by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr
First, as we have been doing every time before we begin, let me make the following abundantly clear...None of the following is to be interpreted as some offhanded cheap shot or ad hominem attack directed at any Grand Lodge, officers, members, appendant, concordant, or anything or anyone else in-between. There are many dedicated Brothers from white aprons to gold bullion’d working diligently to try and turn around what many believe is an inevitable outcome from coming to pass. And this entire series is to help enable those trying to figure out the best methods possible for doing just that. I stand in solidarity with every single one of them and offer my endearing support to that cause. Period, full stop.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...
Back in October of 2020 WB Lahners wrote a piece posted on the Midnight Freemasons titled “Does Freemasonry Develop Talent?”
It was both well said, as much as well needed.
It also was something which sent me to my keyboard as to possibly offer some insight because, I’ve seen so many throughout my career trying to do what they believe to be “The right thing” only to be left exhausted and disheartened from either poor results or, an acceleration of what they were trying to prevent or mitigate in the first place.
The implications to our fraternity at large via this premise are multifaceted. However, for this discussion, let’s look at just one that may have far broader implications in cause-and-effect than trying to address a multitude all at once.
So in that light, let’s define that underlying issue, yet more importantly, let’s discuss what are we to do about it. That issue is: Membership, both recruitment, as well as retention.
Here’s the issue: Many keep doing ‘something’ with a laudable pursuit to address an issue. However, most plans for attainment of the intended goal fall not only short but rather, end up turning once counted allies and followers into dejected spiritless bodies that do nothing more than go through the motions until they too, finally stop altogether.
It’s not something that’s isolated to Freemasonry.
It’s something that happens to any organization.
Any organization with some meaningful time and growth under its belt, fully past the developmental phase, this phenom occurs as if on rails and on schedule. i.e., Think when the startup or the entrepreneurial model crosses into what we would think of as the ‘developed corporate model,’ with strict corporate structure, titles, and responsibilities as our baseline.
It’s in this vein I’d like to offer the following as to not only help explain, but possibly help gain, willing advocates to what many describe as, “an overarching dilemma with existential consequences.
I’m not going to advocate ‘by force of will’ type scenarios. Rather, I’ll offer a tool for not only changing well-meaning perspectives but their relationship and strict adherence to them.
What I’ll also advocate, is at the root of our most current distress is this thing known as a ‘well-meaning perspective’ and what it entails. It can go by many other different names. One sounds eerily similar to “Doing something, anything is better than doing nothing!” Maybe, then again, maybe not--as we’ll discuss.
This issue resides in the category for one of the most fundamental challenges facing any organization. Again, this is not just a fraternity issue - it’s prevalent in all enterprises.
I will add to the above - it’s also fraught with unsuspecting consequences, such as...
Not understanding this single issue intuitively and earnestly, as I’ll demonstrate, allows for: clouded focus; impaired judgment; and/or the inability to implement any needed change to evolve, adapt or move forward. Subsequently, it can/will lead to irrelevancy and/or losing the fight for outright survival.That’s not hyperbole.
So now with all the above said for context. Below is an adaptation of something I developed and use in my higher-end workshops to help business owners, CEO’s and other high achievers at the top of their markets or income strata, reignite that “breakthrough” thought process needed to develop and execute plans for market leader positioning.
The premise is to reintroduce and express the idea of perspective, and how the well-intentioned can believe they’re following “the right path,” yet can’t figure out why nothing is working out as planned.
In other words - It shows their path is not what they think, therefore, the planning and/or execution is fraught with misgivings.
And here’s the most important factor I’ll demonstrate for what we call “buy in...”
All while not telling or implying they are “wrong.” For as soon as you do, or they infer that’s what you’re driving at? It’s over before it began. There is also another possible consequence that can be even worse: Many will vehemently defend any or all prior bad decisions and processes, at all costs, out of saving one’s pride for ego’s sake.
