By Dean Whittaker

No, it is not a car accident but rather the combining of two or more ideas to create a new idea. Mashups are about the innovation that occurs at the intersection of ideas. A good example of a mashup is, in which a conference is held each year around the concept of “ideas worth sharing” and consists of ideas from the domains of technology, entertainment, and design. The creation of the iPhone is an example of a mashup that came about from a “TED talk” in which an MIT professor shared his idea of moving computer objects around on a computer screen with his hands.

What I would like to share with you this month is a mashup of two books that I read. The first, Living in Love with Yourself by Barry A. Elsworth, is about learning to take care of oneself, and the second is The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo. It is about why the new world disorder constantly surprises us and what we can do about it.

Both books challenged my belief system. Living in Love with Yourself challenged my belief about fear. It focused on both the good and bad aspects of fear. Some of the good aspects are that it helps us avoid injury when we are in physical danger, it causes us to go slow when we are uncomfortable about something, it teaches us where we lack trust, and it shows us when we are working with a faulty belief system. Elsworth points out seven downsides to fear. First, fear separates us from ourselves and the knowledge that we create our own reality. Second, it paralyzes us, limiting our ability to respond. Third, it perpetuates the past by causing us to repeat it. Fourth, it is addictive in that it stimulates that production of hormones such as adrenaline on which we become dependent. Fifth, it accommodates the games we play with ourselves and others through manipulation. Sixth, it fuels our blockages and inhibits our creativity. And, lastly, it separates us from the Love in our life. So, my challenge is this: Do I believe in fear and thereby make it real (realize it), or do I believe and trust in Love? Can I see that fear is an illusion and Love is the only thing that is real? Can I forgive myself for having been lost in my fears and for the pain that this faulty belief system has caused me and others?

Similarly, In the Age of the Unthinkable, Ramo is also asking us to challenge our belief system. He strongly suggested that the way in which our foreign policy has been shaped is the result of our narrow thinking in which we focus more on the content rather that the context of what is happening in the world. As a result, we miss the intuitive shifts taking place and are constantly surprised when our direct approach is thwarted by a few rebels living in the mountains. Our view of the world and our belief system about it is only from our perspective. We need to learn to empathize as he did when interviewing those with another point of view. For example, the Hizb’allah leader who Ramo interviewed has a perspective that is hard for us to imagine, let alone accept. How can we hope to bring about a managed peace when we don’t understand their point of view or, more importantly, their belief system? “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” is one of the seven habits of highly effective people that we need to put into practice.

So, mashing these two books together, I realize I am being asked to examine my belief system and to overcome my fears so that I don’t bring about the very things I fear. To achieve the security I seek, I must help create a resilient country, community, company, family and self capable of absorbing and adapting to the rapid unpredictable changes taking place in the Age of the Unthinkable.