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The Flywheel

How the flywheel drives personal authenticity and fulfills potential

Talk to any person and ask them how the world has changed over the past several years, and chances are they'll mention that it's become a lot more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). Today, people are increasingly skeptical of promises — made by politicians, governments, employers, and the companies they buy from - and when those promises are left undelivered, they feel increasingly exploited with little tangible reward. As conventional rewards wane in power and availability, more people become desperate for a dose of the happiness and joy they expect to find in life.

When people make increasingly short-term decisions that prioritize immediate comfort and control over facing anxiety, dissonance, and trauma head-on, their ability to actualize themselves and others - and find happiness - fades.

At Integral Productivity, we believe there's a better way to actualize — a way to actualize better. People who align their happiness with their actualization, are not only happier themselves, they help the people and communities around them actualize and find happiness, too, making for a better world and a more healing-centered and resilient culture.

To actualize better, you need to be able to find meaning in every moment — that's where the flywheel comes into play.

Table of contents

What is the Flywheel

The flywheel is a metaphor adopted by Integral Productivity to explain the momentum you gain when you align your lived experience around fulfilling your potential to create an immeasurable humanistic impact.

The flywheel was invented by James Watt; it's energy-efficient because it can store increasing energy while also using it to propel the attached vehicle forward. The amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the friction against it, and its size.

This energy is especially helpful when thinking about how any tension, dissonance, or resistance you face can help you grow. 

Other models think of your happiness as an outcome of fulfilling your more basic and psychological needs — nothing more, nothing less. When you face an unexpected setback or unfulfilled expectation, all the energy you spent getting to that point feels wasted. 

With the flywheel, you use the momentum of working through your tensions into a more authentic way of being to drive new insights and process even more complex change. Basically, the happiness and joy you find in life keep increasing.

This isn't a mind trick or marketing ploy. We're not debating jargon. And we're definitely not redefining the same experience.

When you think of your actualization experience as a flywheel, you make more conscious decisions about what you do and can more rapidly adapt and adjust your personal strategy. Let us first explain how the flywheel works to show you what we mean.

Actualization Flywheel

How It Works

As we said above, the amount of energy, or momentum, your flywheel has depends on three things:

  1. How fast you spin it
  2. How much friction there is
  3. How big it is

The most successful people will adjust their personal strategies to address all three. The speed of your flywheel increases when you add force to areas that have the biggest effect. Forces are programs and strategies you put in place to speed up your flywheel. For example, regular reflection, positive disintegration, visioning, and deliberate practice are all forces. By focusing on how you can boost your actualization, the more you can support yourself and find authenticity and fulfillment through any scenario.

Since you’re applying force to your flywheel, you also need to make sure nothing is opposing it — that means eliminating friction from your personal strategy.  Friction is anything that slows down your flywheel. For example, bad habits, denial, avoidance, circular thinking, self-centeredness, poor communication, wishful thinking, or misalignment between your intentions, behavior, and impact. You can reduce friction by looking at what signals you're missing, how your thinking is structured, why you feel unmotivated, where you're not connecting your plans with embodied practice and supporting systems, or staying in an unsupportive environment for too long. Are you paying attention to your emotions and new information? Are your beliefs and values aligned or are they at odds with each other? Are your direction and commitment focused or are they scattered and diffuse? Do you give yourself space to develop your skills and capabilities, or do you skip to the next distraction? 

The more you increase speed and decrease friction, the more support you will create for your actualization. All that support becomes a force that spins your flywheel. 

The Adaptive Actualization Methodology and the Flywheel

At Integral Productivity, we believe so strongly in the model that we've reframed the adaptive actualization methodology to teach you how to use the flywheel model to drive your actualization. 

That's why the new adaptive actualization method is a circle. When you use the everyday actualization strategy as a foundation, the five phases of your flywheel are sense, frame focus, stride, and find. By applying force to these five phases, you can realize your authentic self and potential faster and more fully.