Think about it.
Now onto the working example.
But before we begin, two points...
First: Please actually do the exercise. Trust me, you’ll be surprised in the end.
Second: This is quite a wordy or lengthy piece because it’s an adaptation of something done in a live setting, which reduces all this need for explanation through words down to a fraction of time. However, we don’t have that luxury here, so that’s that.
- Take out a sheet of paper (preferably near the size of a sheet of copy paper) and place it in front of you, preferably on a desk or table.
- Draw a large circle (pencil, pen, marker, doesn’t matter) that just about encompasses the entire sheet. i.e., not a tiny circle, but a large one that comes close to the edges.
- Next, put a small arrowhead on the far right side, on top of your line, as to point in the up direction. Usually, it doesn’t matter where you place it, you can do it anywhere. But for this exercise, again, let’s put it on the right-hand side, on top of your line, pointing upward to show a counter-clockwise direction.
- Stop there for the moment.
What you now have in front of you is what many so-called “business experts” will exclaim as, “A well-defined plan!”
(Remember, this is for example purposes and is meant to be overly simplistic)
In other words: Start here, do this, that, and another thing as to keep momentum up to go around for success – rinse, repeat.
Here’s a way I would like you to think about it using a different example...
Think about the construct of the Monopoly® board. Sure it’s square, but the same principle applies. In other words: you start here (e.g., where you placed your arrowhead), go completely around the board (i.e., circle) and collect $200 for passing “Go.” Or in our case, getting back to where we started to begin again.
Example: We advanced a petition; made a MM; did some other things (Line, etc.) with the MM to get back to “Go,” collect our “$200.” Rinse, repeat.
However, here’s what needs to be pointed out...
Collecting that $200 in regards to the board game was essentially to give a person that was all but out-of-the-game a lifeline to continue. Hence, we enter a ‘tread water’ aspect for an analogy.
Simple enough, correct? Good, now hold that thought...
Sticking with this simplistic construct, we can overlay most business plans when trouble shows up for they basically entail: Doing the above (i.e., go around and around, over and over again) where the presumption is to - ‘tread water’ - and just allow time to pass till they or someone else come up with something better.
It never works out that way though, does it?
Again, during a crisis of stagnation or turmoil, the thinking goes: If we can just do “this” (i.e., run our circle and collect $200, or in our case, get a petitioner, make a MM, etc., etc., etc.) we can pretty much tread water (membership wise) until we can come up with something better.
To reiterate, I’m being over-simplistic on purpose.
Now, how do we apply the above to the Fraternity and our current situation as far as membership roles?
Great question, let’s move on and see.
The dilemma that’s overtaking our fraternity in regards to membership and more, is that many are believing they are following the ‘right path’ – and – they’re reluctant to deviate.
Here’s a clue:
Look at the above example of Monopoly or our circle. That’s precisely what most are doing as they silently wish, hope, pray, ________(fill in your own here), that if things can’t get better in the very near future, at the very least, they won’t get worse.
That appears to make so much sense, right?
So round and round they go as circumstances produce the exact opposite, aka - get worse. (we’ll get into why later on.)
But hey, as the thinking goes, “They’re doing something!” And everyone will attest to that, correct?
Well yes, yes they are. However, what if I told you, or better yet show you, that what many are doing in a reaction to “doing something” is actually making what they’re trying to combat even worse?
Here lies the contentious issue to the above: In reality, not only will doing some of the measures explained not help tread water. Rather, they’ll get ever progressively worse (sometimes with gusto!) until - oblivion.
And we may be doing it to ourselves - and don’t even know it.
Now that’s a mouthful-and-a-half to back up. So the next question should be: How do I prove out what was just stated?
Again, great question, here’s the how...
Going back to our paper exercise with our drawn circle. What you have before you is the most simplified representation of why the best-laid plans usually never work. The reason?
