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what can one person do to get permaculture into a billion brains

 
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The question presented to me a couple of days ago was a little different, but for creating this thread I decided to simplify it.

I have tried what I know and I have had some success.   I think at this time I have uttered "permaculture" to 200 million people.  Maybe the word stuck for a quarter of those people.  But for permaculture to become a household word, this is still not enough.  And it is clear that I don't have what it takes to get the job done.  

So what is required?  We talked for a while and my opinion did seem to solidify.

We need an expert in marketing.  We have about 100,000 people that like gardening and natural building and stuff ...  but I think gardeners just don't have an interest in marketing.

Maybe there are permies that have a day job in marketing.  Maybe they are even doing a bit of marketing for permaculture stuff.  And I'm just not seeing what they are doing.

But to reach a billion people - that is a pretty industrial level of marketing.  Books, movies, speaking tours, podcasts ...  combined with connections and sexy charm?  

The guy asking the question didn't like this answer.  He was hoping for something in the realm of science or maybe architecture.  

What is your advice for this fella?

 
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paul wheaton wrote:Books, movies, speaking tours, podcasts ...


TikTok.

(sigh...but it is how millions and billions of eyes are seeing new ideas and spreading them like wildfire)

How about a permie media strikeforce- the stuff that has been done (books, signings, podcasts) has already been done and will keep on rolling, probably without any effort from you. The new stuff needs to come online, and Tiktok (Youtube, and new formats to come) will reach many many people around the world... you figure the majority of those billions don't speak English, but this would spread virally, and get people interested.
Imagine if there were Media Boots?
 
paul wheaton
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Imagine if there were Media Boots?



That would be nice, but it would not be one person infecting a billion brains.  

The idea is that this fella was preparing to dedicate the rest of his life to getting permaculture into a billion brains - and was asking for advice on how to do that.  

Frankly, I don't know.  But there is a lot of new platform stuff that I know nothing about.    And while I might raise $150,000 in a kickstarter, I would think that we need somebody that can raise 100 times that much.

Somebody would need to know a ton of stuff that I only barely have a vague idea of.
 
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I no have been listening to an excellent podcast recently “How to Save a Planet”.

They did an episode recently discussing the power of anthems to unite people behind a cause, and to get people acting together. It was a very interesting discussion, and relevant here.

They concluded that there is currently no effective song that could become a unifying anthem for the climate change cause, and sent out a call to action for people to write one.

Does permaculture need something similar?
 
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Michael Cox wrote:They did an episode recently discussing the power of anthems to unite people behind a cause, and to get people acting together. It was a very interesting discussion, and relevant here.

They concluded that there is currently no effective song that could become a unifying anthem for the climate change cause, and sent out a call to action for people to write one.

Does permaculture need something similar?



I agree song is a powerful way to infect minds and move people. If permaculture needs something like that, at least one pretty awesome expression already exists in the band Formidable Vegetable. All their songs are about permaculture and are an amazing tool for learning about it. Not to mention they're super catchy. Here's a great one: No Such Thing as Waste
and I don't know if I'd call it an anthem exactly, but they've got this one about the need for Climate Movement

Of course, the more the merrier. I think more people making permaculture-y music and getting it into the mainstream could really help shift some things. It would at the very least get people familiar with the concepts and hopefully would inspire some people to learn and change their behavior. I know that for me, even though I already knew about permaculture and had been practicing it, listening to this music has helped me learn it on a deeper, more embodied level.

 
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I'm not sure what a single person could do to reach a billion people, I think it would probably require a group/community of people.

One thing I do think would help reach a wider audience of people would be branching off away from things like "Climate Change". It has become synonymous with Global Warming. It is something that has become so politicized that it is an immediate turn off to a lot of people.

I think Permaculture can and should be independent from other movements, while still having parallel ideas and goals.

Marketing is a great way to promote and spread. I think there is actually a risk of marketing too successfully, to the point that "permaculture" becomes a term that corporations monetize the way they use "natural" or "organic".

I'd really hate to see "permaculture" round-up!

 
pollinator
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J Youngman wrote:I'm not sure what a single person could do to reach a billion people, I think it would probably require a group/community of people.

