Essentialism

a perspective…

Greece, Hydra

Speculating from the realm of my own existence thus far in life, for what else can we do, here is what I can offer. I didn’t read the book.

Being essential is a conditional assessment, opinion, which is based on some specific set of observations, viewable by a wide audience. Two or more.

“We all saw the man on the bike crossing traffic when he was hit by the car.”

Being essential can also be very personal, domain specific and an ethical dilemma.

“As a lawyer, I can tell you that the man on the bike was breaking the law, but as my brother, he is innocent.”

An “ism” historically relates to a way of being, a practice.

“When I practiced minimalism, I was a failure.”

So, I think of Essentialism as the practice of being essential. Then the very next thought is, essential to what?

Here I choose Ethics. The individual way of acting, contrasted by what society, community, your group, you — say, think, feel people should act along a series of continuums. Right and wrong. Good and evil. The beginning and the end.

And, when I think deeply about this I think that I have made some excellent contributions to the mess our civilization, and our planet is in. Pollution, war, tragedy, crisis. Yes, there are good people and good things happening in the world. If you know me, you know that I am far and away from a pessimist. I’m an observer.

Ethics concern me. “We are in an Ethical Meltdown.” I’ve said this publicly for about eight months now, maybe more. No one has challenged me. No one has offered the slightest hint of contrary thought. Does everyone then agree — that We are in Ethical Meltdown — because; if widely observable to be true, then we must also consider that it is driven by our own individual behaviors. Our own behavioral duplicities.

“Where do we betray our own beliefs as to how others should behave with our own behavior?”

Personally; I can tell you from years of participation, and observation of human behavior in groups — that even the ‘best’ of groups from limited perspective— suffer from unethical character behavior. Period. Bar none.

Examples range from bias and preference to outright breach of explicit requests, conditions and promises. The specifics don’t matter. What matters is that unethical acts are seemingly everywhere.

So, what’s currently essential to me is a focus on ethical behavior. Opportunity for duplicity abounds. How can focusing on ethics help us take better care of one another and the planet?

What’s also essential to me are perspectives, where are people coming from, why, and, if I came from there would I be saying the same things? It turns out that there are just about as many interpretations of something as there are people. Because, fundamentally people are coming from a perspective of taking care of their concerns.

And, finally; what is essential to me are elemental frameworks for observation, design and action, co-invention. There are millions of frameworks and many more practitioners and fans of specific ones. Yet, this often doesn’t serve, particularly where such preference turns to bias, a behavior that seems on the rise. To combat bias we need both a set of elemental frameworks, and different perspectives to be entertained.

Those elemental frameworks exist, they were painfully crafted by those who have gone before us, and the legacy for that work needs to be protected, curated, honored, celebrated and most of all, practiced!


It seems I’ve spent my life thus far doing two basic things; creating something different; and, helping others get where they want to go. As a result I’ve compiled a vast range of experiences, which enables me to look both differently, and from multiple perspectives. I make that, which is unclear, clear, and I make that, which is complicated, actionable.

My background is business where I’ve reviewed hundreds of concepts. I’ve founded companies and advised many more. My history as a strategist includes; three successful exits, two turn arounds, and the adoption of an $800MM Santa Clara County bond measure. I’ve also experienced massive failures in business, and in life too.

My education has been appropriation by desire. I never graduated from college, but I believe in, and practice continuous learning. I study and apply the disciplines of biology, linguistics, human behavior, effective action and behavioral economics in my work with businesses and leaders who seek to create something different, or get somewhere specific, yet, perhaps, not well defined.

The foundation for my own success and the thinking behind much of what I practice, teach, talk about and write comes from the works of Dr. Fernando Flores and his longtime friend and colleague Chauncey Bell.

Let’s connect on Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn; or Quora and see what we can co-invent. I look forward to hearing from you! — David


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