Actualization Flywheel

For example, in the sense phase, you hone your sensitivity to threats and opportunities by becoming alert to signals that bring awareness of potential impacts on your life and removing barriers to learning about yourself and the world around you. The key is to stay open to your anxious feelings and emerging inputs that are part of your experience, not to filter them out just to stay on your current program. Some forces you can apply are your execution effectiveness to assess your degree of productivity and control, your inner sensitivity through reflection and perspective-making, and your outer sensitivity through continuous discovery and learning. 

As part of the reframing phase, you increase your neuroplasticity by exploring how your model of the world might shift with this information, making it easier to grow and adapt. Focus on expanding the frame, lens, or scope of your thinking to give each insight a place to go before narrowing it or closing things off. Some forces include the architecture and frameworks you use to organize your thinking and feelings. Others include analytical and emotional breakdowns (a.k.a. disintegrations) that help you understand, challenge, and even let go of obstructive components in your decision-making models as well as developing your adaptive capacity, growth mindset, and resilience to change. 

In the focusing phase, you bring purpose and intentionality into your lived experience. Remember, you grow most when you use your tensions as a pathway to happiness. Some forces you can use are a humanistic vision to ensure your goals are inclusive and beneficial to everyone and not just yourself, a mandated mission that drives and compels you through adversity, and evolving your intrapersonal and interpersonal leadership through revolutionary actions that help you and others defy opposition toward living authentically and finding fulfillment.

In the stride phase, you're spending your precious energy and time on what matters most. [] Some forces you can use here include embodiment work and deliberate practice to instill your desired way of being so it's more automatic, technology and automation to keep your focus on things that truly demand your utmost attention and thinking, and the development of personal products—checklists, templates, presentations, tools, frameworks, and morethat extend your reach.

Finally, in the finding phase, you come upon a new and transcendent sense of self. These are ego revolutions that represent your sense of connection to the universe where you shift from one level of meaning-making to another. Forces here might include deliberate exits and pivots from environments or meta-strategies that no longer serve you, double-down bets on key areas of passion that elevate your dedication to a specific cause, or intense meditation or sacred medicine rituals that help you perceive reality in new ways. 

People who choose to use the flywheel model over other models have a huge advantage because they aren't the only ones helping themselves actualize—the people around them are helping them actualize as well.

This is all a much more efficient way to drive your actualization.

The flywheel also helps support collective actualization. In the escalator model that many people use to frame their understanding of Maslow's Hierarchy, there's a focus on self-sufficiency. This often leads to isolation and self-limiting outcomes. With the flywheel model, you get to be part of a broader ecosystem as described by the Blackfoot Nation in the Blackfoot Tipi, a major, but often under-recognized influence on Maslow's research. When everyone is aligned around the adaptive actualization methodology, you can share a more holistic, delightful experience in your communities and with others outside of it. 

The Flywheel vs. the Escalator

What about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the escalator? For decades, people have structured their experience around fulfilling one set of needs before the next and setting long-term goals and big dreams — and it worked. But the escalator fails us all in today's VUCA world. Too many external forces—political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental (PESTLE)—are in play and making radical changes that can't be ignored in 99% of people's lives. This means the escalator has a significant flaw: it views actualization as an afterthought, not a driving force. The escalator might produce short-term gains but doesn't consider what happens when things don't go to plan. That's why the flywheel is so essential.

The flywheel is a more comprehensive, unified, and adaptive way of representing the forces affecting your actualization.

The actions you and the people around you take in each phase affect each other. Your sense-making affects how well you can frame or reframe a situation. Your framing affects how likely you are to find focus and commitment to your actions. Your focus affects which strides you try to take and how you spend your energy. And, of course, your strides affect how well you can find new ways to see yourself.

The escalator was a good representation of how people used to try actualizing in an individualistic society — they ensured their basic needs of food, shelter, safety, and financial security were met (often in competition or at the expense of their connection to others), they focused on their building their more intimate relationships and families, they build up their social esteem and status and collection of the "finer things," and then when they "had it all," they were actualized. 

