For a truly robust approach to life, and it’s unending problems, challenges, and discoveries, we can use a multi-dimensional mapping system. Many maps are quite useful just in two dimensions, and so unless we know we need more dimensions, we can start there.
My suggestion for our systems map is to use direction of movement of resources as one dimension — which I call input and output — and then let the second dimension represent the specific individual who is giving or receiving the resource – either self or other. We can start with the simplest version of this map by making it only black-or-white. This way we have only four possible destinations on our map:
1. Self input, other input – what we want
2. Self output, other input – what I can give you
3. Self input, other output – what you can give me
4. Self output, other output – what we can make together
From what I can tell, every good plan for a truly fun, rewarding, and successful trip includes visiting all four of these different landmarks.
So, for example, when you are writing a news story, or designing curriculum, or creating a business or organization you can aim for these four waypoints in your process so that you know you’re covering all the possible territory of human relationships.
And, if you want to go into more detail on your map, and ensure that you’re covering the whole diverse range of human motivations (inputs) and creations (outputs), you can add all the different basic types of input and output, allowing for specific waypoints on your map for food, water, air, warmth, light for the possible inputs, and solids, liquids, gases, and energy for the possible outputs. (This gives us 65 possible landmarks!)
With any larger project, where your “self” becomes a unique group, such as a partnerships, team, or company, and the “other” becomes the rest of the world, you will be able to have a variety of types of individuals who are interested in and skilled at getting to each different waypoint. Most projects will only be able to address some waypoints, though some projects such as governments, schools, workplaces, and homes will need to address all of the possibilities, so knowing which ones you definitely want to get to will help in designating leaders for each route.
For example, if you want to make sure that there is clean air for your team, it’s useful to know about the inputs and outputs of plants. For starters, plants are great at producing oxygen and at filtering toxins out of the air. So for your team’s (self’s) air input, you can get lots of plants to serve as the other’s gases output. The plants will also act as the other’s gas inputs for your self’s output of gases (mostly carbon dioxide). And… if you compost your self’s solid wastes output, the plant will also act as the other input for solids whenever it needs more soil, as soil is what plants eat as food inputs. And some of the plant’s solid outputs can meet your food input needs, too! And who knows what new, creative outputs your team and the plants can do together! Which means that even if you are only interested in covering the waypoints of air input for your team, by using plants as the other, you can easily cover many more waypoints, making your project more efficient and more productive at the same time. Whoo hooo!
So yeah, whether you are looking at a simple, short term project of your own, or organizing a much larger scale project, you have a map you can use to ensure that you really know, quite thoroughly, where you are heading, so that you can spend all of your resources getting there in the way that best suits your needs.
And if you want any help personalizing this more general map, I’m happy to offer my energy to you, because I think we both want you to get to someplace even better than where you are right now, right?