Intention: “Hook” the listener. Establish a level of relationship and comfort. Flatten questions about how things are going to go, concerns, etc.

My name is David Nielson, and who I am is the possibility of a world that works for everyone.

The ultimate purpose of what's being developed here is to create a world that works for everyone. At this point in the conversation, most people check out because, they tell me, a world that works for everyone isn't possible. So what if you think that?

Maybe I should start with what I mean by 'a world that works for everyone'.

I mean that everyone has their needs met, and their circumstances are at least satisfactory. The closer to ideal we can get, the better. Some of this will be altering circumstances and some will be getting satisfied with the way things are. How much of which is an unanswered question.

To answer the question more directly, if you think a world that works for everyone can't be built, that's fine. I disagree. I don't know that it's possible; I choose to believe it, and I have evidence. I invite you to consider it, and perhaps change your mind.

Consider this:

  • Since 1900, the nature of warfare has permanently changed. There are no wars between nations anymore. The number of people who die in wars decreased dramatically after World War II and continues slowly to decrease. Is it possible that there could be a time coming that we realize, as a species, that we've killed enough people already, and we don't need to kill any more?
  • In 2010, the British Royal Society for the Arts produced a video called “The Empathic Civilisation,” based on well-established anthropology, dealing with the scope of our interactions as human beings. In short, as technology for communication has improved, the size of our communities has increased, and the reasons for isolating communities have broken down. The concept of the other (as in, us and them,) is getting weaker. Worldwide communities are possible now that were never possible before. Events like the Arab Spring would have been unthinkable even 15 years ago, but now with social networking, oppressive regimes are on the defensive and obviously unsustainable.
  • Overall, the ways in which the world works for people, and the number of people for whom the world works, is increasing. With few exceptions, more people have better food, cleaner water, better health care, more time with family, more vacation time. More people have all of their needs met and more of their wants met, than ever beofre.

Given all of this, I invite you to consider the possibility that a world that works for everyone isn't just possible, but is inevitable.

The question then becomes how to make it happen. I'm taking the approach of making the world work for people, one at a time, under the premise that once someone's world works well enough for them, they'll start working to make others' worlds' work for them. This would become an expanding phenomenon, and eventually accomplish its goal. That's the view from 20,000 feet.

The reason I've brought you here tonight is to increase, to the greatest degree possible, how well your world works for you. So, two hours from now, your life should work better than it does now, and my goal is to maximize that change.

I cannot do that by changing the circumstances of your life. I can't give you more money, or a better job, or a happier domestic life, better-behaved kids, more loving parents, or honest politicians. I understand wanting those things; I want them too. They'd be great to have. But of all the things I can do, these are not among them. This is about doing what I can, what I know how to do, and doing it to the best of my ability.

What I intend to do over the next two hours is improve your quality of life as much as I can. I really mean for there to be a lasting and noticeable difference in how you experience your life before you leave. There is no other agenda. I have nothing to sell you or sign you up for. I'm not collecting personal information. The information that I am collecting will only be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of this presentation.

:?: Are there any unresolved concerns about this event?

How this is going to work

This program consists of several exercises, with explanations in between them. The exercises are simply guided conversations. We've also put together notebooks for you to assemble thoughts on paper, to make what we're doing work better. These notebooks are yours to keep or do with what you please. We will not collect them or ask you to say anything you don't want to.

When we've done all the exercises, there's a questionnaire to fill out to provide feedback on how effective the event was for you. My goal is to have it be as useful for you as possible, and I hope you have that goal in mind as well.

:?: Is the listener engaged at this point and interested in their active participation?

Ground Rules

In order to facilitate that, I'd like to request that for these exercises, that you participate in them as they're designed. Don't try to figure them out or get outside of them, and if you have thoughts or suggestions about how they might work better, set those aside. There will be a place to bring those issues up and have them addressed.

:?: Is the listener comfortable with what's going on?

How do you spend your time?

