Make A Choice [Seer Crawl Finale]

The final installment. A few paragraphs at a time. It’s is how I have been reading books lately.  Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your final thought to ponder today from The Seer.  I’ve bolded a few thoughts on this, Day 49. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

 

 

34.

Virgil: Trace the path that we’ve followed and name for me the six recognitions.

Me: The first three recognitions constitute the loop called Pattern. They are:

  • I don’t have a problem. I have a pattern.
  • My language matters. It is a pattern that defines my story.
  • I am telling myself a story. My story is a pattern that determines what I see.

You asked me to surface my patterns because pattern reveals story.

The next three recognitions constitute the loop called Story. They are:

  • I locate myself within a story. The emphasis is “I locate.”
  • I am the teller of my story. The most important location to recognize is as the storyteller of my story.
  • Because I am the storyteller, I can change my story.

Virgil: Good. You are ready to move forward now. The third loop is called Choice and it is mostly invisible until you understand and embrace the first 6 recognitions. To change your story, you must first recognize that you are in choice every single moment of every day.

Me: Is this the 7th recognition?

Virgil: Yes. Everything we’ve done so far was meant to help you see how you are always choosing. Your story is a choice. Do you recall a distinction I made recently about control: you may not be able to control your circumstance but you have infinite control over how you are within your circumstance?

Me: Yes.

Virgil: The “infinite control” you have within your circumstance is called Choice. Do you also remember in an earlier conversation that I wrote about how a complexity can never be changed with another complexity but that significant change is always realized through a series of small simplicities?

Me: Yes, I remember. You wrote that it’s the little steps, the things that look insignificant that cumulatively create great change.

Virgil: Exactly. The little steps are the small choices that you make – all those things that you think are insignificant – they are very powerful choices.

 ***

 

I realized in my slow read that I could have ended the book here. The final two recognitions are choices: point of view and focus. Where you stand. What you define.

Significant growth/change is always realized through a series of small choices. It’s a loop. The small choices we make define our patterns of perception and action. The small choices we make determine the story we tell with our lives.

 

Thanks again for crawling through The Seer with me!

 

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Test The Chain

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 44. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

Me: I felt it as I stood on the street corner. In fact, I stood there for a long time watching people, paying attention to them play their roles within the stories they tell. I watched mothers with children, people hurrying home from work, couples taking a stroll, kids hurrying to soccer practice. All were deeply invested in their story. It was subtle, as you said, but the small progression from knowing that I am telling a story to actually owning that I am the teller of my story was…huge.

Virgil: Why was it huge?

Me: What I saw in others, and then saw for myself, was a real commitment to the story. There was a dedication to the circumstance. Here’s that word again: an investment that the story was fact or reality. They were seeing their story and nothing beyond it.

Virgil: Yes, the commitment to our stories blinds us to potential. Have you ever come across the phrase “premature cognitive commitment”?

Me: No.

Virgil: It is how elephants are trained to stay in one place. The process is almost too simple: when it is young, a baby, a strong chain is wrapped around its ankle. The other end of the chain is secured to a very strong tree. The baby elephant will pull and pull against the chain but soon learns that there is no use pulling, so it stops testing the chain. As it grows, weaker and weaker chains are used and attached to smaller and smaller trees. Since the elephant has learned that there is no use to pull on the chain, eventually a piece of string attached to a tiny stick is all that is required to keep the elephant from roaming free. The idea of limitation, the story that there is no use pulling on the string, is more powerful than the reality of the string and the stick. Many of the stories we tell are premature cognitive commitments. We become so dedicated to our limits that we stop testing what we think we know.  

Me: When I recognize that I am the teller of my own story, I have the capacity to challenge my assumptions. I never stop pulling on the chain to see what will happen.

Virgil: Yes, and, in that way, you see what is there, not what you think is there. You have the opportunity to see beyond your story or at least you are capable of choosing the story you tell. Why should the limit that you experienced as a child dictate your range of motion as an adult? What commitments do we make that keep us from testing the chain? These are the same commitments that prohibit us from seeing.

 

 

 

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Know What You Give [Seer Crawl day 43]

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another detail: yoga series – greet the world

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 43. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

I stood on the corner suddenly aware of the fifth recognition. It was subtle, just as Virgil promised. I am the teller of my story. I give it shape. I give it meaning. I give it coherence. I exaggerate it. I hang onto parts of it. I define the limits. My story is not happening to me. I am creating it as I go, based on my investments and assumptions of my roles and how I choose to play them. I’m focusing on certain aspects of my story and ignoring others.