But that's not how people can live happily today. The goalposts are moving farther away, resources are falling out of our grasp, and the attention economy serves shallow addictive dopamine hits in place of fulfillment.

The escalator doesn't account for any of these factors. Because they're linear, escalators don't reveal the momentum you build through a great personal insight and transformation nor the drag you experience when your life goals take longer to accomplish than you anticipated.

The flywheel is a mental model that brings these forces together. Practicing doing difficult things more often removes friction from your lived experience. This means you can spin your flywheel—and actualize—faster. Most importantly, when paired with the adaptive actualization methodology, the flywheel reveals the importance of your actualization experience. The "find" and "stride" stages power the "sense" stage of the adaptive actualization methodology because how you make meaning shifts what you sense in the world.

Simply put, the flywheel is a more comprehensive look at where you are actualizing the most, and it reveals your biggest areas of opportunity. 

We recognize that escalators aren't going away.  While the flywheel is a better metaphor for how people today actualize, you still might have escalator- or ladder-shaped models representing the success or effectiveness of different domains of your life or others. You may use an escalator or ladder chart to improve a particular aspect of your world. Just remember, even though a process can be easily visualized as a linear flow, escalator, or ladder, it's actually an adaptive cycle nested within another. 

The Flywheel and Integral Productivity

The journey from escalator to flywheel didn't happen to the people at Integral Productivity overnight — in fact, it took decades, and our work still isn't done. Here's how we're adapting ourselves and our business to be more actualization — and flywheel — friendly: 

"Here at Integral Productivity, our flywheels represent an adaptive process where any detected difference from expectations can fuel our learning. We're investing in advocacy and pricing models that offer access for any income level. We're investing in great end-to-end experiences for new community members and clients, not just in transacting on our products and services, but on their overall journey of actualization even when they're not paying customers. And we're investing in partnerships and affiliates that capture the full ecosystem of support that someone's actualization needs in today's world.

Friction kills flywheels. We're making investments that systematically target our biggest points of friction: entry points that include free community access and free software that helps people start practicing now instead of later, a sales process that delivers value from the first interaction, and a broad range of education." – Kraig Parkinson, Founder of Integral Productivity.

The biggest threat to your actualization isn't other people. It's waiting for it to happen to you.

That's why people need to bring their actualization forward and learn to actualize better. At Integral Productivity, actualizing better means bringing meaning to every moment. It's being the developer of our own program and taking ownership of evolving it. It's actualizing together, even when it's hard because actualizing alone doesn't mean much. Actualizing better is applying force to the strongest areas of your experience and removing any friction that gets in the way — especially if it has a negative impact on our collective authenticity and fulfillment.

If your actualization relies on wealth, property, possession, or status, don't be surprised that it's hard to find. But if you invest time and energy into being transparent with yourself and attentive to the everyday opportunities for finding meaning, you might find yourself happy.

Next Steps

If you're ready to actualize yourself and the collectives of which you're part with the adaptive actualization methodology and the flywheel, Integral Productivity's actualization platform offers you the solutions you need. 

The actualization platform integrates the work of sensing, framing, focusing, striding, and finding needed to live authentically and fulfill your potential. Our experience brings you connection, skill-based growth, strategy setting, and systemic change. By combining community, coaching, and consulting, you have the tools you need to add force and remove friction from your flywheel.

The Integral Productivity Actualization Code

Discover the tenets we find essential to helping ourselves and others live authentically and fulfill our potential.

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Adaptive Actualization: Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty

Learn more about how the escalator model gets in the way of your actualization and how to overcome it. 

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What is Adaptive Actualization?

Learn how to step off the Actualization Escalator, so you can bring your authentic self and fulfill your potential as part of your everyday experience.

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Personal Services Overview

Find out how Integral Productivity can help you start your own flywheel.

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Business Services Overview

Discover what Integral Productivity can do to create a flywheel for your organization.

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