery cases provide opportunities to learn. We define ourselves at the edge of our experience. Networks are also defined by the quality of their periphery. Thinking about our edge cases, helps us to know what we are willing to and not to do. Knowing “why” is a core principle, but acting at the periphery is how we can bring about the “why” in our core.
9. From working in isolation to working with others and/or out loud. Our friendships and networks have a significant impact on the quality of our lives. As a kid you could hang with the wrong sort of kid and find yourself in front of a police officer or ticketed for something you did not do but were only part of. Communication is the lifeblood of our experiences. If we have a bad feeling in our tummy we should probably speak out and do something about it so we help not only ourselves but those we work with to avoid hazards and achieve what we can not alone.
10. From “Who’s the leader?” To “We’re the leaders!” To be a leader alone at the top can be confusing and a burdensome experience. It also places the the organization, community, or other hierarchal arrangements at risk. Adopting a “we are the leaders” perspective involves others and enables us to accomplish more than we would alone and dictating what needs done. Rigid hierarchies, fixed positional authority, and transactional mindsets are going by the wayside. What we do together is more important in the long run not only for our individual lives but also the collective network we are part of.
The biz of you at its core is managing your time, energy, and attention to achieve what you set out to do. It’s doing what you say you do and doing what you say. This communication internally and externally coupled with the flow of action allows us to make a contribution to the great networked game of life. Allowing things to change and adapting ourselves as necessary sets the stage for us to be leaders together in a less self-centered manner and stewarding our resources in a resilient way so many generations can follow suit. Evolving towards network thinking benefits not only us individually but all of us on this planet.
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