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November/December 2019

Most of us don’t give a second thought about upgrading our cell phones. We don’t feel ashamed of our old phone, either. We eagerly watch for and purchase the new, recognizing the added benefits we gain. Why don’t we feel this way about upgrading our human systems? Many cling to outdated and ineffective human systems with a death grip and feel they are somehow wrong or guilty if they exchange one system for another. Here are possible limiting beliefs:

If the majority of people are still doing things this way, how can it be outdated?

For centuries, people have largely used domination, win/lose and force to get things done. They operate from “it’s a dog eat dog world” and “tough love.” Business executives, parents, teachers, church officials and many others defend what I call leading with intimidation sometimes aggressively, passively or hidden inside a velvet glove. This system is a symptom of too much masculine energy not tempered with feminine energy (in each person) resulting in fear-based, selfserving, scarcity minded, non-empathetic, transactional and steamroller ways of interacting. By feminine energy, I refer to a blending of empathy, compassion, win/win, and nurturing success and well being in all. Feminine and masculine energies together in balance create incredibly life giving individuals and groups.

You feel you must justify your existing human systems.

Using win/lose control methods creates inferiority feelings in people, and then they feel the need to justify this human system: “I was pushed, punished, shamed and controlled and I turned out OK. We need to go back to the good old days when people knew their place.” You may be OK, but only in spite of this. We must connect the dots regarding the consequences of these methods and our current and massive dysfunctions. Our existing human systems can look effective, to one person or group and get “results” they may want and get them quickly, but always involve oppressing some, and causing dangerous, negative side-effects for all. While centuries old, those practicing our predominant human systems as they have been expressed, end up closing their hearts, disdaining compassion, optimism and service, and supporting transactional relationships. Sadly, with any scrutiny at all, it is glaringly obvious that the outcomes for the current human systems have a lousy and destructive track record.

You believe upgrading your human systems is confusing, inconvenient, ineffective and too much trouble.

First, these are actually more fitting descriptors for our outdated human systems. Many people long for a new solution that brings about positive, collaborative and creative outcomes. Not having this is quite inconvenient and causes a lot of trouble. There are people who do offer proven human system upgrades shown to be highly effective and life-giving. Any upgrade is too much trouble unless we realize the value of it and the price we pay for not adopting it.

You worry about being in the minority.

All positive change starts with a minority of thought leaders and change agents. They are the ones remembered throughout history. Being in the majority with stagnant, ineffective human systems wins you no great favor, fulfillment, advantage, nor prize. Seek to take reasonable risks. Don’t constrict in the face of our increasing speed of change. Upgrading is part of our natural evolution, including upgrading our human systems. We need radical social change and emotional and social intelligence frameworks. By forgoing the ideas of the majority, you may lose some friends who are afraid of change, but others will join you and encourage you to adapt and ensure you thrive.

You worry you’ll lose your identity and relevance if you admit existing human systems are outdated.

Being part of a herd of people who contribute to massive problems, lack inspiration, have little commitment to collaboration and co-creating solutions, is an identity I encourage you to shed. Find a tribe who is courageous about necessary change and upgrades; innovators who keep their eyes wide open, pragmatic about noticing results from one human system to another, and then make informed decisions. Choose making service to all more important than attachment to what you think is your identity and relevance. Then you gain both without trying and you live the most relevant and fulfilling life of meaning you could ever imagine. 

Judy Ryan is the founder and CEO of LifeWork Systems and is an expert thought leader on applied behavioral science systems that impact deep culture change for exceptional outcomes. People hire Judy and LifeWork Systems because they want to fully experience the joy and vitality that can be realized through a purpose-driven workplace culture where excellence in achievement is accomplished and celebrated.

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