From Latin proprious, meaning "one's own," "individual," and capio, capere, "to take" or "grasp." The sense of of relative position of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. Simply put, the ability to perceive yourself in space.
Once again, I make my own luck in terms of timing, as there are several important things to cover concerning proprioception before moving on to our wider, societal proprioception or awareness.
First, the NBA Finals begin tonight. I am unsure if we will ever again see in one event such a density of immensely proprioceptive athletes, outside of maybe Olympic gymnastics or a dance performance. Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, JR Smith, Kyle Korver. The list goes on and on.
Even putting aside for a moment the sometimes-crazy-looking shots he makes, the way Stephen Curry shoots, his coordination is off the charts. There are objective ways to measure proprioception, but I won't bore you with that. Steph's body is so coordinated, his shot looks effortless.
Reality is quite the opposite, though. His deliberate practice shows that so much of his body goes into his shot, he literally "feels" the ball into the hoop. Just enough power, not too much
Side note: (Russell Westbrook would be well-served to follow Steph's lead as the next step in his evolution as a player. He is so powerful, almost too powerful, and should be your NBA MVP, by the way. This year, his stats mattered most of the candidates).
Then you throw in Steph's ankle-breaking dribbling, the dexterity near the rim in the variety of layups Steph can make, and I would argue he might be the most proprioceptive athlete on the planet. Oh yea, and the dude can golf too!
Now, let's not discount LeBron James. James, too, is quite the deft athlete. There is over a decade of proof. The point is, as these players drive, spin, pirouette and pass around each other, just take a moment to appreciate how dedicated to their craft these players are. This may be the most talented and exciting NBA Finals for a very long time.
Also, in order to keep perspective, remember that sports are part of a massive industry known as Media and Entertainment, which was valued at $632 Billion annually as of 2015. So, next time you think we are in dire straits as a country because the news tells you so, just remember we can afford to spend the better portion of a Trillion dollars on entertainment!
That is more than the individual GDP's of all but the top 20 countries in the world! 191 countries in all, according to the UN's GDP and breakdown in US dollars. You might not think you're spending any money by sitting at home to watch the Finals or the Stanley Cup, but you are if you're buying something from any of the advertisers! Or at least, somebody is buying.
Back to the lecture at hand..
On the wayyyyy opposite end of the spectrum, lack of proprioception can really hurt us, especially as we age. This is where I am most concerned. For years, I counseled wealthy people on exercise and nutrition in a clinical environment. It is my mission to bring that service to more people, to lower the barrier to entry for excellent fitness and nutritional information, in order to improve the quality of as many lives as possible. Just by seeing people walking down the street, I can tell for the most part what somebody does for fitness, where they are strong, weak, tight, flexible. It saddens me to see so many people having "less-than" fitness just by seeing how they walk. Also, where is the incentive? Professional athletes are driven, confident, motivated enough for their goals that they might even go as far as to run through a wall if it were to get them closer to a championship. Their paycheck also often relies on that.
But everyday people? Taking physical risks and challenges can be scary, and maybe even more risky. Lately, my grandmother was hospitalized for general debility. She will be 86 in September. Up until a knee replacement a couple of years ago, Grandmom was one of the healthiest 83-year-old people I have ever encountered. Never smoked, never drank, wasn't prescribed any medications, ate well, walked three miles per day, even used to go to class at Curves when that was a thing.
Even post-rehab from the knee surgery, Grandmom was doing really well, going to the local gym a few times per week under the mild supervision of the PT's present, to continue her exercises. But, she complained of pain. One thing led to another, and she was put on some medications. None seemed to really help, and one might have even been the reason for her hospitalization.
Over the course of this time, I noticed a pattern - Grandmom was growing increasingly scared, and became too comfortable, in my estimation, assuming the role of "medical patient." She grew up in an era where doctor's word was law and you respected professionals.
So, maybe the surgery a couple of years ago made Grandmom a little uncomfortable, a little bit fussy. Her first major health obstacle since her teen years. Not bad for 83! But if she were better equipped with the right information to represent herself, aside from the well-known fact that our brains and senses slow down as we age and maybe solving complex medical scenarios aren't really her thing, perhaps her current state could be much better and she could enjoy a quality of life to which she was once accustomed. Her level of improvement is now dictated by her ability to overcome fear, the level of care given at her sub-acute rehab facility, and the support of our family.
Now, I'm not writing a diatribe here on modern medicine. It's hard to speak dispassionately about Grandmom. No one is going to care about someone the way family does, for the most part. Perhaps Grandmom if starting to give up a bit. This is in no way ill-intended, but she doesn't have quite the purpose she used to for a long time, given that she hasn't worked in over 10 years, her grandchildren are all grown, she doesn't have any great-grandchildren yet, and she has been a widow for over 35 years. Some of you likely know somebody who has gone through something similar as they aged. It appears to be part of the process.
Everyone likes to feel needed, to have a purpose. Purpose and social enjoyment are two of the best-known paths to longevity, if that is desired. It saddens me to see her in a watered-down state, knowing it could almost certainly have been prevented. This is an example of what motivates me in my life's work.
