The minute you do what you really want to do, it’s really a different kind of life. – R. Buckminster Fuller
If reversing global warming looks like decision-makers creating a decision-making process that shifts decision-makers to an unlimited upside – like that shown in Figure 3 of my last article – what can you do to persuade decision-makers to create such a decision-making process?
You can persuade decision-makers to create such a decision-making process by asking them the right questions.
In 1972, inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller shared this metaphor, suggesting what one person might do to change the direction of human society[i]:
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth – the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all.
On a ship like the Queen Elizabeth, a trim tab is the smaller rudder that turns the larger rudder that turns the ship, as shown in Figure 1:
Figure 1: Trim Tab of a Ship
The little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that [on the ship’s rudder] and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
What if that’s true? What if you – through “doing dynamic things mentally” – can build a low pressure – like a trim tab – that pulls human society’s rudder around, and that turns the whole big ship of human society – to reversing global warming?
Fuller expanded the trim tab metaphor:
The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. … So I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count. To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself, and soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way.
Writer Amy Edmondson put it this way: “Anyone can act as a trim tab, in part by recognizing the potential downstream influence of small high-leverage actions pointing in the new right direction. The trim tab’s tiny movement has leverage. The right shift in the right place at the right time.”[ii]
What might you acting as a trim tab – for reversing global warming – look like?
You acting as a trim tab – for reversing global warming – might look like you doing 3 things:
First, you acting as a trim tab for reversing global warming might look like you doing the Jonas Salk thing (Chapter 10 in my new book, You Can Reverse Global Warming) and asking yourself, “What might right questions for reversing global warming look like?”
The Jonas Salk thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired your brain to ask right questions — and to evolve solutions to problems like global warming based on the pre-existing answers revealed by the right questions you ask.
What might your right questions look like?
They might look like the questions that you read in my new book, You Can Reverse Global Warming.
Or they might look like better questions than the questions asked throughout this book.
Your better right questions might reveal better pre-existing answers from which you evolve a better solution to the problem of global warming.
In the trim tab metaphor, the right questions that you ask will determine the direction in which you turn your trim tab rudder (your own mind) that turns the larger rudder (the minds of a group of decision-makers) that turns the whole big ship of human society (groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society) in the direction of reversing global warming, as shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2: You Acting as a Trim Tab
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Second, you acting as a trim tab for reversing global warming might look like you doing the Nelson Mandela thing (Chapter 11 of You Can Reverse Global Warming), that is, persuading people (decision-makers) to do extraordinary things (like ending apartheid or reversing global warming) by:
- starting conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves your right questions
- engaging them in thinking about the pre-existing answers revealed by your right questions
- allowing them to persuade themselves of the pre-existing answers
- making them think that the pre-existing answers – and a solution evolved from the pre-existing answers – were their own ideas.
The Nelson Mandela thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired decision-makers’ brains:
- to converse among themselves and ask themselves right questions
- to persuade themselves of pre-existing answers revealed by the right questions they ask themselves
- to evolve solutions to problems like global warming based on the pre-existing answers, and
- to make consensus decisions – and take swift group action on those consensus decisions – to implement the solutions evolved from the pre-existing answers.
You see, doing the Jonas Salk thing is useless unless someone (like you) does the Nelson Mandela thing: engaging decision-makers in conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves the right questions through which they persuade themselves to do extraordinary things – like reversing global warming.
Doing the Nelson Mandela thing is a job just as necessary for reversing global warming as figuring out what right questions might look like for reversing global warming.
In fact, doing the Nelson Mandela thing to reverse global warming might be called the biggest persuasion job in human history.
Do you want to make history? It’s your decision.
Third, you acting as a trim tab might look like groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society imitating the successful solution demonstrated by a group of decision-makers who considered and accepted your invitation to ask themselves the right questions.
The imitating-successful-solutions thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired the brains of every person – in every group of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society – to imitate successful solutions demonstrated by other people.
In the trim tab metaphor, a successful solution implemented by a group of decision-makers is the larger rudder that – through people’s successful-solution-imitating power of mind — turns the whole big ship of human society (groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society) in the direction of reversing global warming.
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Asking the right questions to discover a polio vaccine? Done.
Asking the right questions to land a man on the moon? Done.
Asking the right questions to end apartheid? Done.
Asking the right questions to reverse global warming? It’s your decision.
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Buckminster Fuller said, “To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself.”
Your brain is hard-wired with powers of asking right questions, making decisions based on pre-existing answers revealed by those right questions, and taking swift action on those decisions by engaging people in conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves those right questions.
You have the power to activate the right-question-asking, consensus-decision-making and successful-solution-imitating powers — of the people with whom you are in conversation – to reverse global warming.
Once you decide to activate your powers, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way.”
You’ll feel the low pressure of first, a group of decision-makers, then the whole big ship of human society, turning in the direction of reversing global warming.
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Wondering how you might ask the right questions to create a decision-making process for global warming?
My new book, You Can Reverse Global Warming, shows you how.
For a limited time, you can download a complimentary advance copy of You Can Reverse Global Warming at www.erikkvam.com.
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In the next article in this Reversing Global Warming series, I’ll show you how you can state the problem of global warming in a way that solves the problem of global warming.
Thank you for reading this article. I’m always grateful for your comments.
[i] R. Buckminster Fuller, “A candid conversation with the visionary architect/investor/philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller,” Playboy (February 1972).
[ii] Amy Edmondson, “Take a trim tab approach to climate change,” Forbes.com (September 24, 2014).