One thing I do think would help reach a wider audience of people would be branching off away from things like "Climate Change". It has become synonymous with Global Warming. It is something that has become so politicized that it is an immediate turn off to a lot of people.

I think Permaculture can and should be independent from other movements, while still having parallel ideas and goals.

Marketing is a great way to promote and spread. I think there is actually a risk of marketing too successfully, to the point that "permaculture" becomes a term that corporations monetize the way they use "natural" or "organic".

I'd really hate to see "permaculture" round-up!



I completely agree with avoiding comments like climate change and global warming.  I believe most of us are aware of those viewpoints, claims, or arguments and if I start hearing people talking about them I usually stop listening.  It's not that I don't care, but it is getting hammered at us from every direction and quite frankly I am tired of hearing it.  It would be very possible to talk about the various natural ways to improve the soil, improve planting and growing methods, and retain water and moisture without mentioning climate change or global warming.  Promoting what you know to conserve water can be mentioned without a problem because it will save money for those who have to pay for their water, or pay for the energy to pump their water from a well, and that can also be promoted to help conserve water which is a problem for many of us experiencing drought.  Promoting alternative ways for weed control and pest control is good and you can mention the benefits of not needing chemicals and poisons which are destroying the health of humans and animals.

I like the idea of promoting permaculture.  Perhaps a Hallmark type farming based movie where the guy or girl who years ago moved away to travel and find their self ended up at Wheaton Labs for a year or two before returning home, meets up with old friends and family and the old love interest and begins educating the town folk on how to improve the land and save the town with permaculture techniques.  If you go this route can I get a tiny little percentage from royalties?   =-)

A song would be a good idea but I think you would need a fairly big name, non-political, country singer to record it in order to get enough people to hear it and learn from it.
 
J Youngman
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I love the movie idea.

I think a movie based on the theory about the Amazon originating as a man-made food forest could be amazing.

 
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As most ideas have already some saturation and slowly move to inspire more people, I would dive deep (if I had the resources) into this regenerative agriculture (ala syntropics etc). Because in that field (pun intended) are countless souls which are active in conventional agriculture and many more are actively following this from an economic perspective (investors, etc).

There are a lot of people who can be turned. Needless to say, for me, syntropic agriculture and permaculture are so close related which results in better soil, produce and our earth. A lot of potential there.
tom
 
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My thought is that people like to be trendy. If we can present permaculture as "cool and hip", we might reach younger folks. I don't keep up with fads, so I unfortunately can't give any specific ideas for implementing the trendiness of permaculture.


People also need to know," What's in it for me?" I don't mean it in an altruistic, save the world type of incentive. I mean it in a selfish, "How will I personally benefit from this?" The answers might include healthier, better than organic food, personal exercise, savings on grocery and power bills, etc.

I'm also intrigued by the idea of a documentary. Maybe follow the life of a young family as they implement permaculture principles? I don't think another young homesteading YouTube channel, as I think that hook has been saturated. I am thinking something along the lines of a family's health improvement, budget improvements, food security, etc.
 
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Hi to all,

The challenge of getting Permaculture into a "billion brains" suggests to me (1) Mastery of media in its present form and then really hanging onto the tail of beast as it transforms. Although it can be tiresome and distracting, even feel shallow and   "cheap" to be out there marketing oneself all the time like a product, I think there is a generation or two of people are IN LOVE, I mean uber over the top in love with technology, see, live, breathe, drink technology and believe technology can provide all the answers when the chips are down. To them food scarcity is when the pizza delivery is running slow, or the line for the lattes' is 6 or more.  I think the current obsession with games, gaming, virtual currency and virtual lives bespeaks a deep dissatisfaction and a desire to unplug from the actual physical one.  As in feature films like "The Matrix" series or "Ready Player One"  modern youth and middle-generation people occupy two worlds, the mind feels better in one, the body in the other. That's a problem.  That actually has some strong similarities to people who are addicted to powerful painkillers, opiods and pills.  It's the "stop the world, I want to get off" version of coping with stress, anxiety, poverty and uncertainty.

