My Guru is Google

It’s a natural human instinct to be sensitive to authority. To want to be led.

Most of us are only too happy to have someone else tell us what we want, what we think and what we feel. If you poke around the web, in various communities, you can observe how certain participants actively contend for authority to lead.

This is changing, little by little. Each day, more and more people are waking up to the fact that THEY are their own authority. They THEY are the managers of what they believe and what they want. That they are at least passively authorizing (tolerating) some of what they actually disagree with.

By doing nothing at all about it.

For the younger people, this is not something to learn. Instead, it comes completely natural to them. The youth have been born into it.

The easy thing to do is to tolerate the lack of responsibility, the lack of sincerity and lack of stewardship from illegitimate leadership. The leadership you are (at least passively) authorizing.

The more difficult thing to do is to think for yourself- and demand more from leadership. To be highly selective about who– and what– you are authorizing.

Right now, there is lots of change in society, powered by highly intense technological change. With so much in flux, the leadership game has completely changed.

Technology and several others forces at play in society are encouraging– and almost instantly rewarding– independent thinking.

And that’s why my guru is Google.


Related Link:

The End of Guru Culture (link)






Being Generous With Your Gift

Everyone has some innate talent, some “thing” they have.

That “thing” is available in nearly endless supply, since it’s part of every person’s essential nature.

Some people are helpful. Some are just full of hospitality. Others are humorous. Still others are organizers.

Everyone has lots of whatever talent they were born with. I like to play with ideas. I’m not sure that’s a talent. This is OK, because other people who value this tell me they enjoy me sending them interesting links and books on topics of interest. So, apparently I do have some kind of valuable talent there.

If you have a nearly endless supply of something, it is easy to offer it to others.

If the receiver does not have that talent or that “thing” you have, and you provide it absolutely free, including being free of any obligation to reciprocate whatsoever, then you have just created something out of nothing.

Repeat: Something out of nothing.

That thing that you have loads of: helpfulness, a talent at being organized, your ability to do research, humor, whatever it is– it costs you next to nothing, because you have an endless supply of it. It’s part of your nature. You cannot stop yourself. It’s not like you have any choice in the matter.

I have a friend, she is totally amazing at Myers Briggs and other personality profiling tools. I gain tremendous value from what she perceives as automatic and natural- and in 100% abundant supply.

I value her talent in this area higher than she does!

Surprise: The thing you have so much of is often valued more highly by others than it is by you yourself. And when someone who lacks your gift receives some of it from you, you create value from nothing.

At scale, as a norm, in a culture, this idea has the potential to create tremendous amounts of value and wealth in various forms.

This is emphemeralization: doing more and more, with less and less, until we are doing everything with nothing. The idea as expressed by Buckminster Fuller has to do with technology, yet it can be applied to social technology, too.

As a culture hack, being generous with your gift is hard to beat.

The Moral of the story:

You have a gift.

You have loads of it.

You can afford to be freely generous with your gift.


Related Links:

Ephemeralization (link)



Can large acts of generosity be harmful? Yes, they can.

Consider the potlatch, a ceremonial event in the lives of certain Pacific Northwest indigenous tribes. According to the history of potlatch, large acts of generosity were used to signal wealth and high social status in the tribe. Taken to extremes, hosts of potlatch events sometimes ritually destroyed valuable objects as a signal of power and wealth. When generosity is used for social posturing, the resulting sense of obligation can be harmful for giver and receiver alike.

In a previous post, I discussed the radical and potentially revolutionary nature of developing a practice of mindful generosity. It comes with some pitfalls of course.

One way to stay out of trouble as a generous person is very simple: intentionally keep your acts of generosity small. By doing this, you avoid creating discomfort on the part of the receiver,  signaling real consideration for the person who is receiving what amounts to a small gift. Small acts of generosity amount to an invitation, from the giver to the receiver, to be in relationship.

The practice of “gifting small”  sidesteps the difficult feelings of obligation that are often associated with large gifts.

Small acts of generosity are useful for creating a new and far more interesting world than the one current one– the one dominated by contract and economic exchange.

What might be called microgenerosity — the art of engaging in small and frequent acts of interpersonal generosity– is an interesting idea to play with.

Small acts of generosity can make your world a place where interpersonal  relationships– rather than impersonal transactions– are the new normal.


Related Links:

The potlatch (link)

“…In the potlatch, the host in effect challenged a guest chieftain to exceed him in his ‘power’ to give away or to destroy goods. If the guest did not return 100 percent on the gifts received and destroy even more wealth in a bigger and better bonfire, he and his people lost face and so his ‘power’ was diminished.”

Generosity Gone Bad (link)

“…Knowing the signs of the wrong kind of generosity can help you spot them, in others or even in yourself, in advance.”

Previous Post: Generosity, Thrivability and Self-Organization (link)


Generosity, Thrivability and Self-Organization

Harrison Owen is the formulator/composer of the Open Space meeting format.


Harrison is fond of saying these two things:

  • All systems are open
  • All systems are self-organizing

In this essay, I am assuming you have a good grip on what ‘open’ and ‘self-organizing’ mean.

With that established, let’s move right into a discussion of generosity and its role is self-organizing systems.

Self-organizing systems are composed of agents. Like people, for example. Agents exercise their agency, that is, their autonomy. Law of 2 Feet. One way to express your agency is in the withholding or releasing of your time, or your effort, or your attention. Or your money! When you choose to release some of your time, effort, attention, money etc to someone else, you are exercising your agency (Law of 2 Feet) by being generous.

By giving a gift. It’s an act of agency. An act that contributes to the level of self-organization overall.

This has very serious implications for building a new & thriving world.

Because anyone at any time can be generous to anyone else for any reason, generosity has very serious implications for building a new & different (thriving) world.

In a culture that strongly values generosity, anything can– and will– happen.

Acts of generosity contribute  to (and are part of) the mysterious, unknowable process of self-organization.

Now, what’s really interesting about this is that every act of generosity, however small, is immediately disruptive to the current system…the broken one…the one with the story that’s not clearly not working.

The one that’s going away.

The one dominated by contract, and economic exchange.