Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
Many KEW episodes and posts refer to things I learned in the past that maybe don’t help us any more, are outdated, or were simply wrong to begin with. From thinking Competition actually regulates our markets (Episode 6), wondering how Old Beliefs (Episode 9) hold us back, to the idea that we all feel different, but that actually makes us the same (Episode 21). Under all of this there is a theme of having to learn new things.
But before we can learn new things, we have to Unlearn the old things. And this may seem like a silly thing to say, but it is often a critical step that can prevent us from growing. See, these old beliefs, the old ideas, the old information that is stored in our biological hard drive gets in the way of new learning.
It’s almost like your old ways resist the new ways. Like a stodgy old neighbor that wants you to stay off his lawn, our old strategies, the old knowledge, the past approaches to life stand in our way of the new. Until we address what we were wrong about, it’s hard to be right.
Or, in a better way, until we shed the old information and address why it doesn’t serve us we can’t possibly hope to truly understand and integrate the new.
This Episode originally aired in May of this year, or about six months ago. You can find the entire post here with links to the full podcast and YouTube episode. Note the second sentence is the Title of this weeks upcoming episode. At least my ideas are consistent:)
“We went from modifying our behavior to suit the Earth, to modifying the Earth to suit our behavior”
I’m sure I didn’t make that phrase up, but it does describe what I think is a critical flaw in human evolution. Starting maybe 12,000 years ago, we changed the way we live. In the beginning, the alterations to our ways of living were subtle and had mostly beneficial consequences. In the past few hundred years, however, things really started taking off. The industrial revolution. Interchangeable parts and mass production. Severe capitalism and wealth accumulation. For lots of reasons outside my comprehension, humans ‘ramped up’ the shift toward modifying the Earth to suit our needs. And we also changed our needs quite a bit.
My background in Evolutionary Biology gives me keen insight into the interaction between individuals and their environment. I accept Natural Selection as the best model we have to describe this back-and-forth process. Individuals enter the world with slightly different characteristics, and these differences have a differential ‘fit’ with the environment. This fitness differential translates to reproductive success, and the DNA associated with fit individuals is passed on to future generations. This describes a natural interaction of individuals and the environments in which they live.
When individuals figure out how to ‘game the system‘, the process changes. Humans learned how to ‘trick’ the environment by modifying elements to increase ‘fitness’. We invented medicine to help us live longer. We created machines to rapidly exhaust natural resources. And all of this seemed well and good until it didn’t.
In his seminal, “The Tragedy of the Commons“, Garritt Hardin talks about how humans mistakenly assumed we would be unable to exhaust the Earths’ resources. We thought the abundant food, water, space, and fuel on planet Earth could never run out. Until they all did.
The idea that we can modify the Earth to suit our needs without any negative consequences is similarly short-sighted. And that’s what Unnatural Selection is all about.
In this second part of the Bully vs your DNA miniseries I describe the DNA part. I will make the argument here, which is a fundamental element of my future work on the Are vs Should Problem, that it is our birthright to express our DNA as fully as possible. I hope you enjoy.
For many years I have heard things like, ‘Follow your passion!’ or, ‘if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life!’. And while I want to love these sentiments, I can’t get passed the ‘woo-woo’ or idealistic nature of the message. Can we really just do what we want? Is that somehow the secret to life? Is being happy really a function of having a job you love?
Now, the old Chris was incredibly cynical (see Episode 28: Doubt and Episode 25: I Suck At. . ) but I am trying very hard to be less so. In fact, I’m starting to see my cynicism as an opportunity for growth. And one of the obstacles I am tackling is this idea that following your passion (or following your ARE) is a worthwhile endeavor that isn’t necessarily sprinkled with rainbows OR unicorns.
So I asked the question as to whether there was any evidence that supports the basic human need of ‘being ourselves’ or ‘following our dreams’ or ‘being our Are’. I came up with what I consider to be hard evidence supporting a ‘follow your dream’ approach to life rather than a ‘put your head down and grind it out’ methodology. An Are vs a Should approach, if you will.
See, as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I studied a lot about DNA, evolution, natural selection, and the basic machinery available to all animals through time. I believe we understand how these things work inasmuch DNA is a genotypic (i.e., small scale internal biology) expression of sexual reproduction in a species that is expressed phenotypically (i.e., the outside appearance of that animal offspring) AND provides the basic instructions for living out that individuals’ life. So that individuals’ DNA is a result of reproduction, which rearranges the DNA of each parent to form a new ‘set of instructions’ for the individual offspring. THEN, that offspring, with their unique DNA instructions, lives in its’ environment. During the individuals life, it will express the DNA physically, emotionally, sexually, and all the other ways DNA can be expressed as it is translated from a script to a tissue or action or skill.
