The Quasi-Self Similarity Fractal Theory of Personal Development

This would be a new theory. Perhaps the title needs a little work.

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Are you familiar with fractals? I’m fascinated by them. They are beautiful and simple. No, complex. No, simple.  That’s why I like them.

Here’s what they are for me: A foundational element replicated for infinity that creates an entity that is full of intricacy and detail.

Wikipedia, citing a guy named Mandelbrot, describes a fractal as “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.” Wow. No wonder I didn’t remember this from school.

Fractals and Personal Development

I think there are some fundamental principles that govern our interactions and create our legacy. In a fractal, if you change the fundamental geometric shape, you can get a significantly different shape. In life, if you change your fundamental principles and governing behaviours (your geometric shape, if you follow), same thing.

“I will embrace this event with a presumption of abundance” doesn’t change your story very much if you do it once. However, if you establish that presumption as part of your core it will rewrite your experience, your relationships and your legacy. Rather than a presumption of scarcity in the face of change, if you presume that resources, opportunity and happiness are abundant in every opportunity, it changes the outcome. It changes the entity.

If you change the scale (the detail) at which you look at a fractal, you see essentially the same image. It just keeps replicating at a smaller size. Here’s where my theory really comes together. Your principles create results at different scales, too. If I engage with each of my colleagues with honesty, enthusiasm for their growth and a true commitment to their success, I will be doing the same thing at the team level, the department level and the corporate level. I’m not so idealist as to say your choice in principles will change the organization, but it will change your experience with the organization.

Same with family, community or your weekend softball team. All part of the same fractal. All replica copies of the pattern you have established for your life. Each interaction carries an eerie similarity to other interactions, past and present. The accumulation of those interactions establishes similar relationships with groups and larger elements.

By the way, with all that consistency and replication, it pretty much defines how you’re remembered, too.

With this new, soon-to-be-famous (and renamed) theory now present, there are some barriers that would need to be addressed before this simple model is applied.

1) We have to deliberately decide to be owner of our choices

The reason life looks “fractured” rather than like a fractal right now is that we’re not replicating our own deliberate model. We’re getting sucked into someone or something else’s pattern.

2) We really should choose principles that we’re OK with being central themes in our eulogy

That’s sort of a bold way of saying that they need to be authentic and real. Contentment, happiness and success comes when we sustain our commitment to principles and replicate them in new, yet to be anticipated situations. When they start creating that full-sized, complex, nuanced entity, that’s when you see the real results.

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03 2011

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  1. Chris #


    Definitely words to live by. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what you have described here in a somewhat simpler manner — the old “what goes around, comes around”. For a long time, I have felt very driven with strong opinions on a lot of different topics. So strong, in fact, that I have definitely turned a lot of people off — family, friends, work colleagues, community. What I believe I have failed to notice or fully consider are the “fractals” as you describe them — how the positions and persona that I take is quite consistent and how it replicates itself from situation to situation and from venue to venue (and not necessarily with positive results). These are not necessarily all conscious choices but they represent behaviours and ways of thinking that I should perhaps be a lot more conscious of! So, your post is very timely with respect to a great deal of personal development thinking that I have been doing lately. I think that it would be a good idea for me to get much more in touch with the “fractals” in my life, live as true to my ideals as possible, and replicate these throughout the various parts of my life.


  2. Nevin #

    Thanks Chris! I appreciate how thougtfully you’ve considered this post. I hope having an awareness of potential “fractals” pays off. I know I’m seeing them a lot more.

  3. Chris #


    Any new entries / thoughts on their way? I see that there hasn’t been a new entry since late March!


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