A Conversation on How We Make Decisions


Foundational Principle for this Blog: To explore Applied Game

Theory and how individuals and organizations can strategize to make

effective decisions.


Definition: Decision – A choice selected from a number of alternatives.


STUDENT: How can Applied Game Theory be used to make effective


LEWIS: Any decision requires that a choice be made from a number of alternatives and

directed toward an organizational goal or sub-goal. This is basically what happens when an

individual chooses a strategy in Applied Game Theory.


STUDENT: What defines the superiority of one decision over another?

LEWIS: The likelihood that one consequence will result rather than

another. The correctness of decisions whether in a group or in a

personal situation is measured by two major criteria:

1. adequacy of achieving the desired objective; and

2. the efficiency with which the result was obtained.

Decisions can be complex admixtures of facts and values. In

groups with a hierarchal structure of leaders and followers,

information derived from observation or experimentation as well as

proven facts, or facts derived from specialized experience, are more

easily transmitted than are values. Many members of an organization

may focus on adequacy, but the overall administrative management must pay particular attention to the efficiency with which the desired

result was obtained to ensure that the benefits are worth the economic

and social cost.


STUDENT: How can one make wise decisions if one must make a personal decision

without the benefit of the assessment tools available to a large organization?

LEWIS: Through the assessment of fact-based and intuitive sourced



STUDENT: Explain this in greater depth.

LEWIS: Logical and apparently rational options have real and multiple consequences

consisting of personal actions or non-actions influenced by environmental factors and

values. In application, some of the various consequences may be unintended as well as

intended; may be conscious or unconscious; and some of the means and ends may be

imperfectly differentiated, incompletely related, or poorly detailed.


STUDENT: Let’s say that the information required to make a rational or

logical decision is available.

LEWIS: In such a case a clear-thinking individual will select the

alternative that results in the more desirable set of all the possible consequences.


STUDENT: This seems like a complex task.

LEWIS: It is; and yet to some it initially would seem pretty basic,

requiring only three steps that can be done with a pad and pencil:

1. identify and list all of the alternatives;

2. determine all the consequences resulting from each of the

alternatives; and

3. compare the accuracy and efficiency of each of these sets of



STUDENT: So what makes it complex?

Lewis: Any given individual or organization attempting to strategize

applying this model in real life would soon discover that it is

extremely difficult to comply with the three steps, since it is

highly improbable that anyone can know all the alternatives, or all

the consequences that follow each alternative, without a remarkable

team including resources such as sophisticated computer models and

an understanding of many influential theories, such as the Butterfly

Effect and Black Swan.


STUDENT: If these limitations exist what can one do to make the best


LEWIS: Bringing into play the reality that there are insurmountable

limits on rational decision making, one would need to find and apply

other techniques or behavioral processes that a person or organization can bring to bear to achieve approximately the best result.


STUDENT: Is there much research on how to do this?

Yes. Much of the early research in this area was conducted by Herbert

Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001), one of the most

influential social scientists of the 20th century. Simon dedicated

much of his life to exploring, both directly and indirectly, the

behavioral and cognitive processes and factors of making rational

human choices: that is, decisions. On this subject Simon wrote:


“The human being striving for rationality and restricted within the

limits of his knowledge has developed some working procedures that

partially overcome these difficulties. These procedures consist in

assuming that he can isolate from the rest of the world a closed system

containing a limited number of variables and a limited range of



STUDENT: Is Simon’s work still important today?


LEWIS: Yes. Even today many social scientists refer to his most

influential work, Administrative Behavior, in which he addresses a

wide range of criteria for evaluation of accuracy and efficiency,

such as cognitive abilities, human behaviors, management techniques,

personnel policies, training goals and procedures, specialized roles,

and all of the ramifications of communication processes.


STUDENT: Speak more of Simon’s work.

LEWIS: Simon explores many organizational factors but within the great

scope of his writings two universal elements of human social behavior

seem to stand out:

1. The Role of Authority

2. Loyalties and how an individual identifies with a specific group or


These are important areas of exploration for a person looking to

become skilled in the application of LHAGT since, when strategizing,

one must take into consideration factors such as hierarchal and

competitive behavior in oneself and others.


STUDENT: Can you address decision-making in a large competitive and hierarchal


LEWIS: In such an environment where one is dealing with operational administrative

decision-making, a decision as mathematically accurate, efficient, and practical as possible

is of greatest value.


STUDENT: What does “practical” mean in this context?

LEWIS: Easy to implement within a set of specific guidelines – what a

mathematician would call “coordinated means.”


STUDENT: So one must do this effectively in the midst of a hierarchal

and competitive environment?

LEWIS: Yes but this is not really an obstacle since hierarchies,

competition, and the application of power, influence and authority are

well studied, primary elements of organizational behavior.


STUDENT: Speak further about hierarchies, competition, and the

application of power, influence and authority in such a situation.

LEWIS: From a LHAGT perspective it is pretty straightforward. In

an organizational hierarchal game one individual has defined rights

because of a higher rank to determine the decision of an individual

of lower rank. There is both rigidity and flexibility within this

process. On the one hand the attitudes, actions, and relationships of

the dominant and subordinate individuals in the hierarchy constitute

components of role behavior that can vary widely in content, form, and style, but on the

other hand there is no variance in the expectation of obedience by the player of superior

status, as well as the willingness of the player in a

subordinate position to obey.


