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How Community Redefines Adulthood and Infertility Strategies
Episode 294th January 2023 • Elements of Community • Lucas Root
00:00:00 00:56:33

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In Episode 29 of The Elements of Community Podcast, Lucas Root invites listeners to explore the concept of community and adulthood through an unconventional lens. Root suggests that physical maturity is not the primary indicator of adulthood in humans; rather, it is skills mastery. He goes on to explain that community has a greater role to play when it comes to human development than other animals, and he proposes five key skills that define adulthood: complex communication, fluid leadership, teamwork, strategy, and coaching.

Root then dives into how community plays a part in the four times a woman's life when she is or can be infertile: childhood (when men and women share it), peak athlete phase (where fertility is turned off by choice), pregnancy (where fertility is naturally switched off) and menopause (when fertility is turned off forever). He explains that each point has its own story and strategy behind it which can only be understood if looked at through a lens of community as one of humanity's basic needs. This narrative aims to explain why humans have such a long period before they become fertile compared to other animals and how society's approach towards menopause is misguided - instead of woman losing her status in society, it should be seen as women entering their best years where they can serve their community at their fullest potential. 

Overall, Root argues that community is essential to understanding human biology. To illustrate this point further, he draws attention to elder pillars in the community who can help shed light on this subject - specifically women. As part of his mission for 2021, Root hopes to create 50 episodes featuring these pillars as guests on his show where they can discuss concepts like adulthood, the strategy of infertility in women, and understanding community as a whole. 

Root encourages listeners to engage with him help him find elder women who are Pilars of their communities. You can nominate an elder woman with the form located here. If you're interested in learning about how the five elements of community form our basic understandings of adulthood, infertility, leadership, and especially the power of women then this podcast episode is definitely worth tuning into!

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • Lucas has proposed a framework for what it means to be an adult human, which is not necessarily based on age.
  • How physical maturity does not define adulthood in humans, but rather skills maturity does and the five skills that define adulthood include: complex communication, fluid leadership, teamwork, strategy, & coaching.
  • Lucas discusses how the four times in a woman's life when she is or can be infertile are actually a strategic aspect of community. Those times are: childhood (when men and women share it), peak athlete phase (where fertility is turned off by choice), pregnancy (where fertility is naturally switched off) and menopause (when fertility is turned off forever). 
  • Lucas, the show host, is grateful to all those who showed up throughout the season one journey - listeners & guests alike - as they look forward to season two, which will focus on stories around relationships that we call cherish: the relationship of the Grandmother to their community.

AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at

If you know an elder woman who is a pillar of her commynity that you think should be i9nterview in season 2 of Element of community, you may sponsor her using the form below:



Full Cut Video

Lucas Root: [:

And so thank you for being there with me so far. The first piece that's really gonna get out there that's really gonna kick this episode off with an absolute bang is a model of what it means to be an adult human. Or rather, how do you know what an adult human is? and what are the definitions that are floating around out there that people think of for an adult human that don't fit?

ommunity so that you can see [:

Now, what's most important to me right here in this instant is I make some requests throughout this episode that are really important to me, in fact, and you're gonna find in the show notes, A way to be able to respond to those requests. And you're in a position right now and I am being vulnerable with this ask to be able to work with me to build how this show is going to look over the coming season actively.

And so I invite you to look in the show notes, respond to the questions that I ask, and shape this show with me. Thank you.


It's been a delight and it's been an honor for me to be able to build that story with you and to share that story through you. So thank you. Thank you for being a part of Elements of Community Season One. Thank you so much for showing up for me and with me in the way that we have this has been amazing.

ng season one started out as [:

It sort of directed itself into interviewing business leaders. Part of the reason why I allowed that flow to happen is because it occurred to me that business leaders are in a perfect position to be able to actually execute building community, partly because business leaders are going to be directly impacted by building that community in significant positive ways.

unity. The community engages [:

