Being v Doing

One of the key differences between thrivability and sustainabilty, I think, is the way of being. Shifting what we do without shifting our being isn’t really going to change the structures that perpetuate systems that don’t drive toward flourishing. It reminds me of the problem with political correctness. You can sound or look open-minded and without prejudice…but seeming that way won’t really make the necessary shifts. It shows at the seams. The real impact isn’t there.

It comes about in the smallest of ways. For years I have watched people discuss and aspire to thrivable ideas. And all too often they fall short by leaning back on old structures–demanding leadership via old methods or asking for top down hierarchies. It is not enough to know, intellectually, the course to take. We must BE different. Few of us, if any, are flawless here. I do not mean to judge, as I am prone to this folly myself. We are still products of a previous age. The younger generation is more likely to BE different as the children of those who aspired to that difference.

Authenticity feels core to me. If we are not authentic, at some point, it shows.

How are you being in the world? From being can flow doing. Doing is important. Critical for impact. But born of being –or it is compromised from the beginning. Thus, in the Field Guide, I am distinguishing whether a leap is about being, having, or doing. These leaps, they fit together. When we see the whole of the system dynamically operating, we will know our hopes for thrivability can be achieved.



  1. I appreciate, and it’s fun, to watch the ways you are flushing out and developing this thinking. I also agree, “One of the key differences between thrivability and sustainabilty, I think, is the way of being.”

    It reminds me of our need for all the creativity and cleverness we can muster in meeting the challenges of our era. These are, however, the same human traits that have brought us to where we are. It is always our successes that lead us to the next evolutionary challenge.

    Much of this ‘next challenge’ for our era is now, I believe, the calling forth of the human spirit to the innate capacities for deep joy and gratitude, for the experiences of peace and presence…. These are states of being… more reliant upon the internal skills of living, of showing up…, than upon whether we possess the latest clever technological adaptation.

    So yes, we requiring cleverness and adaptation and doing for our sustainability, but it is our souls and spirits that require authenticity and transformation for our thrivability.

    Thanks for forging ahead into this territory.

  2. A PS note: Evolutionary biologist, Elizabet Sahtouris, speaks of the role of ‘mutual consistency’ as a driver of creating symbiotic and mutualistic relationships in nature. I like to think of this a ‘mutual coherency.’

    That is, how do we get pulled toward the highest potentiality in any circumstance, within ourselves and with each other? Where else can this come from but through our capacity for authenticity? Through our willingness to explore the often frightening territory of ‘being who we are.’

    This is also why I speak of wild resiliency as ‘a radical affirmation of life.’

    Sahtouris’ book is Earth Dance: Living Systems in Evolution

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