CHAPTER EIGHT: Passivity
The Control Impulse to determine events and direct the actions of others exists to some degree in every human being. Whether a man is a Controller or an Adapter is simply a matter of where nature and nurture have placed him on the Chaos continuum.
A high-Control man will view Chaos not as uncontrollable circumstance, but rather as a transitory disadvantage that can be remedied if he is simply granted sufficient Control. The Controller tends to view every disadvantage as a problem to be solved rather than a condition to be accepted. Thus, he will say “the Is is not what it Should Be” when confronted with Chaos and try to determine events and direct the actions of others to achieve the outcome that he views as most desirable. The Controller is an Edge Traveller who believes that time and place belong to him.
At the other end of the continuum is the high-Adaptation man who views Chaos as something outside of his (or anyone’s) Dominion. For him, the Is is a condition to be accepted rather than a problem to be solved. The Adapter will say “the Is is what it Is” when confronted with Chaos and accept a disadvantage as a condition (whether it is transitory or not is irrelevant) and make necessary and rapid adjustments to stay in motion rather than seeking to determine events and direct the actions of others. The Adapter is a Flow Traveler who believes that time and place belong to no man.
Where the Controller assumes that almost anything can be Controlled, the Adapter only believes that he has Dominion over three areas of his life: 1) the wholesomeness of what he deposits into his body and soul; 2) the purity of his thoughts, feelings, and emotions; and 3) the integrity of his words and deeds. Everything else is outside of his Dominion. For him, there are no self-determined outcomes, but only a directional heading—an Azimuth—along which he is called to keep moving.
In the Adapter’s worldview, every man has his own Azimuth that is determined for him by a higher authority that does have the power to determine events but chooses to allow each individual to direct his own actions through freewill. The Adapter only concerns himself with his own Azimuth through adherence to Bob’s Razor—he keeps it simple, works fast and focuses on what is right in front of him.
Like any random distribution, the array of people along the Chaos continuum is a normal curve with the majority of the population at the mean. At the center point of the continuum are the Passives—people who are low-Control and low-Adaptation. When faced with Chaos, a Passive will neither seek to determine events and direct the actions of others (as a Controller would), nor make necessary and rapid adjustments to stay in motion (as an Adapter would). Instead, he will try to ignore the Is and/or hope that it will dissipate on its own accord so that he can maintain his status quo. Like the Adapter, the Passive has an Azimuth—he just doesn’t walk it. He isn’t an Edge or Flow Traveler—he’s a “no traveler”.
Both the Controller and the Adapter tend to underestimate the powerful attraction of the status quo to the Passive, for whom the existing state of affairs is a place of great comfort and safety, even when (especially when) it is existentially threatened by Chaos. The Controller becomes exasperated by the Passive’s resistance to having his actions dictated to him if it takes him away from the status quo, and the Adapter is surprised by the Passive’s willingness to remain static rather than trying to stay in motion along his Azimuth.
A Controller will view the non-reaction of the Passive to Chaos in a highly negative light, as stubbornness, selfishness or worse. At best, the Controller will characterize the stasis of the Passive as procrastination—delaying necessary action despite knowing that there will be negative consequences later for not acting now. As a result, the Controller sees it as his duty (his right even) to compel the Passive by directing his actions toward the Controller’s desired outcome, so that the Is can be transformed into what the Controller’s Should Be.
An Adapter sees the Passive differently. For him, non-action in the face of Chaos might be a logical response, given that the Passive has no Dominion over the circumstances giving rise to the Chaos in the first place, nor any power over the outcomes that will result if he does take action. Thus, the Adapter views the non-reaction of a Passive neutrally, even though it is not what he would do because the Adapter is hard-wired to prioritize movement over stasis. Rather than compelling the Passive like the Controller would, the Adapter will seek to Influence him to move voluntarily along his Azimuth to a more Advantageous position on his own by persuading him that what Is is not necessarily what Could Be.
Because the Controller views his Should Be as a moral imperative, he regards all resistance to his efforts to determine events and direct the actions of others as irrational or malevolent. He is intolerant of those who resist his Should Be and his prescriptions for how it must be realized. Thus, there is little room for negotiation with the Controller. One must either agree and comply or find himself castigated.
In contrast, the Adapter understands that his vision of the Could Be is highly agitating for the Passive because it requires him to release his grip from the status quo and engage in movement. He recognizes that his movement bias is not something that is shared by the vast majority of people situated at the middle of Chaos continuum. By nature and nurture, Passives lack both the skill and motivation to respond to uncontrollable circumstances by making necessary and adjustments to stay in motion.
For Passive to engage in movement, he must first learn to Adapt, which the Adapter factors into all his efforts to Influence him.