One Problem; One Solution
A beautiful thing happened the last weekend in May, thanks to those with the vision to hold the first “One Solution” conference in Oslo, Norway. In one weekend, they elevated onto the world stage the absolute simplicity and power of the answer offered by a true understanding of how the mind works.
Although I could not attend because of a commitment, I watched what I could of the live stream, and, on the very first night, I had an Aha! moment about all of us (“all of us” being the handful of people who started the work of bringing the Three Principles into all walks of life back in the mid-70’s up through the tens of thousands involved in the work globally today.) For all these years, we’ve been compartmentalized, and when we tried to generalize, we were treated as “pollyanna,” or “naive,” or claiming the impossible. We live in a world in which there is currently no vision for the true meaning of underlying Principles that explain all human experience, that define all human beings as operating the same way at the core, regardless of their differences. So we have hundreds of diagnoses and treatments for all kinds of mental illness; many approaches to many different business problems; separate ideas about how to treat a variety of social justice issues; fragmented approaches to addressing dysfunctional institutions and organizations depending on their size, purpose, culture, location, etc. “All of us” knew from the beginning there was one underlying problem and one underlying solution, but because we were coming at our individual work from our own particular professional interests, the overwhelming significance of the fact that we were all addressing the exact same solution to all the problems was invisible to others.
Consider, for example, the difference between the way we think about Psychology and the way we think about Geometry. No matter what language, culture, environment, situation in which a problem is being addressed by geometry, everyone understands geometry precisely the same way. The principles of Geometry apply across the board, whether you are developing an architectural plan, designing a work of art, creating a fabric pattern, imagining a virtual reality, expanding nanotechnology, or building a sand castle. No one argues whether there are unique rules of geometry that apply differently to different situations. You are working with the same set of assumptions and facts to solve infinite problems. It is implicitly understood that the Principles of Geometry are constants; the variables are the infinite situations in which they can be applied.
The One Solution conference brought to the foreground that, with an understanding of the Principles underlying the human experience, it doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is the same, and there is one solution to all of humanity’s problems. Put another way, humanity created the problems; humanity contains the solution to all of them. It took the 30,000-foot view; from there, you lose the details and you can see the outlines.
It absolutely does not matter what problem is being addressed; the solution is one very simple thing: recognize the operating Principles behind all human thinking and experience.
I remember, in the mid-80’s, when I was first learning, someone told me, “You know, there is only one mental illness, and there is only one cure. The illness is dysfunctional, insecure thinking taken seriously over time; the cure is seeing that we are the thinkers and we can change.” That moment crystallized everything for me. But back then, I was an entrepreneur, not a mental health professional, and my mind immediately went to my clients. It made sense there, too. Then I started thinking about community, about education — all the same. One problem, one solution. Yet, we could never seem to get people to stop asking what clients, what situations, does “this” work best with! In a world full of specialists, it isn’t easy to make a living as a generalist. But that was always our hope: To question, and ultimately change, the assumptions of the world about the fundamental source of change: the fact that all experience is created from the inside-out. We are the thinkers, constantly using the power to think to create moment-to-moment reality.
The simple answer emerged from the visionary thinking of the people who put together One Solution: Talk about the world from the get-go. Don’t let anyone start thinking too soon about specific applications. Let the applications flow out of the vision for the whole globe.
For years, people have looked upon my resume with suspicion because I have worked with health care, with stressed business executives, with dysfunctional organizations, with youth, with abused women, with individual mental health clients, with educational institutions, with students, with teachers, with non-profits. “What do you exactly do?” people ask. “How could you be working in so many settings?” I used to find it amusing that if I were an accountant, no one would ask those questions. There are, of course, general principles of accounting, which are generally understood. But because I was an Innate Health Consultant, it was confusing.
I would answer, “I work with human beings to help them understand their thinking for what it is, and see how to access their own wisdom.” Very often, that was deemed an insufficient answer. Because we are trained to solve problems from the outside-in — i.e., to identify the problem, find an external source for the problem, come up with a strategy to fix THAT problem — it is hard for people to wrap their minds around the idea that misused and misunderstood thinking is always the essential source of problems. And when people see what thinking really is, how we can change, and how we can access creativity and higher levels of thinking, they can find solutions to everything that appears to be a problem.
After more than 30 years in my work, I am not foolish enough to think that one conference, one weekend, one newly empowered group of people, will bring about immediate change. But it feels like we have seen how to turn the ship in the channel and head to open waters.
For this subtle shift in how we see and present our own work, I offer my heartfelt thanks to the One Solution organizers: #Mara Gleason, #Aaron Turner, #Erik Grunde Olsen, #George Pransky, #Linda Pransky. They stepped up and took a big risk in boldly offering a “One Solution” global conference because they believe so strongly that the only hope for change is getting the attention of the world in a new way. I am sure they do not think of their efforts as heroic, but I do, because the definition of commitment, in my book, is always fearlessly following your vision.
I’m sure this is only the first of many such conferences, involving many more people, across the world, and I couldn’t be more excited to step up and be a part of it. Join in.
Meanwhile, the whole idea of this is worth reflection. I am asking myself: What DO I do? Could I be doing it differently, better, more impactfully? Am I, in the words of Sydney Banks, pouring “new wine into old bottles,” by fitting my work into existing service paradigms?
At this moment, I am basking in the questions. No answers yet, but the one thing I am certain of is that wisdom will show the way. Change is coming.