The Flywheel Of Society

The Flywheel of Society

William James, in his Principles of psychology, defined genius as a little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. In his essay on habit, he referred to habit as the flywheel of society; the thing that keeps us doing what we have been doing in the past; the thing that makes us fear change regardless of the present conditions of our lives. And the genius as defined by Dr James, seems to be that rare person who knows that change is not only good, but inevitable. He anticipates the inevitable, it is he who makes change inevitable. He takes nothing for granted, has formed the habit of looking at all that is man-made as imperfect and is always in the state of evolving.

Allow me to give you an example. A certain property developer, seeking a site for a luxury hotel, with the potential to give him a good return on investment, found the perfect site. It was near a large university and at the intersection of four main roads with lots of traffic. This would mean a high potential for local trade to the restaurant. There was only one problem. An old building housing a manufacturing concern was operating on this site.

He contacted the owners of the business and told them what he wanted to do. He pointed out that since this factory had been built many years ago and was now surrounded by new establishments, he, the buyer would offer them substantially more than what they had paid for it. They could then move to a more suitable location and build a new and modern factory. The deal was closed and the buyer razed the old building and built his hotel.

What the buyer discovered afterwards was that many people in the hotel business had considered this site to be ideal for a hotel but had written it off because it was already occupied. The point is that he saw it, not with the old brick building on it, but instead with his new hotel sitting there, he looked at that site in an unhabitual way, and everyone benefited by his genius, including the community.

I believe each of us can greatly increase the value of life by taking to heart Dr, James’s definition of genius, by looking at things about us, at home, at work, with the eye of creation. To form the habit of seeing things, not as they are, but as they perhaps will be, could be, as our changing world insists they be.

Our lives are full of old brick buildings that we assume will remain standing where they are. And maybe they always will, if we don’t do something about them.

“There is nothing permanent except change. Will Rogers

If you’re still doing anything this year the same way you did it last year and will do it next year, you’re behind the times.

And from me, even a small change is better than no change.

Keep on growing


Think and grow Wealthy, Healthy and Wise


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