Well, first I have learned some interesting things in the dozen research interviews I've conducted over the past few months. I will be writing up that learning - and this post is not that. I knew I was going to learn about people's perspectives and desires and, while I think the data is interesting, I wouldn't rate it too high overall on surprisingness. No, the "something" I referred to in my goal above is, to learn something about what I should do next.
I'm not feeling like the answer is "do 30 more interviews", although I'd certainly have fun doing another dozen (the more diverse the better).
I'm not feeling like the answer is "take the research as confirmation and launch a [social organization for self-development, acceptance and belonging]" either - at least at this time. Partly it's not the right time personally: I'd have a hard time sustaining enough momentum and traction with everything our family has in flux for the next few months.
But I think that points back, in a maybe-key way, to slack and its lack. We take it when and where we can get it, and creating more of it is not usually an easy decision or execution.
That description definitely applies to allocating time to ourselves: "quiet time" or "self care" or any time just for ourselves and our own personal growth is usually the first thing to go in times of busyness and stress (yes, despite the irony of increased need in those times).
It also applies to our social investments - in friendships and communities and in larger pro-societal missions or causes. Work (in the "making rent" sense) comes first, family comes first, meeting our own needs comes first (even if we're not very skilled at it and are just numbing or doom-scrolling). It's the left-over slack that can go towards those seemingly-nice-to-haves that actually drive meaning, actualization, and transcendence - and it's a rare privilege to have a lot of that kind of slack.
When people do make space in their life for a cause or for a social group, it seems tied to identity: Either their community/relational investment is tied to their personal belonging, or their cause/mission investment is tied to their personal purpose.
I, in the self-transforming-ness of letting go of my conventional identity, have re-oriented in the direction of being-ness type goals which went unnoticed in my old solver-crusader construction. (Please forgive that sentence; "That one was for me.") This means I'm more interested in inner development now than I ever was in my self-authoring or religiously-socialized mindsets/frames... but it's not the answer. It's a pole in the being and doing polarity, it's a pole in the "part and whole" paradox. Self and system in unification will only work if both values fit into the unification.
"sufficiently enlightened self-interest is indistinguishable from altruism" --Venkatesh Rao (at least in those exact words?)
"the impression that you can be selfish without suffering" – Soryu Forall
Some people lean more towards what they need. Some people lean more towards what everyone else needs. All of these people only get to focus on those values as much as their position in Maslow's hierarchy of needs allows. So to get traction on either-or-both ends of that motivating purposeful meaning-goal, the offering needs to:
- help directly to create more slack/space/energy by addressing people's needs, or
- be a really compelling vision that inspires some amount of sacrifice/investment of scarce resources!
Or BOTH. Which I already knew, and find myself coming back around to here. I think I'm seeing #2 a bit better now. For #1, I've spent much thought about how to create engagement and belonging and acceptance in social circles and how to foster that kind of environment that fills people up with energy from connection and being truly known and supported. But #2 is still weak, I think. There's a vision about #1, but less of a vision outward towards the world, for that external service lean, expressing the far-mode systemic goals. And they need to tie together!
Let me play with that, just do a one-shot take right now:
- A better state of being for humanity as a whole, continuing the progression of ever-greater group sizes and complexity and power and challenge.
- A better state of being for each of us individually, of awareness and intentionality and capacity and development.
Woah... mmph, "state of being", really? Is that a rallying cry? "Things could be better?" Hah. Maybe? I guess it's all about the level of abstraction and evocativeness.