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Structure: The Power and The Beauty

By Robert Fritz


The underlying structure of anything determines its behavior. This is a principle of structural dynamics, which is the study of how and why structure has the impact it does on individuals, relationships, teams, organizations, and so much of our world.

There are some pretty obvious ways structure governs our actions. We walk through a building along the passageways that have been established by the architectural design. We don't go through walls, but are controlled by them. We use the doors to enter and exit rooms. Our lives have similar architectural structures built into the circuitry. These structures are not as visible as a building, but they are just as influential, solid and tangible. The elements of your personal structure include your dynamic urge (from appetites to vague longings to your highest aspirations and values), reality as it actually is regardless of your perceptions of it, and, in certain dysfunctional structures, the various concepts you hold. Together, these elements give rise to predictable patterns of behavior.

The structures of our lives produce two types of behaviors, advancing and oscillating. In an advancing structure, you are able to create the results you want, and that success becomes the platform for future success. But in an oscillating structure success is eventually neutralized and reversed: the great relationship that doesn't last, the business success that leads to a financial loss, the project that first looks good, but then creates more problems than it's worth.

You have both types of structures in your life. Most people do not realize that a structure is in play causing these patterns. And, without a change of underlying structure, the pattern will play itself out. If you are in an oscillating pattern, change, even the most positive types, will be reversed, and you will find yourself back in the same boat as before.

Structure generates behavior. It determines outcomes. It produces patterns. You can't fool mother structure. But you can change the structures you are in. The key, in a nutshell, is to create a new structure: structural tension in which you know the outcome you want to create, and are clear about current reality. These two data points create a tension. Tension always seeks resolution. Thatís a dynamic. In other words, because of the tension a force/energy is generated toward movement. The movement has one of two possibilities: you accomplish your goal; you give up your goal. In the creative process we take action to accomplish our chosen goals, and so the structure usually leads to the outcomes we want.

But it is easy to say: know what you want, know where you are. It is more challenging to do it. However, you can practice this principle anytime, and the best way to begin is to choose little creating projects: a dinner party, a poem, a rearranged room. Something that can be done within a few minutes or hours. Hold the image in your mind of the outcome you want while being aware of the current reality that exists in relationship to that outcome. Your actions will become more strategic, more effective, and easier to take than usual.

It is your various concepts that create the oscillating pattern in your life. If you can leave your various beliefs and concepts at the door of your creative process, the structure can change. (Check out The Belief Business Vs. The Creating Business:

Structure is causal. And that's pretty darn powerful indeed. But there is also a beauty to structure. In nature, the designs are everywhere from the structure of flowers to snowflakes to the human body to shells of all kinds. Mostly these structures are based on something called dynamic symmetry, which is found in the mathematical proportion: 1:1.618.

In the arts, the beauty of structure is found everywhere from simple song form to the blues to the sonata allegro of the classic symphony to the driving power of the screenplay to the form of all types of sports to the most basic forms of housing to the brilliance of truly innovative architecture. Our world is filled with breathtaking structures of incredible beauty, but mostly, our eyes are closed to them. I suppose itís like the old saying, the fish canít see the water it is in.

Today, you will be surrounded by gorgeous, stunning, exquisite, magnificent structures. If you begin to look, your eyes will become open to an aspect of the world most people miss seeing. Something wonderful can happen as this universe within the world opens to you. The beauty of structure will enrich your life, and your life will become more beautiful.

©2010 Robert Fritz

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Updated: 10/24/10