"It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary." - Bucky Fuller
 
Buckminster Fuller, Crowd, Individual Initiative

“If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do; how would I be, what would I do?” - Buckminster Fuller

Most of us like to believe that we are “rugged individualists,” that we can stand up on our own and that we have to “just do it” if anything is going to get done correctly.  Yet, even though Buckminster Fuller was the one person who more than anyone championed individual initiative he also constantly reminded us that we’re all in this together and it’s everybody or nobody. Back in 1927, he recognized the global nature of our problems and always argued for the success of all life on the planet he named Spaceship Earth.

To be clear, Buckminster Fuller constantly preached about the power of one individual taking action because only individual humans can think and take action.  No corporation, religion, government or other institution can do these two things, and he trimtabbed (leveraged with those two activities into consciously creating a successful life that made a difference.  John Denver even wrote a song for Bucky titled “What One Man Can Do.”

Still, that one man did not do it alone.  He contemplated situations and when he came up with an idea for an initiative or solution, he shifted from solo to massive inclusion.  His initiatives and solutions required the involvement of lots of other people, and Bucky was always “recruiting.”  That’s not to say he was seeing out converts or followers.  Rather, he was sharing his ideas and allowing others to support them or - better yet - take them on as their own so that the idea or solution would grow without him.  Then, he was free to move on to yet another idea and initiative.  And that’s how he achieved so much in one short lifetime of 88 years.

Fuller realized that the more people who were involved and felt like they owned an idea, the more successful it would be.  Instead of holding tight to his ideas and initiatives, he was more than willing to give them away.  Two of the critical elements in his successful operating strategy were inclusion and gratitude as reflected in the following quote:

 “I don’t have any favorite places or people.  I love the whole show.  A large number of beautiful people have taught me a great deal, and I am deeply indebted to them for their support.”

So, next time you find something that needs to be done (and that could be right now if you just look around because there’s plenty of things that need to be done) remember that you’re not alone.  In fact, you can’t succeed trying to do it alone.  The seed of an initiative can only spring from an individual, but the initiative requires community input and support if it is to be successful.

May our initiatives soon bring Bucky’s vision of “a world that works for everyone” into fruition soon.


 
Synergy, Butterfly
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” Buckminster Fuller

Bucky Fuller was not the first or the last to remind people of this truth that transformation is usually not apparent to the untrained perspective. He was, however, unique in teaching that such not perceived outcomes usually represent something he labeled “synergy.”

Synergy is not a term that Bucky coined, but he did move it from an obscure scientific phrase into the popular use that it has today. It does not, however, mean what most people think it does.

Synergy is not some magical thing that causes extraordinary results when people work together. It is behavior of whole systems that cannot be predicted by behavior of the individual parts of the system when observed separately.

In the case of the caterpillar, the parts of the system include the various elements of the caterpillar’s body, the chrysalis it creates, the food and water it ingests, air, sunlight, etc.  Looking at each of these elements, including the caterpillar itself, a person would be hard pressed to say that the caterpillar will become a butterfly.

However, when all of those elements come together in the right moment, the result is a beautiful butterfly. The whole system behaves in a way that cannot be predicted by observing its individual elements.

To an uneducated child, the entire process seems magical, but once that child has a direct experience of the butterfly’s transformation (be it by personal observation or teaching), the process is no longer synergy to her or him. A new element has been added to that transformational system, and that new element is knowledge.

With knowledge, synergy disappears because the transformation caterpillar to butterfly can be predicted by observing the parts of the system. It’s still an amazing transformation, but it is predictable.  The ultimate synergy of synergies then becomes an unknowable perspective some call God.