STUDENT: How does all this work in a Japanese business model, or in a communal

situation where everyone’s ideas are respected and considered?

LEWIS: There is no conflict here. It is virtually impossible to

have an organization, no matter how egalitarian, that does not

have some minimal authority, even if that position changes, as

for example it does in the UN Security Council, where a different

nation’s representative serves as president on a revolving basis.

No matter what the structure of a group might be, authority is

highly influential on the formal structure of the group, including

patterns and styles of communication, sanctions, and rewards, and the

establishment within the group of goals, objectives, and values.


STUDENT: How are personal decisions that an individual might make different than

decisions the same individual might make within an organization?

LEWIS: A decision that an individual might make as a member of an

organization would be quite distinct from his/her personal decisions.

In fact it is a personal decision for an individual to decide to

join a particular organization. Over time this individual is likely

to explore whether to remain as part of this group based on changes

and the needs that arise in his or her extra–organizational private

life. While in the organization this individual will need to make

decisions not in relationship to personal needs and changes, but in an

impersonal sense detached from personal need. Rather decisions will

need to be made as part of the organizational intent, purpose, and



STUDENT: How can one separate the personal from the organizational in terms of

decision making?

LEWIS: If the distinctions between the personal and organizational

are not clear it can be difficult. Often individuals act unethically

because they look to serve the group in ways that are inappropriate,

and which ignore that distinction. “Whistleblowers” – individuals who

report unethical behavior within organizations to which they belong –

are extraordinary in having a clear distinction in this area.


LEWIS: In the most effective organizations, ethically-based

inducements, rewards, and sanctions are created to form, strengthen,

and maintain an individual’s healthy identification with an organization. Simon’s

contributions to research in the area of decision-making have become increasingly

mainstreamed in the business community thanks to the growth of management


To learn more about Decision Making, research Decision Analysis and explore the ideas of Harold Dwight Lasswell and Chester Barnard.


E. F. Schumacher and Self Actualization

An interview with Contemporary Spiritual Teacher Harrison, the creater of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

STUDENT: What is self actualization and what is its connection to reinventing one’s self?

LEWIS:  Self actualization is the awareness that one has connected to the highest and most profound levels of human expression.  It is full self -knowledge and a total experience of who you “Are” spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

There is a specific, ever-evolving definition of what it is to be a human being (a homo – sapien). There is also a peak level, a maximum level of potential as well as the actualization of that potential that can be achieved, realized and actualized.. Part of what it means to live a full life, one’s best life, is to have an intention to experience self-actualization and sustain that realization moment to moment.

STUDENT: Please go into greater depth concerning your definition of self-actualization?

LEWIS: Self-Actualization means different things to different people. To Socrates one of our greatest philosophers, a self-actualized individual is one who is aware of every aspect relevant to his/her existence. To understand self-actualization one must have a passion for knowledge, hunger for wisdom and a willingness to be accountable for his/her personal actions.

STUDENT: Why is it important to be or become self-actualized?

LEWIS: Life is filled with all forms of unnecessary struggle. Much of this struggle is a direct result of ordinary thinking. To be ordinary is not enough. To think in ordinary ways is just not acceptable if we wish to live a life filled with freedom, love, and wealth.  Each of us has the potential to be extraordinary. Until we are committed to that intent we are incomplete. Without that intention we are only human in the biological sense. I do not say this with any moral judgment or through any sense of self-righteousness. Without that intention we are not truly being a “human being.” A human “being” is a human who is intent on realizing his/her inherent potential or has already done so.

STUDENT: Is it possible for an unhappy person to also be self-actualized?

LEWIS: Again it all depends on how you define self-actualization and how you define “happy”. When an individual experiences frustration, unhappiness and general discontent, what they are usually experiencing is the result of living inside their own being with unrealized potential. The result is more than just unrealized goals and an unfulfilled life. The person who wishes to have emotional balance in their lives will experience what I like to call a “psychological itch” – a pain of longing that constantly tugs at them to think, speak and act differently than they are presently doing.

STUDENT: How do you define happiness?

LEWIS: On the purist level it is a state of contentment in spite of circumstances.

STUDENT: How does a person achieve happiness?

LEWIS: If we wish to have joy, contentment, freedom, and happiness it is imperative that we act in alignment with our essential nature. One way of doing this is to become conscious of our latent gifts and hidden talents. According to the great Taoist Sages Lao Tsu and Chuang Tsu; all other things, such as wealth, power, and influence, are no more than a means to the end.  It is self-actualization: the awareness and experience of one’s authentic nature, and the development of one’s given talents that is the most desirable path to peace and happiness.

STUDENT: How can a person become aware of their authentic nature and develop their natural talents?

LEWIS: Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher said “Nature does nothing in vain.”  The easiest way to become aware of one’s authentic nature is through self-assessment. Through proactive self –assessment a person may come to live a self-actualized life, fully in spirit and with passion. This is called “Living Your Bliss”, by the great anthropologist, Joseph Campbell.

STUDENT:  How do you explore this with your coaching clients?