Many significant declines in Quality of Living can be avoided. Keeping people happy, purposeful and socially fulfilled could be a calling for us all. Now, I call Grandmom to listen to her complain about the crappy food in sub-acute rehab until she is physically well enough to go home. She can barely hear me between the phone connection and her not having the best hearing, anyway.
But, I understand that aging is part of the circle of life, and all we can ask is to enjoy the best life we know how.
There is still so much to cover on proprioception in how it pertains to you, the reader, but I thought it prudent to provide extremes first - the answer for most of us is almost always somewhere in the middle. Somewhere between NBA MVP and aging, frustrated Grandmom.
Now, on to a broader topic. For the good of us all, what if we had a greater societal proprioception - in terms of the world around us and how it works? Could our world be the Steph-Curry-jump-shot version of itself? Where do we stand now, on that scale? This is really a question of how the majority of us respond to our environments and to other people. How well and how frequently we work together.
At the center of our working together is communication, and this includes the internet. The internet, in its current form, has been around for quite a while. Allow us to reflect on some things.
The iPhone will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. The "Convenience Revolution" as I call it, is even older. Five of the biggest American companies by market cap right now have all spearheaded this effort, each in their unique ways - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft. Each of the five signifies a shift towards convenience for all. The question I propose to all of us is, "What's next?"
Information is power. It has always been. The right to a free and open internet is one of society's greatest current assets, both from an economic standpoint and also from a social standpoint. Regardless of your political affiliations, as a citizen, please do your job in monitoring for anyone trying to change this. Watch this clip from John Oliver for more info.
See, what the ease of access to information has done for so many of us is "level the playing field." We have entered an era in which our immense level of inter-connectivity requires us to be more accountable towards each other and for our actions. Facebook police, anyone?!
We are all more empowered, and more equally so. That also comes with additional responsibilities. Some astrologists refer to our current age as that of Aquarius, but I won't push on to you any astronomic viewpoints. That's for you to decide. But, maybe the stars and gravity have something to do with it all. Until we have figured out scientifically the reasons for our thoughts, actions, impulses, inspiration, I'll just chalk it up to "magic."
There are two basic schools of thought on supply of any resource - those who view life through the lens of abundance, and those who view life through a "scarcity" mindset.
In my opinion,
The world is trying to leave behind those who believe in scarcity. The majority rules in the opposite direction. Now, abundance does not equate to affording us the ability for wastefulness. That would be tipping things too far in the other direction.
While we work towards a more connected world, we must also account for the various forms of entropy (disorder) that are given off from our increasing number of reactions (interactions). Just like the second law of thermodynamics (thanks for boring us with chemistry, Tim), for every action, the total entropy (disorder) of any isolated system only increases over time, unless it is in a steady state or undergoing a reversible process. So, if our world appears more chaotic than ever before to you, you're likely not wrong.
On the other hand, what happens as systems become more steady state? Just look at volatility in the stock market for evidence.
We will likely not see the rate of return again from industries that were major in the early 1900's. They have been simplified down and adapted across a broader range of people - access has increased - or even been discarded in favor of newer technologies. Just look at the automobile. We have already taken it down a peg for long-distance travel, now that airplanes are more readily available for more people. The system has become both fuller and more stable. New market sectors have emerged in the last 100 years, and even before then. The future will prove to be quite the surprise!
So, we will likely have further condensing and simplification of sectors as they age and become more stable, more mature. But what about us, socially speaking?
Things like environmental changes (and how to objectively, reliably measure and interpret them) are examples of human-made entropy. How to best deal with them? Rationally, of course! We need actual figures that we can all agree upon, and then make well-informed decisions about how to best proceed. Our lack of societal coordination or proprioception on such matters is telling, and smells of scarcity tactics to inhibit further progress. Or maybe it is just a lack of incentive (a more modern, but nonetheless animalistic motivation tool). Regardless, unless we can all agree on what is actually happening and at what scale, the talk of such subjects remains just fodder. Not insignificant, just not broadly addressable. Bigger projects often need bigger resources.
Unless we were to give up entirely our vast level of interconnection, we are moving on an unalterable course towards abundance in which everyone helps each other achieve their goals. One of the keys, I think, in getting there is what I call "Genuine Excellence." The world has become our grocery basket. We can have almost anything we like. But now, in order to evolve to the next level of our species, we must more often consider the downstream consequences of our actions. In other words, we need to make more well-thought-out decisions, leaving behind some of the more animalistic decisions that got us this far.
Our desires might just have to be genuine in order to be sustainable.
In order to go where we have not yet been, we may need to do things in an uncommon way. It will take quite a bit of patience and a whole lot of coordination, given the degrees of freedom and the number of people needed to achieve them. But if we will it, then it will exist.
The scope of all businesses will be affected by the continually higher social connectivity of us all. Just look around for evidence.
Hedge Funds beginning to condense and the industry beginning to shrink. Finance as a whole doesn't make the big deltas in money it once did, aside from the top percentages of people in the industry (this could be said for most or all industries). The greater informed capacity of consumers, the greater rationale of the whole and of the individual in the world leaves fewer holes through which people can jump to earn a big jump in pay. People are smarter now, and thus less likely to part ways with their money for something stupid.