So that bidirectional value is a really important thing, and it's part of the reason why the incentives are aligned for business leaders. It turned into completely by accident. It turned into a really powerful focus for the season one show and now as we draw to a close, I get to look back at some of the really powerful episodes that we had and reflect a little bit in how that created a story and how that made it possible for us to have conversations inside the story that season one brought to us.

here are some of the things [:

The idea of fixed leadership is actually a little bit silly. It's part of the reason why season two is not actually gonna focus on business leaders only. Part of the reason, part of the reason is because leadership needs to be fluid. A a a, an adult human has to be able to express leadership in both seizing leadership when it's the moment for them to move the community forward for them themselves, that person, that [00:06:00] individual, to move the community forward because they are best capable in that instant.

and to cede the leadership to give it up, to hand it over. When somebody else is more capable of handling leadership, and again, so I, I've seized leadership and shared that platform, shared that stage with business leaders, and now we're gonna move into a different version of community and start looking at a different approach to community through that leadership lens.

So some of the really powerful leadership episodes. The, the Peter Laughter leadership episode amazing conversation about how the Quaker community views leadership and how the Quaker community has built their entire culture. Remember, culture is the memory of community, and we'll talk about that today.

otion, and it works and it's [:

Leadership is an in the moment thing. Now, there are some things where leadership lasts a little bit longer, right? For, for example, sometimes there is a project leader, so the leader for the project, the person who has accepted personal accountability to the deliverable, even if they're not executing every single task The leader of the project is probably going to share the stage of leadership regularly.

moment to be the leader. And [:

Laughter amazing. a an another thing that comes up the, the, the episode around the, the language that is created inside a community of faith, a community of focused faith. And my, my episode with ISIS and Drea absolutely extraordinary when you think of a community of faith, probably you're thinking of Christian.

and it's built up in the way [:

It's an amazing thing. I actually have had the personal privilege of actually going and visiting ISIS in her community and spending some time with them. After the episode, we, we shot the episode first. She invited me to come visit and I did, and what I witnessed was every bit of the beauty that you might hope coming out of that episode.

It was amazing. He was amazing. Fast forwarding a little bit, taking that language thread and looking at different places where that language thread opens up inside Season one. This recent episode with Padram Shojai. Amazing, amazing episode. Absolutely filled with powerful nuggets of wisdom. I mean, truly powerful nuggets of wisdom.

he end of the episode around [:

It could be formulas that are executed when you type that one word in. It could be actually button clicks, right? So it could run very much an an, an app inside the macro where it clicks some buttons and it runs some programs and it does some calculations and it spits something out for you. The, the idea of common language as a macro opens up so many different ways for us to look at the language and

derstand that prayer itself, [:

It could be that it opens up different kinds of stories, stories that run the gamut of going out into nature and spending time meditating, perhaps in prayer in nature, or kneeling down and facing east the sun sunrise, or facing west the sunset for whatever reason. Or it could be the rituals that you do inside of your own personal family community for things like the end of the year and

ression of what is possible. [:

We're wrapping it up. We're tying it. I am again, absolutely filled to the brim and overflowing with gratitude for you, for showing up, for showing up its guests, for showing up as listeners and audience members for making this the experience that it could be in every way. And now we get to look forward and I'm gonna talk a little bit about some things that I've built language around over the past year while I'm building the elements of community and how that's informing what I'm intending to do with season two.

nto the relationships that I [:

So the first is I have built, just like I've built a framework for community, I've also built a framework for what it means to be an adult human. And bear with me because I'm, there's a sequence here. And the sequence helps to inform the story of what season two is going to be. So the framework for what it means to be an adult human.