LEWIS: Through the exploration of the Nineteen Strategic Resources as a tool for self assessment

STUDENT: If one engages in self-assessment what comes next?

LEWIS: It is a multi-layered process. Self-Assessment for the most part is an intellectual, left-brain process. To achieve self-actualization one must engage in intuitive right-brain processes as well such as contemplation, introspection and meditation. This, in my experience, is the most desirable path to peace and happiness and self-actualization.

STUDENT: What is the best technique to employ to find one’s “bliss”?

LEWIS: You can cannot “find your bliss” by doing any one specific technique. It requires a consistent intention and daily self-assessment. As we learn more about ourselves and achieve greater awareness we continue to redefine ourselves

STUDENT: What changes take place as you redefine yourself?

LEWIS: As your self awareness expands there is a natural decrease in your interest in status symbols and those things that will impress others like a large house, expensive clothes, cars and jewelry. Instead you will begin to focus your energy on a personal level.

STUDENT: Are there specific levels or standards of awareness that one passes through on the way to self-actualization?

LEWIS: No. Each person is on his or her own individual path. In fact many of the individuals listed in my Ebook “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”, would probably disagree with each other on certain key ideas and points concerning what made them extraordinary. No one has all the answers.

STUDENT: There must be some way to give more form to these concepts. Is there a particular theory on the process of self-awareness and actualization that you personally connect with?

LEWIS: One of my favorites is the “Three Planes of Thought”, articulated by E.F. Schumacher; considered by many to be one of the most visionary and influential economists of the last half of the twentieth century.

Learn more about Lewis at www.AskLewis.com

In May 1957 Schumacher gave a talk entitled ‘The Insufficiency of Liberalism’. In this talk, unrelated to 21St century definitions of liberalism or conservatism, he described what he termed the “three stages of development”. The first great leap, he said, was made when man moved from stage one of primitive religion to stage two of scientific realism. This was the stage modern man tended to be at. A few move to the third stage in which one can find the lapses and deficiencies in science and realism, and that there is something beyond fact and science. He called this stage three. The problem, he explained, was that stage one and stage three appear to be exactly the same to people stuck in stage two. Consequently, those in stage three are seen as having had some sort of a relapse into childish nonsense. Only those in stage three, can understand the differences between stage one and stage three.

STUDENT:  What are your thoughts on Freud, Marx and Einstein and their ideas on self-actualization?

LEWIS: These three are among the most influential thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth century. I am not a psychiatrist, an economist or a physicist, so my opinion would not be authoritative in any sense. However; Schumacher who strongly supported the idea that we need to be personally responsible and accountable for our actions, felt that Freud, Marx and Einstein were negative agents to certain aspects of human potential. Mainly because, he felt; their ideas reinforced the increasingly common pattern where people felt less and less responsible for their actions.

STUDENT: Was Schumacher specific in his thoughts on this?

LEWIS: Yes. Schumacher saw Einstein as overly influenced by boundaries established by realism and science. Schumacher believed that there were some unchangeable and fundamental “truths” in life, and that Einstein, by undermining belief in absolutes through his concepts on relativity, also undermined personal morality, absolute moral codes, and personal responsibility for immoral actions.

STUDENT: What did Schumacher have to say about Freud?

LEWIS: Schumacher disagreed with Freud’s beliefs that perception was subjective and saw these ideas as overly self-centered. For Schumacher a self-centered reality inevitably led to a shift in attitude in human relations; from creating community and serving the needs of others to a reality where self-fulfillment was all that seemed to matter.

STUDENT: Being an economist Schumacher must have had strong opinions concerning Marx and Marxism?

LEWIS: As for Marx, Schumacher saw Marx as someone who sought scapegoats and created a philosophy that replaced personal responsibility with a victim mentality, built on a foundation of hatred and blame, accusing others for problems with society.

STUDENT: Why do you focus on Schumacher’s ideas? Certainly there are many thinkers, including Freud, Marx and Einstein who are better known and more influential than he was?

LEWIS: Schumacher’s ideas are more important today (2010) than ever before. This is particularly so due to the radical changes in the world economy, especially the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China as an economic power in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Schumacher does not diminish the importance of Freud, Marx and Einstein. He recognizes that each of these individuals offered the world something of great value. All he is saying is that each of what they had to offer us has flaws. It is these flaws that fuel the question for human potential and self-actualization. This is why the best of who we are will become apparent only through our willingness to question and explore important ideas, as we also stand on the shoulders of the giants who have preceded us.

STUDENT:  Where does the concept of self-actualization connect to our own mortality?

LEWIS: Human life is limited, but wisdom expressed through the actualization of our full physical, emotional, and spiritual potential is virtually limitless.  To be attached and focused on the pursuit of the limited when presented with the limitless is foolish.

STUDENT: Are there certain things an individual needs to be aware of as they walk the path to self-actualization?

LEWIS: Yes. Learn to balance your wants and your needs and beware of ideologues and purists who will kill off the new just to maintain the old.

STUDENT: Is there a place for tradition and old wisdom in the process of self-actualization?

LEWIS: Yes, but not tradition just for tradition’s sake. This requires a balancing act as well. The self-actualized person is a reflection of the best in any tradition while transcending the worst in the same.  Such an individual is wary of those who will discard tradition and ignore “the Elders” who hold the truths hidden in these traditions, just so they can appear radical in behavior or visionary in thought.