Most of the time we're too busy living life to think about it. We get fixated on specific things, mostly how something went, or how we think something is going to go. This is a chance to stop and smell the roses, if you will. We've all got places to go, things to do, people to see. Take about a minute and list the places you spend most of your time, and the people you're with when you're there.

60 seconds. Then ask what people came up with. TODO Add survey data; depends on gathering survey data.

:?: Is there at least a “broad strokes” picture that each person has come up with for themselves?

Be Of Two Minds

At this point, I could ask you for your opinion on each of those things you listed and how you think it's going. You might say it's going well, or not as well as you'd like, or on a scale from broccoli to fish sticks, you'd give it about a seven. Rather than doing it that way, get a blank piece of paper and divide it in half. Pick the area of life that you wrote down first. On one side of your page, write down things that are going well, and on the other side, write down things that aren't going as well as you'd like them to.

This is a way of being that I've found to be very useful; being “of two minds”. It's useful because it makes you listen to questions in a different way than you're used to. There's more about listening and being of two minds later. Go ahead and write down some things.

FIXME Expand. From here, this will become a Judgment exercise.


The normal way we talk to each other has to do with information. We describe things, and we ask about things, and we answer questions.

If I ask you what two plus two is, you say four, and it's done. If I tell you that George Washington was the first president of the United States, that's it; it's done. I ask the question and you answer it, and then we stop; or, I make a statement, and you accept or reject or do what you will with it, and then we stop. And it's on to the next thing.

There's another way of talking that works totally differently. Instead of asking questions or providing information in order to get somewhere, questions are asked and statements are made just to be there.

People who have been around longer often tell me that they've learned to appreciate the questions in life, rather than need to have all the answers. They've got the same idea, but there's a finer point to it. Asking a question or making a statement without an expectation of using it for something can be really valuable, in a completely different way.

For example, if I ask you the question “what are you trying to prove, and to whom,” you probably don't have an answer ready to go. You might have to think about it before you found an answer, and you might have to keep thinking for a while before you'd found all the answers. You'd go through a lot of different thoughts, like being offended by the question, disagreeing with the premise, feeling motivated to introspection, whatever. What I'm saying is that there's a more useful way of thinking and talking about these kinds of questions.

The reason that there's room to improve is related to the way people listen, or rather, the way people don't listen. See, you might think you're listening to what I'm saying right now, but you're really not. What you're actually listening to is what you're saying to yourself about what I'm saying. If I tell you that two plus two is five, you'll hear what I said, but what you'll really listen to is something along the lines of “no, that's not right. Two plus two is four.” That's exactly how it's supposed to work. I say something, and it goes in your ears, and your brain immediately starts doing what it's supposed to do: it parses, decides what to do with the information, and then carries on with it as efficiently as it can. This a good and useful thing.

If you want to listen to what someone says, rather than just hearing it, the trick is to tell yourself what they're saying–not like you agree or believe what's being said, because if you believe and agree with everything anyone tells you, that's going to cause problems. Just like, if I tell you two plus two is five, you say to yourself, “he's saying that two plus two is five.”

I'd like you to accept what I ask you and what I tell you, not as in agreeing or disagreeing, but simply accepting that what I said, was said.

I didn't invent this; I didn't discover it; it isn't new. It's likely that you've already done this at some point in your life, whether or not you were aware of it. I'm just bringing it up because it's useful. (What I mean by useful is something we'll talk about later.)

You may find yourself resisting this. It feels awkward and inefficient, and it is. it's a lot slower than just opening your brain's throttle all the way. We like being able to answer questions now, and generally, it's what's expected of everyone. Not here. I expect and ask for time between question and answer, while people listen.

Just as an example, listen, I mean really listen, to this:

“You don't listen. You never have. You never will. And you're not listening now, either.”

What happened?

(I hope you don't mind, I'm going to make some notes here and there, so I can learn about the kinds of responses I should expect from people while we're doing this.)

Questioning is not the same as invalidating


FIXME I intend to put the being present exercise right here.


This is only one valid interpretation among many valid interpretations. Why do I choose to define things the way I do?

Proximate / Ultimate

plans/introduction.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/17 00:39 (external edit)
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