So first let me ask you a question. What is the drinking age. If you answered 21 here in the United States, you are actually incorrect. . Here's the thing, it's common language that 21 is the drinking age, but when will you not be arrested for having had a drink? And the real answer is somewhere around 18.

arties, you have a couple of [:

You know what 21 is? It's the age when you're allowed to buy a drink, have some of it, and then drive. Now, let me put that in another language. A language that's going to be a little bit confronting to you for a reason. I want it to be confronting. , what I'm saying is 21 isn't the age when you're allowed to drink. It's the age when you're allowed to drive a car, which is arguably the most dangerous machine in the US society today.

allowed to drive a car after [:

18 is when you get to go to war, die for your country, so you can drink. You can die for your country and you can vote in many cases. 18 is theoretically when you become an adult. You will also be charged as an adult in the courts for any crime that you commit. 21 is when you're allowed to start behaving from a place of impairment.

e true, true adults, what do [:

They're probably gonna say something like, well, they're legally. When do people really start to accept responsibility for the long-term implications of the decisions they're making about their life today? Is it 18? Hell no. Is it 21? Not then either. Look around at society today with open eyes and ask yourself that question.

When do people start to accept responsibility for the long-term implications of the decisions they're making? , unfortunately, what I think that you'll see, same thing as what I see, is that when you look around at society today, here in the us, at the very least the answer to that question is for most people, never.

ple, that is never true. and [:

We don't actually know how to define adulthood because what we mean by adulthood is this is true. What we mean by adulthood is a person is capable of accepting responsibility for the long-term implications of the decisions they make. And now we look around society. Most people never get there. So how can we define adulthood in a scenario where what we want should also be reasonably possible and never happens?

te in the comments what your [:

Tell me what you think. Tell me whether or not you think this makes sense. I really want to know. I want to hear from you. I want to be able to test this theory with you. Here's my framework for adulthood. It actually has nothing to do with age. In fact, humanity is a relatively unique species. . Every species is unique, right?

So don't just roll your eyes at that. We're relatively unique in that. Most animals become adults very, very quickly within one to two years. The percentage of their life that it takes for, for, you know, a long lived mammal to get to that one to two year age changes, depending on how long they live for horses, you know, maybe they live 40, 50 years.

right? They, they, they live [:

Not all of them. So, you know, the shorter their lifespan, the shorter their childhood is, right? But humans are weird. You know, a, a horse lives 40, 50 years, which is an unappreciable large percentage of how long a human lives and they become an adult in one to two. humans by comparison, live only a little bit longer than horses.

years [:

Both of those numbers are extraordinarily huge. I mean, really, truly huge. And I'm gonna get to this, it seems like for the human animal, we don't really define adulthood at the animal level by physical maturity. How could we, physical maturity is a really hard thing for us to measure, whereas in many other animals, it's less hard to measure what does physical maturity mean to a human.

There are biologists out there that probably have a few answers to that, but the problem is there are a few answers and probably there isn't just one simple answer. So probably it's not physical maturity that we as an animal use to define adulthood. So if it's not physical maturity, what else could it be?

is one of the ways that you [:

I, I think that that's maybe a decent approach. We're missing some things, and this is why I'm actually having this conversation. Social maturity does indeed start to show up in the human animal right at somewhere between 18 and 21. Those are, those are reasonably good approaches. It turns out we know far better now than we did when we started making these laws.

. [:

What you're gonna see is that this actually is well supported and is starting to become the way that we talk about social maturity inside the human animal. And if you disagree with it, you're gonna need to start speaking up now, cuz that's becoming a. Common thread to the conversation of social maturity.

Here's the thing, I don't think that we as an animal use social maturity as an animal to define adulthood. I, I actually think that there's a third way to define adulthood. Now, I've spent 10 minutes talking about this, and believe me, I could spend plenty more, but I, I do want to get to it because my request to you was very important.

ng at it through the lens of [:

Seems to me that there are skills that define adulthood to humanity as an animal. As an animal, not as a civilized human. There are five of them. You're like, wait, five elements of community, five skills of adulthood. Lucas, you have a problem with the number five. . You may be right. I, I also think that the number five specifically has a, a, a magic within us.

u need to have as your tribe [:

You need five people that have got your back all the time no matter what. Now, most people, they've got their two parents. . They've got their spouse. That's three. They probably have one or two best friends. That's five. So most people probably actually have a tribe, even though they don't think about it that way.