STUDENT: Do you have any final thoughts on self-actualization?

LEWIS: Nothing definitive. Meditate daily, practice self-assessment, remember that there is a large distinction between what you want and what you need. Be kind, serve others, and live in Love. Create love and freedom in your life. What else is there to say?

Game Theory, Intution and the Butterfly Effect

Intuition and Cause and Effect

Q. The concept of cause and effect seems pretty obvious?

LEWIS: This chapter is not about just “cause and effect” alone but about exploring the ways that events in the past or present may influence actions in the future.

All a discussion about cause and effect can be on the most basic level; the fact that things move and in that movement they induce some things to happen. But it gets a bit more complex than this.

Q:  How would an understanding of cause and effect enable one to see the possible in the impossible?
LEWIS: The concept of cause and effect is central to most of what we do in life. History, anthropology, memory, the choices we make in the present and the choices we make for the future are all based on some level on the concept of cause and effect. Change drives Life; the actions and responses of life to those actions drives the path that change takes.


Q:   Is there a system for determining the effect in response to a specific cause?
LEWIS:   There’s not an exact system but there is some very interesting mathematical work being done in this area.  Much of it is based on the research of MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz. In 1960 Lorenz tried to create a model for predicting the weather. He wrote simplified equations that represented changes in wind velocity, pressure, temperature, and eight other variables. He then fed this information into a primitive computer. Just as he expected, his predictions of the weather were fairly accurate for the first few days.  However, as three, five or even seven days passed, the predictions were less and less accurate. Dr. Lorenz realized that the further an effect was from the cause the less easy it would be to predict what the effect might be.  He realized that eventually every long-term prediction would at some point depart from reality.

Q:  This seems obvious to me?

LEWIS:  It may seem obvious now, but back in 1960 the implications were staggering. Until Lorenz made his discovery, scientists assumed that a slight change in a cause would result in an equally small change in the responding effect. Linear modeling, the type of modeling most commonly used I stastics demonstrated this fact. However, Lorenz’s research dealt with non-linear equations. His equations proved that the previous assumptions were incorrect and a small shift in a single variable could over time create a much larger effect.  You can see this effect by simply throwing a pebble into a pond and observing the effect.

Q:   What is the application in practical terms of Lorenzo’s discovery?
LEWIS:  In spiritual terms it is an important demonstration of the value of surrender in certain circumstances. Lorenzo’s discovery shows us why long-term weather reports can be so unpredictable and why life may be equally unpredictable.  Consider weather as a metaphor for life. Both obey physical laws.  Like the weather, life is filled with many variables. A small change in the initial condition in a system can cause a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena.  Any change in the system, even on a microscopic level, can affect the trajectory of the system and lead to a completely different sequence of events. Likewise any unexpected event in our life can lead to completely diverse results.  There is a unique and elegant orderliness even in this seemingly chaotic system – a system that may be affected by microscopic changes. The longer the time from the cause to the effect, the larger number of changes that will take place and the further the results will be from what was originally expected.

Q:  Is there a name for Lorenzo’s specific theory of how changes in a cause will result in a larger affect?
LEWIS: Lorenzo named his discovery “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” Meteorologists began calling it the Butterfly Effect (technically, disambiguation).  The concept was that if a butterfly were to flap its wings in Manila in April, by the following August the extreme affect of this one small action, this pebble in the pond,  might affect hurricane patterns in Miami in September.

Q:  Does this mean that every action results in an extreme reaction?
LEWIS: No. The microscopic changes in the atmosphere that take place from a Butterfly flapping its wings may also produce the opposite result, preventing a hurricane from appearing.

Q:  How would this discovery affect our ability to transcend obstacles and solve problems?
LEWIS: Many scientists began to rethink the way they solved problems. They realized that many problems that could not be solved seemed unsolvable because the questions were either inappropriate or too general.

Q:   What are the other effects of Lorenzo’s theory?
LEWIS: For one, he showed us that the laws of nature are more complex than we ever realized and that the world is more chaotic than we ever thought.

Q:   I have heard the term “Chaos Theory.” Does the Butterfly Effect relate to this in any way?
LEWIS: Yes. The butterfly effect is a “short hand” for the more complex, detailed and technical idea known as “sensitive dependence on initial conditions” which is part of chaos theory.

Q:  What are some of the other implications of Lorenzo’s Theory?
LEWIS: His work also led to the understanding among scientists that small changes in the initial condition of a dynamic system can result in much larger variations in the long-term behavior of the same system. This is sometimes presented in extreme ways such as the Butterfly/Hurricane illustration. It can, however, be exhibited by very simple systems. For example, you are sitting in the driver’s seat of your car and your wallet falls out of your pocket onto the car floor. Where it will land will depend on slight differences in the wallet’s initial position when it left your pocket.

Q:  Can the Butterfly Effect be used in predicting results?
LEWIS: Yes. As an assessment process becomes more intense and the questions asked about a problem more specific and accurate, there is a greater chance of tracking effects of a particular action.

