“Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.” [i] - Rene Dubos
Thrivability is fueled by intentions.
Intentional: done with purpose[ii]
…and intentions are holons.
Holons are both wholes and parts. Intentions nest as holons — as both wholes and parts. All the way up and all the way down.
We’re adapting and honoring a concept Ken Wilber has explored extensively in his book A Theory of Everything. He defines holons (a term first introduced by Arthur Koestler[iii]) as ingredients in hierarchies. Wilber says, “A holon is a whole that is a part of other wholes. For example, a whole atom is part of a whole molecule; a whole molecule is part of a whole cell; a whole cell is part of a whole organism.... Reality is composed of neither wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, or holons. Reality in all domains is basically composed of holons.”[iv]
The same could be said of intentions, where every purposeful act is nested in other holons of intention. For clarity:
A “reference holon” is the holon that forms the frame of reference as a single whole/part for looking at the smaller and larger world it exists in.
A “sub-holon chain” represents the view of the constant holon down to smaller holon wholes/parts.
A “macro-holon chain” is the view of the constant holon up to larger holon wholes/parts.[v]
Holons of intention can create chains of thrivability.
We as humans have the inherent capacity to be the most intentional reference holons on earth. Yet we seemed to be distracted and immersed in the unintentional.
Paul Hawken, the author of The Ecology of Commerce [vi] introduces a version of sustainability succinctly when he says in the preface, “Rather than a management problem, we have a design problem, a flaw that runs through all business.” He continues, “To create an enduring society, we will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative.” [vii]
Good, yet still not intentional enough for our inherent capacities.
Sustainability language is frequently formed as an apology for the past and a prayer for methods to repair damage so we can learn to just get by.
Thrivabilty is more optimistic than sustainability.
Thrivabilty is about transcending and including the current fitness landscape with intelligence and grace.
Being intentionally thrivable is using the gift of collective intelligence we can harness to do better — and together do more.
[i] Lawrence J. Peter, Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, New York: William Morrow and Company, p. 172.
[ii] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 733.
[iii] Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, Macmillan Publishers, 1969.
[iv] Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, Boston: Shambala Press, 2001, p. 40.
[v] Kevin Clark, Brandscendence: Three Essential Elements of Enduring Brands, Chicago: Dearborn/Kaplan, 2004, p. 112.
[vi] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiii.
[vii] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiv.