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August 24, 2010

“Participatory” comes close to defining the highest good in African society. It is the core meaning of the word “ubuntu” and is enshrined in the Xhasa proverb: “a person is a person through persons.” “Ubuntu” affirms an organic wholeness of humanity: that one realizes one’s full potential only through other people. “I think, therefore I am” is replaced by, “I participate, therefore I am.” Life together is the quintessence of an African understanding of what it means to be human.

From:             FORGIVENESS: THE MANDELA PRINCIPLE, by Rev. Victor H. Carpenter

In this day and age we form online relationships where we never meet the person we are communicating with, yet we have positive feelings about them. One such person I am getting to know I have mentioned before, and that is Anna Roth, Chief Executive Officer of the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. Her post on August 22nd introduced me to the article quoted above by Reverend Carpenter. I was particularly struck by the quote defining participatory. Anna’s participation in the lean community through her blog is allowing me to realize more of my potential through her insight and learning. She does the same through mine. I now come to realize that we are Participatory.

Another Participatory person that I started an online relationship with, and progressed to a telephonic relationship but ultimately met at the Training Within Industry summit in Henderson, Nevada, is Dr. Pete Patterson. Dr. Pete and I hugged like long time friends when we met because of our mutual passion for our patients. I am pleased that he was Participatory because he helped us secure our commitment to TWI because of his willingness to experiment and be involved.

Dr. Mate is also Participatory, and his guidance is helping Chugachmiut find its path to Restoring the health of our tribal members. While we want our approach to be holistic, I now know that we need to help our members reconnect with each other in an “organic” and positive way. We can achieve our full potential only through other people. Stress and Trauma take away our potential, restoration of good relationships can help us achieve that potential.

This quote was timely. I just had a lengthy conversation with a young man who has lost his path. We talked about poor relationships with people who are not whole, but afflicted with the addictions that come from early childhood trauma. The negativity that comes from such people can tear us down, and sometimes we have to sever our relationships with them while we heal. But we can still form relationships that support our mutual goals. That’s what I have found with Anna, Dr. Pete and Dr. Mate, whether we ever meet in person. As we think and participate, perhaps we can help each other become all that we can, and reach out to others to join in what we are doing.

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