Because most are working from a two-dimensional assumption for implementation (2D) to a problem that must be worked in a three-dimensional world (3D).
This is what our ‘circle on paper’ truly represents, as I’ll demonstrate.
What’s at issue here, is that far too many have never learned what I’ll explain in any real-time application processes.
But that’s not a problem in isolation. i.e., as to just not knowing. Let me explain...
Entrepreneurs combat this and overcome it, whether instinctively or intuitively. But, (and it’s a very big but) over time it atrophies, again, whether they’re cognizant of it or not, as the organization gains in time, size and structure.
Also for them (e.g., entrepreneurs) if or when they find themselves mired in this atrophy, for any reason, all they usually need for remediation is for it to be pointed out.
Or said differently: They only need to remember (or be shown) what they’re no longer doing, and they’ll take corrective measures with near immediacy.
This is a very easy mindset realignment for this set, for once they ‘get it,’ it begins to run with near immediacy back on autopilot.
For most others - they not only need to learn it, but to fully understand it, they’ll need real-time applicational processes. Usually, this needs to begin first with a sorting out process of who’s a ‘self-directed manager type’ vs ‘needs instructional guidance first type.’ Along with learning curve constraints, hesitancy analysis, and more. But those are more complicated issues and for another time.
So what we’re going to stick to here is broad and simple.
However, once you learn this simple example I’m now going to have you demonstrate – to yourself – not only is your thinking changed forever, rather, your approach to challenges (like changing perspectives) that once seemed insurmountable enter back into the reality of feasible. (Remember: nothing’s 100%)
Why is this a necessary tool for your toolbox?
Because overcoming a person’s perception of a change or task is much, much, much, much (did I say “much?”) harder than forcing someone to perform a task. Said differently...
You can order someone to do something and they’ll do it provided you have the right motivation. e.g., “Do this or you’re fired!”
Convincing them to do something via their own volition? Totally different animal.
In addition, here’s a bonus once you master it...
You’ll find it one of the most powerful processes to help gain needed allies. For once perspective is shifted from “That stuff doesn’t work, we’ve tried!” To more along the lines of, “Oh, we weren’t wrong, just our application and timing...” Things can move for the better, and in many cases, extraordinarily so.
So here’s the next step, back to our original paper...
- Pick the paper up from the desk using both hands while keeping its orientation in the same plane as it was laying flat, holding it at about eye level. (Not hyper-extended in a death grip! Just straight out in front of you, loosely held between your fingers, like it was a serving tray.)
- Now, lower your left hand about four or five inches while keeping your right stationery, so that the paper now forms a lazy S shape or a waterfall effect in middle. e.g., one end is now higher than the other. Remember, you’re not trying to hold the paper taught, just flat and allowing it to bend.
- What you should now see in front of you, again, at about eye level, is just the closest edge of the paper making for all intents and purposes a lazy S shape or, small waterfall directly in the middle.
Here’s where we begin to examine the significance and implications of all this, which is...
The difference between two-dimensional (2D) planning and three-dimensional (3D) application.
Now, with your hands still holding the paper in front of you in this curved position: If we were to look down from the ceiling at this paper what we would see, is the same 2D representation of our original circle just as we drew it laying on our desk or table. i.e., a flat circle.
(This is a simple extrapolation for example purposes, not a ‘picture perfect.’ So no nitpicking! You know who you are.)
However, from the perspective you are currently viewing it (i.e., from the side at eye level): Does it still appear that to travel your circle our arrowhead is going to traverse a road to go round on a flat plane?
Or, are there now two plateaus, one higher than the other with two hills, one going up and one going down?
Here’s why this is so important...
Do you think there would be a different strategy and tactics needed to go around a flat circle as compared to one that has hills, a valley, and plateau as what you’re now holding?Perspective suddenly matters, doesn’t it?
Don’t let this point be lost on you, truly consider the differences. Believe it or not - exercises such as this one is where competitive, market dominant edges reside when thought through properly. Here’s an example...
