Tuesday, November 08, 2011



Whenever we undertake something - learning a new technique/skill, deciding on a particular course of action - we do so, usually because there is an OBVIOUS VALUE in doing so. I write a new book, sell it, and I get a few thousand dollars in income from it (if all goes well) - that's an obvious value. I learn a new sweep, and make it work in sparring - that's an obvious value. You get te idea ... What is really worth considering though, is the less obvious or OBLIQUE VALUE thta we get from learning new things, or taking new courses of action. To re-visit the two former examples that I have given: if I write a book and publish it, I might receive a few thousand dollars income from it (obvious value) but I also learn HOW TO write a book, HOW TO get it published, HOW TO promote it (something I don't do well), etc - in short, I have acquired a new set of skills that may be used again and again, perhaps even in novel ways. This is the LESS-THAN-OBVIOUS or OBLIQUE VALUE from undertaking the task. If I learn a new sweep and get to apply it in sparring, I get that OBVIOUS VALUE from it - but I have also learned to use my body in a new way, I have a new way of moving, of thinking about things - these are skills that may serve me well in many other aspects of my game - this is the OBLIQUE VALUE that I receive. To use a wonderful example of how this works in the natural world, I will use an example that genius extraordinaire Buckminster Fuller used to cite on occasion: consider a bee, zooming from flower to flower, collecting pollen to take back to the hive. The bee's primary purpose in this activity, the OBVIOUS VALUE if you like, is to collect food - but what about the less obvious (but incredibly important) value of the cross-pollination that occurs as a result; flowers get to multiply! In my view, it often seems that the OBLIQUE VALUE can be greater (and further reaching) than the obvious value whenever we learn a new skill or take an action. Perhaps by weighing up the less obvious, OBLIQUE VALUE of actions, we can better determine whether the action/decision is a good one to undertake. Worth consideration ... JBW

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Can see how this relates to your more recent post, John. When you receive your new belt and more importantly, the knowledge that goes with it, the obvious value to you is that you are more able and confident on the mat. The oblique value is the value to the tribe from your ability to "cross-polinate" or educate others with your newfound knowledge. This will lead to a greater oblique value as you are now a more respected member of the tribe. Good all around.

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