Let The Rest Go [Seer Crawl day 47}

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



Virgil wrote:

Virgil: The sixth recognition is a gateway. Just as the third recognition completed a cycle called “pattern,” the sixth completes a second loop called “story.” Do you see we are making a Venn diagram with three circles?

Me: Yes. What is the third cycle called?

Virgil: Not so fast. We will get there soon enough. First you must complete the story cycle. Given what you know about the recognitions that comprise this cycle: #4: you locate yourself within your story and #5: you are the teller of you story, can you guess what comes next, what is the logical next step?

Me: What I realized almost immediately was that, as the teller of my story, I have the capacity to change my story. I can choose the story I want to tell.

Virgil: Yes, that’s it. The sixth recognition is “you can change your story.” It is an easy concept to grasp but, like all simplicities, it can be hard to do. The work that you have done so far learning about patterns, investments, attachments, roles, and locating, is a first step. It is something you must continue if you desire to master the capacity to change your story. I’ve also given you three practices:

  • Practice “Not Knowing” (practice curiosity),
  • Practice having an experience first, then make meaning of the experience second,
  • Practice suspending your judgment so you can learn.

Before we leave this cycle there is a fourth practice to add:

     4) Practice controlling what you can control and letting the rest go.

Me: I’m not sure I understand.

Virgil: Investments, attachments, and many limiting patterns are the result of trying to control things in your life over which you have no control. People spend great amounts of their lives trying to control what they cannot control. So, first you must identify what you can and cannot control. After you’ve identified what you can control, begin the practice of focusing your actions and choices toward what you can change. And, stop trying to change what you cannot.


And, isn’t it often the case that personal and organizational change follow the same necessary steps. Knowing what you can and cannot control is a very useful awareness.

[extra credit for guessing what the painting Angels At The Well has to do with this post]





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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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Locate Yourself [Seer Crawl day 31]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 31. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


He continued:

Virgil: Since we are discussing orienting to yourself within your life, I want to give you two more practices to add to your practice of “not knowing.” Most people are incapable of learning because they are too invested in judging themselves. (Note: judging others is the same thing as judging yourself. We’ll work with this more later but for now assume that judgment in any form impedes learning.) When you contacted me you were incapable of learning because you were so full of self-judgment. Just as patterns and problems are dance partners, so, too, are learning and judgment. The goal is to help you see opportunity wherever you look. To have the eyes to see opportunity you must first be capable of learning at every moment. To develop this capability, you need two additional practices:

  • Have experiences first and make meaning second. This is actually how your brain works. You have experiences, feel sensation, and then you make meaning of the experience. This process of meaning making is what I call story. Children have no problem with this practice. They live to try things and then they make sense of what they just experienced. Adults flip it over and therefore block themselves: they think they need to know before they act. Do you see why practicing “not knowing” is so vital? So, practice what every child knows: have the experience first (practice not knowing), ACT…and then make meaning from what you experience.
  • Judgment is nothing more than a signal that you’ve left your comfort zone. It is a siren that says, “You’ve come to an edge!” For adults, all learning happens at the edges – because we’ve learned that it is uncomfortable to “not know.” The first thing that we do when we are uncomfortable is to judge ourselves and/or others. In that moment you have a choice: you can invest in the judgment or you can suspend your judgment and learn. That is the second practice: practice suspending your judgments so you can learn. When you do this, you become more capable of seeing your choices. At that point of choice, it is less important what you do as long as you recognize that you are choosing an action; nothing is happening to you, you are choosing.

It marries with our last lesson about the story you tell. Do you see?

Me: Yes. If I know that I am choosing then I cannot tell myself the story that things are happening to me. And, when I know that things aren’t happening to me, I’m capable of learning.

Virgil: Exactly. Learning and seeing are conjoined twins. When you can learn, you can see; when you can see, you can learn. For the next week, in addition to working with your two new practices, I have an assignment for you.

Me: Uh-oh. Last time you gave me an assignment I thought you were trying to trick me. 😉

Virgil: I had to earn your trust before I could start the tricks. Now that you trust me you have to watch out… Just kidding. There are no tricks or traps from me. Stepping beyond the known world is full of challenges and traps – but they all come from within you. Rooting out your traps is a necessary part of discovering your patterns of thinking. Here’s your assignment: Now that you know that you are telling yourself a story, I want you to pay attention to the many ways in which you ‘locate’ yourself within the story that you tell. We are constantly locating ourselves in our stories: both physically and in the roles we play. Study how you locate yourself in your story and what that reveals to you.


