The Well Formed Question

A Foundation for Action & Implications of Want

Aim at high things, but not presumptuously.
Endeavor to succeed -- expect not to succeed.

It puzzles me greatly to know what makes the successful philosopher. Is it industry and perseverance with a moderate proportion of good sense and intelligence? Is not a modest assurance or earnestness a requisite? Do not many fail because they look rather to the renown to be acquired than to the pure acquisition of knowledge...? I am sure I have seen many who would have been good and successful pursuers of science, and have gained themselves a high name, but that it was the name and the reward they were always looking forward to -- the reward of the world's praise. In such there is always a shade of envy or regret over their minds and I cannot imagine a man making discoveries in science under these feelings.

Michael Faraday

When Alice asked the Cheshire cat which way she should go, the cat replied, "It depends on where you want to get to." Oh how so often is this our dilemma. First we often have only a half baked idea of where we want to get to, and, as a result, we probably have less than a half baked idea on how to get there. What follows is intended to provide some insights regarding the formation of questions with merit, and then a manner for detailing what might be necessary to answer the question or produce the desired results.

It would appear that we have an unlimited capacity for want. Want of a better job, more money, a new car, more free time, the kids to grow up and do well, lower taxes, etc. etc. etc. Yet, do we ever spend any time considering our wants beyond the want itself. From the Argyris perspective the thermostat thinks about controlling the temperature, but does is ever think about its thoughts about controlling the temperature? Not hardly!

I felt that I gained a lot of insight into this dilemma from Robert Fritz's "The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to become the Creative Force in Your Own Life." I found that by actually thinking about my own thoughts, by why I wanted what I wanted. And when I answered that question I asked it again about the answer. By continuing this sequence until I got to the essence of what I wanted the possibilities which opened up became awesome. The difficulty I initially found in doing this was primarily due to an unwillingness to be honest with myself operating in conjunction with a whole set of mind games I played with myself with regard to self-unworthiness. I don't know how to offer others a way to get around this. I do know that it is essential.

I find it rather difficult to talk about all this stuff in general terms so I'll continue with SUN as a specific example as it represents the current state of my journey in understanding.

For well over 30 years I set goals and pursued them feverishly only to find each achievement a non-event. I experienced horrid states of depression along the way as I continued to try to figure out what it was that I wanted out of life. One day quite by accident I was talking on the phone and doodling at the same time. When the phone call was over I looked at the pad and I found that I had quite unconsciously written, "What is it that life wants from me?"

This was a statement that really peeked my interest so I pondered it for a few days. During this time I contemplated all the activities of my life that I could recall and there seemed to be a very recurring theme in all the things I remembered fondly. The theme related to learning and sharing what I had learned with others. For some reason I had never realized this before. It became evident that my real purpose in life was to learn and share what I learned with others. Not from the perspective of trying to teach other people what I had learned, but more to offer perspectives when others would find them of value. The intent was not to teach people because they needed to learn, but to aid them in finding their own way.

Once I finally hit upon this I just had to share it with others. The first person I called and shared it with was a woman I had worked with for several years and she said, "I could have told you that! Your greatest joy comes from turning on other people's light bulbs." As I talked with numerous people that knew me well their responses were much the same. They never told me because they assumed I already knew this. This sure surprised me, yet I must say that for the past several years I have been very much on Purpose.

So where does SUN come into this. In the fall of 1995 I obtained an internet account just because I was fascinated with the web and wanted to figure out how to create a web page. I also thought that rather than just do it as an exercise I would create a web page associated with something else I was fascinated with, i.e. modeling and simulation, so I did. What I didn't realize was that one web page led to 5 wish led to 50 which is now well over 500. The whole environment let to things I never intentioned and it is greatly due to interactions with others. The focus on Modeling and Simulation led to System Dynamics, which led to Systems, which has finally arrived at SUN. So why SUN?

SUN is not a pursuit because the world needs it. SUN is not a pursuit to change others. SUN is a pursuit because I want it, and I want it because I want it. SUN is a pursuit in the same fashion that a composer composes or a painter paints or a runner runs. SUN is a portion of what I am and what I am becoming. And as I progress on this journey toward somewhere it is above all else meaningful because it is meaningful. SUN is the instantiation of a passion for learning and sharing.

To those of you that read this, my apologies if it is not what you expected it to be, for it is not what I sat down to write. Yet, I guess it needed to be written and maybe someday I'll understand why.

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Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger