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Reflective Human Action

Reflective Human Action
On-Line Curriculum

Week 1 - The Nature of Reality: Principles of Reflective Human Action

Topics: The Nature of Reality, the New Science, Natural Laws, Accepting Chaos
Objective: Notice and reflect on experience about how chaos sets new energy in motion in a system.

This week's assignments:

  1. Read the E-Lecture On-line and Chapter One in the accompanying text.
  2. Participate in the two discussion questions.
  3. Complete one reflection activity, posting your observations.


  • What does physics have to do with leadership?
  • What do natural laws and human nature have in common?
  • What natural laws are evident in the course of a human interaction or group dynamic?
  • Do systems have similar characteristics?
  • What does the solar system have in common with an organizational system?

Do these questions create a chaotic state in your mind? If so, you are on the right track to begin this course in Reflective Human Action!

In Week 1 Readings, you will be introduced to deep philosophical, scientific, and spiritual questions and theory about the nature of reality. In the new view of reality described in the readings, it may appear that Western science is merging with Eastern thought, creating a new order!


Have you ever complained about how things are always changing? If you listen to conversation around you, particularly if it involves people over 40, you will frequently hear comments that indicate a desire to resist change, control change, or manage change. Change is often framed as an aggressor, "victimizing" the population upon which it descends!

The reality of change is that it creates chaos. If each person could, in fact, accept chaos, rather than resist it or deny it exists, our world would be able to organize itself toward effective solutions. Natural law says that we will self-organize when we accept chaos. For in accepting chaos, we will share information, develop relationships and embrace vision. In other words, when we accept chaos, we naturally enter into a process that will seek solutions. This self-organizing naturally creates a process of renewal in any system—even those made up of human beings!

This principle is part of the theory of "the New Science".

In the new science, control of a situation relies NOT on denial of chaos and attempts to maintain order, but rather acceptance of chaos and entering into a process of engagement with others.

Discussion #1:

Have you ever noticed that when two or more seemingly opposites come together, chaos occurs? When those opposites rub together, some storming occurs in the relationship, but through that interaction a new energy is created in the system. This energy is a synergistic, creative energy. Using this situation as a reference point, have you ever experienced this process in a relationship where you have moved from "forming" into "storming" into "performing" and then "norming?" How does your experience relate to the principles of the new science: accept chaos, share information, develop relationships, and embrace vision?

Discussion #2:

"Chaos: the final state is a system's move away from order." What does this mean to you? Give evidence of your interpretation.

Activity: Choose Option I or II

Option I: Reflection

Think about an individual with whom you have some difficulty. Describe that individual in terms of why you don't get along. Ask yourself and reflect on this idea: What if the opposite were true? What if the individual didn't have the "negative qualities" you describe, but, in fact, those "negative qualities" are what you radiate and only see by reflection (like a mirror) in the other person?

Explore the possibility that you exhibit the very qualities that you don't like in the other person. Talk to at least one person about the possibility that you exhibit those qualities.

Post your observations in relation to self: reference any new information you discovered, describe how that new information changed the relationship, and describe the new vision of yourself.

Option II: Reflection

Observe a head of broccoli. Notice how the smallest piece reflects the same shape as the whole? A natural law is: The whole system is contained in every part of the system.

Reflect on a system that you belong to—your academic department, your family, a team. List positive and negative qualities you have observed in that system. Then reflect on how you exhibit those same qualities.

Notice the patterns in other members of the system. Reflect on how you exhibit those same patterns. Share your observation with one other person in the system.

Post your observations as you relate to the natural law of "each part contains the whole." Reference any new information you discovered, describe how that new information changed your relationship to the system and your relationships within the system, and describe the new vision of yourself.

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