Q:   So the Butterfly Effect helps us to solve problems more easily by understanding more effectively the patterns in cause-and-effect reactions?
LEWIS: Yes.  And it also enables us to see possibilities where the impossible existred before. For generations researchers, scientists and engineers of every variety have used different algorithms to predict events. However they were only capable of predicting those things that seemed predictable. How many miles will a car travel on a gallon of gas, or how deep and large a foundation will you need to support a sixty-story building? With this new information and the tools associated with it researchers could more easily predict, even extrapolate, what might happen given a set of variables.

Q:  This theory will not help them to solve every problem. Won’t there always be some butterfly whose wing flapping may change the course of history?
LEWIS:  Yes. And yet we also know that when that butterfly flaps its wings in Manila, something larger will happen besides another butterfly flapping its wings in Miami.


Q:  Do you have any final thought on the concept of cause and effect?

LEWIS: Remember that cause and effect must be tested quantitatively in order to get an accurate picture of what is going on. It is also important to stay aware of when a process has reached the point of diminishing returns.


Q. Define The Law of Diminishing Return?

LEWIS: The Law of Diminishing Returns is a term common in economics and problem solving but applicable to any aspect of life that describes a point at which you have achieved the maximum that you can from some fixed factor or variable and no matter how much more of this factor you use in the future, the benefit will decrease.

Q:   What is the background behind the Law of Diminishing Returns?
LEWIS: This concept has been recognized in one form or another since ancient times, Dr. William R. Corcoran first wrote about The Law of Diminishing Returns as it relates to hierarchal group behavior. Dr. Corcoran researched Corrective Action Programs at nuclear power plants. He observed that the principle of diminishing returns could be applied to technology of virtually every type including vacuum cleaners and the evaluation tools used to manage change.

Q. Can the Law of Diminishing Returns be understood completely with a mastery of mathematics?

LEWIS: Hardly. Intuition is essential for seeing the gems of possibility within the impossible.


Q. Please define intuition?

LEWIS: Intuition is the ability to immediately access and apprehend knowledge without the use of reason.


Q. If we were in a situation where we had all the information we might need to make an effective decision, why would intuition be important?

LEWIS: At times we may find, for any number of reasons that we cannot act on the information that is available to us.  Intuition is especially valuable in such situations.


Q. Are there logical solutions to most problems?

LEWIS: I would imagine that given enough time one might eventually determine the most rational, logical, and desirable choice in virtually any situation.  Yet, we may use every logical skill and resource available to us and there will be situations where still no one choice stands out among the various options.  There are also times in life when we are presented with a number of choices where no one choice seems superior to the others. And then there is the time factor.  There are situations where the time is simply not available to look at all of the variables at hand to make a logical choice and yet the moment is here and a choice must be made immediately.


Q. What is one to do in such a situation?

LEWIS: A person must go with their gut feeling.  They must trust their intuition.


Q. The definition of intuition seems somewhat general.  Have researchers ever been able to isolate where it resides in the body or area of the brain?

LEWIS: Intuition is not one thing.  As hard as it is to define intuition specifically, it is something that almost all people agree exists, and yet its existence is little more than an object of faith and belief that we cannot necessarily justify.


Q. Is intuition always there or do we develop it as we might develop any other skill?

LEWIS: Intuition is the result of many different linear and non-linear factors coming together.  Intuition is what appears between the lines of what seems logical and what seems obvious to most individuals (called surface reality).  These elements are then combined with historical and empirical information, heightened observation skills, and an intention to experience fully what is going on internally and externally in our world.


Q. Is intuition connected to the subconscious mind?

LEWIS: Yes.  One of the strongest elements of the subconscious mind is the ability to sense or know something immediately and without reasoning.  As an individual focuses on the process of Self-Actualization they will find that that they are constantly developing ever-greater sensitivity, both consciously and subconsciously, to what intuition communicates.


Q. Please describe what happens when an individual’s intuition is in a heightened state?

LEWIS: Some people have an uncanny ability to see that which most of us do not see.  It is not some psychic ability that they possess yet it is an ability that transcends ordinary knowledge.  It is as if they, the highly intuitive man or woman, sees essential data in slow motion and somehow knows and senses what is going on in a way that is far beyond ordinary conscious understanding.  Over time they will increasingly learn to trust these messages.  More often than not, this intuitive information doesn’t come in verbal or logical form.  In fact, in the beginning they will usually be unaware that they are developing this level of intuitive sensitivity.


Q. Are we all capable of doing this?

LEWIS: We are all intuitive on some level.  We often make wise choices and yet if asked to articulate how we made this one choice rather than another we could not say so.


Q. In what disciplines does the study of intuition play an important role?

LEWIS: Intuition is of interest to philosophers, theologians, mystics, law enforcement officers, psychologists, and many other professions where intellect alone will not suffice to get to key information.


Q. How is intuition used in psychology?

LEWIS: It depends on the psychological system being applied.  Some of the earliest exploration of intuition in psychiatry was by Carl Jung, one of the pioneers in the field.  Over the years many other important mental health pioneers have addressed and integrated intuition into their work.


Q. How can one use intuition as a tool for healing physical or emotional problems?

LEWIS: One of the strongest elements of the emotional healing process is an expansion of intuitive sensibilities.  If one engages in self assessment, introspection and emotional balancing activities consistently, one is likely to discover that one has also developed greater intuitive sensibility and sensitivity.  In time, one also begins to trust these intuitive messages more and more.


