Blog, Topical Tuesday

How I plan to save the world

How I plan to save the world

I want to save the world. I should be able to pull it off. I’m a pretty motivated guy and I’ve got a few minutes of free time left each day.

Should be cake.

I need a system—a process I can replicate until all the world is living in perfect universal harmony.

The system should play to my strengths, too.

I’m good at eating. Saving the world through an all-you-can-eat fried chicken competition would be right up my alley.

I’m good at Zuma Blitz, but I can only come up with the one scenario for saving the world and I doubt I will get into a Space Jam with marble-frog aliens.

I’m good at arguing. Good enough to consider going pro but money takes the fun out of it.

Besides, I wouldn’t make a great lobbyist. I don’t find myself on the same side as the people with the purse strings.

And I don’t want to fight fire with fire. I’d rather fight fire with a giant fighting robot suit.

So, that leaves me with one last strength. Whiny introspection.

I guess I’ll start there.

Step 1: Become Self-Aware

Little known fact about me: 14 years ago, I tried to write a web comic. Lack of talent and resources made it die a sad, stifled death, but I put up a few strips. Even back then I was stumbling towards self-awareness:

Our Sad Lives strip 4. There is a joke in which someone states another person shouldn't be allowed to have opinions because opinions are stupid and everyone is okay with it as long as they are aware of the hypocrisy.
Self-aware and rocking the mad MS-Paint skills. I was a talented kid!

In the last 1.5 decades, I’ve gotten a skosh better. I have a long way to go before anyone would consider me a good person, but I’ve made progress. Over six years of doing a blog will force you to confront your own insecurities and weaknesses, even if you ignore them from there.

If you’re trying to keep up, you’re in luck. You don’t need to spend six years picking lint from your belly-button and sniffing it on the internet to better understand yourself. You only need my patented Better Understanding of Me formula. Plug in any proposed course of action and you’re good to go!

  1. Start by asking yourself “What am I afraid will happen if [proposed scenario] goes down?
  2. Then, ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of ?”
  3. Search for logical reasons the answer to step 2 is either founded or foolish. Propose a new scenario based on new information.
  4. Repeat steps for each subsequent answer until you collapse from mental fatigue.

See, fear is the primary motivation for all human behavior. If we understand why we are afraid, we understand how it controls our actions.

Example

Now, I cut 928 repetitions of the cycle from the example for the sake of brevity, but I think you get the idea.

The things we fear have power over us. When we understand why we are afraid, we can make better decisions. As the wisest muppet, Yoda, once said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

We have to conquer our fears to avoid suffering.

But, is it enough for me to know what motivates me? Can I save the world from pure self-awareness?

No. I need to address the fears of others.

Step 2: Embrace Project Analysis

This is where I am most likely to fall down. I can understand myself, but I suck at understanding others on a personal level.

But, I’m good at sussing out the motivations behind organizations, forces, and groups. You don’t spend as many years helming the nerdathon that is a Live Action Role Playing game without developing at least a moderate amount of political savvy. There is no such thing as a Minotaur Game for navigating social friction. You can’t always find a scenario where everyone ends up on the winning side. No matter how many balls you juggle, sooner or later, someone will get dropped.

Which is okay. Life is about compromise. And the best way to figure out the best compromise is to find out what everyone involved is afraid of losing.

I’ve been working with project managers and analysts and think they’ve got a good grasp on the best system. They gather everyone with an interest in what’s going down—in the parlance, these are stakeholders—then figure out what those people need, want, and what would harsh their mellow.

Then, they try to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs and avoids everyone’s peeves. The wants are where the compromise can happen. I often hear them say things like, “Is that a requirement or a nice-to-have?” or “This is gonna be a deal-breaker.”

What they are trying to do is find the best solution for everyone. Mostly, the system works. Combined with step 1 above, and you see amazing results.

If someone doesn’t want to come to the table, the best way to address it is to ask them what they’re afraid will happen.

I’ve even been one of those people, clinging to an emotional response until I was forced to confront the root of my fears.

This is one reason I don’t think analysts will be replaced by robots very soon. Instead, they will enslave robots to do the number crunching but I think we’re a long way from having empathic machines. If we get to that point, we’ve got other issues.

Step 3: ????

I don’t know what the next step is. I’m still figuring it out. I hope the next step is pizza rolls, but I’m not too optimistic on that front.

For now, I think I’ll try to keep growing my self and cultural understanding.

Maybe, if I contemplate my umbilical scar long enough, I will find the answers I seek. God knows it’s deep enough. I could lose my car keys in there…

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.