Everything we can see in the physical world exists because individual atoms bond together to create it.
Everything we want to become and achieve comes through relationships. We have to bond to others to become couples, teams and every other form of collective. These are the core principles of how to unify individuals into a collective
The Average Relational Cycle
Relationships typically follow the graph above. They start out full of excitement, but over time they hit challenges. Because we do not expect, or know how to deal with, conflict relationships decline as they become more challenged.
We can be friends without much challenge, but when your decisions affect my future wellbeing we need a much more solid foundation for the relationship.
As we face more challenge and the relationship shows our individual differences the relationship becomes at risk. As conflict creates hostility and reduced communication, we lose connection. With less connection, the relational quality suffers and we show the more negative aspects of our character.
It is below the line that we lie, cheat and generally act more childishly.
The Conflict to Connection Cycle
Relationships, and therefore also collective groups, grow in cycles. While we can be excited by a new connection, we are mostly excited by the possibility rather than the reality. Great relationships are only hope until they have been tested through the Conflict to Connection cycle a few times.
Relationships start when we talk.
Talking creates connection. Connection is often based at a tribal level where we think someone is like us and therefore part of our tribe. This can be challenged when we see someone holds a different goal, view or strategy to achieve a shared goal.
This difference creates conflict.
Conflict creates a stress response. Many relationships die here as we withdraw, fight or try to dominate to get our way. Strong relationships are formed when we talk and grow through our differences.
Then the cycle repeats again and again as we meet increasing levels of challenge.
The Cause of Conflict
At the core, conflict happens because instead of bonding as a new entity, we retain our individual identity and so we compete for our vision or our way of achieving a shared vision.
Conflict reveals the structure of our relational O/S.
The Relational Operating System
Relationships operate within a frame that was constructed originally as a child.
It is made up of many aspects mainly from our cultural and personal experiences. Over time we have become aware of certain aspects and with attention overwrote certain aspects. Bugs, beliefs, expectations and assumptions that aren’t true, create problems that make us aware of our operating system.
Laregely though, we are driven by unconscious drivers in our O/S.
The parent we’re still trying to prove our worth to, or the classmates who bullied and rejected us. The challenge of relationships is that they show where our O/S is fragile. We then have the choice to fight or to evolve.
The Ecosystem Is More Important Than The Ego Construction
Culturally we are taught that hero’s build and change the world.
From Alexander the Great, to Thomas Edison, to Elon Musk we idolise the great man. Yet, Alexander became great because he was so loved by his men who fought greatly. Edison filed so many patents because he worked collectively with many other scientists. Likewise, Musk far from being the lone genius, was one of many working together at Zip2, Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX.
While George Bush Jr, Donald Trump and Kylie Jenner might call themselves self-made, it’s hard to see that they would have achieved the same success without the wealth, platform and connections that their families provided.
Brian Eno talks about the importance of Scenius over Genius. The recognition that the people we think of as great thinkers, artists and innovators were being raised by a community who lifted them to being more than they could attain individually. Building the ecosystem enables genius to thrive.
Often footballers can shine at one club, but struggle in another.
Genius happens within an ecosystem. We need the physical, emotional and psychological environment to allow our strengths to flourish. Without the eco system we end up creating ego construction.
These are the power struggles, politics and dramas that are the strategies we use subtly and manipulatively to make us feel important in the absence of healthier strategies.
Individuality And Harmonious Communities Happen As We Switch Identities
Humans have evolved as a social animal. We find our value, meaning and belonging in the collective. Yet our society has become increasingly individualistic.
We have to find the way that we can identify as our self, as a couple, family, team and whatever other groups we identify with.
The challenge is to become one with each collective. To achieve this, the collective has to meet our needs more effectively than we can alone. Where teams fall apart is when they fail to meet the needs of the individual.
The Three Core Needs
Emotions are created when we judge every event through three criteria.
- Am I being valued or devalued?
- Do I belong or am I being rejected?
- Does what I do matter or not?
The collective meets the needs of the individual when they feel a sense of value, belonging and meaning. This means we need to share a compelling vision for where we are going and who we are serving. Individually we need to feel like we are contributing and adding value to the collective.
Crucially, the key bond of the collective is built through the strength of the relationships we build.