By Jim Cathcart
The Acorn Principle
R. Buckminster Fuller, called by some the Leonardo da Vinci
of the twentieth century, was an inventor, engineer, architect,
poet, philosopher, scientist, and more. He coined the term
dymaxion. It means, simply maximum performance with
minimum materialsdoing more with less.
This concept is present in his creations, such as the strong
yet lightweight geodesic dome, the most prominent of which
sits at the entrance of Disney's EPCOT Center in Florida.
Another application is the World Energy Grid, a plan for
the linking of all the world's renewable energy sources
to produce abundant electricity affordably for all major
population centers on earth indefinitely.
Fuller's goal was to find ways to make the world work for
100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through
spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage
to anyone. Today, Fuller's work is being carried on by Peter
Meisen, a friend of mine who formed Global Energy Network
Institute (GENI) in 1986. This nonprofit effort has led
Peter around the world and caused him to meet and collaborate
with numerous world leaders.
As a result of Peter's quest to open the global mind to
this cooperative venture, former adversaries have laid down
their arms while laying electrical cables to replace them.
This has resulted in linking energy sources across borders
and time zones to provide inexpensive, off-peak energy production
to areas that most need it. It's easy to see the effect
this can have on world peace. You don't bomb your own energy
plants, nor do you terrorize places where you have branch
Peter Meisen was a young man with an engineering background
and a profound personal concern for the world's welfare.
He did not know "the right people" or have access
to a large trust fund when he started GENI. He didn't have
the language skills, knowledge of diplomacy and protocol,
or a position of scientific prominence. He wasn't one of
the top authorities on his topic. He merely had a sincere
desire to make a difference.
By choosing this path, Peter Meisen had also committed
himself to a life of personal growth. Like Walt Disney when
he was a cartoonist dreaming of Disneyland, Peter's goal
was bigger than Peter. If he didn't grow, the goal wouldn't
So Peter began to identify his own strengths and find people
with differing abilities. He sought connections with anyone
who could, even temporarily, become excited about his goals.
He built alliances, helped others, sought mentors, and grew
a root system (resource network) of enormous proportions.
He is a voracious student in his field, but he doesn't
try to master everything. He respects and aligns with the
strengths and passions in others. And the Global Energy
Network is rapidly becoming a reality.
The official ending of the Cold War was the destruction
of Berlin Wall in 1989 after forty years of tension and
missiles pointed at each other. Two months later, East and
West Germany began the interconnection of their electrical
grids because it made such good economic sense. When King
Hussein of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel signed the
Washington Declaration for peace, the first two infrastructure
projects included the interconnection of telephone lines
and power grids. The geographic distance was small, and
the technology had existed for years. It just took diplomacy
and mutual economic benefit to enable the engineers to build
a physical link that will help both countries. Today, many
former enemies are following suit: Chile and Argentina,
Turkey and Iran, India and Pakistan. If these nations can
move from conflict to cooperation, so can they all.
Now back to the person behind all of this. Based on what
I have just told you about him, do an Acorn Profile of Peter
Meisen. The clues are all there. What are his highest values?
How do you know? What is his velocity? Has his background
seemed to help or not? What are his greatest smarts? What
is his bandwidth? His behavioral style? Write out your answers
before reading more. See how well you are noticing more.
Peter's velocity is very high. He has taken on the biggest
of all causes, saving the world. His commitment and empathy
values are so high they are off the chart. He also has a
high knowledge value. His wealth value is relatively low.
His background is neutral. His smarts are picture, math/logic,
and people smarts. He has a conceptual bandwidth. I didn't
give you enough information to know his behavioral style;
it is director. Look back over the description of Peter
and link these observations to the information available
With his profile it is fairly easy to see how his current
role provides the meaning and purpose that suit him. Our
ideas of what is or is not meaningful are usually an out
growth of our Acorn Profile. We are drawn toward that for
which we are well suited. "Desire is possibility seeking
You are like Peter Meisen in many ways. Through your profile
may be very different from his, there are things you are
greatly concerned about. You possess strengths that, once
matched with others, could really make a difference in your
company, community, or would. You contain the seeds of a
forest of mighty oaks.
The key to tapping this growth potential is beginning the
process. Take the first steps; act on your impulses. Find
ways to enhance the world through your actions. Don't start
by looking at yourself; start by looking around you. What
are you concerned about? How would you change the world
if you could?
Growth doesn't occur without reaching out. Reaching out
to help stimulates a simultaneous outreach for resourcesbranches
and roots. As you need them, somehow the resources seem
happily to appear. Not always where you suspected they would
be, but there nonetheless.
Your job is not fully to understand the world but simply
to enhance it. Make it better because you were herewhether
that be through an entertaining performance, a beautiful
sculpture, a simpler solution, a kind gesture, or a global
movement. Grow where you are planted and branch out to connect
with and serve the world.