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What is Unity?

A Follow up to  True Unity

What is unity?

Wikipedia describes unity as the following “Unity can denote a combining of all the parts, elements and individuals into an effective whole.”

Unity is not…
A warm feeling
Always seeing eye to eye
Doing the same thing the same way
An absence of different opinions

True unity can only work in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. It retains, utilizes, and respects the individuality of all the parts that make up the whole. In true unity differences are embraced even celebrated.

People can confuse “unity” with “unison” but there is a big and important difference.

Imagine an orchestra which is made up of many different instruments, for them to perform a symphony they must be in unity. If they were in unison they would all just play the same note at the same time. A symphony is made up of many melodies, harmonies, rhythms and sounds, each combining their own section as part of the whole.

For there to be unity there must be a recognition of the importance of the individual.

I believe that unity, true unity, requires the following environment to survive and thrive.

  1. Trust
  2. Mutual respect
  3. Acceptance of the importance of the individual
  4. Recognition that differences are embraced even celebrated
  5. Honest and open discussion (dialogue)
  6. investigation of all opposing views
  7. not ego lead (ego will destroy unity)
  8. Needs strong clearly stated vision

Just because two people are walking together in the same direction doesn’t mean they are in unity. They could just be walking in the same direction. Unity is a combining of purpose. Unity does not come from oneness of action but oneness of purpose.

True unity cannot be coerced, forced, or demanded. It must be mutual, where the other is more valued and that the vision is clear.

Paul S Allen

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection)

A reflection on the first TEDxDunedin event held December 4, 2009.

The thought processes I find myself having when attending events like this, seem to wander from what the speakers are actually saying to the implications of what they are saying. I found the process of the TEDxDunedin event to be a dialogue rather than just speakers talking to a crowd. This dialogue is more about a meeting of minds rather than sharing of words.

Some bullet points from the night…

Phil Osbourne (University of Otago) “The Power of Free”

  • “Customers happy with value don’t complain about the price.”
  • “What are you going to do when your competitors go free/style?”
  • Most important  “The future is not about business as usual”

Matt Ayres (Polson Higgs)

  • “What happens when your model of service is under threat?”
  • “Your most valuable asset for the future is your insight into the problem your organisation exists to fix”
  • “The future is inside the people you serve”
  • “Fundamental for all organizations… it is about serving people better”

Jason Leong (The Distiller/Pocketsmith)

Growing up great, this was about the thought that business start ups are like “orphans” and that a model of incubation where a group of start up businesses are in an environment where they “Contribute – Collaborate – Share” is important.

Daniel Belton (Good Company Arts)

Daniels presentation was of interest to me as the video of dance that he showed caused me to think about the convergence of two seemingly opposite views, the rigid and the fluid.

The rigid and the fluid need each other to work in harmony; in fact one without the other is structure without life or chaos. As Itay Talgam has said in another TED video “You need process and content to make good music” Process is the structure, whether in business or other activity, and content is what makes it “human” or alive.

A quote from Daniel “[it is] Important that we don’t just “look” but we “see”.”

There was also a video from a neurological specialist talking about her experience when she had a stroke, describing the differences between left and right hemisphere thinking, the left hemisphere being structural the right being experiential. The encouragement from the speaker (Jill Bolte-Taylor)1. was to spend more time on the right hemisphere to spend more time in the metaphysical and creative side.

This video matched well with all the people presenting tonight as the only way to move on is to change the way we think, and to do that we need to be creative in all areas of life and business.

To achieve great new things we cannot do what has already been done.

The world is changing around us whether we like it or not. How we respond to change will determine how we will cope and how we will fit in the future.

Please check out the TEDxDunedin site.

This was a great event and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Paul S Allen

1. The video by Jill Bolte-Taylor

True Unity


In a world where there is so much need why does there exist rivalry between different agencies to meet the need?

Is it because of funding, ideologies, or worse power?

Where does unity fit into this, can it fit?

There are many great causes around the world whether it is poverty, injustice or health related, but there are also seemingly competing agencies or organizations that are competing to get the resources or the following required to be able to win the cause.

Unity does not come from oneness of action but oneness of purpose.

Each part plays its own role, as like the body, a hand is not better than the eye, or the ear better than the legs. All parts are important to achieve a unified life.

Each individual part may have its own function to play but it is only significant when it is part of the rest of the body.

Recognising that your organization is only part of a solution is important as it allows others to freely fill the gaps, perhaps where there are crossover areas collaboration should occur.

Indeed collaboration and partnerships are the sinews and ligaments that hold the body together.

In the fight to beat world poverty or hunger or even an environmentally friendly world, what we need is dialogue between agencies, governments, industry, and communities that while recognising differences can utilise each parts unique quality to build a better world.

The major hindrance to significance is ego. Significant change comes from an understanding that it is not about the individual but rather society; other rather than self; the next generations to come rather than “what’s in it for me”.

While it is right that someone should be in the coordinating leadership role, that person should be a servant whose purpose is to work to make sure that the cause is completed for the sake of all, not just for the glory.

Unity comes from recognising that differences are important and should be valued, celebrated, and that together doing our own special part we can see the cause won.

Paul Allen

The Importance of Deep Interpersonal Communication and Collaboration

The Importance of Deep Interpersonal Communication and Collaboration

Dialogue vs Conversation

Conversation is good but dialogue is a meeting of minds, we need more of the latter. How often do we speak, write or type without giving time to really think about what we wish to communicate. The other side of communication is listening, how good are we at listening to what is & isn’t being communicated? Listening is a form of generosity, that is both rare and valuable and something we all can do. The next step in communication is, understanding what has been communicated. True understanding happens when what I hear you saying, what you mean and my interpretation of that are all the same.

Paul Allen

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