As above so below

The adage is traditionally attributed to the Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus who is generally regarded as a Roman adaptation of the Egyptian god Thoth.  Hermes Trismegistus may be the earliest philosopher, but his teachings are considered universal maxims that are reflected in many subsequent philosophical and technical realms right down to the present.  Sir Isaac Newton is credited with a version saying “Tis true without lying, certain and most true.  That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below.”  Another reflection is from Confucius who claimed self-government mirrors the government of a state.

The basic meaning of “as above so below” is that by observing one relation you gain knowledge of the reflected whole.  The assumption is that everything at a macroscopic level is a mirror of the microscopic.

While it may seem to be a stretch to relate this quote  to organizational performance, I believe there is a point to be made here.

What is above is results: sales, profit, execution, growth.  So what is below? Below, at the lowest levels in an organizational context, is words. Specifically, conversations about what the organization is or should be doing and how individuals collaborate to get it done.

The quality of these elemental conversations effects the results. The performance effects the conversations.  As above, so below…end results depend on personal interactions.  Accordingly, improving the clarity and commitment bound up in individual conversations can improve top line results.

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