“Consent yourself to be an organ of your highest thought, and lo! suddenly you put all men in your debt, and are the fountain of an energy that goes pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society, to the circumference of things.”



“Work, when its right, is a chance to collect the best sides of ourselves into something that is slightly more solid than the more fragile parts of our lives.”

Alain de Botton


Let me tell you what’s on my mind as we head into 2023 and whether we, as people and a society, have any chance of “pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society.”

Which leads me to say I worry the world is getting stupider on a daily basis.

Ok. Not really. I imagine we are actually getting smarter every day, yet, the overarching public narrative just seems stupider every day – I mean that on a macro and micro level. It sometimes feels like smartness is whispering and dumbness is shouting. All of this dumbing down seems to center around real feelings of uncertainty, lack of answers, a cacophony of opinions suffocating facts and a general tension, and conflict, between the reality of complexity and the desire for simplicity. The consequence of all that is while the world is complex and dynamic and confusingly interconnected, we have become convinced simplicity is the key to, well, everything. We wield “simplicity is elegance” like a dull axe in a world demanding a scalpel. The truth is almost all hope, and possibilities, resides in managing complexity (if not the complicated) while fear and misguided action (including non-risk taking) thrives on simplicity. Within the wretched hollow in between resides much of the current narrative, and thinking, conflict. At this rate we have zero, null, nothing, maybe even less-than-zero chance of contributing any meaningful benefit to society.

Which leads me to my hope for 2023.

We should have more hope and possibilities than we could ever imagine. The more complex, the more uncertain, the more opportunity to not only imagine, but hope that what we imagine may truly be, is actually possible. Yes. Increased connectivity and interdependence actually increases the likelihood that we can shape a future we desire. We should be striving to inject more hope and possibilities into life, lives and society. We should be stripping away the fear infringing upon the possibilities.

The answer to this challenge, at least to me, resides in some intellectual aspects, i.e., what is going on in within mindsets, how we think and how we approach these things. So let me share what I believe would help us moving forward in 2023 to improve upon our hope and possibilities.

  • Issue one. over-simplification

Suffice it to say we have devolved into a society of sound bites, binaries, memes and over simplification.

In business it seems to be all about simplicity.

In everyday Life it is ‘summarize it for me’ or ‘it’s simple <insert some explanation here>.’

In leadership it is just, well, dumb. Say some dumb unnuanced shit about things that truly demand some smart thinking and nuance.

In the end I can’t figure out if should be pointing the finger at us or them.

  • Them because they think we are not capable of understanding some form of complexity and therefore they only offer up simplified versions of what needs to be done.
  • Us because we either <a> demand a sound bite under the guise of ‘we only have time for the headline’ or <b> we only latch on to the fragment of the whole which we convince ourselves summarizes the whole.

Pick your superficial poison because I will point the finger at all of us and them.

Here is a Truth everyone really knows <albeit hesitant to admit>. Most things are just not that simple. An effect can have multiple causes and a cause can have multiple effects. I say this despite the fact naturally we would like all the dominoes to line up one after another and when one falls the next naturally is impacted and falls. We like linear “if this, then that” stuff and in today’s world if it doesn’t equate to that we begin thinking someone is hiding something from us and we begin to get suspicious about everything. Add in that we have convinced ourselves that we need to start by doing one thing and just do that one thing well. All of that is not only absurd, but unhealthy for a working society.

Life and things don’t really work that way. Maybe in a controlled test environment, but, in real Life, events are typically bombarded from a variety of directions and while not all ’causes’ are created equal <some can impact more than others> most things are too complex to be simplified into ‘one thing’ and I can unequivocally state no solutions can be simplified into ‘one thing.’

  • Over simplifying simply means ignoring complexities.
  • Over simplifying simply means being consciously, or choicefully, ignorant.
  • Over simplifying simply means trouble in the long run.

Heuristically this simplistic bullshit (often just some fortune cookie wisdom) eases you through the moment only to have to doubly (or exponentially) invest energy later on to deal with the mess you ignored in the past. Instead of dumbing things down to some simplistic sound bite we need to raise the level of general understanding & knowledge (sensemaking) to the level of complexity of the ideas & systems and <frankly> the world in which we live within. I mean, seriously, Life isn’t simple so what makes us think over simplifying will offer solutions?

Anyway. Factually, seconds of involvement <sound bites> versus minutes of involvement <deeper complex discussion> has a direct relationship to degrees of real knowledge,  i.e., seconds leads to shallow knowledge or let’s call it ‘less knowledgeable’ and minutes lead to something deeper. This suggests our love of oversimplification is a direct result of our ongoing belief there is not enough time to do everything we want to do. This is crazy. Nuts in fact. Oversimplification only gives us the appearance of effective time management and certainly doesn’t translate into effective progress. Why? Oversimplification under-assesses complexity, rarely demystifies uncertainty and is not particularly helpful in creating a foundation so that we can successfully rethink that which ‘is’ to find a path to “what we would like to be” (which is kind of a version of ‘future-proofing’ your Life).

Look. What I am suggesting is difficult, but it is certainly more effective in creating a better world. This means less ‘The Secret’ philosophy and more real thinking. Less positive attitude inspiration and more hard work behavior aspiration.