From a 2D perspective, basically, all that needs to be overcome is inertia. Other than that, once the inertia is broken, its momentum (even if it appears minuscule) will keep it moving along following Newton’s Law. e.g., As long as there’s no other opposing force applied to change it.
Simple enough, correct?
So let’s apply this concept to a real example.
Using our original 2D circle (e.g., laying flat): This is pretty much how Freemasonry looks at the plan of a Lodge and MM, and it goes something like this...
Back to our circle, paper, and our arrowhead.
Start here; gain interest; gain a petition; vote and accept; quickly run through degrees; enter “the Line;” progress through chairs. Presumed result: a proficient, now solid dues-paying member of the fraternity with years left to participate in Lodge and more. Rinse, repeat.
Process time: approximately 5 – 7 years.
That is if it all goes according to the 2D plan. This pretty much sums up our ‘circle of life’ pretty accurately, does it not?
However, in the end, this so simple plan is destined to fail and fail miserably so, as I’ll demonstrate...
Playing a flat board game with strategies and tactics for that environment, rather than the complex strategies, tactics, and more that addresses the true issues needed in the real 3D world, where our fraternity resides, is not only a waste of time, but frustratingly so.
Back to our circle and paper...
I alluded prior to why doing the same thing will not only - not - keep us aligned with par. Rather, that strategy (e.g., 2D) may even quicken member loss through dissatisfaction resulting in increased demits; continued losses via attrition; less participation in all aspects of Masonry (the organization), and/or developing situations for even fewer petitions. i.e., No one’s interested in approaching or expelling the virtues of the Craft to anyone, when they themselves, are questioning why they remain.
Here’s another very important point that alludes most:
Even if you increase the number of those to ‘get on the circle,’ the results can not only still be the same, but to many’s chagrins - you can lose even more MMs in an accelerated proportion.
Think I’m off base?
Again, back to our circle exercise...
When we view our simple circle from a flat perspective, it hides what’s really happens in the real-world experience. Why is this process allowed to happen many may wonder? Here’s a clue...
Over time what takes place is that the thinking processes for addressing challenges relegate themselves more towards linear-based thinking and application. In other words: they self-gravitate towards ‘flattening out’ as I’ll demonstrate.
So this is not an issue as to the calling out of any or someone’s “fault” per se. It’s just one of those manifestations that moves itself into a default position if not carefully guarded against.
Let’s use a real example. e.g., “We’ve got a petition!” And place this person on our circle at our starting point we made with an arrowhead.
When we view this from the 3D model, rather than 2D perspective, we immediately speculate and reason (remember: in a 3D model our paper shows two hills, etc.) we’re now going to leave our highest plateau and go down our first hill, which we’ll equate to: the candidate is active, moves through the degrees. Momentum is on their side, interest and more are at their most self-fulfilling state.
In other words: The plan appears as working and progress is being made around our circle.
Now, from the 2D perspective: It will be assumed we are well on our way because it’ll be assumed, the momentum is strong. i.e., We’re progressing around our [flat] circle, Newton’s Law is in full force. And, we’ll falsely interpret we’re well on our way to getting back to “Go,” using the Monopoly analogy.
However, as we’ll see through our now 3D perspective - things are about to get a whole lot more difficult.
The candidate becomes a MM and is now sitting in what can be regarded as “The low valley.” i.e., He’s progressed from our original starting point (arrowhead) on our high plateau, and with reasonable speed and self-propelling momentum in our 3D model, has propelled down our hill and now sits at the polar opposite of our arrowhead in the lower plateau, or ‘valley.’
We’re now halfway around our circle and we’ve now produced in what many might believe is a MM in record time. All we have to do now is keep up the momentum (remember Newton’s Law?) and he’ll move around the remainder getting us back to “Go” where we can start again. Rinse, repeat.
But that’s not what happens, does it?