***

Later that evening Virgil wrote:

Virgil: Within circumstance you are always in choice. And the first choice you have is the story you decide to tell. You are the teller of your story. This may sound simplistic but the recognition that you are in every moment, every day, responsible for the story you tell, is enormously powerful.

 

Yet another obvious question: what is the story you tell?

 

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Change Your Location [Seer Crawl day 36]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 36. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

The meditation of the day comes as the conclusion of the 4th Recognition:

I realized that my roles are not about me in isolation – and what do I mean by that? I mean that I define my role by how I define the relationship I am in at the moment. For instance, in my workshop, I assumed the role of “guide” and I wanted to lead the young people to some new insights that might help them create their businesses. In my conversation with my parents, in the role of “son,” I wanted them to be pleased with my work. I wanted to share and I wanted their approval. So, my role is defined by relationship and in each different relationship I tell a specific story based on what I want or need. I’ve “cast” myself in these little mini-stories. Or to use your term, “role” is the way I “locate” myself in the story.

Virgil: And how does this knowledge help you with your questions about business?

Me: The first thing that occurs to me is that I have the capacity to locate myself in a different way if I don’t like the role I’m playing. I can change how I locate myself. Also, there is a dance with the words “limitation” and “investment.” I took notes all week and realized that I was using the verb “to invest” over and over again to describe my experience of different roles. So, for instance, during my dinner with my friend Bruce I invested in helping him. I wanted Bruce to know that I cared about his challenges. Then, I watched Bruce invest in being the wine expert. It was his way of caring for me and demonstrating his expertise. I began to see my investments as keys to discerning my limitations. In some roles I’ve invested in the idea that I can’t do something or that I’m not good at something. In some roles I diminish myself; my limitations are investments in being small.

Virgil: Just a caution: as you explore further the dance between investment and limitation, remember to practice suspending your judgment. Remember: you are having experiences first so you can see how you make meaning and begin to choose how you make meaning.

Me: Thank you. It’s a good reminder. I was beating myself up every time I realized I was investing in being small.

Virgil: We tell ourselves stories. We locate ourselves within the stories. In fact, that is the next recognition: you locate yourself within your story. We do it physically (like your description of choosing the table in the restaurant); we do it through the roles we assume – specifically our assumptions of how we need to play our roles, what is ours to do, etc. Locating is simply a way of establishing comfort. We sort to the known. If you judge how you locate yourself, you miss the opportunity to change how you locate yourself.

Me: Right. Judgment blinds me to the choices I am making.

Virgil: Judgment is always a version of the “things are happening to me” story. In fact, judgment is a way of locating: it is the warning signal when we step too close to discomfort. When I judge myself and say, “I’m an idiot,” I’m actually locating myself, pulling myself back into my comfort zone. When I judge others, “They are idiots,” I’m locating myself in a higher status position. The action of diminishing “them” elevates me back into a comfortable status position. Thus, suspending your judgments removes the easy step back to comfort and allows you to stand in “not knowing” and see what is there beyond what you think is there.

 

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Make It Your Business To Unwrap The Story [Seer Crawl day 27]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 27. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

This nugget is full of good things to ponder.

19.

I chatted with Virgil later that night and told him of my insights about the story of my life. I told him how my perception flipped and I recognized that my life story is a story I tell.

Virgil: Yes. The third recognition is, in fact, just that simple: you are telling yourself a story. It is probably too early but I will plant this seed now: great change is never in the big complicated interventions. It is always found in the simple, the small steps. The actions we need to take are rarely difficult; the story we wrap around the necessary actions make them seem harder than they are.

He continued:

Virgil: Before we move on, it is important to put together the recognitions so far: You don’t have a problem; you have a pattern. See the patterns in your life. One of the most important patterns you need to see is your word choice. Your words matter because they are the building blocks of the story you tell. Are you telling a story of “things happening to you,” or are you telling a story of, “I make things happen.” Entrepreneurs tell the latter story. The story you tell is revealed through the patterns of your life. Do you see? It is a loop.

Me: Yes. I see that now.

Virgil: You’ve already acknowledged that you don’t know the story that you tell yourself. You are blind to it. Assume that you do not know so you can begin to hear the story. Begin by listening to the language you use in telling your story. What are the patterns of language you use? What do those patterns reveal about the story you tell?

Entrepreneurs and artists have many things in common. Most significantly, they are telling themselves an entirely different story than most people tell so they see a world that is different than most people see. Seeing relationships and bigger contexts, seeing trends and patterns is sometimes called foresight. That would seem to be another important skill for an entrepreneur, wouldn’t you agree?

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