power of onlyness.png

by Nilofer Merchant




tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – mary oliver


our changing times meant that we no longer had to ‘fit in’ to organization as a way to get things done

rather.. fittingness – eudaimonia

what i was seeking to propose: anyone’s – *quite possibly everyone‘s – ideas mattered

*has to be everyone‘s..


it’s not the ‘perfection’ of your experience that preps you or earns you as seat at the table but rather simply what you and only you can contribute..

so here was an early foundational lesson in how to make a diff: bring what you distinctly have, align w others who share your purpose, and make it happen, together. the problem is that this approach wasn’t a doorway of opp that would always be propped open, but a lucky , random coincidence that granted access that one, singular time.

so.. what if it wasn’t.. what if it was the norm.. everyday.. as the day.. via 2 convos


an idea is simply a steering wheel pointing to the future.. and as such needs thrust and fuel to be realized.. thrust comes from the deep ties formed by many others wanting that idea to become reality and *their collective action is the fuel that moves the idea into the stratosphere. these facts would come to inform my understanding of how onlyness could work..

*collective action..? or collective/interconnected curiosities.. just seeing action as more of a busyness marker.. and seeing curiosity as fuel


husband Curt (@neophytehuman) wanting to quit job – to work on world peace


what united them wasn’t education, expertise, or credentials.. instead.. something else important in common:  a shared purpose about which they were equally passionate. purpose can achieve something that money alone cannot, as it motivates the best in people and brings out the very best people..

again.. this is great.. and perhaps spot on.. i’d tweak purpose to curiosity.. there’s more flexibility and so antifragility.. there..

too much commitment ness in purpose.. so end up with people sans fuel..


appropedia (husbands team) grew in size/impact not by asking any person to do the known thing over and over but by enabling each person to add their bits of what only they could, and have it add up to something meaningful… instead of seeing chaos, which i might have expected, i watched in awe as an entirely new system made things happen. seemingly powerless people, fueled by their deepest – even sometimes unnamable – sense of meaning find those who share a *cause/purpose and act together, w/o needing to be told what to do ..t..

to make a dent.. w/o permission/expertise/money/credentials/titles/ed/time

*i’d say curiosity.. and that this is eudaimoniative surplus


why now..? individuals today have access to info previously available only to the establishment.. if available at all. *now everyone can find/friend/follow people who share their interests/passions using a variety of sm:..t

twitter/fb/linkedn.. where once geography or social class limited us.. *we can not write to anyone and say.. i’ve been following your work and i have an idea for how we can create value together and get something done

*not yet true for all people.. otherwise.. we’d be living a different way already.. ie: sans money/measuring.. but spot on about how it could change things.. so.. begs we get to a mech to facil what you describe above.. but truly for 100% of the people..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way


this seems the ultimate game changer: while organizations and hierarchies continue to serve many useful purposes, we not longer need them to attain big goals..

at last a path for ideas born of our ‘one wild and precious life’ to have a i have long been advocating that ideas do and can and should come from anywhere and from anyone..t


how ideas can emerge and scale despite the relatively low power status of those who have them..

by using a mech that is only focusing on listening (to self-talk as data) in order to connect.. not on judging.. or redefining or legiblizing..  using a mech that listens (to idio-jargon) enough.. to connect us.. enough..


wild dreams now end up making a difference. they show us that it is possible for each of us to do the same, *but only if we know how. this is where the power of onlyness this book, fits in.

not yet possible.. w/o mech to free us.. *you said yourself earlier.. not about education/expertise.. so can’t be via some training manual/book.. the mech has to facil what is already in us..

i hope i’m wrong.. i hope your book is the answer.. but from your ie’s.. (business school dean working on curriculum; trainer of stem teachers; .. ) are these free spaces..? true they’re changing things.. but the change 7bn souls crave..?


imagine a world where a lot more of us can solve the problems we see or build something only we can imagine

imagine a world where all of us can.. that is so doable.. today.


onlyness, your signature concoction of what matters to you give you clarity of purpose and enables you to focus on what matters.


fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging – brene brown.. fitting in means adjusting yourself to meet the expectations of others. when people repress themselves, they are likely repressing their ideas as well, which suggests that some sizable percent of *potential creativity is simply lost..


