I wanted to spend some time today writing about a psychological theory that has aligned with large parts of MoHow’s youth engagement approach and ethos. This is a short piece explaining what the rubber band theory is, and how it applies to MoHow.
In the mid-1990s American scientist Peter Senge popularised a little-known idea called the rubber band theory. Put simply, it explores the concept that closing the gap between our current reality and our desired reality requires a stretch of self. Senge called this the “balance between creative tension and emotional tension.”
For context,creative tension forms when one desires more than their current reality and emotional tension forms between one having a vision and the time taken to achieve that vision. Senge believed that this emotional tension created pressure to lower or give up on one’s vision, as the difference between aspirations and reality are often insurmountable, especially when our aspirations shift with reality. However,Senge did not advocate against having a vision or aspirations. Instead, he believed that a proper definition of a vision and clarity about one’s reality would help form a path to achieving the desired vision.
Senge argued that clearly defining a vision would mean that the vision would not be able to shift as one’s current reality changed. And clearly defining one’s reality meant the path to achieving one’s vision would become clearer. The rubber band theory puts to words the idea that stretching the reality of one’s current circumstance is a necessary part of growth, however, without context this stretching is pointless.
Senge’s work has informed MoHow’s approach to youth engagement in the value we place on talking and interacting with people to understand what their vision for the future is. In the same way, an individual must define their vision we seek to define the vision of people across a country or organisation. Across all our projects we take pride in the trust we place in people to know what it is they desire. We simply set the context and then communicate this vision to corporate and institutional bodies.
So next time you have a vision that you think is unattainable, thinkagain and ask yourself. Where am I today? And where exactly do I want to be once I have achieved this vision? Set your context and help others set theirs,then go out and stretch yourself to achieve it. As Senge would say, find your balance between creative and emotional tension.
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