I have personally spoken to a number of people over the years, admittedly more from urban areas, kids, youth AND sadly adults who were nature-phobic.  Soil is "dirt", meat is detached intellectually from the fact that it was once an animal.  To many people, food SHOULD be cheap. If its not, there is a tendency to blame "THE FARMER". Must be the THE FARMER. That needs to change too.  I've spoken to people who eat meat all day long but when I answered if they would ever consider killing that animal for their food, looked at me like I was a serial killer.  There is a real dysfunctional schism there--farmers are mean, ruthless and borderline evil because they kill animals.  But its okay for them to eat meat.  Go figure that one all day.

In the USA the average age of the small agricultural producer/farmer is what, in the 80s age range?  I'm sure some younger people are coming back to agriculture. I wish I knew what the average age of Permaculture-practicioners was. I suspect its alot younger than that number.

In the era of Colonial America 98 percent of all people lived on farms and worked in agriculture. In 2021 that number is flipped and remains steady. Too few of us are producing food while the rest of the world is consuming. That has to change.

Energy is changing. Fossil fuels are on their way out and it doesnt much matter to me that it will take two good generations before the "gas tank" reads empty. Anything supply and demand driven will rocket upward in price. Food is transported by internal combustion engines using diesel and gasoline, not horses and not nuclear.  If fossil fuels quit tomorrow, cities would not be the place Id like to be in when it happens.

This is a turbulent time in this country, and I think I know my country and don't pretend to speak for anywhere else.  I don't know how to not wax political about it, but maybe I'll reframe it as an economic issue. Wealth is becoming concentrated into the hands of a few, the rest of America is getting poorer and sicker. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, food allergies and cancers are on the rise.  Many places in America you can not consume the ground water for its pollutants.  Yet you will note efforts here and there, at times pretty darn sneaky, to prevent people from even collecting the rainwater that falls in their yards.  I read an article disguised as an editorial, suggesting that Mississippi floodwaters be pipelined to California.  Fights over water rights have quietly begun.  

I believe in climate change, desertification is on the march here and globally and towns burning down and places that are exhibiting plus 110 F degree plus weather which have NEVER known those temps before are real. To me, "wait and see" is like watching your house on fire and "waiting and seeing" if it will burn to the ground. Smart money is on putting out the fire.

I could go on, but the question was asked how to get Permaculture into a billion brains. If we believe any of the above is true, I guess it takes an element of altruism to care about the idea that there will be a planet left for the next generation. If you're practicing permaculture you have probably blunted the effect of food quality and food scarcity issues and your connection with the land and nature is helping to keep you sane and healthy in an insane and very unhealthy world.  But the answer seems to me to be around whether you see YOUR ROLE as (1) educator or (2) leader or whether you are feeling the need to isolate yourself and let others suffer.  Im old school, I learned the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.  Alot of ants out there have locked the door on the grasshopper. Its hard to feel sympathy for people who worship the excess, shallowness and obsession with appearance, wealth and power that seems to be the new normal. I can not judge those people, I get that way myself sometimes.  But consider this, that seething mass of shallow, disconnected-from-nature will take every animal and every blade of grass with them. Eh?  So, I think that if you are feeling isolative, shake it off and set a personal goal to educate X number of people locally in Permaculture.  Spread that collected wisdom out in concentric circles until they meet other concentric circles.

If you speak Science, speak Science to people, if your religion gives real imperatives around Earth-care, (for example for Christians Genesis I and II make a pretty strong case that we are supposed to be good caretakers of plants, animals and even CLIMATE) then speak in language that reaches out to people. If you are for social justice and wealth equity, I thought Permaculture was supposed to free us from drudgery, wealth inequity and give us dignified, interesting, soul challenging work? Wasnt that part of the big plan?

[b]Tools and Procedures
:  I can only use myself as an example, I think the approach will be different from person to person. Although I was not born in the age of computers, I have tried to keep up technologically, but specifically I have improved my computer and digital savvy by partnering with younger people who , as above, live for it. I am getting pretty decent as an editor of video and I own a pretty powerful freeware editor called DAVINCI RESOLVE.  I hate it , but I have a Tic Tok account (sigh). I do use Facebook.  I have a tiny blog going there titled THE PERMACULTURE HOME.  To my immense surprise four people have joined in one week.  Its about small scale Permaculture and rehabbing a home and yard to make a low carbon footprint, food and energy efficient habitation.  Baby steps.  I am looking into concentrating my efforts into a tree nursery and planting the heck out of every seed I can find and creating dual purpose plants (heat tollerant and food producing). Concentric Circles...climate change.....I want everybody in my community to be food self sufficient, and if they're not homeowners, then I will altruistically push for community gardens so any child or senior has a space to garden, a homeless person can have a space to garden.  Nobody needs to know this, but by hook or by crook I have a personal goal of sprouting 1 million food producing trees and getting them planted.  Yet I want them in the hands of people, not corporations.  I plan on partnering with 4H programs.  Faith Based Programs. (Work Locally to effect the globally.)  And media wise, I hope to be producing short films aimed specifically at those problems and those age groups that I think need the message, and speak to them about the things that they are in pain about: wealth equity, health issues, food security, etc. If I believe any of what I have writing about here, its an easy sell. So then my conclusion is that even if you are a hermit on a mountain top, with a camera and decent little editing software, you can send your message out to the universe, and yes, its marketing but you are marketing the idea and the Permaculture Idea is a pretty good one. Takeaway:  Partner with those who need the message.

I'll end with a joke:

A mountain climber climbed and climbed to the top of the REAL tall mountain.
There he was surprised to see at its very very top, a tiny, skinny crooked little house.
Amazed and exhausted he knocked on the door.
An old man, naked except for a beard and a top hat answered.
The mountain climber said, "Why are you naked?
The old man said, "Nobody ever comes up here."
The mountain climber said, "But why the top hat?"
The old man replied, "Well---somebody might!"

Best, ML
 
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To get to so many people you have to be lower down the permie scale. It's not possible to start talking about huge changes and expect people who are living the standard western life to pay any attention. For 99.9% of people in the western world your big things like RMH are completely out of the question, most don't have access to the wood, or the space or are legally not allowed to have them. So reading something that pushes them turns them off.  Again the big things that people like to talk about swales etc are not possible for the majority certainly not for those outside of the US. Infact the entire book and skip and most of this forum is very US centric which limits the number of people you can "infect" Of course language is also a huge limiter  there are according to the net "only" 983million people who speak English, (372m) as first language. since there is no way you can get everyone that probably limits permaculture to about 150m maximum if it stays only in English.

For maximim take up it probably has to be aimed at a city resident with 0 land, maybe a plantpot. grand earthworks, heating changes and 100's of acres cannot capture these people they are just to far out of reach.

To cheat? Get netflix to make another psudo documentary. you'll spend years trying to correct the impression it gives but it'll give you the sheer numbers.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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I think you make some very good points Skandi.  Language can be a barrier but many urban areas contain the greatest concentrations of  immigrants, cultural enclaves and people with dual or even multi-language capability.  Or at least much more so than rural areas , so reaching out to urbanites is also reaching out to strong multi-cultural communities, and again partnering with the right people can mean your messages can be re-translated into other languages. English is the most numerically spoken language on the planet via both native and non native speakers, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic I believe are close behind, Bengali is in the top 10.

One likely inroad to carry the P-culture message is a greater awareness of food affecting health issues. People take their food VERY seriously. I've lived in cities , suburbs and some real backwoods communities and I have observed a greater concern for clean food in cities to top the list, and I have seen the least regard for clean food in rural communities, and the least regard for drinking clean water there as well.  Small communities are more at the economic mercy of local mining, manufacturing and big ag interests. There are places in the USA where the water is unsafe.

The population of the USA is about 328 million, and could represent  1/3 of those "billion brains" alone.  My apologies if I speak too often US-centrically, but I dont presume to know intimately about other countries in respect to this subject and I'll leave that to others.  I've lived and traveled to more than 2/3 of the USA in the past 62 years.  As I said, an approach would be different for everyone, and every culture and every country.