(Side note: However, marketing and advertising has been quite the psychology experiment over the past 100 years.)
For example, I was in the bank a week ago. As I left, one of the many agents who had nothing else to do (blame technology!) asked me to step into one of their rooms to discuss an offer they would like to extend to me. If I were to bring $20,000 over from another bank, open a checking account, and keep the money in there for 3 months, they would give me a bonus of $200. 1% in three months? Not bad, for now.
I did not take them up on their offer. Let's put aside for a moment how banks make money. For people who have that kind of money to transfer, what in the bank's right minds makes the them think they could convince someone to transfer that amount of money? It was a severe overestimation of their importance in the global ecosystem. Maybe a spaghetti-against-the-wall, shotgun approach to landing a new account? I could get a much higher percentage simply putting that kind of money into a safe ETF. They should have referred me to their investment arm for such an offer, if at all.
Unless all of the other banks closed, which won't happen, (and if it does, we have bigger problems) then I have no reason to change my current banking relationship(s). The extremes are beginning to shrink towards the middle. The best large investment firms will likely be around a while, but personal relationships matter more. Hence venture capitalists having such a huge rise over the past two decades.
Banking and finance are no longer personal. Like the many industries swept into the recent Revolution, banking has become a bastard of Convenience. I mean that in an objective way, not a mean way. Businesses and industries that cement their statuses at any point in time as "necessities" (cell phone service and cable/ internet providers may be next) become shoved towards the middle, from the extremes.
Economically, it is great to become a necessity - it is the ultimate job security. Time is the ultimate test of one's importance, and while necessity is certainly better than the alternative, there is a need for both sustainability and evolution by any business with time. It must evolve along with the needs of its people.
While some necessities, especially early on when they are still elective or experimental, can occasionally get away with higher margins, for the most part. But, between governmental intervention and social accountability, necessity causes lower margins. This leads to greater access, and also allows for a greater assimilation of more "necessities" with time. Just look at oil prices since the mid-2000's price spike. The masses would revolt if their qualities of life took a big enough hit, and everyone knows it. On the other end, everyone gets along better when we are held accountable to each other.
So, what comes next?
We have unarguably more "necessities" than ever before in the history of humanity. What was once "water, food, survive, procreate" has since added "transportation, home ownership, water, gas, electric, cell phone, internet, television, vacations, Instagram likes / followers (joking on those last few).." the list goes on and on.
Societal complexity has dictated to us an ever-greater array of needs just to be competitive all lumped under the previous "survive" category, and completely subjective. Now, I would love to play devil's advocate and live under a rock (near a wave-producing beach, ideally) while simply focusing on the original aspects of survival. But, that ship has sailed. I was born in America. I'm married. I went to college and have student loans. If my wife and I were to leave now, there would be many consequences. My student loan cosigner will find me and kill me for the consequences suffered from my departure and lack of payment. In other words, I have bought in to our society. And to an individual extent, so have you.
So, in order for us to move forward in this Convenience Revolution, into the assumed next, Social Revolution, I propose a few ideas for your consideration that might help facilitate this transition:
- In order to better afford all of the new "necessities" life has to offer, these things need to become more affordable, while people also need a higher living wage. How? No freakin' clue. Time usually helps. The many micro scenarios all contribute to the greater macro. Despite all of the above social awareness talk, I am in no way a screaming socialist, but an unapologetic industrialist / capitalist - teach a person to fish. These are just ideas and talking points.
However, if business owners believe in abundance, not scarcity, and understand really well their business and its scope, then estimating downstream income and thus the ability to pay their employees should be fairly easy. We get off course in our capitalistic society when we think the only answer to improving any business is "more." Furthermore, the stock market is far from perfect. Share prices shouldn't always go up. Some companies should pay more dividends. But again, does greed/scarcity win out, or abundance? Usually, the answer is in the middle. We'll let time be the judge.
- Better organize government to be an objective advocate of its constituents, not a career path that justifies its own existence. In other words, gear government so that the people are in control. Direct democracy. Will again require greater individual accountability, but this revolution must also accompany an evolution by us all.
- Simplify the legal system. There are too many smart, logical thinkers demystifying the laws created by man. Lawyers could be doing more social good in other jobs. There is too much social entropy coming from the laws of man, in my estimation. Same goes for mankind's bad behaviors. Each religion has guidance to follow (Atheists, good luck). I was raised Roman Catholic. God gave us 10 laws and then we have a bunch of stories for guidance. Why do we need thousands more laws? The scope of the legal system is out of touch with our modern needs. It gums up progress and coordination far too much. We need the rationale of lawyers in areas other than arguing and bickering. Trust isn't nearly as expensive as the lack thereof.
- Improve education. This will happen, naturally, but more than ever, there are incredibly qualified educators from Pre-K all the way up through college. As long as humanity keeps learning, so will its students.
- Nutrition. Our Performance Pyramid has that covered. Blog posts coming soon. Next post, we'll tackle actual proprioception a bit further. Then, we finally get to dive into nutrition!