That’s a lot, and could be a book in itself, but the key here is that the DNA inside our cells is EXPRESSED outside in the world. This is the ARE. When we are in our Are, we are expressing our unique instructions into the world. We are reading the instruction manual the came with us, and only us, and to whatever degree we are then embracing, in the case of the Are, or denying, in the case of the Should, that uniqueness.
In short, I see the complete and total phenotypic expression, the realization, of our unique DNA as a fundamental goal of life. I’m not saying this is a requirement of being human, more like an opportunity. I see this as sort of a challenge that needs to be examined for evidence rather than an edict or, God forbid, rule.
I think it would be totally cool to take a subset of humans and prescribe to them three sets of treatments in an experiment. One group listens to everything they’re told. They embrace a lifestyle of the Should. They follow all the rules their parents, families, and politicians tell them to. They get the right job, the right partner, etc. The second group ‘follows their hearts’. Members in this treatment group ask themselves what they want and feel when making important life decisions, and try to stick to their inner voice when navigating their lives. The last group is the control, and they just sort of do whatever works without thought about Should vs Are. In fact, they should be sequestered from any talk about the Are vs Should problem.
And then we’d check in with these folks at maybe 18, 30, 45, and 65 to see how they feel about their lives and decisions. My hypothesis would be that the Are group is more fulfilled, calmer, less anxious, and more satisfied with their lives. I would also posit that the control and Should groups are not that different from each other as we seem to be on a trajectory where our knee jerk decision-making is more Should than Are nowadays.
Regardless of ever completing said experiment, I think it is entirely worthwhile to consider the amazing history of your unique DNA. Your DNA exists because your ancestors survived all of the natural selection filters to reproduce and create offspring. Those are all huge evolutionary wins. Each of those transactions, and all of the isolated behaviors during those individuals’ lifetimes, multiply to become what is now you. Part of me wonders to what degree we owe it to our ancestors to fully express the DNA they subconsciously worked so hard to guarantee.
To me, the idea that our DNA contains an historic message about how we can live our individual lives is encouraging. I am encouraged to listen more to my Are and try to suppress my Should. The idea that this may be biologically important reduces my fear that listening to my Are is going to cause me discomfort. The DNA is the Are idea gives me courage to resist the Shoulds in my life and more openly express my Are. If these ideas can help others do that then it is a good tool.
It literally took me ten years to figure this one out. After nearly a decade of Cognitive Behavioral and psychological therapies, I had figured out my brain, my issues, and what I needed with respect to personal growth and mastering my limiting beliefs. The problem was, I wasn’t seeing the changes I wanted.
Sure, learning about and understanding myself and other people had it’s benefits and made me feel better. But nothing about ME was really changing except for my knowledge. My equation was unbalanced. All K, no E.
So the Experience has to come in somewhere.
And what I’ve learned – over the past ten years but mores recently – is that our minds don’t really change as a result of thinking.
I can’t wait for you to watch or listen to this weeks’ Curiosity interview. Dan Faill is one of those guys we can all learn from AND you’ll have a blast while you learn. After a successful career helping college students navigate greek life, Dan has transitioned to full time keynote speaker. He shares his knowledge, experience, and wisdom with us to help improve our lives.
Dan is not afraid of the tough topics, rather he EMBRACES them in ways that make us comfortable with the uncomfortable.
You will find links to all of Dan’s work here, and he has a glorious social media presence.
Just checking in this week with some observations about KEW. It’s been almost a year and over 40 episodes. I’ve learned a lot and am doing my best to deliver the highest quality content.
-I have shortened the episodes. Though 50 minutes works for my ‘thinking cycle’, I think it’s a bit long for listeners and viewers. While I enjoy listening to long podcasts while I work (because I can, I work alone), I realize listeners prefer shorter episodes. There’s a reason TED talks are 10-20 minutes.
-I have realized my audience is probably not on TikTok. Though I enjoy TikTok, I also don’t think it’s my style. I’m not patient enough to produce high quality, short videos. I’d rather focus on Episode content. It would be awesome to be able to pay someone to develop TikToks for KEW. Speaking of which, have you seen Sustainable Human? OMFG, these folks have mastered the short multi-media message.
-I’ve added a Linkedin profile to try and network with folks there.
