Aspen current thinking column


Spring 2013

October 2018 Current Thinking Column

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Matter Into Mind Into Matter

by Joe Paul
Aspen Family Business Group

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.

I remembered these words from Hermann Hesse about change when I was thinking about the last stages of my career and the last chapter of my life.

I was thinking of these issues because my partners and I are developing a plan for the continuation of our practice when we’re gone. Not surprisingly my own part of this journey takes me to many of the same issues our clients experience when thinking about succession. I find that I am revisiting ideas that have shaped my thinking in my practice.

My partners and I have created an ecology of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Each partner has a cadre of ideas that have co-evolved over decades of work. These four aspects form most of our intellectual capital providing effective tools for us working with our clients.

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.  - Hermann Hesse

I’d like to share with you a concept that forms the core of my beliefs. Human beings evolved for the purpose of creating consciousness.

The evolution of consciousness happened in similar ways as the evolution of biology. Ideas compete for mind space the same way animal species compete for territory. We’ve evolved to eat matter to feed and nourish our mind and then once satiated in turn create new or different forms of matter. Matter expressed is both poetic and practical, like bees cross-pollinating we help our clients develop new ways of thinking.

My clients tell me that helping them articulate the purpose of their life in one sentence is the most beneficial outcome of my work with them. The purpose I define for myself is to create experiences that bring people and ideas together in ways that serves the common good.

Futurist Ray Kurziwell points out that technological evolution was almost flat from the Stone age to the Industrial age. Since the Industrial age began, technology has evolved exponentially. In 2029 the pace of the evolution of technology will, according to Kurziwell, be vertical, the problem is we don’t really know what that means. For ourselves or for our clients.

In a conversation I once had with a client we spoke about the future of his company, "The technology your organization depends on is going to change in ways you can't reliably anticipate, what are you going to do to prepare your company for the coming profound changes? He said, I'll just pick the people now who are smart enough to figure it out."

We're at a similar juncture in our desire to pass on what we know to our associates. In ten years we might be living in a world that is only science fiction now, and our clients who lead their companies are going to need help dealing with that world. It will become incumbent upon all of us to grasp and understand the changes that are happening. The social, political, technical and scientific evolution will take us places we've never been before. We must bear this in mind when we're offering to pass on what we know along with so much of what we don't know. Survival of our species will depend on what we learn and how we practice.

Entropy is about the dissolution of mind and matter. Evolution is about increasing complexity and growth. The choices we make will influence the form that takes. Which of these become our reality.




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