How do we move ourselves and others from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’? — Vivienne Schultz

Optimum Human

A new monthly column by social entrepreneur and A2B Transformation Group founder  Vivienne Schultz.

What does it mean to be human?

Ephesians 3:19 May you be filled with all the fullness of God

This is one of those bible verses that boggle the mind. How can the fullness of God be present in us humans, given that our world is in such a state?

Nope, I am not one of those who bemoan evil as a reason not to believe.

Living up to your potential
Instead, my question is: If we carry this kind of potential in us, why are we not living up to the challenge?

For you the question might be —

  • How do I create an ecosystem in my home, ministry or church as a space that builds resilient, responsive humans who constantly move towards their unique design and state of dominium?
  • Why are my employees losing their willpower and not sustaining productivity?
  • How can my business pursue profit and simultaneously optimise every human in the organisation?
  • How do I turn my NGO into a sustainable, profit-making venture where employees are not dependently awaiting their paycheck; where dependent beneficiaries become go-getters, self-starters, decision makers and problem-solvers, in charge of their own destiny?

In my work at The A2B Transformation Movement over the past 20 odd years, I have been assisting leaders and organisations to understand the workings of their own mind, in order to optimise their responsiveness to the challenges that they are occupied with.

I have discovered some staggering truths along the way — the most astounding of which is the capacity of our minds. The brain is neuroplastic and has an almost endless capacity to learn, relearn, adapt and change. If we can understand how both the lower and higher brain function, we can facilitate deep transformation in the people we work with — and in ourselves. Indeed, we can redefine our human being and our human doing.

The flipside is also true: When we are not stepping up to the challenges of our time, we are simply not using the full capacity of our neurons. Our research has shown that about 85% of South Africans regardless of age, race or education, have low levels of responsiveness, and can therefore be called dependent responders. The only way our nation seems to respond to challenges is by fighting, running away or simply freezing and not doing anything.

Call it the renewal of the mind, or human transformation. The point is that unless we understand the neurology of theology and learn how we can self-start, at best our work will set us up as rescuers and givers, which make only us feel like “I can” while our beneficiaries are doomed to remain dependent receivers, left with deeper feelings of “I can’t.”

Time to destroy dependency
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, famously said that when you have a thought for someone else, you have already colonised them.

Let that sink in. I believe a substantial bit of our Christian ministry, our human resource development in the business world and the non-profit sector is simply colonising the minds of our employees or beneficiaries.

This is not easy on the ear. But how often have you heard or expressed frustration because you have “brought people to the water, but if they don’t drink you reckon it is their problem”. If a person is unable to drink, you are simply not conscious of or proficient in dealing with the underlying volition deficit that is causing the low levels of occupational responsiveness.

The hard truth is that a handout thrice given, lays the foundation for the dependency pathology in a vulnerable human’s mind. The fourth handout turns acute dependency into chronic dependency, resulting in the beneficiary’s entitlement behaviour. Bleeding-hearted philanthropic Christians unintentionally become the enemy of empowerment!

An example is the inner city of Pretoria. It now hosts the fastest growing population of street dwellers, because so many churches offer soup kitchens and handouts. If we are effective in our work, the numbers should not be climbing as it consistently has over the past 10 years.

Our ministry needs to create a throughput where beneficiaries are inducted into a crystal clear vision of their end result (self-efficacy), and take full ownership contractually before they start. We need to put in place a developmental map with timeframes of expected movements from one level of responsiveness to another — from A (dependent levels) to B (autonomous adaptive and contributive responsiveness).

  • Do you believe in the neuroplasticity ability of the human mind to change; or are you feeding the dependency of those around you?
  • Do you have high internal volition, or has your own brokenness taken you to a place where you feel a sense of satisfaction to give handouts to others?

The bible does say in Mark 14:7 The poor you will always have with you. But I beg you, let it not be the same poor! Incubate those who come your way “out of their comfort zone.” Offer them new challenging opportunities where they can get “I can!” moments and form new protein formations in their brain from the stretched experiences.

What you need is the real you
I have received international recognition ( for the systemic change methodology and measuring tool I developed through The A2B Transformation Movement. After 20 years of trial and testing in every facet of South African society we have incubated humans to become the heroes our society needs right now. The good news is that the leader you are looking for can be you.

Once ordinary people understand the functioning and potential of the brain, and practically how to renew it, anybody can and has the ability to become a change maker — be that as a parent in your family, a minister in a church or an entrepreneur.

In this column I will help you discover a whole new language for human empowerment, new tools to effect change and real-life examples and testimonies of people who have discovered how to rewire their own responses. Some of these people are only 13 years old!

I am pleased to meet you, and looking forward to discovering new solutions to old problems with you. Together we can finally move from A to B.

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