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Vicious Cycle

Oct 21, 2023

7 minute read...

Warning: today’s newsletter may be triggering. 

I said I was going to “get back to business” at the conclusion of my last newsletter. But what happened on October 7th shook me to the core. Nothing I could write about Assumption Hacking or Theory of Constraints as they relate to business felt right. 

On that day, my Israeli friends, family, and colleagues were terrorized. Young and old lives were snuffed out, young and old people were kidnapped. I am not saying this simply as a Jewish American observer of the news. I am saying this as a person who has family, friends and colleagues in Israel. Each of whom counts on at least both hands the number of people they love who have been killed or kidnapped or are now on active duty and directly in harm’s way.

My heart is heavy as I witness friends, family and colleagues who are in shock and grief and fear.

My heart is heavy as I witness the world focus on arguing over “who is to blame” and further cementing hatred.

My gut churns and my feelings turn to anger when the response to expressions of grief and fear and despair is some kind of rationalization for the reasons the terrorists must have had to inflict the terror they did. As if the victims themselves deserved it.  

To those of you who are already getting upset with me for not balancing my words with equal time for the Palestinian People, I ask you to pause your judgment for one moment. I ask you to recognize that your judgment is based on assumptions you make about me (and others you judge similarly). And I ask you to consider that your assumptions may be wrong. 

I ask that you instead notice a fellow human being is hurting. I ask you to consider that perhaps that human being does care deeply about other human beings, no matter their ancestry. That perhaps this human being who you judge recognizes that other human beings are living in terrible conditions and might pray and advocate for changes to those terrible conditions. I ask you to consider that perhaps it just means this human being is sad and grieving with her friends, family and colleagues. 

Perhaps in someone’s moments of grief they shouldn’t be expected to seek to understand reasons that her family’s attackers decided to inflict terror upon them. Please consider the possibility that your assumptions may be wrong about those you are judging. 

I founded Jenrada to help people live more full, meaningful, and joyful lives, mainly through the businesses they own and work. Dare I contemplate how something like Assumption Hacking might be useful in a potential quest for reversing the vicious, vicious cycle my Israeli family, friends and colleagues are tangled up in?

A Vicious, Vicious Cycle

A vicious cycle is a system dynamic that escalates in intensity. The longer it exists, the more damage it inflicts. 

To reverse a vicious cycle, we have to do something different. And to do something different, we have to change at least one fundamental assumption we make about the situation.

What we assume (what we believe) is the fuel that propels the vicious cycle. 

We will not be able to reverse a vicious cycle by holding onto the same fundamental assumptions that fuel it.  

For those caught in the vicious cycle, the only way that can happen is to decide that it’s better to find a solution than to be right.

Reversing a vicious cycle, especially one that has been in place for so many years, especially one that has caused so much trauma and pain for so many people over multiple generations, is so very difficult. Yes, it seems impossible. 

It seems impossible because we are stuck inside mindset traps. 

I’ve written and spoken about the 4 mindset traps before. Being stuck in one or even all 4 of the mindset traps keeps us on the path to escalation.  But what if we were to escape? Could we humans reverse this deadly multi-generational vicious cycle?

To escape from these Mindset Traps we must take the first step of Assumption Hacking – Attune.

We must pause in order to become truly mindful of the situation we are seeking to better understand. And then we must intentionally remove  ourselves from the mindset traps we are in so we can recognize the actual problem we are here to solve.

  1. The I KNOW! trap. I have seen so many exclamation points, intractable opinions, and minds refusing to consider changing. Each of us is likely wrong in one or more aspects of what we assume about the situation.  Seek to understand where your own thinking on this is flawed.
  2. The CONFLICT trap. This conflict has been alive for generations. It seems intractable, unsolvable. Yet, who would argue with the fundamental need for Jews to be safe from terrorism? And who would argue with the fundamental need for Palestinians to have – as we say in the U.S. Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Everything that has been tried so far has served to solidify the conflict rather than solve it. Terrorists terrorizing is not and will not lead to a solution. Neither is blockading borders or bombing places where families live, work, or play. There must be a way for these basic needs to be satisfied, and for each of these peoples to have a homeland where they are welcome and safe. There is a way. We can find it if we suspend the assumption that this conflict is unsolvable. It isn’t, and this assumption leaves the conflict in place, propelling a vicious out-of-control cycle of violence.
  3. The BLAME trap. Understanding why something happened should open the way for assumptions to be exposed, challenged and changed so that a solution to reverse the vicious cycle can be found. The vicious cycle that led to the terrorist attacks of October 7th started a long time ago and now continues to escalate with the war it triggered. How long ago? Pick your timeline. But instead of using your timeline to figure out who is to blame, use the timeline to understand what happened along that timeline and the assumptions that must have been made. The same cycle occurs over and over again, escalating in intensity and blood and grief with each turn.  Even though grief and anger are justified by what happened, to find a solution we must try to make the shift from focusing on “who to blame” to focusing on “what to change”.
  4. The COMPLEXITY trap. Many people say that this conflict is so complex it is impossible to solve. And this may be the most intractable assumption about it. Instead of giving up hope, what if we direct our brains and hearts to finding the inherent simplicity within it. What is the one thing that, if we focus on it, could lead to the reversal of the vicious cycle while meeting the fundamental needs of both the Jewish and Palestinian people? Perhaps it is something as simple as recognizing that there are real human beings involved. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, families, hearts and souls.

If we can find a way to get out of the Mindset Traps, I am confident we can deploy the tools already available to us to find the needed solutions. I do believe it is possible to find the lever that turns us in the opposite direction, from the death and destruction and grief and despair that we witness today. But everything rides on this question: “do we care more about finding a solution than we do about being right?” If we don’t, then we will stay in our mindset traps, of conflict and knowing and blame and complexity. But if we really truly do want to solve the problem, we can find a way to reverse this vicious cycle. 


Whenever you're ready, here are a couple of ways I can help you:

  • Assumption Hacking Essentials. Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt said in his forward to The Goal, “The challenging of basic assumptions is essential to breakthroughs.” In this digital course, I'll take you through a five step process for challenging those basic assumptions and creating breakthrough in the process. Join the waitlist and get notified when the course is released.
  • Jenrada Programs. Customized workshops and longer engagements to help you create an organization of aligned problem solvers delivering extraordinary results. Complete this form,  send me an email, or schedule a discovery call. 

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