I think that small beginnings can lead to big changes, and working with youth and children create future generations of people who will have grown up with the values of Earth care.  I wouldnt count urbanites out, its a slow process but there is some forward thinking urban planning and green systems integration happening along with rooftop agriculture and community gardens.  Hurricane Sandy was a wakeup call that shook some urban complacency. COVID also in a different way  Yet I think a person who raises sprouts in their window as a gesture is more likely to be open to positive messages about Earth-care.  Perhaps small aquaponics is ideally suited for the urban home. And parks are important focal points for community in urban areas.  Modern suburbanites might find that pretty plants in the front yard dont cut it anymore and that its time for some intensive edible landscaping.  In WW2 era USA the "Victory Garden" was  considered patriotic but also there was food rationing on.  

In my native Brooklyn NY there are tiny front lawns which are exclusively mustard greens instead of grass, with beans and squash growing on trellises to shade the front yard and feed the family. I guarantee that we will see some experimental apartment buildings built here that integrate greenhouse food production.  I see solar going up everywhere there.

Back to technology once more and then I'll end.   It just struck me, how about a Virtual Reality Permaculture program where you are able to see alot of PC design concepts in action?  This is the short attention span generation. Get visual. Get sneaky about it.

Best, M

 
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First of all, 1,000,000,000 people is a tremendous amount.  You're talking at least one in every eight souls on the planet, over an unspecified time period.  Let's say, 20-30 years.  

If you reached every American, you have failed reaching your goal.
If you reached 90% of America and the European Union combined, you have also failed reaching your goal.

So I think grass roots in the West via normal social media avenues would be tough.  Worldwide virality is needed, and that requires authenticity and originality and stickiness and global market if going the social media route.  For understanding, see the graphic below for some winners in terms of total YouTube views.  

Think strategically, what has global reach in the +1,000,000,000 range?  In no particular order, I'm thinking off the top of my head:

  • China (communist party)
  • India (Government; Bollywood)
  • The Olympics
  • Pope Francis (1.3B Catholics)
  • Israeli geopolitics (Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam combined are ~3.8B believers)
  • Coca-Cola
  • The moon



  • Effectiveness in any one of the above, and you're set.  But better to spread the love.

    What kind of craziness could that look like?
  • Get Dennis Rodman to learn about permaculture, then
  • Have him write to Pope Francis and visit with him in the Holy Land, and they mention permaculture, followed by
  • A Bollywood documentary movie with Rodman being baptized in the Ganges, followed by
  • A trip to North Korea along with Geoff Lawton to visit Kim Jong-un to do permaculture design work, while simultaneously
  • Getting a Tweet after some kind of #Olympics shenanigans with Elon Musk drinking a #Coke while saying "I'm going to put permaculture on the moon."


  • That should cover all your bases, moon bases included.

    most-viewed-youtube-videos.png
    [Thumbnail for most-viewed-youtube-videos.png]
     
    paul wheaton
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    I think the idea is that the guy asking the question is attempting to steel himself to make the leap - to dedicate his everything to accomplishing this task.  Alone, if required.  

    So if he embraces utter dedication for the rest of his life, what does he do?  Part of it is "what does he need to learn?"

    I put some thought into this and I came up with marketing stuff.  After all, getting an idea into a billion brains is going to be flat out marketing.  PR?  Networking?  Psychology?  Mostly stuff that is a hundred times more substantial than what have been able to do.  People tell me about "funnels" and I feel like I still don't have a tight grasp on what that means - but it is the way you do stuff today apparently.

     
    George Yacus
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    Another way to potentially reach 1B (India especially) would be through Google.  Namely, Doodle for Google and their art contests.  

    You know, those banners that celebrate holidays or illuminate historical icons by modifying the lettering of "Google" to make it all fancy-shmancy.  

    Edit: But I can't answer "what does he need to learn?"  because there are unknown number of ways to eventually influence 1B people.  It doesn't necessarily have to be marketing, or networking.  Willpower comes first, I believe.  Waypower comes second.
     
    paul wheaton
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    I feel like there is a chance that my stuff could get a thousand times more attention at any moment.  Then I will have accidentally stumbled onto the path that this guy is contemplating.