Q. How does intuition speak to us?

LEWIS: This intuitive information doesn’t come in verbal or logical form.  In fact, in the beginning one is not even aware that he or she is developing this level of intuitive sensitivity. Intuition will generally be experienced differently for each individual.  Researchers in this area find that these unique experiences can be categorized as:

LEWIS:  Physical sensations (kinesthetic)

b.  Emotions and feelings (emotive)

c.  Symbols and images (mental)


Q. Please explain each of the above categories.


Physical Sensations – Kinesthetic intuitives experience physical sensations that communicate information. They feel physically “comfortable” or “uncomfortable” about something.  This may appear as a gut sense, a physical pain, or something that excites their heart.

b. Emotions and Feelings – This is usually experienced as a vague or specific feeling that has no explanation, but is usually right. You might feel slightly depressed because you know something is wrong.  You actually become sensitive to the emotional states of others who are around you.  You see their posture or you automatically have a feeling arise when they say something.  It is not intellectual.  It happens right there in that moment.  Emotional intuitives often say the words “I like” and “I don’t like”, or “This feels good or bad to me.”  They respond to requests from others and make decisions based on how they feel.  If they are not conscious of this quality they may experience a feeling, without realizing that they are picking up thoughts and feelings from another person.

c. Symbols and Images – Can a mental picture resemble a thought?  It may simply be an internal conversation you are having with yourself about a solution to a problem.  It could be a brainstorm in the shower, a hunch and/or a nagging thought that will not go away in the mind of a person who is not normally obsessive about thoughts.  Intuition is not logical but you can initially experience it as if it is. These thoughts are about common sense and what seems obvious.  It is a more goal-oriented sensibility than the other two forms of intuition.


Q. Is one of these forms more common than the others?

LEWIS: According to my friend Nancy Rosanoff, a respected writer and speaker on intuition, “Most often people have a combination of the above three, though one form may be dominant.  Rarely is someone totally one type. We categorize them only to indicate that there is more than one way to perceive intuitive information.


Hello Friend,


Some of you have requested that I post the entire Q & A part of my classes rather than just short segments. Let’s compromise. I am posting short segments in this e-mail but you can read the Q & A from the entire class in a blog post at my website at www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com

This is an extract of a class I taught on Initiation.  Initiation is any formal rite of passage, often a ceremony, marking entrance or acceptance into adulthood or into a group or society.  If you are part of a religious organization, a mystic path or a membership based club you have probably experienced some form of initation.


I hope you enjoy this excerpt.


Lewis Harrison



Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line


Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.






Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org


To read the Q & A from the entire class in a blog post at my website at www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com


The Secrets of Initiation

This is derived from a class I taught on the role of initation in making effective strategic choices in life.

Lewis Harrison


The basics of this class was:  To explore how an individual is accepted by a group through a specific rite, ritual, or ceremony.

Definition:  Initiation – A formal rite of passage, often a ceremony, marking entrance or acceptance into adulthood or into a certain level or formal component within a group or society.

 Q & A

STUDENT: What is the source of the word initiation?

LEWIS: It comes from the Latin, initium: “a going in.”  It was originally used to describe “an entrance” or “beginning”.  The English verb “initiate” means to begin or start a particular event, happening, action, or circumstance.

STUDENT: What is the importance of the initiation process for the individual and for a group?

LEWIS: An initiation not only formally defines the agreement between the initiate and the group, but the initiation process may also signify that a transformation or “rebirth” has taken place.

STUDENT: Anyone can simply say that a person has had a transformation through some ritual or ceremony.  What makes an initiation anything more than a new myth or story without any real substance?

LEWIS: A shift actually takes place in the most authentic initiations.  There is a real process involved in an initiation with substance.  The shift is both in the perspective of the initiate and of how the group views the new initiate.  The simplest way to describe the shift is to say that the initiate has earned and has been given a new role within the group or society of which he may already a member.

Examples of transformational initiations that signify a transformation in which the initiate is “reborn” into a new role may include the Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, a college graduation ceremony, a Christian baptism or Confirmation (Christian sacrament), a ceremony within a martial arts school where a student earns a higher level belt, a mystic school where an initiate is given “secret” codes or information.  Other examples include a fraternal organization, a secret society, a religious order, and a recruit training for a military or Para-military organization, such as a militia or the Mafia.

STUDENT: Why do we need initiations at all?  We certainly could survive without them.

LEWIS: It may be that human beings are hard-wired to join groups, and groups are hardwired to create some initiation process.  It may be that in order to function effectively in life we need support systems and boundaries that help define our relationships to these support systems.  An initiation is a formal way of creating a relationship where those who are at a more evolved, transformed, or influential level in a group guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge specific to the group.

STUDENT:  Are there any common elements that might be found in most initiation ceremonies?

LEWIS: In most initiations, the individual conducting the initiation (the initiator) possesses or is believed to possess a specific power or state of being and has the ability to transfer this power or state to the person being initiated.  As a student of Shamanism, I went through such an initiation process.  I was introduced to certain words and certain meditation practices which I was told would open the “Inner Door” to certain insight and mystic knowledge.

