Fruitfulness

This is the sixth and final article in a series on growth force principles identified by German biochemist, Frederic Vester who found six principles that lie at the heart of all living and growing things. By applying these principles to our lives, we can increase the health and potential for growth in all that we do. The final growth force principle is fruitfulness. “Be fruitful and multiply,” is a well-known passage from the book of Genesis. We can assume its intent was deeper and more profound than just keeping humanity going! We pack our days with a lot of activities. But sometimes we confuse a manic schedule with making a difference—being fruitful. And the only way to know the difference is to stop, breathe, think and evaluate! Bible teacher Joyce Meyer once talked about the difference between being busy and being fruitful. “Did you ever stop to think that just being busy – running around in circles all day but not accomplishing anything – is the same as wasting your time? It’s frustrating to expend so much energy and time and not have any fruit from your effort!” The fruitfulness principle (found throughout nature) says that every aspect of our lives should produce discernible results in line with its intended purpose. This, of course, assumes we know our intended purpose! In nature, fruitfulness is obvious. Either a fruit tree bears fruit, or it’s ornamental! An organism is alive as long as it continues to function the way it was designed, with appropriate outcomes. But when an organism is no longer ‘fruitful,’ it dies and makes way for others. Vineyards are a great example. Each vine must produce grapes. So if a vine fails to produce grapes (of expected quality and quantity) its issues must...

Symbiosis

The fifth growth force found in nature that we are exploring in this series is symbiosis. Each growth force, when applied to our life can increase the potential for health and growth. Symbiosis describes what happens when two different organisms, living in close proximity, share in a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, when a tree ages and its roots loose the capacity to gather nutrients from the soil, a certain fungus grows on the roots that helps transfer nutrients to the tree. In return (since the fungus cannot produce chlorophyll itself), the tree then transfers carbohydrates and oxygen to help the fungus grow. The tree and the fungus experience symbiosis that helps sustain both. Another example highlights how two great things combined can produce a whole new thing. Remember the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad that imagined the way chocolate and peanut butter “accidentally” came together? Both chocolate and peanut butter were individual favorites, but the combination created was fantastic! The same principle works with food courts. You might think putting multiple food outlets in one small space would create so much competition that no one would survive. But in reality, the draw of multiple options attracts more people to the space, and all the food vendors thrive better than they would on their own. Symbiosis seems to be at the heart of the universe. And it’s equally powerful with people as it is in nature and marketing. Symbiosis takes place when people or groups engage in mutually beneficial relationships. Cooperation is a key component of symbiosis. Whether its birds who benefit from aerodynamic flight formations or societies that are healthy, it is clear the world is based on cooperation AND competition. Perhaps we have put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong SYL-la-ble. As Tom...

Sustainability

At the end of the last century, German biochemist, Frederic Vester identified six growth force principles found in nature we can apply to our lives and work to increase health and growth. This article looks at the fourth growth force of sustainability. You can read about the first three here: Interdependence, Multiplication, and Transforming Energy. The principle of sustainability challenges us to consider how what we’re doing will produce the resources we’ll need for the next lifecycle. In nature we observe how the leaves of a tree fall and become part of the nutrient base for the next growth season. And farmers rely on crop rotation, knowing that what one crop takes out, another replaces. This also applies to ourselves and the way we personally approach our time and energy. We’re in this for the long haul; life is a marathon, not a sprint. A synonym for sustainability could be recycling. Recycling embodies the idea of reusing resources for the future even though the resource may look different in the next cycle. For example, investing in education could be a critical piece in building your future. Creating and nurturing friendships will give you the support system you need now and in the future. Developing new interests will help you develop new brain pathways and continue to expose you to new and exciting ideas. Saving and investing for retirement will ensure you will be able to meet your needs in old age. As you make decisions about the future, here are some questions you may want to consider: What am I doing (or not doing) today that is building the future? What resources do I need to increase the potential for the next cycle? How is the lifestyle I’m creating today going to sustain me for...

Transforming Energy

This is the third in a series exploring how the growth force principles found in nature—that perpetuate life and health—can be applied to our lives to increase healthy growth. You can find the first two articles here: Interdependence and Multiplication Energy transformation is the principle that calls us to recognize both positive and negative energy that is already flowing in a system, and utilize both for a productive outcome. In fact, sometimes the energy, which we might be tempted to label as ‘negative,’ can become a positive energy force if utilized well. Just ask a surfer about utilizing existing energy. The force of the waves surfers use for their favorite sport can be very destructive. When resisted by retaining walls, the pounding surf can destroy all but the strongest barriers we erect. Yet surfers are able to utilize that same energy for propelling them through the water for hours of entertainment. In another sport, boxing, opponents see force as something to be resisted and blocked. But in jujitsu, rather than blocking energy coming at you, you utilize that energy and turn it to an advantage. The martial arts economize energy by recognizing and valuing the energy, already at play, to accomplish a specific purpose. We can use this same principle in our lives. Perceived negative energy can come in the form of a disgruntled employee, a downturn in the economy, loss of a key client, or increased competition. At first glance we may be temped to resist these developments. We may tell the employee to shape up, batten down the hatches to ride out a bad economy, panic when we loose a client or redouble our efforts against increased competition. Energy transformation encourages us to see each situation as a gift and take advantage...

