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Inversion Thinking: STL Edition


I recently came across a school of thought I've been reflecting on quite a bit via the blog of James Clear called, "Inversion". The principle behind it is rather than planning for success, we should plan to avoid failure. If we imagine a worse case scenario and what might trigger it, this can help us identify what the wrong direction or actions might be.

Yesterday I had lunch with Arindam Kar, partner at Bryan Cave law firm and a member of the task force formed by Lyda Krewson and Steve Stenger to investigate how St. Louis County and City can work better together and explore a merger between the two. It was an intriguing conversation for me to hear what the commission is considering as it conducts this year-plus long effort of listening and subsequently creating a plan for public review.

I enjoyed hearing the commission's positioning thus far around the questions it asks are less about how to combine the city and county but rather start by asking people hyper-local questions about what they like about where they live, what could stand to improve and what is going well. Planning for success didn't start by trying to solve the whole problem but first acknowledging that things must improve or stay relatively the same for people in their immediate community before they'll likely accept the idea of change.

The conversation with Arindam about a better future state left me thinking about inversion and a worse future state. What are we trying to avoid? Below you will find my answers to the questions, "what might it look like if our city's future is worse than the present?"

  1. Lack of caring by a citizen or group of citizens for another

  2. Concern only for one's local community rather than the region

  3. Waiting on someone else to solve a problem rather than asking, "How might I be able to help?"

  4. Lack of involvement in efforts to combat community or regional issues

  5. Contributing negative tone and language to the regional conversation rather than being constructive

  6. Refusing to live in another person's shoes to gain empathy and understanding

  7. Remain committed to things we've tried over and over again that haven't worked

  8. When you meet someone with a differing view or background, immediately judge them

  9. Note: I'm currently trying to embed the quote, "I can disagree with your opinion but cannot disagree with your experience", into my mindset when I encounter someone I am frustrated by in an attempt to at the very least gain perspective.

As you take time to reflect on the above do two things:

  1. Let me know if something needs to be added, edited or removed

  2. Reflect on if you see your actions anywhere on the above list. While I think we should all be involved in building a better future, are there actions or mindsets we are embodying that we should do less often or avoid altogether?

Go Forth Boldly


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