They're not using that language. They haven't established common language around it. Right? The number five, it's a magic number. There are five skills of adulthood. Here they are. I'm gonna fly right through them. This episode really isn't about this. Five skills of adulthood are number one complex communication.

the elements of community in [:

You know, they match up. They match up nicely. Complex communication. You need to be able. Create and share complex ideas. You need to be able to be good at getting into the language of the community, which is intentionally unique. It's unique, filled with heuristics and macros, and stories and ideas that are all really effectively shared through this unique common language to make the sharing of complex ideas more effective and more efficient.

So complex communication, complex ideas. That first skill is complex communication. The second one, fluid leadership. Fluid leadership, and this is what I was talking about before in terms of my episode with Peter. A fluid leadership skill is about seizing leadership, when it's appropriate, when it's appropriate to the community.

appropriate to the community [:

Look around at the people in your life. How many of them know when to give up Leadership. Many people know when to grab for it. How many people know when to give it up? Important question. That is a skill of the human animal adult. Seizing leadership and ceding leadership, both fluid leadership, so complex communication, fluid leadership.

wn job with pride and honor. [:

Show up with pride and the intent and commitment to do the right thing for the community. Do your work with pride and honor in your work. Share and receive care. That's that common heart. Teamwork is very similar to that. Show up. Do your work with Pride. Trust your team members to do their work with Pride.

Trust in the common heart of your team members. That's what teamwork is. Teamwork is a skill, and it's a complex skill. And that's the third skill of adulthood teamwork. The fourth one is strategy. Now most people think of strategy as an attribute. I would argue that it's not. It's actually a skill. It's something that you can build out and deepen through your engagement with strategy.

tive strategists. Here's the [:

Not just yourself, but your entire team or community engaging in as a project in order to achieve the goal: strategy. Notice I used project, right? One of the elements of community very closely ties in with strategy. It's interesting that the skills of adulthoods support the elements of community. It should be interesting.

hing. Both being a coach and [:

How many of them coach? How many of them know when to seize leadership? How many of them know when to seed leadership? How many of them are good at understanding how to break down a problem into specific measurable steps that can be accomplished by a team right strategy? How many of them really understand how to create complex ideas and share complex ideas?

That includes storytelling, and storytelling is very important to the human animal. This is what it takes to be an adult. This is my framework. This is my definition for the adult human. There's more to go. Don't worry, we're not stopping here. But again, My request, my ask of you, and I'm gonna have another ask later, these are important to me.

My ask of you is [:

When you think about that, It starts to make sense that many of the indigenous cultures that still exist today have adulthood ceremonies that happen at times that seem a little bit ridiculous to us because you could potentially be an adult at 14 or 15 based on this framework if you're relatively extraordinary at engaging with community.

dership, teamwork, strategy, [:

Never become adults. They never get there. They never arrive. They have never actually become a human animal adult. This is a powerful realization and this is what I really want you to spend some time soaking in, allowing it to settle into your brain, having thoughts about it. Share your challenges with that idea with me.

Come back into the comments and really tell me how you feel now. Moving on. So this is what an adult is to me, moving on. I'm, I, this is how I want to focus this next thing, but I needed to share that adult thing with you in order for this to really settle in. Well, this is how I want to focus on season two.

Alongside that, so adulthood [:

And in fact, this narrative of womanhood is going to drive the focus of season two. Again, a hundred percent focused on community. Here are the questions. If we look at the entire lifespan of a woman, infertility exists in potentially four D. Strategic places in the lifespan of a woman, it exists as a child.

fertile at one to two years [:

A significant portion of our life by both years and by percentage. It's huge. It's a very, very long time. Why? Now you could sit back and say, well, it's because it takes us a while to grow to a certain size. Yeah, that's true, but it's also not the right answer. Other animals grow to bigger than us much faster.