Multiplication

We’ve all heard the term, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Didn’t God say that to the first humans in the beginning? Jeannette and I (Dr. Deb)  agree that multiplication can take place in many forms. Neither of us have had children. Yet we have both deliberately spent our lives investing in others and multiplying ourselves. Here is the 2nd in a series of life and growth principles by Jeannette Slater. When we look at nature, we can quickly identify the principle of multiplication at work. Nature in all forms continues to reproduce and most of the time it is in multiples and many times it is in abundance. Rabbits are infamous for their ability to multiply. And consider plants. They scatter their seeds abroad in abundance with the goal of multiplying themselves. They know that not all their ‘offspring’ will survive, so ensure survival and growth through multiplication. Even the largest of organisms, whether plant or animal, do not grow endlessly. Rather they replicate themselves for life to continue. The California redwoods are some of the largest plants; yet they too reproduce. How does that translate to our lives? In some ways it’s obvious. If we spend all our time on one effort or a small circle of influence, we will likely fail to thrive. And we are certainly limiting the investment we COULD be making in others. Rather, we must cultivate multiple relationships in order to reap the fruit down the road. Utilizing the principle of multiplication means that we have to think differently. Instead of thinking about how we can add another leader or another client, we need to think strategically about how to invest our energy so that the result is multiplication rather than addition. If we simply add and replace what is lost, we...

Interdependence

“Interdependence is the relationship between two or more living things where each one benefits from the other.” I love that definition.* Introduction by Dr. Deb: In my interpersonal communication class this week, students and I discussed marriage and family relationships. As in all healthy relationships, interdependence should be present. In relationships, we are connected at many levels, some of which science and psychology are just beginning to understand. We mirror each other, synchronize our movements, and communicate in ways we’re not even aware of. (Watch the film, I Am, There is evidence that even plants and animals are affected by human thought and action. How much more other people? With this in mind, read Jeannette’s article, and consider how much you are connected to and affect others by your choices. At the end of the last century, German biochemist and ecology specialist, Frederic Vester, demonstrated six principles of optimum biological life, or “biotic potential.” He defined “biotic potential” as “the maximum capacity of organisms to grow and reproduce under ideal conditions.” These six growth force principles underlie all of our life-giving actions. These can be applied to individuals, as well as faith communities and other groups. I will discuss these in a series of six articles. The first growth force principle is Interdependence. Imagine a person standing on the edge of a pond. In the middle of the pond is a lily pad. The person takes a rock and throws the rock onto the lily pad. The primary effect is that the lily pad is pushed under the water. However there are additional effects as the waves from the splash ripple out across the pond. As individuals and people of influence, we must be aware that our decisions and actions will have an effect...

Not my Monkey

All of us have them…friends and acquaintances that seem to thrive on drama and poor choices. It seems like every time you talk with them, something crazy is happening in their life. I (Jeannette) had a friend whose’ doctor actually told him he was addicted to adrenalin! It’s easy to get sucked into the drama. One of my normally levelheaded friends called to tell me a recent acquaintance-romance had taken a business trip to Europe. While gone, he had apparently been robbed, needed her to send money to get home. She had already sent him quite a bit of money, but still asked how she could help. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this guy was a fake and ripping her off; but her heart was too involved and she could not see the (obvious) red flags. It was gut wrenching for me to see her being strung along I even lost sleep over it. What do you do in a situation like that? If you have an ounce of compassion you want to intervene. If the person is a good friend or a relative, I want to help them; I want to rescue them and get them out of their latest quandary. I tend to think that if I can just talk reasonably with them, they will be able to see their way out of their predicament. I want to make it right! Or maybe it’s not high drama; maybe it’s just a difficult decision that needs to be made, or a sticky situation that needs to be resolved. Part of getting control of your own life is recognizing what you CAN control and what you CAN’T! The reality is that everyone has their life to live; most of the time people...

Attitude of Gratitude...

