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The treasures of transitions

Posted by Theresa Waggott on 1 November 2016 | 0 Comments

The treasures of transitions

Autumn is a beautiful time of year. Nature turns to her paint set and creates spectacular scenery far beyond the imagination of most of us. Every shade of red, orange, yellow and brown appears amongst the trees and hedges; shy at first, then boldly stating that the seasons are changing. Every leaf, flower, fruit and vegetable knows the part it plays in the process. And in turn, we take our cue to dig out cosy jumpers, cook up hearty soups and enjoy kicking through the increasing piles of leaves on crisp weekend walks.

Different elements of the seasonal changes may appeal to us each in varying degrees. However, none of those elements exists in isolation. Right down to the smallest microbe, every individual part influences the others. 

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson said: “wisdom is the intelligence of the system as a whole”.  It could be said that it is in the relationships between all parts of the system where it becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  This is as true in human behaviour as it is in nature.

Whatever career we choose, we become part of a system. Even in seemingly solitary vocational pursuits, we become part of a wider picture. For example, an artist may spend a great deal of time in their own company, yet they still have interactions with customers, suppliers and subjects who may sit for them. The teams we work in may vary from just two people up to hundreds of thousands of people, all taking their place in the pattern. No matter what size the group is, every individual element has an influence and the opportunity to make a difference.

Edward Lorenz (1972) coined the phrase ‘butterfly effect’, which describes the potential for a relatively small action having great future consequences in a different part of the system. The example often cited is a butterfly flapping its wings resulting in a tornado in another country. Within our existence, we have the ability to affect other parts of the sub-systems and overall system we inhabit. And, to use another familiar phrase, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. In our working life we have the power to make positive or negative differences.

In his 1972 book, ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’, Bateson said: “I suggest to you, now, that the word “idea,” in its most elementary sense, is synonymous with “difference”.” He went on to say: “information is a difference that makes a difference”.

The success of any system is dependent on the relationships within. There is something almost intangibly wonderful about the creativity, ideas and innovations that can evolve when more than one mind comes together. After all, it is the relationship between the sun and the earth that creates the beauty of our seasons, yielding a tasty pumpkin soup and the fall of autumn leaves.

Taking all of this into account, I ask you, what difference are you going to make, to make a difference?

If this article has piqued your interest, we have a fantastic course on ‘Curiosity, Mindset and Resilience’ that might be right up your leaf-strewn street. Get in touch to find out more. Contact us today at


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