Philosophy, Psychology and Math

     On a regular basis with both my undergraduate and graduate students we'll discuss how there are three things in this life that determine one's level of success and or happiness (because achieving one doesn't necessarily require the other).
  1. Philosophy: What do we believe about the meaning and purpose of life and how does it then lead us to behave?  For me this includes one's theology regardless of logic as logic models can't solve every human problem.
  2. Psychology: How well do we understand ourselves as well as the behavior of others which allows us to interact productively, innovate and grow.
  3. Math: Can we live within our means and balance a checkbook, or at least save more than we spend if we don't use checking accounts.
     If we don't know what we believe or even desire to understand ourselves, we lack a foundation to stand upon with which we build a case for activity or action.  We follow whatever seems "popular" at the moment and blindly wander, blown by every wind that comes along.  If we have no understanding of ourselves we will lack self control and the ability to navigate the complicated world of humanity. If we have no understanding of others then the continual negotiation of mutual objectives to achieve the greater good fails because we either won't listen or become bound in preconceived and often wrong theories of those we interact with.  

    Clearly across the planet we're currently dealing with an inability to compute even basic math of inputs versus outputs, or created such complicated algorithms that nobody could follow them leading to the global economic crisis.  Both sides of that coin are true. JP Morgan's $2 billion dollar loss in the past six weeks shows we still haven't learned from the prior crisis. Nothing is better for hedging your bets on the markets than simple cash savings which isn't leveraged against anything.

    If you haven't taken time recently to attempt any kind of self assessment, you might check out This I Believe.  Over 100,000 essays, several books, as well as audio content from around the world.  Can you take ten minutes to write a couple of pages of your personal beliefs?  As Paul stated "I resolve to know one thing and one thing only, Christ and Christ crucified."  Remember Paul was a businessman and a community leader before his paradigm conversion to Christianity. If you read Augustine his life prior to becoming a church leader wasn't quite exemplary either. The math portion may be more complicated, but now more than ever we should understand how we're all financially connected as well.

     The more of us who both understand and then live according to the values, ethics and morals that form our own behavior in thought, speech and action, the less likely there is for failure on the level we've seen in both business and government over the past twenty years.  Then again it may never be possible to eliminate the greed and narcissism that chooses stockholders over stakeholders,  self indulgence over community, and political class over the greater good.   

    My circle of influence isn't that large so I'll devote my energy to where I can have positive impact, leaving the consequences of individuals who harm disadvantaged populations to a higher power. And I'm not running an algorithm in advance to determine the return on investment because that inhibits the doing. Some costs are beyond counting.   This I believe.


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