The response to change



Tries - Goal setting

The elements of change can appear confusing and contradictory. The are not in fact contradictory but rather reflect their limitations. For example, diversity and personal self immanence may be considered as opposed to interdependence and sense of community. Likewise, bioregionalism and decentralization may be considered as opposed to global automation and the global marketplace. What needs to be recognised is that all elements of change are interdependent. Interdependence is the unifying force and not dominated by any single element.

Communities go through phases when some element, for example Buddhism as a guiding philosophy, is dominant. A dominant phase arises because a surge of interest or new discovery captures the imagination. The new discovery is internalised and the community then proceeds to a new phase of, perhaps, consensus building or personal responsibility.

Communities operate on psychic ownership of a shared vision. Within the community, however, individuals are constantly stretching their own limitations and while some may be on a spiritual path, others pursue the feelings of the present. There must be a built-in tolerance that defuses animosity between, for example, spiritualists and the `do-it-now'ers. That built-in tolerance springs from all persons recognising the paramountcy of the choice made. It is like a marriage and if the individual believes the community possesses Tillich's "courage to be", then he, or she, must continue to support the reason for `being'. If the individual no longer believes in the wellspring then the search must be continued elsewhere. The reaching for significant work and personal relationships must be found in a community that is authentic, honest, and genuine.

The elements of the inner search, such as trusting the subconscious and simplicity, are the basis for communities. The authority figure is superseded by a group response. A community or organization not only defines goals, but also, as an antidote to ‘group-think’, imbues individuals with an attitudes of equitable distribution, group motivation, and personal growth. A community is a social and productive nexus, and a shared culture core.

In defining goals, a community must distil the essence of group desires. This is a process of consensus building that deepens trust, and also develops the objectives. One of the principle strategies, for both individuals and groups to achieve a distillation of desires, is to generate `tries'.


This strategy is based on the belief that the mind will automatically strive for a goal. The assumption is that change is not a result of moment by moment choices but occurs on a deeper level. The present is continually generated into the future of a better person, or superior group. For groups and individuals this means that instead of immediately considering the goal, the focus is on providing the proper conditions for the mind to operate. With a negative frame of mind, the result is negative. Concentrating on conditions, instead of goals, focuses attention on the day to day operation. The present is the font of all energy and enjoyment, and should be keenly felt.

Concentrating on the present is with an understanding of the past and future. Time, seen as a continuum, is where the past and future have equal potency. We move along This continuum as though it were the wire, concentrating on the present, knowing the past over which we have travelled, and the future over which we will travel, does not have the power to control our actions one way or the other, it is a choice.

The power we give to the personal or cultural past and future is a personal choice. Our past can be an albatross around our neck or a resource to build an image desired. It is the imagination, used carefully, that brings about changes in our present viewpoint. A proper view of the past or future should be restricted to a few notions that have compelling evidence of their veracity and present usefulness.

Concentration on the present also means there is considerably less emotional investment in a particular result. If the result on a particular day is not the one desired, then, it was a `try', and a different combination can be tried tomorrow.

Living with a sense of immediacy and accepting the transitoriness of conflicting feelings, is compatible with `tries'. Individuals do not have the counsel of perfection and mistakes are considered as tries closely approximating the best decision. Acting on the basis that a `try' is a close approximation of the most appropriate decision increases effectiveness. It corresponds to the phraseology used by successful corporations of try it, fix it, do it. Corporations have already found out that a bias for action separates successful corporations from their competitors.

Acting as a `warrior', with courage, is more important than `studying the problem'. It is the immediacy of action that denies to strong emotions their power to hamper or ossify the solution generating process.

Continual tries are conceived of as a stochastic process aimed at a personal or tribal vision. The word `stochastic' is derived from the practice of armies of ancient times instructing their archers to fire their arrows in a limited direction so they would fall on a selected portion of the opposing army, for example, around King Harold in the Battle of Hastings. Most of the arrows would miss but one might hit the King in the eye and win the battle. It was a superior strategy to arrows fired singly or at the entire opposing forces. Tries are to be considered as the arrows directed at a goal, or mission.

Tries as a stochastic process, replaces the authoritarian strategy of forcing a result in a pre-determined way. It allows a greater degree of flexibility and frees the imagination. Too narrow a focus, one predicated on creating a specific result, restricts energy from feeling free, open, and receptive to various options. The middle East saying of "If one door closes, another opens", should be borne in mind. Life is to be looked upon as a place where the door is always being opened; it is not a series of closed doors.

The idea of tries is not an invitation to disperse energy on unfocused action. The wellspring imposes its own discipline. The individual must care desperately that innermost feelings are being fed, and, also maintain a lightness as to how this is achieved. The acceptance of a certain set of beliefs, or pattern of tries should not inhibit the exploration of other possibilities.

Diversity and resourcefulness is the trademark of the adaptable life. A belief that is held too strongly inhibits acceptance of diversity and the resourcefulness to meet new situations. A too weakly held belief allows diversity to become evasion.

‘Tries’ asserts a positive choice. Assertiveness training seminars are based on a belief that if one does not state and express desires they will not be met. It is a technique that asserts the power of the wellspring and then expresses it in a manner designed to achieve external reinforcement.

‘Tries’ views the world as a testing ground where strengths eventually prevail. One can function playfully knowing that the major concern is to remain achievement oriented. Tries are part of a process of life that sees re-evaluation and growth of one's strengths as a continually unfolding path that is fresh, enjoyable, and invigorating. Goals are the milestones that mark progress when a try is successful.

The external world, viewed as a testing ground, clarifies where our strength lies and where we should direct our tries. Mostly, we see ourselves as ants upon an elephant called `life' completely unable to control its direction. However, where enough ants form a community that has direction and is concerned with nourishing its members, they, as a community, can gain some control over the elephant. Likewise, marshalling personal strengths give the individual the greatest chance of achievement.

The playfulness introduced by being unattached emotionally to specific outcomes is the cultivation of choiceless awareness. It is a best case scenario and allows an increased flexibility and resourcefulness. The playful openness increases the number of attempts and accordingly the number of possible solutions.

The attitudes of the present, when built around an image that is believable and inspiring, are projected into the future. The choice of an image invites the individual or group to the hero's journey. This image, or the focusing of a person's vital energy, is, in Joseph Campbell's description, living your myth. To identify and live your myth, to believe and pursue the heroic journey of the self, is the basis for future actions.

As the image (what a person dreams by day) persists it is slowly integrated into the personality and the person becomes the image. It is a living of dreams, a common occurrence among the Australian aborigines. To quote T. E. Lawrence, "Only fear those who dream by day".

Another useful technique is to choose an individual or group as a guru or mentor embodying the highest mythical aspirations sought. Whether one finds such a person, or believes there is such a person, is a matter of chance and personality. General Eisenhower, for example, deliberately sought out a mentor and was posted to the Panama Canal to benefit from his mentor's experience.

Seeing the world as a testing ground enhances the belief that our world has moved from a `life in the jungle' attitude to a win-win situation. It is a psychological move from adversarial to consensus, from powerlessness to enlightened self-interest. It is the creation of an environment that reflects feelings of growth, openness and optimism - the winning environment.

Goal setting

Another strategy is goal setting - a belief of improvements always being made. Reaching goals, and noting that achievement is an external feedback system. It supports the belief that the individual, or organisation, is moving to a better position, understanding or ability. The strategy is to identify goals as part of the process towards the mission.

Expectations can become insatiable rising emotions that drown an optimistic and ameliorative stance. Goal setting is oriented towards a process rather than a result. It is a process that loosens expectations, desires, and lightens the psychic baggage.

Carl Jung believed that archetypes exist in the collective subconscious of humanity. That is, there are primordial mental images in our collective subconscious. The archetypes could be warrior, scholar, artist, trader, and so on. Goal setting gives form to an archetype; it is a series of goals in a general archetypal direction. In allowing the free play of pursuing one's myth it assists in actualising the subconscious. Goals can be a powerful and repeated movement towards the progressive realisation of worthy ideals.

Goal setting prioritises strengths and abilities by charting a probability pattern, knowing the resources presently exist in diminished form. The strategy for achieving the mission is setting goals in the direction desired and the initial goals should be the ones that are easily achieved with the present resources. The immediate strengths and abilities are utilised at the outset and a path is made.

A goal for a group or individual is something that is desired, attainable, and concrete. It is not a fantasy. Goals must have target dates and steps small enough, or concrete enough, to provide a continual feedback system that is emotionally satisfying. Congratulations and rewards, no matter how small, help integrate successes by creating a positive reinforcement milieu.

Psychologically humans operate more effectively in a positive environment where feelings of feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment breed success. What is helpful for mental health on a personal level is equally helpful for mental health on a social and cultural level. A hopeful and positive attitude, where sound self-esteem exists, distinguishes the vibrant growing society from the society in decline. The characteristics of sound self-esteem are:-
1) Establishing your own value system and being confident of the decisions you make based on your current awareness.
2) Seeing yourself as valuable and worthy of the respect of others.
3) Being optimistic and enjoying new challenges to your awareness.
4) Regarding yourself as an expert.
5) Perceiving yourself as able to express ideas easily and realising that others respect your point of view.
6) Developing a positive expectancy of reaching your goals and bouncing back quickly from temporary setbacks.

A goal plan is a measure of consistency, not an intellectual exercise. It is the cultivation of continual improvement, developing a habit of seeing successes and improvements. Life becomes more satisfying when changes are pioneered and a personal dream becomes a reality.

Goal setting in business organisations is known as management by objectives (MBO). It sets out a mission (the wellspring) which is a broad statement of why the organisation exists. The goals of an organisation are some measurable desired results and the objectives (tries) are action programs. Goals are broken down into separate steps and a target date is set for each step. The target date monitors the progress in achieving the desired goal.

A corporate example is where sales (the external feedback) confirms the projected demand made by management (the internal dialogue). The external feedback can take many different forms such as the acknowledgement is the best on the market or, as with Dominos Pizza, that the service is the fastest. The external verification must be of a form that reflects the chosen internal desire.

Personal goals reflect the desire for personal happiness. It is for each individual to find an outlet where personal commitment and community goals are aligned. The search for shared goals marks the change from acquiescence to blind authority to the individual willingness to ‘follow their bliss’ by joining in a community of interests. Recognition of the wellspring releases the individual from the grip of the accepted order, not to a wandering and ‘going it alone’, but to personal commitment within a community of like minds.