    I wonder if somebody famous might happen upon my book, or happen upon rocket mass heaters.  Or permies.  Or SKIP.  Just one bit gets some big-time attention and goes viral, and then all the rest gets attention too.  Finally.



     
    George Yacus
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    paul wheaton wrote:I feel like there is a chance that my stuff could get a thousand times more attention at any moment.  Then I will have accidentally stumbled onto the path that this guy is contemplating.

    I wonder if somebody famous might happen upon my book, or happen upon rocket mass heaters.  Or permies.  Or SKIP.  Just one bit gets some big-time attention and goes viral, and then all the rest gets attention too.  Finally.



    That's how Weird Al became a vegetarian, actually.  Someone close to him (his girlfriend at the time) gave him Diet for a New America, and it offered a compelling argument to him.  Just like that, a life changed forever.



    But, someone had to give him the book, and she must have believed in it and had a good reason or conviction in order to share it.  Or at least found it interesting enough to recommend to him.
    (Personally, I'm never going to give up delicious, sweet, meaty, smoky bacon unless I am fully convicted that it will make my life, others' lives, and the world better.)

    paul wheaton wrote:I think the idea is that the guy asking the question is attempting to steel himself to make the leap - to dedicate his everything to accomplishing this task.  Alone, if required.  

    So if he embraces utter dedication for the rest of his life, what does he do?


    Without knowing the full conversation or person, I see this as a cart before the horse situation.
     
    "What does he do" comes after "utter dedication" and "utter dedication" comes after conviction, which comes after belief, and after understanding or hearing.   Sounds to me like the fella doesn't truly believe in what he is or was thinking of dedicating his life to.
     
    paul wheaton
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    George Yacus wrote:

    paul wheaton wrote:So if he embraces utter dedication for the rest of his life, what does he do?


    Without knowing the full conversation or person, I see this as a cart before the horse situation.
     
    "What does he do" comes after "utter dedication" and "utter dedication" comes after conviction, which comes after belief, and after understanding or hearing.   Sounds to me like the fella doesn't truly believe in what he is or was thinking of dedicating his life to.



    I think he wishes to understand the options.  And a bit of understanding of where the path goes helps to make concrete decisions on where the path begins.  

    What does he fill his brain with now to be effective at this task for the next several decades?
     
    Michael Littlejohn
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    So does/should/can Permaculture philosophy include activism as a core principle?  If activist Permies are teaching activism and so on.....?
     
    George Yacus
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    I think he wishes to understand the options.  And a bit of understanding of where the path goes helps to make concrete decisions on where the path begins.  

    What does he fill his brain with now to be effective at this task for the next several decades?



    I'm finding this thread super peculiar, as I can't pinpoint exactly what the problem or "challenge statement" is.  It seems vague from an outsider's perspective, so perhaps it is too vague from the other person's perspective, too.  

    When one looks at a map, they look at where they are, and they look at where they are trying to get to.  They think about all the different paths to get from A to B, and adjust based off of what they have or need for the trip.  If there isn't a path, they make one, or give up, or hitch a ride with someone who can complete the journey another way.  They make preparations, and they head off, as a team or alone, making course corrections along the way.  They either arrive at their destination, or they don't.

    Things to consider:
    1. Does this person have a defined vision?  Is it their vision, someone else's, or a team or group's?
    2. Does this person have a defined mission (or destination) and purpose?  Have they accepted it?  How do they know that they have arrived?
    3. Are there a series of objectives which, if achieved, will accomplish that vision and mission?  Who creates these objectives?
    4. Is the person accountable to anyone?  What are their constraints?  Are they supporting someone else, is someone supporting them?
    5. Do they have the resources and materials needed to complete the objectives and tasks ahead of them?
    6. Are they trained?  Do they have skills, knowledge, and ability to independently take care of 1-5?
    7. Are they willing, motivated, and knowledgeable of all of the above?

    There's a phrase and legend in the military called "message to Garcia" where a man is given a simple but challenging task of delivering a letter, without knowing the precise destination, or how to get there, and yet the guy goes off and does what needs to be done.  Those kind of people are very rare in this world.
     
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