STUDENT: What type of knowledge or access to knowledge is imparted at an initiation ceremony?

LEWIS: It may be essential factual information, such as what a post-graduate student might receive from his or her noble prize winning professor.  It may include secret mantras or words as are given in mystic yoga initiations, secret hand-shakes used by street gangs, and specific revelation of private symbols or codes that might be used in a secret society, such as the Masons.  Some information is reserved for those at the higher level of understanding within a group, a bishop or cardinal in the Catholic Church, for instance.

STUDENT:  Where does the concept of initiation fit in the process of self-actualization, especially in the life of an extraordinary person?

LEWIS: Self-Actualization comes in many ways.  If one has belief in religion, spirituality, or esoteric philosophies, an initiation may cause a fundamental process of change within the person being initiated.  Self-Actualization almost always involves some type of personal transformation.  This is also the case in most initiation processes. What most initiations have in common is the concept of simultaneous death and rebirth.  Initiation is an end and a beginning.  One level of being drops away as another ascends.

STUDENT: What role is the initiate expected to play in an initiation?

LEWIS: The willingness to be initiated in thought word and deed.  In many groups it implies that the initiate agrees to certain requirements such as living a certain lifestyle, prayer, meditation, etc.

STUDENT: Are their many initiation processes that have no relationship to religion, secrecy, or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  In fact, most initiation ceremonies are secular.  In many groups the use of the word “initiation” represents a brief familiarization with basic rules, guidelines, codes, and procedures of the group.  Some groups may charge a one-time initiation fee.  Unions, professional associations, and many clubs would fit into this category.  Generally, you might say that there is the form of a specific ritual and then there is the function or the value of the initiation to the group.

STUDENT: Are all initiations formal?

LEWIS: There are many initiations, symbols, and rituals that are tied to specific communities that are unspoken and yet would be defined as a rite of passage.  They are not true initiations in that nothing is asked of the initiate.  It is merely a joint event in the community that a person has participated in.  An example might be a sports coach winning his or her 1,000th game or a baseball player hitting his 100, 200, 300 or 400th home-run.  For some individuals an initiation of sorts has taken place when they have crossed the equator on board a naval ship or as passengers on board a cruise liner.  There are, literally, thousands of such initiation rites, some with long histories behind them and some newly created.

STUDENT: What is the most common initiation practice in the world?

LEWIS: Probably puberty rites.  These are sacred collective rituals whose function is to facilitate the transformation of an adolescent to an adult.  There are records of puberty rites going back to the dawn of human history.

STUDENT: What is the most common form of spiritual, if not religious, initiation?

LEWIS: In the last few decades there has been an increased interest in different “New Age” and Shamanic approaches to initiation.  Some are quite serious and profound while others are no more than exercises in spiritual materialism.  Authentic Shaman initiations are generally limited to those few who have a passion and a calling to do inner work that is not accessible to the rest of the community but may ultimately serve the community.

STUDENT: What other types of initiations are there?

LEWIS: Aside from formal initiation ceremonies, there are often unofficial initiations held or practiced within subcultures of the larger group.  Many aboriginal tribes use initiation to both reflect and define the tribal identity. Initiations can include many different practices including: circumcision of males, genital mutilation of females, sub-incision and scarification.  In these cultures initiation truly is a rite of passage in every sense of the word; preparing a young person to be a good husband or wife.

STUDENT: How large does a group need to be to have an initiation?

LEWIS: There is no standard for this.  Initiation, formal and non-formal, exists in sub-cultures within larger groups.  Such small communities exist within groups like the Green Beret’s, Navy Seals, and on board military vessels.  Members of these groups are often tightly knit communities that are so internalized that they function like families, even after the initiate has left the military.  These subgroups, like the larger groups they are part of, may have a hazing or a trial before a new member can be formally accepted.

STUDENT: How extreme or dangerous can an initiation ceremony become?

LEWIS: They can get pretty extreme.  Of course, much college fraternity hazing is designed to be humiliating and can be dangerous without any deeper meaning of transformation.  It’s just about “belonging to the group” and doing anything one can to be accepted.

STUDENT: How long does an initiation ceremony take?

LEWIS: There is no way to define this since some initiations go beyond a single ceremony.  My Shamanic Initiation extended over the course of two days.  My Bar Mitzvah took a few hours.  In some Aboriginal cultures initiations may take 3-4 months or even longer.

STUDENT: Is initiation really important in our modern society?

LEWIS: I would say more than ever and yet the more modern a society is, the less likely that initiation and rites of passage will be taken seriously regarding an individual’s growth and development.  The anthropologist Joseph Campbell discusses this in his PBS (Public Broadcasting System) interviews with Bill Moyers.  Without initiation and rites of passage society loses much of its reason for being; and that which was once held as sacred is lost.  In some tribes initiation is essential if a person is to be regarded as a full member of the tribe.  Otherwise, the individual may not be allowed to participate in core social rituals and ceremonies.

STUDENT: Is there a sacred element to the concept of initiation that is separate from religion or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  If we are hard wired to create community and to form groups (see the Level:  Community) then we must also have a reason for doing so.  The group, as well, must have a reason for existing.  This reason is sacred in that without it the community would have no reason for existing (see A Conversation: “What is Sacred?”).  Thus, initiation becomes sacred because it reconnects us to who we are, who we are to become, and where we are in the community.  The initiation process also reconnects the community to its own history, origins, mythology, and culture.

