Add To Your List [Seer Crawl day 48]

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 thought to ponder today from The Seer.  Day 48. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

Me: This seems…overwhelming.

Virgil: Start simply. Begin with a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center of the paper. On one side at the top write: “Things I can control.” On the other side, write: “Things I need to let go.” Add to your list every day and soon you will clearly see what is within your control and what is not.

31.

I went to the coffee house to do the exercise Virgil suggested. It quickly became very clear that there are not many things that I can control. For instance, I can’t control what other people think or feel or believe. This was the big revelation. At the table next to me I heard a woman say, “I don’t want him to think I’m a bad person.”

How much time have I invested in my life in the idea that I can determine what another person thinks? Too much! How often have I said, “I don’t want them to think that I…,” or “I don’t want them to feel….”

I was beginning to see the true value of this exercise: my emotional, mental and physical health is invested in something over which I have no control. No wonder I’m stressed all the time. No wonder we fall into the “things happen to me” story! My energy is wasted if I am trying to control another person’s thoughts or feelings.

 

 

 

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Reveal Your Choices [Seer Crawl day 45]

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 45. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

In THE SEER, I end each chapter with 1) a study, 2) an action, and 3) an exercise. Today’s chunk-to-ponder is the study and action from the conclusion of the 5th Recognition. Beware – the action suggests that you can own your story.

The Fifth Recognition: You are the teller of your story

Study: Actions reveal choices, choices reveal story. Study your actions and your choices: what story do they reveal?

Action: Own your story. Continue to distinguish the difference between circumstance and story. Eliminate the “things happen to me” story: at the end of each day choose an event from the day that was challenging, frustrating or made you mad. What if your response within every circumstance was a choice? What did you choose within your circumstance? Track it each day in your journal. What changes when your choices become conscious and intentional?

What do you choose? A great business as well as personal question, especially if growth and change is what you seek.

 

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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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Review It [Seer Crawl day 37]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 37. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

A review as we cruise through the 4th toward the 5th recognition. Whether your pursuit is personal or business change, the path is the same. Connect these dots:

Recognition #1: You don’t have a problem. You have a pattern.

Recognition #2: Your language matters.

Recognition #3: You are telling yourself a story.

Recognition #4: You locate yourself within your story.

Recognize your patterns of thinking and seeing and reacting. They are patterns. Recognize that you label your experiences and your label matters. Recognize that your labeling is part of a larger story. Recognize that you cast yourself in a role within your story.

On to the 5th Recognition!

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See Your Business Story [Seer Crawl day 29]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 29. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

In our next chat Virgil wrote:

Virgil: There are nine recognitions, three loops of three recognitions each. You’ve closed the first loop. It is called “patterns.” The next three recognitions form a loop that we’ll call “story.” This doesn’t mean that you leave patterns behind. Continue your practice of “not knowing,” seek to see patterns, choose your language, and always be aware that you are telling yourself a story.

Me: Is there a deeper reason for talking about business through the lens of story? I understand it for my personal growth. Why is it important for the success of my business?

Virgil: The idea that they are separate things is an old world notion. Compartmentalization, the idea that you can separate your emotions from your work, your ethics from your actions, your values from your interests, belongs to the age of the iron horse. You are living in the greatest era of personal and professional revolution since Gutenberg invented the printing press. This is the era of connectivity, not component parts. Your story is living, dynamic, and fluid. How you conduct yourself in life is how you do business. Entrepreneurship, like artistry, is not about what you do; it is about how you orient yourself within your life.

 

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Reiterate [Seer Crawl day 28]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 28. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

Sometimes in my slow read process, I take a day to review a small bit. That’s the idea for today. A reiteration from yesterday.  I’m teasing apart a response from Virgil as a way of closing the first loop:

 

The third recognition is, in fact, just that simple: you are telling yourself a story.

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.

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.” 

The story you tell is revealed through the patterns of your life. Do you see? It is a loop.

 

More to ponder: In business change, as with personal change, there is a structural level and a circumstance/situational level. Businesses, like people, confuse the two levels, seeking a deep structural change through circumstantial changes (rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic). If you hear, as I often do, “It’s pie in the sky,” be certain that you are hearing avoidance of actually engaging with the structure.

Here’s the simple basic: patterns reveal connections. Problems create separations – and more  problems. Language, your word choice, reveals whether you are seeing through problem-eyes or pattern-eyes [note: problem solving is an inevitable attempt to enact structural change on the level of circumstance, to rearrange those deck chairs!]. Before you can see the structure, you have to see the story that you are telling. Stories reveal. Unconscious stories conceal. Pattern change, story change, is much more practical than you might at first understand.

 

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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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Tell A Better Story [Seer Crawl day 26]

Will Is Belief (unframed) copyYour thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 26. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

18.

I sat staring at my screen for several minutes after he signed off. I felt admonished for my sarcasm, as though he’d sent me to bed with no supper. What was the big deal?