On a 2D scale, maybe. But we’re in a 3D world, remember? So now with that said - where does our newly crafted MM now sit again? Hint: at the base of an enormous-looking hill from his perspective.
Yet, while he’s looking and trying to gauge it, he’s also sitting in what many might call “The valley of confusion” where he’ll be greeted with business meeting after business meeting now that he’s become a MM.
Yes, boring, bland, repetitive business meetings capturing an unobstructed inside view of disgruntled PM’s and older members complaining about this, that, and every other thing, near if not completely non-existent masonic education, __________ (fill in your own list here).
And if he dares to ask questions or possibly assert that maybe there should be something “educational?” He’s told “We don’t have time for that stuff here. C’mon, we’d be here all night!”
Or how about the most over-abused deflections to any of his inquiries or suggestions...
“Join the line! You get out of Masonry what you put into it, blah, blah, blahhhhh.”
So he does, only to question very quickly his original intent on becoming a Freemason didn’t seem to include being responsible to serve the “green beans” and clean up after everyone.
This isn’t what he signed up for - and he knows it. Worse, it’s now beginning to eat at him every time he thinks about a Lodge meal.
He intuitively knows something’s not only missing, but something is terribly wrong with his original perspective and what his actual hindsight is telling him. i.e., “Maybe I made a mistake.”
We are currently fostering the above or similar far too often than many will admit.
Back to our exercise...
So now with the above as a backdrop: What’s the next phase to progress on our 2D circle plan?
Well, the thinking appears to go like this, to reiterate...
Get involved, get in the line! Masonry gives you what you put into it. You want more? Put in more! etc., etc., etc. For as the thinking goes – all we need to do is keep the Brother on “the path” (e.g., now represented by our 2D circle) and momentum will help take care of the rest.
So with that in mind. If we look at our circle we’re now halfway around, only another half left to go. Easy peasy, right?
Not so fast. What’s the issue again, if we look from his 3D perspective, rather than a 2D?
Hint: What we now can envision is what truly manifests in a real-world application. i.e., His path is far from one that’s on a flat trajectory.
He’s now facing, again, from his perspective, a long slog of a trek - all uphill.
However, there’s more to his (and our) problem using 3D manifestations.
This once enthusiastic candidate, more often than not, will be reduced to a disheartened and/or now disgruntled member once he spends any time in that lower plateau, aka “The valley of confusion.”
And the longer he remains there - the more apt he’ll be to not endure it. And yes, “endure” is a very fitting term for most. For if they’ve tried to suggest doing anything differently, or questioned current practices, they’re chastised in too numerous ways to list here.
And now they’re facing (in their minds) to supposedly “continue their journey” grows an ever-the-more insurmountable hill just to continue!
Now, putting yourself into his shoes (and for many of you it may mean back into your own) think of what will now be required, let alone, asked of them. And with what we’ve detailed above, just what do you think is going to be going through their minds even as they say “yes” to every request a Lodge may ask of them?
Hint: It ain’t good. Need I remind you to just look at the yearly membership roles? Or better yet, when’s the last time any of you saw the last PM or two of your Lodge - in Lodge?
So here’s the point...
Once you intuitively understand all the variable dynamics that may be inherent to what many will only see as a simple process to “Get the ball rolling!” in isolation. You quickly begin to correlate the reasons why the roles continue to fall as another well-intentioned plan to ‘stop the bleeding’ never seems to do just that.
Here’s another example for my argument:
This time let’s use the, “Replace yourself” program for this example.
(Note: Before any call for my expulsion, all I ask, please re-read the opening statement at the top of this. Then, do as you wish. Back to our discussion.)
The introduction of the program was (my conjecture) to help break the initial ‘inertia’ that is plaguing the fraternity. i.e., attracting new candidates.
Keeping this in mind (for example purposes only) the underlying premise was to help ‘stop the bleeding.’ Or, as I’ve stated prior, “tread water.”
