Published monthly by Sharon Eakes, Hope Unlimited, LLC
**************************************************************** FOCUS: Limits to Growth
Disciplines: Systems Thinking, Team Learning, Mental Models, Personal Mastery

"The truth is, we never grow without limits."
Fifth Discipline Field Book


Part of what has made the US great is that we do not accept limits easily. After all, we have a long history of accomplishing the impossible. Combine these ingredients:
--> Rugged individualism
--> The sky's-the-limit, "can-do" attitude
--> Capitalism
and what do you get? A robust, competitive economic system of incredible creativity and productivity.

Ironically that same unwillingness to accept limits that makes us great may be our undoing. People cannot sustain 60-80 hour work weeks and thrive for long. We DO age. Death is natural. And a business cycle cannot escalate forever. I submit that denial of natural limits is a mental model that helped build the context for the large-scale cheating that is showing up in US businesses today. Without respect for natural limits, we get what Greenspan called "infectious greed."

The upside of the current business crisis from a systems perspective is that the system has been disrupted. It will inevitably reorganize. If the reorganization acknowledges that growth has limits, we may create more sustainable systems.


Here are a few things that might help us on the path to creating more sustainable systems that acknowledge limits to growth.

1. Practice proper selfishness - realize when enough is really enough and when our excesses impact others (and other systems).
2. Think of ways that "better" might not be "bigger" (change our mental model).
3. Practice consciously accepting natural limitations, ("I did a lot today, even though it wasn't everything there was to do") while challenging all 'unnatural' boundaries (racism, sexism, etc.)
4. When you are working harder and harder to get the same result, consider that perhaps a limit is being approached. Change your focus to either loosening the limit or accepting that growth is slowing or stopping. (Working harder will only result in burn-out and frustration.)
5. Identify and work creatively with the limiting factors, usually goals, norms or resources. (Not to be confused with working creatively with the numbers).
6. Create win-win, cooperative ways to work rather than win-lose, competitive approaches.
7. Insist that businesses broaden their understanding of "shareholders" to include employees, customers, suppliers, communities, as well as stockholders.


Please join me in a telegathering Tuesday, July 30, at 12:00 noon EDT (11 a.m. CDT, 10 a.m. MDT, 9 a.m. PDT) to explore the dynamics and implications of limits to growth in more depth. (702) 558-4398 No need to register....just call at that time!
Sharon is a personal and professional coach.
Reach her at 1-888-769-3494, e-mail,

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

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