Home / Buckminster Fuller’s Experiment: What CAN One Person Accomplish?

Buckminster Fuller’s Experiment: What CAN One Person Accomplish?

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I read Buckminster Fuller’s Universe by Lloyd Steven Sieden at the recommendation of a client, and was so struck by a passage in the preface that I wanted to share it with you.

“Fuller became so adamant about the contribution he could make that in 1927 he actually created an experiment using himself as “Guinea Pig B” (for “Bucky”). The specific purpose of this experiment was to determine and document what one individual could accomplish on behalf of all humanity which could not be achieved by any organization, government or business, regardless of its size or power. That experiment remained a critical element of Fuller’s daily life until his death fifty-six years later.


Can you see the depth of the love in that experiment? What greater love is there than to say, I am going to dedicate my life to this experiment&#8212the experiment of seeing how much goodness, love, creativity and beauty I can bring to the world in my lifetime?

I think about goals a lot. I engage in hours of conversation every week with individuals about their goals, and I think about my own as well. Maybe you are thinking about your goals, too.

So many of our goals have to do with our external life (my Hapkido instructor might refer to this as “laksana” or “sang“, the visual substance of life). We want more money, more time, more organization, more happiness, to come to conclusions about our best career direction, to get our bodies in shape&#8212you know the routine.

Often these goals have to do with a sense of lack or dissatisfaction. We need more of something, like money or status&#8212or less of something, like cellulite, or clutter.

So, Bucky has me thinking now. What if we shifted our focus to WHO we want to be rather than WHAT we want to have/get rid of? To what we wanted to give/contribute rather than what we want to receive? What would happen in your life if your single resolution was to experiment with how much love/goodness/beauty/creativity you could bring to the world/your particular corner of it?

Notice the word experiment.

You don’t have to know exactly what this is going to look like. Allow yourself to be more curious than certain, and let your single resolution simply be the guiding principle by which you assess your actions.

Think about it. If one wants to bring more love to the World, that includes everything. Bucky used the term “Universe” without “the” in front of it. He chose to do this because using “the” separates Universe from Us. Universe isn’t separate, it is everything, all inclusive and we are fully integrated with it and influenced by it. (Whether we are aware of this or not&#8212think eco-systems&#8212eco-systems have always existed, even though our awareness of such integration is a very new development.) Viewing ourselves as separate (from Universe, Nature, others) is dangerous.

Here’s an example. In practical terms, if I want to bring more love to the World, and I really stay present to that thought, I am far less likely to eat things that are bad for me. Filling myself with unhealthy food is not an expression of love (for myself, in this case). Serving unhealthy food to others is similarly inconsistent with my overarching desire for my life to bring more love to the world.

And there are ripples from shifts like this.

There is a Community Supported Farm not far from me. The weekly dinners we would have with friends when our vegetables would arrive were the medium for cementing a friendship that is a strong as ever even though these friends live half a country away now. A decision to eat organic food led to community and friendship, not to mention the benefit to the farm and the good works that they extend themselves in to.

Thinking about being more loving and aware is a lot more appealing and motivating to me than “I will lose 10 pounds.”

When you are guided by your values, self-abusive habits like spending money you don’t have, failing to take your body out for some fresh air and exercise, participating in gossip&#8212all those actions will start to fall away because they aren’t consistent with WHO you want to be.

This doesn’t mean that you have to become self-righteous. (Master Chang said this week that if he walked around ‘acting enlightened’ all the time, his wife would have divorced him long ago!) You have to live in the world. This is why I love the idea of this being a great experiment. You can approach this gently. It’s just keeping the question alive here. How can I be more loving in this situation? How can I be more creative here? How can I bring more peace to this situation?

What starts to happen here is that Fear has less and less room to grow. If I say, “I want to make a million dollars this year,” I add a stress that colors everything I do. I start to view what I do in terms of money, my clients in terms of money, my time in terms of the money it will or will not bring me, other coaches as a threat to my piece of the pie&#8212I start to compete.

That is Fear and it’s creepy. It’s Fear that I won’t make my goal, I’ll be without… whatever.

But if I say, I want to bring more love and goodness and creativity to the world, that is going to guide how I am with EVERYONE. Client or not, people who give me money in exchange for my services and those who do not. I will treat myself better, there will be more of me to give as a result and my world, including but not limited to, my business will thrive.

If I say, “I want to lose 15 pounds,” I start to fear food. I deprive myself, feel constricted, get discouraged, and get stressed when the holiday goodies surround me. If I come from a perspective of making loving choices for myself, it will be a lot easier to engage in moderation. I’ll allow myself treats without being upset that I have “blown my diet.”

A lifestyle guided by loving, healthy choices will get you where you want to go.

So, I invite you to join me. Design your own experiment. Set aside your goals and reflect on the values you hold most dear. Let those values guide the actions of your day&#8212at work, at home, in your private times. Consider what could be accomplished on the part of humanity if we each committed to living a life based on Love rather than Fear?

Laura Young/Wellspring Coaching
Laura’s blog
Edited: PC

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About Laura Young

  • Orin

    Totally Awesome! I came to this perspective indirectly by reading a book called “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. The concept has changed my life…and I’m glad you discovered it too! I’m going to link everybody to this entry for inspiration. 🙂

  • Thanks, Orin! The Road Less Travelled is certainly a classic. Tell everyone to feel free to jump in on the conversation! I’m knee deep in this topic here and neck deep at my blog so if you’d like to keep kicking this around and invite more people to the party, there is definitely a place to play!

  • Peck’s book is certainly worth reading, and I recommend it all the time to younger friends. His perspective is less approachable, I think, once you’ve got a certain amount of anno domini behind you…

  • Thanks for sharing this article Laura, its a bit of synchronicity here as Buckminster Fuller made an impact on me back in grade school and also at this point in my life I’m reading things such as TRLT and trying to beat a depression and am constantly on the search for more meaning. Great stuff on your home blog as well. Take care!!

  • Thanks, Sebastian! Glad to have you joining in on the search.
    Dr. Pat, loving the “certain amount of anno domini behind you”. I’ll have to use that…

  • BreccasDad

    I’ve read lots about Fuller. My dad knew Bucky Fuller personally. He is the most amazing man of the 20th Century. And if more people took stock in what he says about Spaceship Earth, we would not be in the situation we have today with the energy crisis, and the middle east. Read his stuff, and be enlightened.

  • How did you dad get to know him? How cool is that? You must have had some very interesting discussions. Would love to hear more!

  • David V.

    I am delighted to see that Bucky is still being read. I highly encourage anyone that appreciated Laura’s findings to pick up “Utopia or Oblivion” or “Operating Instructions for Spaceship Earth”. Bucky lays it all out for us. I particularly like that Bucky challenges our ‘money motivations’ and offers us a different choice- to be motivated by what will be best for the world around us, what will advance humanity.

    He was a brilliant thinker.