Said differently: As long as everyone might try, or better yet, some actually fulfill its goal and brings in that new member or members – it keeps everything going along via its own momentum helping to at the least keep the roles at par.
That’s a fair assumption, however, it’s more than likely a wrong one.
Again, just look at the membership roles for proof. But here’s a plausible if not probable reason as to why...
As a matter of argument we postulated within our 3D example, not only may newer members become disgruntled once they get to that lower plateau. What we didn’t consider was there’s also another hidden and very real aspect most don’t, which is:
They (new members) can become a force multiplier, where they find other sympathetic Brothers of only a year or so - and - begin to commiserate their dissatisfaction to each other.
Sound familiar? Maybe a bit too familiar?
Maybe these few like-minded Brothers begin to congregate for camaraderie over drinks outside, after the meeting. Next thing you know, guess what starts to happen? Hint: misery loves company.
Let’s now put this example squarely into the month or two before most go dark. The possibility now rises that not only one may not return the next year – three don’t. Or worse.
This is the multiplier effect in action, and in a way most never anticipate.
Let’s see why this example might have legs, rather than being swept aside as just a bunch of silly conjecture, shall we?Note: Again, before we continue, I want to implore that I am not taking ‘shots’ or trying to demean any program or anyone that may have participated in these programs. There are always (and I know a few) ‘exceptions to the rule.’ But what most fail to consider, is that those ‘exceptions’ do more to prove the rule, rather than disprove it. Not understanding this alone can be in and of itself, disastrous in many cases. So with that said, let’s continue.
Further enhancing this dilemma is the possibility that in the all-out rush to bolster the roles with “One day Masons” and other well-intentioned programs...
It is highly likely our exampled new member or group of new members, via a lax West Gate, may turn out to be the very catalysts enabling our above scenario. i.e., Creating a multiplier effect in the exact opposite direction of initial intent.
Again, truly ponder this, don’t let it just slip by into an afterthought. It’s too important as I’ll detail further.
Through just their dissatisfaction (or misunderstanding) under the guise of “This is it?” one feeds into the others to wonder “Yeah, I’ve been here now two years, is this it?!” All as they sit either at the foot of the hill we see on our 3D model or are just beginning the climb.
This group potentially may also constantly question themselves by thinking “Why am I doing this, again?” as another asks them “Is there any green beans left?”
Worse, no one seems to be able to supply any real answer they can latch onto. That is, except what they have been discussing with “the others” in what will appear to be an ever-strengthening meeting-of-the-minds in dissatisfaction.
Think about this very carefully, because this is where 2D plans to measure metrics for efficacy can make things even worse. Most don’t realize these very real possibilities.
Again, it’s quite possible, if not probable, that our current attempts to bring in more members to begin ‘the circle’ has the very real possibility as an exponential catalyst for demits.
Let me state that again for emphasis...Not only is it quite possible, it may be more than probable, that our current attempts to bring in more members to begin has the very real possibility for acting as an exponential catalyst for demits.
Let me use an example that is not fraternal, yet we all can relate to-- Retail “Sales!”
Question: If doing bigger and deeper markdowns with “on sale!” promotions was the key to more customers and more sales – why is it these very stores are always the ones that seem to go out of business the fastest?
Hint: Eventually all that’s left to entice is “selling dollar bills for 99 cents” and the brainiac reasoning they’ll make up the difference in later sales. It does attract, but for what end?
At the beginning I stated that this is a process that happens to any organization over time, affecting the original entrepreneurial thinking, as a business moves from startup to more organizational constructs. So let me explain why that is...
Entrepreneurs, more often than not, don’t work by what we call “the standard business plan.” The reason is simple: either they’ve never been required to in past employment. Or, they know the fallacy of most of them via either watching them fail and fail over again through past employers. And/or they’re now killing their competition that is following one.
There’s also another possible hidden aspect...
