Reflections on society and politics X

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts started out about Trump but have morphed into brief notes about society and politics in general.

Burnout. Burnout is often presented and approached as an individual problem. Someone burnt out because of marriage problems, health issues, depression, and so on. And the approaches are often presented as individual as well, whether it’s exercise, counseling, mindfulness, yoga or something similar. There is a focus on the individual whether it’s the individual themselves doing something to prevent burnout, or the organization sets up an employee program.

And yet, it seems obvious that burnout is a systemic issue. It has to do with how we organize our society and organizations. It has to do with our collective worldview, our economic system, and organizational and business values and culture.

For instance, the more an organization sees it’s employees as disposable and something to squeeze as much work out of as possible, sometimes supported by a culture idealizing overwork, the more likely people are to burn out. And the more an organization sees it’s employees as human beings, take them seriously and listen to their feedback and concerns, sees them a resource to invest in and support, and aims for mutual benefit, then people are less likely to burn out.

The current focus on individual approaches to burnout is an example of systems acting to preserve themselves. We have a system – especially in the US and in certain professions such as the medical profession – that often leads to burnout.

The real causes are at the social, cultural, and organizational levels. And yet, the focus is typically on individual approaches for preventing burnout, perhaps because that’s the approach that involves the least change and effort. To take the systemic causes seriously is more effective, but does involve significant change to society, culture, and the organization. And not everyone is willing to go there.

Other things take priority. And that’s OK but it’s good to be honest, open, and explicit about it. We know that burnout has to do with the larger systems, but we chose to focus on the individuals since it takes less effort and requires the least change. Of course, that honesty would – eventually – require a change so that’s perhaps why most chose to not be quite that open about it.

February 7, 2018

Starman. Elon Musk just sent a Tesla into space. Apart from being brilliant marketing, creating an unforgettable image for the history books, and showing that science and technology can be cool and sexy, it’s also far more. The launch is an important step in getting people to Mars. And that, in turn, is an important step in making humans a multi-planetary species. In the big picture, it’s necessary for our survival. And really, it’s a step in making Earth a multi-planet planet. It’s a step in helping Earth procreating and multiplying. In helping Earth as a living system and planet expand outside of the boundaries of this one initial planet.

Winter Olympics 2018. Unsurprisingly, Norway has taken the most medals so far, one week into the Winter Olympics. It’s also not surprising that some wonder about doping. And they are right. There is doping in some winter sports in Norway, but it’s in the form of culture and money.

We have a strong culture for certain winter sports (especially skiing), a large number of people of all ages engaging in them, we start early in life (I don’t even remember learning to ski), and a huge amount of resources are poured into developing local and young talent and for developing and supporting the top athletes. I also think that the “best together” culture they have actively developed among the best has something to do with it.

So, yes, there is doping. It’s in the form of culture and resources. And although I know I am biased, I would say that’s why there isn’t really a need for other – and illegal – forms of doping.

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