Mirrored Reciprocation

If you had to pick one rule that governs every interaction in the world, what would it be?

We can find one answer to this question in, of all places, Newton's third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you push against a chair, the chair pushes back just as hard in the opposite direction. Without that reaction holding you up, you'd topple to the floor.

Businessman Peter Kaufman refers to this effect as "mirrored reciprocation," and once you become aware of this phenomenon, it shows up everywhere you look.

When we give food to our neighbors, they're more likely to extend the same favor to us. And when we try to fight internal discomfort, it often only serves to increase it.

If you get sick, your body develops antibodies to fight the infection. Russia's attack on Ukraine pushed Finland and Sweden to apply to NATO, strengthening the western alliance against it. And if you're trying to strengthen your relationships, you can create a safe space for others to be vulnerable by opening up yourself.

You can wield this idea to lead the change you want to see: Go first. Hold a mirror up to the universe that shows what it could be. Then watch as it reciprocates.


Weekly thoughts on creating systems to sustainably grow your impact on the world.
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