I grew up in a very privileged family. Our house was the biggest house in town and we were the richest. We had servants that did work both inside and outside, including nannies that cared for us when we were young. I grew up traveling the world and attended a private school. Yes, indeed I lived the life of the rich and famous. That is until…. Our family returned to the U.S. from central Africa where my parents were missionaries. Suddenly, by comparison, we were the po’ folk. My parents went from church to church ‘begging’ for money, we lived in rented homes, we moved often, being the new kids in town, and we received donated used clothing. We never quite fit in. Now, again I live a very privileged life. I have in a beautiful home in a new neighborhood. My husband and I enjoy 24/7 electricity and all the accompanying gadgets, making household servants unnecessary.  I work part-time, and yes, still enjoy traveling the world. With a private vehicle, I can move about the city at my pleasure in air-conditioned comfort. As I reflect on my life, I think I have lived a very privileged life. I’ve never gone hungry, have financial reserves for emergencies and retirement, enjoy a wide network of friends, and still have a loving family who are always there for me. And I have a profession that is meaningful and contributes to God’s purposes, as I understand them. But I don’t feel entitled to any of it. Yes, I’ve worked hard and made some wise choices (and a few foolish ones) over the years that have resulted in my privileged life. But others have also made wise choices but suffered tragedies that wiped out all advantage. I live...

Spending Energy

Where Will Your Energy Go in 2015? As I get older, I am more aware of the limits of my energy. So when I think about having another year to, “laugh and love and live,” as my dad used to say, I’m starting to consider the coming months differently. The first difference is that I am looking at the “channels” where my energy can flow, rather than specific goals I want to accomplish. Hmmm. Energy vs. goals. Both are important. But it seems I first need to identify what is important in my life, and where of the many potential directions, I want to go this year. Where will I put my energy? As a coach, I usually ask my coachees (clients) to identify the ‘big rocks’ (priorities) in their lives. These are the major responsibilities that you need to balance in your life; they don’t change much from year to year unless you have a significant shift like a job change. Channels are a different. I see them as more specific aspects of those big rocks that you really want to see grow and expand in the next year. For example, one of my big rocks is the vacation rental business I want to grow this year. My major channels are pursuing new clients and creating sustainable and reproducible systems for each aspect of the business. There will be many other responsibilities that will take my time and energy as well, but these are the ones I would like to really give my energy to this year. And that brings me to another realization. I find I have different kinds of energy, and when one is exhausted, another may still have some fuel in the tank. When it comes to channeling my energy,...

DEATH And Taxes

They say they’re the only two things you can count on. We don’t like to talk about either; but they are inevitable. Few of us voluntarily sit down and think about what will happen when we die. It’s just not a comfortable scenario to consider. And yet death is the one certainty we have; preparing our ‘estate’ (no matter how small or big) is the right thing to do. Taking care of all your stuff can be a real pain for others if you haven’t expressed your wishes. I like what Dave Ramsey says, “To die without a will is just plain rude!” Do it for the people who care about you. You don’t have to hire an expensive attorney; you can download a form from Internet sites like legalzoom.com. But making a will is only one thing that should be on your list. At the time of this posting, you can get a will from U.S. Legal Forms for only $15. In preparing for the (someday) inevitable, you might consider the following questions: How will I leave my earthly affairs? Would my loved ones be scrambling to find out know how to handle my physical remains? Would they know how to deal with my bills? Less dramatic than death might be a critical illness or robbery. If I fell ill, would those around me know my doctor and insurance company? If my home was broken into, would I know what items were taken? These are unsettling questions to consider when things are going well. But if we don’t, we end up dumping a huge responsibility and hassle on our loved ones at the time when they are dealing with grief. When my dad suddenly passed away, we were so thankful that he had created a system so we could locate his critical information. So the question then is, What information do I need to gather or create so my loved ones have peace of mind on how to manage my affairs? How old do I need to be to start this process? The answer is NOW no matter what your age; if you start now, it will be easier as your life becomes more complex. (For a little encouragement not to procrastinate, see the article on getting A Round Tuit.) If you have ANY assets, you should at least write up a simple will and sign it in front of a notary public and a couple of witnesses. But there is other information you should collect. Here’s a starting list. It may seem daunting at first but if you get started now with just one item, you will eventually collect everything you need. Emergency contact info Last Will and Testament Durable Power of Attorney Living Will (dictating the kinds of heroic measures you would or would not like to be take for you) Health Care Power of Attorney Primary Doctor and other health care professionals Health/life insurance Donation of body/organs after death Immediate Action Steps after death Funeral/Burial plans/Obituary information Other notifications (work, school, clubs etc.) Investments and banking info Credit cards and outstanding loans Real Estate holdings and mortgages Life insurance/pensions Income tax info Passport/driver’s license and other certificates Family contact information Passwords (see Dr. Deb’s blog of Sept, 14, 2013) Inventory of valuables Contents of Safe box or location of critical information If the list seems overwhelming, just think of how confusing it would be for your family or friends to track down this information without you. If you are married, think about the peace of mind you would have knowing that if something would happen to your spouse, you would know what to do and where to find critical information. I would suggest beginning with things you already have such as credit card and bank information and collect it all in one place. The program I’m using to collect my passwords also has a place...

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