Honour value. Get the give and take into dynamic equilibrium. Zero exploitation.
When the Principle of Exchange is working well, all parties feel valued. No one feels that they are giving more, working harder, spending more time, and not being appreciated. The relationships are void of any form of resentment. There is zero exploitation, zero extraction to extinction.
To understand the Principle of Exchange, we must first understand dynamic equilibrium.
Equilibrium occurs when all acting influences are cancelled by others. When this happens there is no polarity, and hence a collapse of the system into a zero point. Dynamic Equilibrium is the desired form of equilibrium — the dance between the zero point and the polar pairs. Dynamic Equilibrium is a dynamic balance. Permanent equilibrium is stasis and death.
Nature exhibits a dynamic drive towards equilibrium. For example, if you enter a warm room in winter, allowing some of the outside cold air in as you enter, that cold air will quickly equalise to a mean temperature, rather than stay as a pocket of cold air.
Similarly, we humans seek a dynamic equilibrium in our work and life, through the exchange of value.
Value — what we value, why we value, how we value — is a very individual thing.
Our cultural measure of value presently is money.
I buy a loaf of bread, and I will pay anywhere from a few dollars to $8 plus, depending on the type of bread I value and my capacity to pay. If I am starving and there is only one loaf to be had, I could pay more for it if I had the money and still consider that I have received fair value for my money exchange.
The sovereign currencies we use — The US dollar, the Australian dollar — the Pound Stirling — are mono currencies. Monocultures do not survive in nature. Eventually, the greedy hyenas from the movie The Lion King, consume everything and end up starving.
There are many other forms of currency that we either use, or could design to use, to honour value.
Humans of the last few hundred years have to date failed to deploy complementary currencies at a whole-systems level that truly honours multiple domains of value.
By denying other currencies we shackle ourselves to the very system that enslaves us.
I may have an abundance of time. Time, therefore, has less value to me. You, on the other hand, are really busy and have little available time. Time becomes of high value to you, for which you may willingly pay a premium for services that restore time to your life.
Or I may get my vital emotional needs met by taking care of someone. The caretaker role could allow me to feel loved, needed or important. Therefore I spend time willingly as a caretaker, receiving the exchange of my time, skills, love and attention for feeling loved and needed in the process.
You may be creative, and love to work with people on new ideas. Time spent in this domain, which is not part of your paid work, could really nourish your soul, and therefore give you such value that you are happy to do this for no fee or a small fee.
However, if the value equilibrium is broken, if the forces of ‘give and take’ are not balanced within a boundary of arbitrary measured time, then a situation occurs where there is an experience on one or both sides of the values exchange where there is more give, less take, or more take, less give.
This situation is unsustainable in the long term, both at the micro-level, which occurs between two or more people, and at the macro level, which we are facing in almost all of our current global crises. For example, we have been, as a human race, taking far more value from the Earth, from Nature, than we have been giving back. If we did the all-in-accounting cost, which includes the cost for Earth and Nature to make the rock, the chemical, the oil, the fossil, the stone, the tree, the water, the animals — and also included the post-use cost — the waste, recycling, breakdown of plastics over hundreds of years or more — then the majority of human enterprises would be unable to exist at all if we are using our current monetary, economic and profit based metrics.
A true all-in-accounting measure would make almost every business on earth unprofitable.
The Principle of Exchange is critical to any successful relationship.
Common examples where this principle is not working…
“Why don’t you ever help me around the house?”
“I seem to do everything around here!”
“I do all the work and he gets all the accolades!”
“I seem to attract relationships where I get to work hard, make all the money and my partner hangs out having a good time, living off my work!”
The Principle of Exchange
For the purpose of this article, we shall look at the Principle of Exchange through the lens of two people. If one person becomes aware that their value exchange is no longer in place, they will experience resentment. Initially, this is a mild form of resentment, however, as the situation continues, the resentment will build and has the potential to become explosive/destructive. The Principle of Exchange is broken.
A simple example: I give my time in a work situation, for which I am paid an agreed salary. My manager keeps asking me to do more and more tasks, and take on more and more responsibilities, without any increase in salary. For some people, this situation would be acceptable. They may be getting their needs met — needs to feel important, to make a contribution, to be a vital team player, to have a secure job. However, another person who has a high need for family and home life will quickly experience a loss of equilibrium and will start to feel resentment on an escalating scale.
