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Often greater risk is involved in postponement than in making a wrong decision. ~ Harry A. Hopf

Placing the Stones Principle

The phrase “Placing the Stones” is a concept that is frequently used within an AltanaESP Network & System context to emphasize the forcing of solutions, rather than to follow, accept and “prospect” the already establish natural flow of things (i.e. the cycles and processes of life), which - ultimately - are awfully time consuming, effort intensive, a waste of energy, expensive and an unnecessary interaction complicator that frequently don't even deliver the harmonious results that we attempt to introduced into our lives and environment.

This principle (placing the stones) evolved and matured from the following incident, encountered…

Some years ago - then a lecturer in Educational Psychology at the University of Zululand - I visited a school to assess some of my student's “practical teaching” lessons. The school was a U-shape building with the administration in between the two rows of classroom blocks. The headmaster decided to establish an “eye pleasing” garden - in the centre between the buildings - with a prominent water feature, surrounded by a couple of nice flower beds. The forced rule at the school was that no learner should cross the garden ”space” to the classrooms on the opposite side. They should either walk all the way around on the veranda's of the school buildings or they should cross the “garden space” using the pathways (stepping stones) as designed and provided for walking through the garden.

The rule - the “forced rule” of following the paths as prescribed - wasn't really accepted well within the school environment, mainly because another “natural rule”… “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”… tends to dictate that tired school going learners won't choose to follow a carefully laid out designer path. Especially when it is going to result in quite a bit of a detour. The school environment wasn't harmonious any longer… when the bell rings, the headmaster sprinted from his office to the veranda and - with a megaphone - “direct/steer/motivate” the learners - which are trying to sneak the shortest route through his garden - to enthusiastically follow the new rules as laid down and to reinstate “harmony” into the school environment once again.

When I was visiting the school - while smoking my pipe outside in the garden - this daily ritual comes into play. The headmaster earnestly reprimands the learners and the learners attempt to sneak across the garden without being spotted. Next to me the gardener - while observing the ritual - was just shaking his head and mumbling something. I was curious as to what he was thinking and asked him. He replied… “This happens everyday, making life difficult for both the boss man and children. Why doesn't he put the stones (stepping stones) where the path is?”

I was a bit puzzled - at first - by what he meant, but when I observe the ritual again, I noticed… there was already a number of “natural crossing paths” established that the learners use to cross to the opposite classrooms. The headmaster - in his wisdom - rather than incorporating and accommodate these “natural paths” into his garden design; decided to “design an eye pleasing garden for occasional visitors” and then force the learners - which is at school everyday - to follow these carefully laid out new routes. This attitude just created a disharmonious situation, which is much more frustrating and energy consuming than “placing the stones” where the natural paths already were. When you wish to incorporate the new and use the present “natural” structure as a foundation, then you will end up with eye pleasing design (i.e. nice garden) that is also practical to use (i.e. shortest route to travel). Authentic Harmony!

First determine what the natural flow of things presently are, and then decide what could be done to enhance or improve it. DO NOT change it completely… negotiate & compromise results! Thus, don't fight what is there and “working”. Rather improve the present conditions (i.e. deal with change in context). This is KEY to establish and sustain a harmonious environmental fit.

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