If I embrace the notion that my language matters then his point was obvious wasn’t it? If my story was not something I get then it must be something I tell. Or give?

It was starting to dawn on me that there was a deeper pattern that he was trying to get me to see. There was a good reason why he had no patience for my sarcasm. When I used the words “I only get one story” I allow myself to believe that someone else gives me my story. If someone else gives me my story then I am never responsible for what happens. I am not to blame. On the other hand, when I switch a single word and say, “I only tell one story” then no one else is to blame. No one else is responsible for my story.

I can choose to be a victim. Or I can choose to be a creator. The difference is the story I tell.

The deeper pattern was one of responsibility. The deeper pattern was about ownership. It is why he asked me to begin by discerning between problems and patterns. Problems happen to me; patterns are something I create. I can change the pattern.

I learned that what I name things either opens my eyes or blinds me to what’s possible – and the only difference is the language I choose. I choose it. It doesn’t happen to me. My language matters because it defines the story I tell.

So, my story is not given to me. I am telling myself a story. I used the phrase, “The story of my life” to imply that I have an uncontrollable pattern and my pattern is to miss business opportunities. Now, I see the phrase in a different way: The story of my life is a story that I tell.

I did not miss an opportunity with the director of the student services center. I helped her see what she could not see. I did for her what Virgil was doing for me. I didn’t drop answers on her or provide clever and expensive yet unnecessary solutions. I simply asked her a question. I am in a service industry and I served her need, not my need.

The process is the same in life as it is in business. More on coaching, teaching, consulting using The Seer

 

 

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Choose To See [Seer Crawl day 25]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 25. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

In my latest chat with Virgil I told him of my revelations about ‘not knowing what I DO know,’ about my memory of my client, and how I convinced her that she didn’t need me and could do the work by herself. I wrote:

Me: At the time I really needed the money. I needed the business! And I spent that morning convincing a potential client that she didn’t need me. It’s the story of my life!

He responded:

Virgil: Oh, you are dangerously close to the third recognition.

I decided I needed to stop being careful with how I said things to Virgil. I’d just learned that my language mattered so I might as well write what I was thinking:

Me: Well, maybe you should tell me before I trip over something and hurt myself. You must have an answer or two in there somewhere…

Virgil: I’m woefully low on answers but I do have a question for you: What did you mean when you wrote: It’s the story of my life?

Me: I don’t know. It was just a phrase, an attempt at humor.

Virgil: What if it’s not just a phrase?

Me: You mean that convincing people that they don’t need my services is the story of my life? That is why my business crashed?

Virgil: No. I’m not inferring, interpreting or implying anything. You used this phrase: It is the story of my life. I’m asking you to consider that this is more than a flippant phrase. Are you aware of the story of your life?

I was getting angry again. And, I was beginning to recognize that my anger was a pattern that flared when I felt lost. I get angry when I am driving and miss my turn or can’t find where I’m going. I wanted a map. I wanted Virgil to be my personal GPS and tell me where to go. Where were we going with this? Sometimes I can’t help my sarcasm:

Me: You mean I only get one story!

Virgil: Your story is not something you get. Remember, your language matters. Choose your words more carefully and you might see the third recognition before you trip over it. Connect the dots. Tripping over it will not hurt you…it’s the choice to be blind that causes your pain.

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Consider The Names [Seer Crawl day 20]

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Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 20. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

Snippets from the beginning of the 3rd Recognition [You Are Telling Yourself A Story].

If 1) You Don’t Have A Problem, You Have A Pattern, and 2) Your Language Matters, then 3) Your pattern of language, how you name yourself and your world, equates to a story. Think of it this way: you can either be walking in a mine field or a field of opportunity – and that has nothing to do with the world outside you and everything to do with the story you tell yourself, the lens through which you choose to see…:

12.

It is one thing to name yourself. It is another to have others name you.

*

Like Parcival, I took the names others called me and added them to the names I called myself. It made for a dark and shameful story. Like Parcival I, too, accepted that I was responsible for the wasteland. I had no idea what went wrong or why. I felt that I somehow deserved these names so I folded them into my now dark story.

*

When I was a little kid I had a paper route. Every morning I got up before the sun. I folded and banded the papers. I stuffed them in a big canvas shoulder bag and walked the neighborhood putting newspapers on porches. I never threw the papers on the porches. I placed them. Placing the papers on the porches was my innovation….

…What excited me was realizing that I had an advantage and my advantage was not in how I did my work, the doing came second. My advantage was in how I saw my work. My friends thought delivering papers was a task. I knew it was a business. I don’t know how I knew but I already understood that there was a vast difference between doing a task and creating a business. I knew my business was about knowing my customers’ preferences. I knew my business was about standing in other people’s shoes and seeing what might make life easier for them; it only looked like I was delivering newspapers.

I was telling myself a much different story than all of the other delivery boys.

 

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