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“Ignition”-Motivation To Pursue Long Term Excellence

January 4, 2011

Two people I have written about before, Dr. Dee Subia-BigFoot and Matthew Syed, inspire this post with their wisdom. As we pursue our Restoration to Health Strategy, many people who commented state that the change we are seeking can only occur over a long period of time because our physical and mental health is the product of generations of issues—including more than two centuries of historical trauma, grief and loss. But as I have said to a number of our employees, unless we think big and plan expansively, we may be consigned to long, slow tortuous change.

Mr. Syed acquainted me with the concept of “Ignition.” He stated the following: “,…we are seeing the power of motivation: how a spark can ignite powerful consequences.” [i] He talks about how a spark “…does not provide a shortcut; rather it is a spark that starts one on the long and arduous path to excellence.” [ii]

Dr. BigFoot shared her wisdom with me in an email. She spoke about our inability, as children, to understand our overwhelming feelings when traumatized many times over. We descend into a dark place. My belief is that this dark place is formed as described through the Adverse Childhood Experience Study and the progeny it has encouraged, when the brain adapts to respond neurobiologically to the trauma it encounters and the stress and anxiety the trauma initiates. She went on to tell me that “Healing can be a simple act of moving from darkness into light and see oneself as being a giver and a gift.”

This simple act of moving from darkness into light might well be the ignition that Mr. Syed writes about. When we understand that we can heal, and that our brain can shed the burdens of trauma, perhaps we will have the motivation to start the long and arduous path to healing and excellence.

Ignition has occurred in at least one community. Through my research I found a paper written by Dr. Leon W. Ben[iii] where he describes the condition of the Alkali Lake Band as being 100% into the disease of alcoholism. Through the spark provided by a few tribal members, the band had a 95% recovery rate by 1985. While the path to healing was not easy, it was in fact accomplished in less than one generation.[iv] I am convinced that change can occur very quickly if we can find the Ignition event for restoring our health.


[i] Matthew Syed, “Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success.” p. 122

[ii] ibid., p. 122

[iii] Ben, Leon W., et al. “Wellness Circles: The Alkali Lake Model in Community Recovery Processes.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Arizona Educational Research Association (Tempe, AZ, November 5-6, 1992)

[iv] A generation is typically estimated to approximate 25 years.

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