As leaders and managers, it is crucial that we understand this Principle of Exchange and be constantly monitoring the flows of exchange and value. Any signs of resentment towards the company, or towards the manager or another team member is a likely red flag that the Principle of Exchange needs to be brought back into equilibrium. In a Syntropic Enterprise, the use of the agreement for all enterprise participants to practise Clean Communication ensures that the people themselves are constantly managing the dynamic equilibrium of exchange, removing the need for the manager or leader to do so. https://syntropic.world/clean-communication-the-foundation-of-all-great-and-enduring-relationships/
In all of our relationships at Syntropic World, we work with conscious intent to ensure that the values equilibrium is maintained and the Principle of Exchange is healthy. An element of the Pattern Integrity of Syntropic World is zero exploitation, zero extraction to extinction and zero colonisation. We do this by introducing the conversation in very clear terms at the front end of the relationship, ensuring that each party is clear on their role, what is expected of them, and what will be their values exchange.
We do this in 12 domains, as part of what we call Synergistic Accounting. We also request that if the other parties ever feel like the values exchange is moving out of equilibrium, they speak up.
This doesn’t mean we take our eye off the ball and step over any sign of resentment. We will revisit the values exchange conversation regularly to be sure all parties are within the dynamic equilibrium. This is a critical key. Many people will have this conversation at the beginning of a relationship, and then fail to revisit it regularly enough.
Often people are happy to be overly generous at the start of a relationship, but if they do not get some form of exchange, such as respect, acknowledgement, payment, or genuine appreciation, at some point they will begin to feel resentment.
Unfortunately, our society has slipped into ever-increasing levels of entitlement. The ~I deserve~ society. Or, ~I am owed~. Or, pure and simple, ~give me!~. This approach is really a “dis-ease” state, breaking the natural law of dynamic equilibrium, where the equation is strongly pitched to the take side, with almost complete neglect of the give side.
Many people who naturally gravitate to the work of Syntropic World are givers. (Are you a giver?) You give until you are a husk of yourself. You probably know the feeling of being exploited.
To be a giver without applying the Principle of Exchange debases the exquisite value that you are. It is also a violation of dynamic equilibrium — a violation of the dance of equilibrium that is Natures Law. If you are working for a world with a future for Earth and all her creatures and you cannot recognise your value, nor ask for a clear receipt of the appropriate exchange, then you are working against the very change you are seeking to make.
To break this cycle of either too much giving or too much taking a Steward Leader would:
Step 1. Clean up your own act and get back into value equilibrium.
What am I giving?
How much am I giving? This question must cover all of the following domains.
Giving stuff, matter, atoms.
Giving money, credit, and tokens.
Giving skills and tools.
Giving emotionally and spiritually.
Giving from the reservoir of your own vitality and wellbeing.
What value am I adding? (Whether it be as a taxpayer, a volunteer, a conscious recycler, an activist, a philanthropist, a mentor, teacher, coach, or lover.) Consider the same domains listed above.
What do I think I deserve in return for my giving and why — in the same domains listed above? Is it my entitlement speaking, or my true value? (Your true value is an internal recognition that is without ego. You will know if it is ego when there is any form of demanding energy, righteousness, or arrogance. True value is humility and acceptance. It does not need to make noise or tell anyone.)
Where am I taking? Consider the same domains listed above.
Where am I getting my energy for my taking? Am I an energy vampire, sucking energy by being an endless victim needing help, wallowing in my own powerlessness or illness? Do I get an energy hit when I feel I have won over someone — beaten them? When I am right, or special, or better than, or have greater endurance? Do I get my energy hit from righteous indignation? (I know that one well!) If you can be rigorously honest in answering these questions.
Step 2. Coach, teach and train others around you to be clear around their own Principle of Exchange.
A really powerful tool to do this is to understand how to manage expectations. See this article. https://syntropic.world/managing-expectations-to-create-healthier-relationships-and-better-customer-service/
Are you able to meet their expectations or not? You may need to negotiate? Far better to negotiate this at the front end.
How would they know they had experienced a win for them? What would they have, or be, or know, or be able to do if their expectations have been exceeded?
What would zero exploitation look like? Feel like? At every level — the personal, the team, the enterprise, the community, the customers, the suppliers?
One of the most beautiful elements of the Principle of Exchange as a lived activity in any enterprise, family, community or partnership is that it keeps us in a flow of conversation about value. What matters.
We can all learn to be better at having these types of conversations.
For more resources on the Principle of Exchange, please check out the Trust Manifesto for Syntropic Enterprise. https://syntropic.world/trustmanifesto
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