The Influence Ecology Newsletter December 2019
A few days ago, I paused to check the calories in my favorite granola. Two hundred eighty calories for … wait, this can’t be right … for one-half a cup?! I measured this amount against the portion in my bowl and yikes–I was usually eating one to one and one-half cups! I was oblivious that my daily routine had me sometimes consuming 840 calories of, um, healthy granola.
I also began to observe the portions shown in TV commercials, found in restaurants, and on the plates of others. These were often large, bountiful helpings, which, in comparison to more meager servings, challenged my feelings of pleasure. I hadn’t deprived myself, but instead, I strayed far from a proper portion.
Taking stock of my aims for health, for just a few weeks, I measured all my portions and found that I had drifted away from many healthy portions of food. The caloric intake was just too high, the clothes got a little tighter, and I began to feel a bit sluggish. With a little correction, I recalibrated my portions to fit my aims and restored things to normal.
We gradually drift off course
Aims serve as the ultimate target we will need to hit if we are to satisfy our most important Conditions of Life. Our aims are our reference point – that place in the distance we are looking to reach. For those with ambitious aims (intended to satisfy high aspirations that can be difficult to achieve), all the peaks, valleys, and bumps along the way can throw us off track and out of calibration.
“Rather than study, practice, and learn the habits, behaviors, and ethics that must be embodied in order to reach their chief aims in Life, most people adjust their aims to fit their current habits, behaviors, and ethics.”
We use the term calibrate purposefully. To calibrate means to carefully assess, set, or adjust something – and commonly, that ‘something’ is an object of measurement. When people are serious about taking specific action toward a distant aim, they demonstrate it in their actions toward an aim.
My first real-world experience of this is a vivid memory of my step-dad getting upset when he witnessed a surveyor on his property. We were driving along, and his sudden use of a colorful explicative (he rarely cursed) was followed by – “they’re going to do it!” He lost a battle with a neighbor about an easement across his property line and for a long time it appeared nothing would come of it – until he saw the surveyors. “They’re getting serious now – it’s going to happen.” He was right.
We measure it – if we mean it. I think about that every time I see a surveyor standing behind her tripod looking through her scope at another point in the distance.
Once we have our point in the distance targeted – with some focus and concentration, we can set our course of action and go about building a consequential transaction to fulfill it with others.
Consequential transactions that are built to satisfy important aims will require lots of committed activity. Along the way, of course – we and others will drift off course. It is a natural occurrence we should expect as we move into the indeterminate and unknown situations of the future. Making sure our regular activities are correctly aligned with our original aims is what we mean by recalibration.
But what does it mean to satisfy an aim?
Satisfaction is a state of gratification and fulfillment. It is a good term and one that is used, again, purposefully. We are continually met with Current notions of exaggeration and excitement when it comes to setting goals and making our dreams come true. When we’re satisfied with our activity and have acknowledged the attainment of an aim, we may not be overjoyed, but we’re not complaining either.
We might say, as John Dewey suggests – we’re satisfied when we can say “it will do.” Satisfaction is typically thought of and treated as a judgment – after the fact – and we accept, but it is an incomplete judgment and one we challenge without a reference established on which we can measure first.
Another important quality of satisfaction is recognizing that fulfilling our committed action isn’t always what motivates us or has us inspired or excited. When something is satisfied, it merely means that the requirements have been met, fulfilled, and measured – the next moves of completion follow effortlessly.
For example, when we pay back the money we owe on a loan, say our mortgage, we have satisfied the debt. Satisfying the debt might not be so thrilling – but the consequence of it – owning our home will be.
We find that when some people satisfy an aim, they tend not to complete the transaction and make the error of not acknowledging its satisfaction, habitually engaging in obsolete activities. An example might be continuing to make payments on a loan that has already been satisfied. If you don’t know what the ultimate aim is and where you are in the process, how do you know if it is ever satisfied?
Some might not recognize the drift of their focus away from their aims. Keep in mind there is an evolving and dynamic environment to consider all along the way. We are confronted with seasons, market changes, political influences, family dynamics, growing older – or we could just say – living. Life is a process, and we teach that when it comes to the hard facts of life, it is also an indeterminate one.
Do our aims change?
Yes. In the course of transacting to satisfy any aim, we (and the environments we can’t escape) evolve, age, gain or lose resources, fitness, etc. As we have seen firsthand with many of our advanced students, the satisfaction of foundational aims (i.e., health, money, activity, career) begins to reveal the need to address higher aims (i.e., legacy, aesthetics, self-actualization). Want to make your wildest dreams come true? Start with satisfying your biological and linguistic Conditions of Life first, and watch what new possibilities and opportunities emerge for you and your loved ones. Think about it. What might you be able to do if you were satisfied with your money?
Calibration and Recalibration represent the activities of validating and modifying our regular and committed actions. Accepting that we’re always drifting off course and that we must continually check our measurements along the way is key to competent transacting in our dynamic and ever-changing environment.
This year is The Year of Satisfaction for Influence Ecology students and stakeholders. Together, we’ll work to satisfy our aims now and for the next decade of satisfaction.
Links to Articles and Resources in This Newsletter
- Master Classes: Lessons from Ambitious Minds
- Do You Know What You Want? (30-Day Guest Access)
- 2020 Annual Member Conference: Our 10-Year Anniversary Homecoming (members only)
- Share Your Own News (members only)
- Satisfaction Survery (members only)
- Naively Righteous with Jeff Miller
- Just Add Water with Dan Murphy
- Annual Member Conference Facebook Group (Members Only)
Influence Ecology is the leading business education in Transactional Competence™. Our specialized study helps ambitious professionals construct transactions that accelerate results. Our practical and rigorous study programs help you face the behaviors, practices, and naïveté that keep you from satisfying your work, career, and financial aims.
Having published the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historical and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips, Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world.
Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries across the globe. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.