On giving and receiving…

November 6, 2012

A couple weeks ago my wife and I had an opportunity to become participants in a wonderful initiative – the healthy living program created by the Pure North S’Energy Foundation.  Pure North is a non-profit foundation that was started in Calgary by philanthropist Allan Markin.  Allan is the former chairman of the successful Canadian oil and natural gas producer, Canadian Natural Resources Limited – a company he co-founded with a small team over 20 years ago.

Now the program that Pure North is delivering is one of empowering people to take action in leading and living healthy lifestyles.  It is available to anyone within the communities it is being offered and the benefits are quite amazing.  Here’s an overview of the program:

  • during an initial appointment blood and urine samples are taken along with a response to an extensive list of questions about family history, lifestyle, and a health profile.
  • based on responses to the questions a supplement program consisting of vitamins and minerals is recommended.
  • during the initial appointment all recommended supplements which you are willing to integrate into your personal health strategy are provided free of charge.  Also future supplements will be continued to be supplied for only the cost of shipping. 
  • Test results will be reviewed at a later date with you the participant and one of the foundations medical staff to tailor your supplement program to your personal needs
  • Follow-up testing will provide a way to track the impacts of the program.

Now the monetary cost of this program?  The only charge is shipping fees for the supplements which is about $25 every three months.  However the non-monetary costs are:

  1. your commitment to not only improve your health through supplements made available to you but to also engage in lifestyle changes
  2. you agree to follow-up testing
  3. you allow your data to be used confidentially for the purpose of studies into the impacts of the prescribed program

In my opinion this is a very generous program and a beautiful example of giving back to community both to participants in the program and to science for understanding the value of pro-active health care through supplement use and proper testing.  Now what’s interesting for me is how I have been reacting to the program.  I have been and continue to be a strong believer in supplement use so this aspect of the program resonated well with me.  However in the past when I paid for testing and supplements I could never sustain it for long periods of time… I used them as a short term intervention.  With this program I feel an obligation to the foundation and to the generous gift of free supplements and testing.  In essence there is an unwritten contract between me, myself, and the foundation based on obligation.  I have often heard people say that its better when people pay for something since they then value it more.  I agree with this to a certain extent however when there is deep gratitude and obligation I think that’s where it’s different.  I’m excited to remain compliant with the Pure North program and to see the health benefits in the coming months and years.

Now the link to complexity science and our work here at CE?  Well as I thought about this motive to comply with this program and me valuing the supplements provided to all of us program participants I suddenly saw a parallel with a paradox we often mention when we provide CE training.  The paradox pertains to the complex domain and is:

“The more control you assert… the less control you have.  The more control you relinquish… the more control you have.”

Now thinking of this similarly to the compliance obligation I feel towards Pure North, when one is in complex situations the act of relinquishing control is to in fact grant control to others to lead themselves and often in situations where they want more control.  This gift of authority and empowerment is then often received with a sense of gratitude and in return control is reciprocated.  Hence as you relinquish or pass down control you in fact get gifted control back.  I never thought about this paradox in this way but thanks to the generosity of the Pure North S’Energy foundation I have a deeper appreciation for the power of giving.

The photo to the right is of some of the supplements provided by the program. The irony was that when I took this photo my two children were counting their candy from Halloween with much excitement and sugar-induced energy.  In a strange parallel I was just as excited with my large bag of health supplements from Pure North.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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