Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges Bringing the Overview Effect Down to Earth

Bringing the Overview Effect Down to Earth

15 min read

Frank White and Charles E. Smith

(Charles E. Smith is an organizational consultant and author of The Merlin Factor: Keys to the Corporate Kingdom. Frank White is a communications consultant and author of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution.)

Seeing the Earth from a distance has changed my perception.  The pity of it is that so far the view…has been the exclusive property of a handful of test pilots…rather than the world leaders who need this new perspective…or the poets who might communicate it to them.

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins (Carrying the Fire)

The Overview Effect is an experience that has been reported by astronauts and cosmonauts who have traveled into Low Earth Orbit or to the moon. There are many aspects to the Overview Effect, but at its most basic level, it represents a cognitive shift in which one sees the Earth as a planet moving through a star-filled universe. (1) For most, there is also a realization that there are no borders or boundaries on this planet, except those created by human beings.

Many of these space travelers returned to Earth with an altered point of view about possibility, collaboration, and the future of our species.  Some of them considered the experience to be transcendent and life-changing.

The astronauts have received a message from the universe about who we are and who we might become. Now, we need to transmit this message throughout society in a way that makes a difference. The question before us is this: can this shift in awareness be taught within corporations, universities, and government agencies so that they begin to operate from the perspective of a unified whole system?

We believe that the answer is yes, and that “Bringing the Overview Effect Down to Earth” offers such a learning opportunity. We are convinced that the message of the Overview Effect is not only for astronauts but for all human beings.

It is urgently important to teach this perspective and reap its remarkable benefits, yet there is no need to make enormous changes in organizational structures. Only our mindsets need to change, but that may be a greater challenge than might be expected. We are advancing a radical—even revolutionary—notion: if the cognitive shift experienced by astronauts can be reproduced in other settings, the world will change in subtle yet profound ways as the consequence of millions of brain cells reorganizing themselves into a new worldview.

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