STUDENT: What are the greatest benefits of a truly transformational initiation?

LEWIS: There are many and they may vary from culture to culture.  Here is a list of the most universal benefits of initiation:

  • Ritual death or “Dying while Living” enables one to live life more fully and guide a person to conquer the fear of real death.”
  • To reveal the deeper meaning of our existence.
  • To help a young person to accept accountability for his or her actions, and to hold them to a higher standard so they may be powerful and effective participants in the group.
  • To make them aware, on a transcendental level, of whom they truly are.
  • To ground them in “what is” so they might be fully open and available for “what might be”.

STUDENT: It seems as if initiations are merely events that people give meaning to – a sort of cultural meme?

LEWIS: This may be so in some groups but there are initiations that are structured to bring individuals into an authentic transformation. Many of these initiations can bring a person into an altered state of consciousness.

STUDENT: Can you give me an example of some physically extreme initiation?

LEWIS: Some Native American tribes practice a “Sun Dance” that requires intense mental and physical endurance.  You may research “Sun Dance” to learn more.

STUDENT: Is there some kind of initiation in your work as a mentor and coach?

LEWIS: No.  This work is not spiritual, religious, or group oriented in that sense.  However, initiation is an important part of any transformational process.

STUDENT: Can you speak about the idea of initiation and “Rites of Passage” and how they connect with the stories we create?

LEWIS: We all seek power in our lives.  A person in possession of real power knows that we are all limited or empowered not by our experiences alone but by the stories we create about these experiences.  We create different life stories for a variety of reasons, some within our control and others not.  We can exert power over others and be controlled by others’ powers because of many different factors, some under our control and others beyond our control.  These factors may include gender, religious beliefs, cultural background, age, or general life circumstances.  The popular motivational author and lecturer, Leo Buscaglia, defined six stages in a person’s development.  These stages are infancy, childhood adolescence, maturity, intimacy, and old age.  Different types of power will be important to an individual based on where they are developmentally.  The stories they create and the stories they will cherish from the past will often reflect the stage they are presently in.


Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line

Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.




Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org

Influence and Game Theory

In my studies in Game Theory and my teaching of Life Strategies I have recently directed my attention to the subtle ways in which we are influenced and influence others. In my roll as a radio talk show host, writer, mentor, coach and teacher I have watched with amusement how new ideas take hold in groups and soon become dogma.


The American advertising executive Donny Deutsch has discussed how ideas spread through a culture as a type of pyramid.  He speaks of these pyramids in relation to the marketing of products and services but I believe that what he describes addresses cultural viruses as well.


At the top of the pyramid is a group that Deutsch calls the “Creators”. These are individuals who though not highly social seem to create trends without any obvious purpose or motivation. When viewed closer we may see that their actions are driven by aesthetics or an attraction to a particular pattern that may not be obvious to the rest of us. These creators may be consciously influencing culture, simply responding to personal interest or even instinct, or acting on a momentary whim. It doesn’t really matter. In the end they are influencers and what they say or do influences others.


These types of  Creator/influencers may include powerful politicians,those who are famous for being famous,  individuals of great physical beauty, or those with charisma, great intellect or highly effective communication skills, or deep spiritual wisdom.


On the next level of this influence hierarchy are very small social circles of what Deutsch calls “Disciples”. Like the creators these individuals are neither very social, and are usually concerned with sound, sight or kinesthestic aesthetics and patterns. Like the Creators the Disciples can recognize these aesthetic patterns in a way that others cannot. However the Disciples are seldom creators, they are copiers and what they copy is what the creators create.


On the next level are what Deutsch calls “Believers.” These individuals seldom have any personal contact with the creator and may not even recognize the subtlties of aesthetics and patterns in a way that the creator and disciples can. What believers can offer that creators, and disciples seldom can is sociability. These “initiated” individuals can take the aesthetic choices of the creator and disciples and spread them virally through social networks and into the larger culture.


The rest, what Deutsch calls the “Masses”, simply by the need to feel part of a community make contact with what has been created fourth hand and make it part of their ordinary reality. They in turn influence others who are unaware of how they have been influenced. The masses simply jump on the bandwagon.


When Deutsch had anthropologists interview Crators and those who might be classified as Disciples. Tthey found  that many of these individuals with a limited desire for social interaction had no siblings.


This inquiry of course cannot be considered scientific and yet Deutsch asks the question “ Was it the solitary nature of their childhoods, the nececessity of playing by themselves,that  allowed the creators and disciples to uniquely collect and appreciate unusual ideas?” Is it possible that Creators as well as Disciples have no internal need to spread ideas and are satisfied to appreciate and apply them in isolation? Is it the Believers, who have some limited contact with Disciples and are able to observe them from a distance, that create influence, and help the Creators and Disciple to spread these social and aesthetic “Patterns” through the masses?


I do not like to label people or place them in “boxes” and yet Deutschs ideas on how ideas take form and spread among us is certainly fascinating.


Who are you? Creator, Disciple, Believer or simply part of the communal mind?


Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line

Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org