“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.