Maybe they don’t know the reason why they’re not following “a business plan” but it doesn’t matter to them – they’re too busy taking market share to ponder it.
However, here’s the true fundamental reason or differentiator...
They think and execute in 3D – in real-time – adjusting, adding, dropping whatever they need to do to make it entirely back around our 2D circle example (or thought process) time and time again, learning what and what not to do, on the fly as they reach any plateau or hill, up or down.
Side note for context: People love to use Apple as an example, so I’ll use one that most don’t fully comprehend that fits into this whole “sale” idea.
Apple, for all intents and purposes, has no sales or discounts in regards to their competitors and never has. Yet, Apple makes more profit, repeat, more profit on the sale of one iPhone® than the cumulative total profit of all its competitors. Again, combined. That is part of the true genius of Jobs. i.e., not just the product, but the idea and understanding of business. In other words: He concentrated on why the product was worth more and why people would not only pay more but wanted to “lick it” using his words. Not how cheap he had to be in the marketplace.
So what are the forces that draw or flatten out our 3D environment into a 2D representation?
Usually what happens goes something like this...
When any enterprise originally starts, the need to remember, know or contemplate the 3D model is near nonexistent if not totally so. i.e., It’s immaterial.
However, that doesn’t mean one is not being executed. In other words - it can be made manifest via intuition or just plain old trial and error, whether they are aware of it or not.
Or, said differently - they may not know why they’re doing something, but they know what’s working or what’s not through trial and experiment until either something does - rinse, repeat. Or, they go out of business.
Yet, when an enterprise begins to grow and expand, what happens to most companies is a process that quells their competitive edge, as well as their competent one.
What they’ll begin to do is - they allow their once intuitive picture and understanding as to plan, execute, and more (e.g., our 3D interpretation) and allow a process to begin as to squish it all down into the 2D model.
The reason for this, many times, is just the simple process of time. But why?
What happens over time is they look to prior models and/or results to help direct them, but all they see (and all they can extrapolate) is the ‘plan from above’ as we demonstrated with our circle and paper. (Remember the difference between your view of holding it and a view from the ceiling exercise?)
This is where the well-intentioned believe “they know the path!” and what to do to make it around, yet they are not fully cognizant of all the 3D model obstacles. All they’ll infer (and see) via extrapolation is our flat 2D circle. (This propensity is most prominent in the “managerial” strata.)
And if you’re possibly thinking, “Well, if we do the same things, regardless of the model, wouldn’t we see the same results?”
Great question, and here’s the answer: Absolutely not, as a matter of fact, the results of doing the exact same thing could prove disastrous.
How can we show this using just our simple circle? Easy...
Now that you are aware of all the above, let’s use the same process and the example I iterated for let’s say, “Replace yourself” program. All we’re going to change is one thing.
With your original version of the 2D circle paper model in front of you, on the desk or table. All I want you to do is move (or rotate) our starting point (e.g., arrowhead) from the right-hand side so that its now directly in front of you. e.g., 90˚.
Think there’s a difference in what is needed and what will manifest next? Let’s see, shall we?
Lift your paper back up as you did earlier doing the same exercise with dropping your left hand about four or five inches.
Notice a difference? Hint: not only do you not have any area for a running start, nor wind at your back momentum. Now, it’s all exertion to not only break inertia but also, even more, to even continue any momentum.
Our “candidate” is now starting their journey directly in the middle of a hill. And should they lose just a tad of traction, or run into any exhaustion? They will suddenly begin gaining momentum via Sir Issac’s observational genius. Only this time - it’s in the wrong direction.
See the other glaring issue here? For what does the view from above see?
Hint: No difference but for a moved starting location on the same path. i.e., Do the same thing as prior and we’ll get the same results. It does not anticipate his plight, because, from that vantage point, there is no hill. 2D, remember?