The fate of hope and possibilities lies in balance if we don’t invest in the hard work of ‘non over simplification’ because I can guarantee we will not solve any of the problems through simplicity.

“A game is a machine that can get into action only if the players consent to become puppets for a time.”

Marshall McLuhan

  • Issue two. being intellectually insightful is about hard work.

Generally speaking, I don’t think people – including the younger generations – dislike working let alone hard work. Most people know work demands, well, working hard (at least occasionally). The issue we begin to run into is “doing the work” (rote, replication, doing what is asked) and “thinking through the work” (being smarter about what we do). Thinking and ideas are a dime a dozen, but good thinking & good ideas take hard work. I would suggest that good ideas cannot be decided by number of tweet votes in favor of.

Life and ideas is not American Idol or even some twitter poll. We are not all judges <and probably shouldn’t be on American Idol either>. Good ideas are rarely popular. In fact, as Howard Aiken said: “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If its original, you will have to ram it down their throats.” This really means that being intellectually insightful requires more than a surface ‘this is what I think’ tweet popular vote. If we really want to do what needs to be done to maximize hope and possibilities, we have to hunker down and work hard. Work hard in that we need to reassemble the present (knowledge) & rethink things by using all aspects including economic thought and philosophy and the past – all of which means dealing with ambiguity and contradiction. To be clear. I am not suggesting using what worked in the past. I am suggesting the future is yet to be designed and it will take all of our knowledge – past, present, possibilities/imagination – to create the future we desire.

And while you may balk at something like ‘intellectual insightfulness’ as too far reaching, suffice it to say, we just need to be smarter, less ignorant, more enlightened <open to additional thoughts> and more involved in the difficult and uncertain work of demystification of things and, well, just plain rethinking shit.

  • Simply talking about world-changing ideas will not make the world change. Changing the world takes work, really really hard work.
  • Simply having a positive attitude ain’t gonna work. Hard work will work. And in this case, I mean hard thinking.
  • Simply ‘doing’ aint gonna cut it. We need to be smarter. And whether you think about thinking this way or not, it ain’t about staring off into space doing nothing, thinking is a blue collar job. It’s about work.

Issue three. innovation is not <just> technology.

Innovation is the lifeblood of not only business, but society & Life. It is the path to bettering lives. Period. Therefore, it demands we ‘consent to the highest thought.’ That said. For some reason we seem to be associating innovation with technology and just technology. Maybe worse we have begun thinking technology will solve everything <in some distant future>.

This type of thinking is lazy, not consenting to the highest thought.

This type of thinking leads us to possibly believe technology innovations will eventually solve all problems and maximize everyone’s Life as some point.

This type of thinking is called “technological determinism” and it is a very very dangerous path to walk on.

It’s a very dangerous idea because in reality if we focus just on technology as the solution, we may be preventing the real change we need and are certainly subjugating people, and human needs, to something – technology – that has no emotional investment in us as a human race.

Minds need to innovate too. Thinking and attitudes need to evolve and innovate.

New thought systems, economic systems and systems in which people live, eat and breath all need to evolve and, yes, that happens through innovation <whether technology is involved or not>.

Technology is simply a path that runs parallel to culture <or society> and each needs to be run at the same pace <or at least be run side by side on occasion>.

A truth is that technology outpacing society simply exacerbates the flaws and limits of the slower runner. If a problem is endemic to a system, then we run the risk that technology simply amplifies the problems. Technology and culture are entangled. Technology and people are entangled.

Technologies may enable new ways of doing things (not just doing but thinking) and this effects culture. I would suggest we flip that equation and say if we want to maximize technological innovation, we should innovate cultural/society structure and seek to augment it, to maximize its potential, through technological innovation.

At the moment it seems like we respond to technology rather than proactively drive technology.

Technology has certainly dramatically improved the overall quality of life. The paradox is that the system we have now may make amazing new technology possible, but at same time is creating such cultural conflict that maximizing technology toward a societal ‘what could be’ seems impossible.

We need to innovate the systems in which technology exists: economically, culturally, and philosophically. We need to intellectually innovate as a human race.

“Their most hopeful vision of the future is centred around compassion not convenience, emotional not artificial intelligence. The path towards this vision seems to require little technical innovation; it demands simply that people care about people – an idea so laughably naïve, yet so radically transformative.”


So. 2023.

Businesswoman changing reality of drought to spring season

Look. Hope and possibilities abound in today’s world, but they are rarely just given; they need to be earned and they demand consenting to our highest level of thought.

We need to begin rebelling against simplistic binaries and embrace the complex and nuanced truths that will move us forward. We cannot afford to be lazy thinkers. For in this type of laziness lurks ignorance and it is ignorance we should fear — not any ideological argument or technological innovation which inserts itself into our daily lives. And maybe that would be my hope of a cultural resolution for the new year: consent to avoid lazy thinking. For somewhere within that maybe we begin to create the fountain of energy that pulses on with waves of benefit to the borders of society. Ponder.


“Consent yourself to be an organ of your highest thought, and lo! suddenly you put all men in your debt, and are the fountain of an energy that goes pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society, to the circumference of things.”


Written by Bruce