There's a strategy here. There's a story here that needs to be told, and that story is missed, when you say it's because it takes us a while to get to that size, put a pin in it. We're gonna come back the second time that infertility exists as a phase of womanhood. Not every woman steps into this, but it's as a peak athlete.

st time to menopause when it [:

And if you're seeing something show up over and over again, like infertility in peak athletes and menopause, it's not simple. Or perhaps it is very simple, but it's not simple on its own. There's a story that tells the strategy. There's a story that tells the strategy. You have to be a true adult to be able to see this, to be able to understand and engage with the story complex communication and the strategy of this.

true, but in fact, that is a [:

It's silly because plenty of other animals get to physical maturity. Well, sooner than that, and in fact, animals that are larger than us still. Physical maturity. Well, sooner than that, a silly answer. It, it's missing the story, it's missing the strategy. The same is true for a young woman who is a peak athlete and turns off her fertility in that phase of her life.

in a woman is when she's. . [:

That can get pregnant more than once. At the same time, rabbits, for instance, have two wombs, so a rabbit can get pregnant twice at the same There are marsupials, kangaroos, for instance, that can get pregnant while they have another pregnancy in the same womb. So where there is a mechanism, , right?

Where there's a mechanism for a different path. Then when you look at our path, a woman's fertility turns off when she's pregnant. There's a reason for that. There's a strategy behind it, and probably the reason, which could be simple, the strategy, which could be simple, probably it's not immediately obvious if you're reductionist, if you only look at that one thing, probably.

rent picture and it's broad. [:

And I'm gonna talk about that many of us look at menopause as somebody becoming not woman anymore. And I know that this is a confronting statement and probably some of you are gonna reach out to me with less than delight when you hear this, if you don't keep listening. So please do keep listening cuz there's a story here, just like the other three.

the beautiful expressions of [:

Now again, reductionist. You look at each one of those and you try to figure it out, but I'm a strategist. I'm not a reductionist. And to me, if you don't look at the whole picture, you're definitely going to miss things that are going to affect the way you carry your actions forward. I need to look at the whole picture.

c expression of how humanity [:

We are not humans alone. We actually are only humans together. Important, right? . The way that I look at this is through the lens of community. How is it that extending the amount of time it takes to reach fertility maturity to eight to 12 years serves the community of humanity? Interesting question. How is it that turning off fertility as a peak athlete serves the community of humanity.

s the community of humanity? [:

You should all know the answer to this. The prime directive of biology is to reproduce. If reproduction is the most important thing in biology, then turning off fertility for any reason, it has to be for something that is really important strategically, it has to be for something that is absolutely critical to the animal, the human animal, strategically.

And when you look at the individual, just that one woman, it's impossible to see that. But when you zoom out and see humanity community, now it starts to make some sense again, re reductionist, fails. Strategic. Seeing the wider picture, seeing how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, the adult human, now it starts to make sense.

onger period of time because [:

Let that settle in. Pregnancy would be a distraction from the most powerful thing that that human can be doing in service to the community. Humanity as a whole, pregnancy would be a distraction, and so in service to that, our bodies don't turn on fertility until. A very long time, biologically speaking, a very long time.

dult human by the definition [:

It's because of skills. It's because becoming an adult, it's not a physical maturity thing. It's not a social maturity thing. It's a skills maturity thing. For some people, that happens sooner. For some people, that happens later, and our bodies allow us, right? This is the highest and best use of the way that our bodies engage with the biology of being the human animal.

and childhood in a whole new [:

You had to see it from the community lens in order for that story to reveal itself. Now, let's look at the others. Now that we have language here. The language of the child, the language of. Becoming pregnant is a distraction from the best thing that that six year old, seven year old eight year old can be doing.