Again, using this simple model you can now see how one type of strategy and tactic for execution is going to run straight into a “dead before it even begins” reality-based world-of-hurt.
Said differently - it’s destined to fail as soon as it begins – often – miserably so.
As I implied earlier, over time what precipitates this is: The instinctive factor for intuitively understanding the difficulties of a 3D environment, even when expressed using a 2D plan, gets lost or forgotten, to where everyone begins viewing everything via the 2D plane in isolation.
Again, as I iterated prior, more often than not how this manifests is where people look back at past cause and effects and try to extrapolate as to either explain (or many so-called “business guru’s” just make up) and/or “connect the dots” as they say.
However, what usually transpires is nothing more than our “looking from above” scenario, yet it has all the appearances as if “they’ve found the path!” Yet, it’s not going to be anything like “their path” knowing now what we’ve experimented with here using our simple circle. Is it?
Let’s ponder a bit on what we’ve covered...
As we’ve just shown from a top-down approach, looking back: It can be very deceiving as to where many are convinced they’re following the right path. But more often than not, the pitfalls inherent as to how to plan and execute a 2D plan in a 3D world can dramatically show how doing repeating past measures, whether a reiteration of something before or a now “new and improved” etc., etc., etc. May not hold us at par.
Rather, stealthily contained within this model - it has an innate ability to self-accelerate itself into oblivion via the “hills and valleys” which are unavoidable.
For they are there, regardless if we want to pay heed to them - or not.
What happens when we don’t?
Disgruntled PMs, District lines or GL’s begin calling for even more action from even more despaired members. It begins to feed upon itself. “Do something, anything!”
That’s also when things such as ‘finger pointing’ and others begin to accelerate via momentum.
Of course, there are also the other declarations for doing nothing as doing something that sounds a bit like, “We need to do more!” Yet, when someone does suggest something “different” it gets answered with “Not on my watch!” or “That’s not the way we do things around here!” and worse.
It’s a self-fulfilling manifestation for demanding something be done while causing nothing to happen. It’s a classic.
Let me again remind you - this is not an issue isolated to Freemasonry as I’ve alluded – it’s inherent in all business.
It’s just all about knowing what you're actually trying to combat and why, with the right strategy or tactics, which are the key to battling it. And yes, this is a battle for survival, both for us, as well as any enterprise.
Now I know you’re asking, “OK, but now, even if one agreed with all this. Just how would they go about getting those others to buy in or get on board?”
Great question, let’s approach it this way...
The key to all of this is as simple as it is elegant of an exercise.
More often than not it’s all about perspective that changes things – not a reinvention of the wheel. Or in our case – circle.
Just think about all we’ve just described. Again, truly contemplate it, because this is basically what we are doing.
It’s not that people are doing the wrong things or following the wrong path because they’re not committed to trying to fulfill the best this fraternity has to offer, or out of any malice to change.
It’s just they're probably applying the wrong strategy and tactics - thinking or even believing - they’re following the correct path by conflating past models or successes looking both from afar, as well as above.
All most see is the 2D not understanding that 2D really is a flattened version of a 3D model that needs to be implemented.
It’s not a personal failure of leadership or the fault of anyone or anybody.
It’s a simple thing that happens to all businesses and others over time.
And here’s the key: If you “get this?” They will too, but it will be up to you to demonstrate it and allow them to “get it” too.
And once perception is changed - mountains once deemed insurmountable become molehills in comparison.
It’s about time we began reapplying many of the now-forgotten entrepreneurial spirit and thinking that allowed us to get here in the first place.
If we don’t?
We’re just going to keep attracting men, that in reality, belong in the _____________ (fill in your social organization of choice here).
Hope to see you in the next installment.
~ Mark St. Cyr
Bonus: Here’s a GIF that has a few more complex examples in structure, but the point is the same. i.e., See how simple something appears from the 2D perspective, then see how you’ll need to be prepared to handle traversing it in a 3D one.