so.. in just reading your take on brand vs onlyness.. this seems to lead more toward brand ness.. i’m just thinking that a person’s soul/heart is more important/fuel than a potential creativity.. that paragraph.. to me.. sounds so production/busyness focused..  ie: maté trump law .. the goal isn’t creativity.. but aliveness..

and while this may seem nitpicking (it probably is..sorry) .. i believe that – less than 100% letting go ness.. is what’s keeping us from global equity (everyone getting a go everyday) – what does curt think..?

suppressing oneself affects not only the individuals involved but the very fabric of society..

agreed.. but don’t agree with how you’re assuming society on next page


it obviously hobbles the wealth of ideas which in turn limits growth and innovation..

ie: i’d prefer world/soul peace to growth and innovation

but it also affects the future of meaningful work in a world where many jobs are filled by increasingly smarter ai.

ie: i’d prefer art to work


the ability to find one another thru sm based on shared interests/meaning/passion is unique to our time

but not yet realized.. for all of us.. for 100% of us.. and it won’t work till that happens..

we can now connect to one another not on basis of shared heritage.. but shared perspective. andrew solomon has described this ability to connect to those w common interests as a ‘horizontal id’ which he defines as an inherent or acquire trait that is generated thru choices..  he compares this to traits people get from parents or ‘vertical ids’  race s is a good ie of vertical..solomon cite genius, autism and sexual orientation as three traits that are horizontal in nature, because they aren’t transmitted via dna or thru shared cultural norms w/in family..



this purposeful connection has existed for centuries before the advent of the internet, of course, but today you can find people who care about what you care about easily

easily for some.. not for all.. and the fuel doesn’t work ongoingly/exponentially.. if it’s not all


w/o belonging, the odds are good that you will give up; your own ideas.

again maté trump law. .and again.. more important than own ideas.. give up listening to own curiosities…


it’s when you encounter such questions – ones that you can’t answer but can’t stop thinking about – that you also have the first clue to discovering what matters to you..t

yeah.. curiosity.. begs we listen daily.. it could change daily.. mech has to be that flexible..

this is the energy we’re missing


being a ‘wonderful sinner’ may actually be what best qualifies them to assume the task. to make a contribution doesn’t need perfection; it needs only you.. t

no train

art, fittingness, eudaimonia


first .. by willing to be foolish; second.. by acting w/o evidence that he would succeed; and third..  by enlisting help from some crucial new allies..


give yourself permission to pursue the question you have, even if others might view it as a bit nuts..


class session  are deep work (he classes at stanford).. we ask all the question necessary to ultimately build a viable business: who is the customer.. what is the market.. why would customer pay money for this service.. what are some ways you can measure /certify progress



kids need a social construct



believing in a single right way often cause people to look outside of themselves, to make comparisons to others and find themselves wanting..

mona lisa compare law


parker palmer: long before community assumes external shape and form, it must exist w/in you. only as we are in communion w/in ourselves can we be in community w/others’


the account of alex’s search for ‘his people’ offers a few other specific suggestions for how to signal your interest and assemble your own community.. alex began by personally claiming something as mattering to him.. t

ie: 2 convos .. let’s let a mech facil self-talk as data .. as the day.


it is curiosity not contempt that lets you create the drawbridge to unite the parties enough to find common ground..that cooperation leads to a series of actions, and those actions lead to systemic change..

or rather.. just to find the people who already have common ground.. which would also lead to systemic change.. gershenfeld sel


conversations work because they are the place where all minds can change.. t

bravery to change your mind.. everyday.2 convos


ows – dissatisfaction w the status quo gives you a reason to leave, but not a place to go.. t

a nother way


if we never question the underlying assumptions about who is qualified, we won’t design to include the range of capabilities that onlyness enables.. t

all of us .. or none of us


so if onlyness is radical, then i hope it is also capable of changing the root of our economics and our societies to realign them w our fundamental nature as humans..t

roots of healing.. deep enough


for us to create a world where onlyness is celebrated, we’re’ going to have to live it.. t

rev of everyday life..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way



thurman alive law