Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 34. [all material from the book appears in italics]:
A long one today. I started to edit the story segment but thought better. It’s worth reading through. The details matter. The meditation for the day matters. Pay attention to the tension of a natural gift and learned skills.
Parcival, sitting on his mule, having just demanded to be made a knight of the Round Table, met Arthur’s glare with a glare of his own; he didn’t know any better. Luckily for him a lady broke the deadly silence. She probably saved his life by declaring, “My lord, I believe this young man will become your greatest knight.” Galahad added, “Perhaps. If he lives long enough.”
Arthur took a breath. He stared hard at the young man. He recognized him. He was, despite his clownish get-up and his boorish behavior, from noble blood. Arthur could see it. In a very quiet voice, Arthur told Parcival that a man must prove himself worthy by adventures, service and by doing good acts. He told Parcival that he must first learn the code of conduct of a knight. When he had done these things, when he was trained and knighted by a worthy teacher, he would be welcomed back to the court and become a knight of the Round Table.
Parcival wanted nothing more than to be a knight. I wanted nothing more than to be an entrepreneur, a successful businessman. Knight. Entrepreneur. Both are roles. In Virgil speak, both are ways of locating within a story. Parcival wanted to be a knight because, to him, they were godlike; angels shining in their armor, sitting high on their warhorses. I wanted to be an entrepreneur because, to me, they are creators. From nothing they bring forth something that serves people. I had not recognized that as godlike until this story took me. Now, I recognize that I thought entrepreneurs sat above others, shiny in their minds, all seeing.
Somewhere along the path I stopped seeing. I left school with some book knowledge and a bit of life experience. I stormed into the world thinking I could do anything. No door was closed to me because I had no knowledge of closed doors. There is a freedom that comes from not knowing. When I started to believe that I knew things, when I started believing I was an expert, that I had a sack full of answers for all comers, I slowly stopped seeing. It was what I was taught: be an expert. Stand above others and “know.”
I loved this part of the Parcival story because I lived it.
Parcival understood what he had to do. He wheeled his mule around and rode out into the world to prove himself. There are many descriptions of his adventures and they are delicious. He proved to be a redoubtable fighter. No one could best him, and not because he was so highly skilled – because he certainly wasn’t – but because he was so loutish, so out of control in combat that he frightened every dark knight and every dragon or beast that he confronted.
He was a wild boy who knew no fear because he’d never been taught much of anything. Think about it, he had no real armor – most opponents saw this goofy boy wearing dirty broad stripe pajamas and a welcome mat for a breastplate. His trousers fell more than once. His opponents had a hard time taking him seriously. Which was a mistake.
He also had this habit, when juiced with adrenaline, of talking non-stop. He was a talker when calm but amped up considerably when under stress. For instance, whenever he would find a lady held hostage in a tower by an evil knight, he’d start talking. He’d go on and on and on – talking about recipes, hat making, brands of shampoo, about how best to scale a dragon or fish or a mountain. It’s very hard to fight when your opponent won’t shut up. Most foes either felt sorry for him – which was a mistake – or they got so irritated at his chatter that they lost their concentration – which was also a mistake.
His natural gifts took him far, just as my gifts took me a long way into business. I’m a natural networker. When I first started I didn’t know whom I should fear and whom I should respect. And, because I typically did not do great research, I bumbled into some nice clients who mistook my naiveté for honesty and respected me for it.
One famous day an old retired knight named Gornimant was out for a ride when he happened upon Parcival who was engaged in combat with a giant. Now, giants are tough. And apparently, Parcival and the giant had been circling each other for quite some time because, Gornimant later told folks the giant had this desperate look on his face, the look of someone who is trying to sleep while a mosquito is buzzing around his ears. The giant would swat and Parcival would comment on the giant’s combat technique or his choice of club or the giant’s posture. Or he would speculate about what it must feel like to have that much hair on his toes. Ultimately, at least this is what Gornimant said, Parcival never struck a blow. He didn’t have to because the giant, in desperation, sobbed and surrendered. Parcival actually had to stop the giant from clubbing himself.
Gornimant could recognize potential when he saw it. He’d actually heard of this chattering champion because Parcival was becoming quite famous in the outlands with his trademark chatter. So Gornimant invited Parcival home and promised to teach him the ways of a knight.
The master was good and the student was hungry. Over many months Gornimant taught Parcival the proper use of sword and lance and shield. He taught him the care and feeding of a warhorse, the proper treatment of damsels, which fork to use at the table. But most important, he taught him the code and conduct of a knight. Specifically, he taught Parcival to control his chatter, which, up to that point, had been his greatest asset.
Finally, after many long months of study, he presented Parcival with a proper suit of armor, with weapons and a magnificent warhorse. And then Gornimant knighted Parcival in the name of the king.
As Parcival, now a man, prepared to ride away from his master into the world, Gormimant offered his final words of advice. He said, “Talking too much, saying whatever comes into your head, is rude. It is behavior unbecoming of a true knight. Remember, it is impolite for a knight to ask questions, it is rude – even sinful – to speak without consideration of what comes to your mind.”
Having received that final bit of advice, Parcival, thanked his master and set out for Camelot. But, on the way, he wanted to go home to show his mother what he’d become. And, it was only a few weeks later that Parcival came upon the river and was invited into the Grail Castle by the Fisher King. Now you know why Parcival failed to ask the Fisher King about the grail and the lance. For the first time in his life, Parcival failed, because he did exactly what he had been taught to do.
Through the story and Virgil’s guidance I began to understand that I’d failed for the same reason. My businesses collapsed because I did exactly what I was taught to do. And, because I followed the code I’d been given, I stopped seeing people and what would better their lives. As the expert, I lived to service my needs and completely forgot about the needs of my customer.
For coaching & workshop information, go here
Leave a Reply