-Speaking of networking. . . . I have started releasing episodes for the Curiosity series. My second interview with Mandy Napier was cosmic. I literally randomly selected her from an article she published about Curiosity. Like we all do, I imagined what she would be like (and naively thought my prediction would be accurate) but our interaction, and her person, was far different than I expected. Long story short, I think interviewing is a good way for me to network. I don’t have a natural inclination for social media, but inviting someone to interview and share their stories seems like a great pathway toward making new friends.
-Last, I see an evolution in the topics I share. Recording episodes is therapeutic for me, it helps me focus thoughts into ideas, and after an episode is released they continue to evolve. I see a need for further development of these ideas to focus more finely. I see opportunities to do this in ebook formats. My goal is to take some time to focus on popular episodes and organize those thoughts into ebooks or similar digestible products for release.
What’s staying the same?
-I will continue to do episodes about whatever is inspiring me that week. I will retain the semi-stream-of-consciousness approach, though I will focus more to get the ideas out in 20 minutes or so.
-I will maintain the authenticity of the recording process by editing as little as possible. I still believe ‘not editing’ is a thing. I could be totally wrong here and invite your input.
-I am committed to the release schedule of new episodes every Friday, preview clips Wednesdays, and Flashback releases on Monday. I hope to release a Curiosity episode in place of a regular one about every 3rd or 4th Friday, depending on how quickly I can find new guests.
What ideas didn’t work?
-Like I said, I think the episodes are too long. I’ll aim for 50 minutes or so for Curiosity interviews, but I’m going to focus on making regular releases about 20 minutes long.
-I think I’ve plateaued on my level of social media marketing. I have a natural avoidance of social media and, while I see the need to advertise, I just don’t think I’m going to become an influencer via this route. Perhaps one day I can afford to pay someone to do this, but it just isn’t going to be a skill I will excel at. I will continue with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts and to share links as I have been. Again, your input is welcome here.
-Originally I had planned to organize my thoughts by category, but I think that’s an unnecessary organizational step so while the Episode topics might seem scattered or incongruent, I truly believe the themes will emerge. The Episodes are part of a pathway to more focused products – possibly ebooks.
As always, I welcome your input and involvement in any way you feel compelled to share. Comment here or email me at email@example.com. Thanks for sharing your curiosity!
I realized recently that I have spent nearly ten years in therapy. And it was pointed out to me by upcoming interviewee, Mandy Napier (The Mindset Alchemist) that this is too long to have not made much progress. In my defense, I have made A LOT of progress intellectually. But intellectual understanding hasn’t facilitated major changes in my beliefs, habits, and feelings. Mandy, as well as Neil Bjorklund, pointed out to me that my brain is only part of the puzzle and I need to connect with the ‘rest of me’.
The ‘rest of me’, as I had learned years ago, also includes my heart and my gut – my intuitive and emotional ‘feelings’ toward my situation, decision, or approaches. I am now learning HOW to connect with those parts – because it is much, much different than connecting with my mind. I will argue this week that MOST of us don’t remember how to connect with our ‘whole selves’, rather, we spend most of our time in our heads.
I’ve been addicted to nicotine since I was around 15 years old. Ten years of cigarettes, traded those for dip tobacco for another decade, and have chewed nicotine gum on and off since it has been available without prescription. I say I have a nicotine addiction, but it’s really about the habit more than anything. I’m addicted to the part of my identity that says I’m addicted to nicotine.
In this episode I bring in many other examples. Some familiar like tobacco or alcohol, and others you might not think of as addictions. More than anything, I think we’re addicted to our beliefs and habits. But we can break those things! We can rebuild, and recast ourselves in new identities. Which is a big part of what KEW is about.
If you’re addicted to something, or if you think you aren’t, I hope you gain some insight from a listen or a view. Thanks for sharing!
With respect to economics, people often say that you have to grow to stay in business. I heard this a lot when I tried to run my business at a static level of production (i.e., no growth). I found that we actually HAD MORE MONEY left over when we controlled expenses and held production at the level of demand. I discovered that we spent so much money on growth that we were more profitable when we didn’t have those line items. Imagine that!
So it bugs me when people adhere to that mantra: Grow or Die! It not only doesn’t make sense, it can be detrimental.
Take human population size. The more people, the more resources are consumed, and the more damage is done to our home. Now, we could certainly do this differently, but there is a concept called Carrying Capacity that says any population in a given area can only be as large as the resources available to support it.
So growth can be bad.
Now, I’m only talking about growth that consumes resources here. Personal growth. Learning. Musical ability. There are many types of growth that are healthy and, I believe, essential to humanity. But when considering consumptive growth, we absolutely have to start accounting for true resource use – after all, accounting is a critical part of business, right? And I argue that we have done some pretty poor accounting when it comes to big business and the environment.