Becoming pregnant is a distraction. Now that we have that language and we have the support of what it means to be an adult human and the lens of the community. Being core, central to the human animal. Now let's look at the next one. Why is it, how is it in service to the community of humanity? Right? How is it in service to your tribe that when you are a peak athlete, you turn off your fertility?

ard. How is it a distraction [:

No, they are not. No, they are not Women hunt just like men skills. And tools are the great equalizers. Skills and tools mean that the physical difference in size between men and women are relatively irrelevant. Skills and tools means that a woman can hunt alongside a man with every bit of efficiency and effectiveness that the man can.

there is no reason other [:

Think of the Amazon tribe. Women as hunters, women as warriors. Think of the gods that we tell stories about. The Greek gods, the Norse gods, the indigenous American gods. They all have stories of women's as hunters and women's as warriors, every single one of them. Why? Because women are hunters and women are warriors when they choose to be.

o be a warrior, a warrioress [:

Give that some thought. We spend an enormous amount of energy [00:47:00] on our babies, an enormous amount of energy, and for very good reason our babies don't become adults. Until they've built skills that support adulthood inside of our community. Skills take a long time, and a lot of work to build skills are actually a very challenging thing to do.

So in fact, the focus that we have on our current baby is maybe more important than having another baby. Being able to focus on the 1, 2, 3 babies that you have inside of you now is. The most important thing. Then being able to add yet another one from one to two or from two to three, that focus, that connection that you have with your current babies maybe needs to be able to be a contiguous and undistractible focus.

You as a woman, [:

Let that sink in.

, it was turned off in a way [:

It was turned off in a way that was strategic to serving the woman herself and the tribe. It was turned off in order to minimize distractions from the highest and best and most powerful use of herself in that moment. Think about menopause through that lens. What possible role could be so important that we're never gonna turn fertility back on again.

We've turned it off and we're gonna keep it off. That light in turn back on what role is so valuable that we cannot be distracted ever again from that role? Here's the bomb drop. Here's the big one, and I'm gonna ask for this, right? Remember I said I was gonna ask for something again? I'm gonna ask for this.

e distracted from it. Again. [:

Although menopause and grandmother are correlated, they're not the same thing. Menopause occurs so that the woman who has arrived at that stage in her life can no longer be distracted from the one role that is most important in the tribe. And what is that? It can be only one thing. It's either the chief or a member of the council of chiefs in the tribe.

sense for us humans at all. [:

The only thing that is worthy in biology of turning off fertility forever. Is so that she can be the chief of the tribe. This is gonna be confronting to some people. I accept that. I accept that this is gonna be confronting. Here's what I'm asking you to do. Just like with the adulthood framework, what I'm asking you to do is let this settle in, really engage with the story of this.

Listen to the episode more than once if you have to, and then share with me in the comments your thought. Share with me the challenges that come up in your conversation inside your head, in your conversation with your husband or your wife, or your kids, or your grandparents. I want to hear it. I want you to share these thoughts with me.

I want you to engage in this [:

And through that narrative, through the story, through the strategy that lays those four infertility out, it's clear to me. And I just shared it with you, and you can't unsee it. You can't un unhear it. It's clear to me that the only reason for menopause is so that women can be chiefs because becoming pregnant again would be a distraction from the absolute highest and best use as chief.

to season two. Right. Season [:

What I'd like from season two is to engage with pillars of the community who are elder women. Who have stepped into their elder state, their elder phase, who have stepped into their true powerful grandmother energy, whether they have grandkids or not. I would like to have them. I would like to have them come onto this episode.

is as a nice little elements [:

I hope that I can put together 50 episodes next year. So one episode per week for the entire season. 50 episodes with pillars of the community who are women. Now, thank you so much for staying with me. Am deeply passionate, as you can tell from this episode. I am deeply passionate about these subjects. I'm deeply passionate about how these subjects are changing my life.

And the relationships that I have with the important people in my life with my parents, my mother, who is still alive, with my wife, with my sister, with the women who are most important to me, and in fact, with all of the people in all of the communities that I engage with, I'm bringing this language into all of my relationships, and I'm starting to share this story more widely.

lic. I'm sharing it with you [:

When you look at that, Lens of community and the power that that brings to our relationship with women in our lives now. And number three, this is the, this is the ringer. This is the big one alongside me. I would like you to bring women to me who would be an amazing interview. Women who are pillars of the community.

the most powerful interviews [:

I can't wait to share them, and I can't wait to see how this plays.

Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.

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