Once we understand what our executive function skills are, we move to streamlining how well we use them, how they show up/ don't show up in our life. As we move through our understanding of how to better manage our ideas, feelings and actions, can their be soft and hard forces which are orchestrated with the focus of instilling in us..how to think...how to act... how to respond? Or is 'man' so free in mind, so independent, and so ahead of these forces that he is not affected, not thwarted in his goals, and not redirected easily?
If we are to polish and tone these executive function skills so that we can harness the ability of our mind (a tool) to facilitate successful outcomes for ourselves, should we not start by bringing a critical eye to why we think the way we think? Is this not metacognition, or how we use our thought process to approach the world?
Using systems theory, any system that is accepted into a larger system invariably begins to affect that bigger system. Systems that are not accepted into a larger system, have their input into that larger system subjugated, or stopped altogether. Thus, a human being raised on a steady diet of television programming, common educational standards, and a double-earning household will find it very hard to achieve 'breakaway velocity' in their minds allowing them to begin to think for themselves. Though not impossible, the soft and hard forces at play begin to indoctrinate and mold thinking towards certain metacognitive pathways, and away from pathways which may lead to renaissance-style action, entrepreneurialism, all of which seems to be considered revolutionary thinking these days. The kind of thinking that is equated with the likes of human beings like, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Ghandi, the Lord Jesus Christ, and all the prophets of the Holy Bible, Muhammad, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), Simon Bolivar, and even 3-D printing maverick Cody Wilson, or You Tube sensation Julia Tourianski (Brave New World).
What connects these and other independent-thinkers together is that they stepped outside the box, then got rid of it. Instead of them following established perimeters, they pushed through them, broke them, then took a critical eye from their new vantage point and began influencing the pervading culture of their time. Each of these people manifested their own destiny. Can you? Were they victims of culture, was the culture present in the time of each of these men and women such that these people's minds were subjected to thinking within the box? For sure, some of these mentioned were killed, shot, persecuted, railed against, discounted, slandered, but they lived outside the systems. Where did they get their happiness from? Without any romantic connotation, they redefined and recreated the systems around them. Can I and you be such individual forces?
Parents do this all the time. Consider it next time your child throws a tantrum. You can allow that tantrum, along with all its bells and whistles to impact you heavily. You can get emotional and physical with your kid. Screaming and yelling, tears, perhaps your kid insults you, stress and anxiety building up in a real physical sense within you. You are in a sense, a real system that has allowed another system free reign into your emotional control center and into your peace of mind. Loving your child the right way does not mean that you face off with them in a counter productive way. Can you fight fire with fire? No, you just end up with more 'fire power' between the both of you. The thing to do is to turn on your executive function skill awareness and role-model how it is that your child should learn to respond to their own child one day. This takes nerves of steel, and it takes time to strengthen these nerves.
Ghandi had an idea of achieving independence through non-violent methods. His ideas were hated by the British who controlled India and where using the whole country, its people, and resources as their 'for profit' business. Ghandi, with the power of the word and steadfastness, signaled how it was that the imperial British were to be dealt with. He used foresight, goal-directed persistence, behavior modulation, emotional control, self-regulation, and metacognition to engineer a revolution that started in his heart. Before long, Indians began simulating his calls for action, and stopped working for the British East India Company, through forms of non-active civil disobediance. The system called India stopped allowing the system called England to do as it pleased within Indian borders. Eventually, the English had to pack up and go. Eventually, your own child will realize that they can't get an emotional rise out of you. They will realize, if you play your cards right, that they no longer seem to have emotional power over Mom or Dad.
George Washington Carver, was born into slavery, but became a scientist, a botanist, an educator, and an inventor. How is it that he managed to achieve 'breakway velocity?' How did he tone his executive function skills? Was their a driving force? Carver had an unction for empowering himself, especially given his bleak circumstances. I see that each of the people I have named understand that time is of the essence, and while we all want better things in life, no one is going to do it for you. Carver was dealing with a society that cared not for the education of black boys and girls, he was dealing with an economy that had no place for him or people with his skin color. He basically became a force of nature manifesting thought and putting it into action.
Did the social constructs of his time, or the social norms of the other figures mentioned support the independence-minded lifestyle that these men and women have modeled? I think the answer is no. They had to break through the cobwebs of how we are trained to think. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to, because it is part of the essence of a human being to be free in mind, body and soul (heart).
In effect, they and many others are individual systems that have redefined older systems. The signers of the original constitution of the United States of America ushered in a new system. Most of them were killed, persecuted, or impoverished. Yet, they redefined the social construct. The internet is a system of systems that is also in the process of distributing other systems (ideas) more or less freely, in the sense that it is currently above the complete control of governments and international organizations. It is a market place that is allowing all these ideas, opinions, inventions and constructs into itself. This brings a destabilizing effect because ideas are so powerful and can shift how people act on a massive scale.
So, though you may understand the executive function skill vocabulary words, what EF skills are, and how to manage your own, now what? What will you do with what you have been given? Will your gifts and talents be undernourished growing up? Will your passions be watered down with an onslaught of established media programming? Will you only think in ways that don't rock society's boat? Will we just become politically correct all the time? Will we question how we are told that life should be lived? Will we still have a passion to think critically, and think independently, even when it is not fashionable?
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