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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.


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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Listen To The Story [Seer Crawl day 24]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 24. [all material from the book appears in italics]:



Stories often deal with the collision that arises when learned patterns blind us to our natural impulses. Living according to what we “should do” or “should think” inevitably collides with what we desire to do and this provides a hot crucible for growth. When Virgil asked me to practice “not knowing” he was poking a hole in my story of “should do” so that I might once again hear what I intuitively knew to be true. Stories show us how to get out of our own way. As Virgil recently wrote:

Virgil: You are at one time the source of your yearning and your greatest obstacle. What you think that you should do IS the obstacle to your desire.



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See The Invisible [Seer Crawl day 21]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 21. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


When I first contacted Virgil he wrote:

Virgil: You don’t know what you don’t know.

 He’s trying to help me see what is right in front of me but I do not see.

This morning I made a list of all the things I did right in my business. I remembered a meeting I had several months ago with a potential client. I realized there was an important flip side to Virgil’s statement: you don’t know what you don’t know. The flip side is this: you don’t know what you DO know. Some things are so natural to me. I see things and assume that everyone can see it, too. They don’t. I am constantly surprised when something so clear to me is invisible to someone else.

The client came to me because she was certain that her situation was impossible. She’d just been appointed as the director of a student services center at a university. The previous director was a bully and the culture of the center was toxic. My client wanted to change the culture of the center. She hired consultants who brought her models for building better teams; she held weekly meetings to give her staff the opportunity to share their thoughts; she had an open door policy so her staff would know that she was accessible. But, in her words, “Nothing seems to work.”

It seemed so obvious to me.

“How long have you been the director?” I asked.

“Three months already!” she replied.

“How long was the previous director at the center?”

“Six years. He was awful. He was terribly abusive,” she said.

“Are your staff members machines or humans?” I asked and she wrinkled her brow. I added, “I’m not being flip. I’m asking you a serious question.”

She sat for a moment before responding. “You mean this is going to take time.”

“Have you ever been hurt in a relationship?”

“Of course.” She was wary of this line of questioning.

“How long did it take before you trusted the next person that came into your life?” I asked and she began to laugh.

“You mean they’ve been burned and I’m the new girlfriend,” she smiled.

“Yes. Imagine for a moment that you are the new girlfriend and you’re dealing with someone who’s been burned badly; what would you do?”

“It’s going to take time, isn’t it?” She closed her eyes and nodded her head, continuing, “And I need to help them learn that I am safe. They need to take little steps for a while. They need to trust that I’m not anything like the former director. A little wooing is in order. A little kindness would help. This is not a problem to fix, it’s a new relationship to develop.”

“Exactly.” I smiled.

She stood, shook my hand and said, “It’s so simple when I look at it like that.”


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Walk Toward It [Seer Crawl day 18]

cropped-curvy-lines.jpgYour thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 18. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

I scribbled this note on the yellow pad next to my computer:

Words matter. A problem exists like an island in isolation. It is mechanistic thinking. Call it a problem and you will assume that you know a solution: cause and effect – and all you can do is fix or solve. There is an end. A pattern reveals connections. It is dynamic and reveals structure, composition, and design. Call it a pattern and you will assume that you don’t know because there is no end to the improvements you can see – it extends into the future beyond the vanishing point. The best you can do is walk toward it.

The 9 Recognitions of THE SEER serve as the framework for my coaching and consulting. Learn more here.

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Flip It [Seer Crawl day 16]

a slow read through THE SEER. Something to Ponder, day 16. [all material from the book will appear in italics]:


Words are more powerful than we know. I think this is at least part of what Virgil is trying to get me to see. If I put a label on it, that is what I will see. So far, that’s the crux of his message to me.

I remember reading the part in the Bible when Adam gives names to everything. It was as an act of ritual claiming. Give it a name and that’s how it will be seen. I realized that naming an experience good or bad, right or wrong, best or worst is the same thing – a form of claiming. I name my experiences like Adam named the animals! If I name it then that is what I see. When I label my business a failure, when I call myself a failure, then that is what I am and that’s all I will ever see!

Now I could understand why Virgil was so adamant to make me distinguish between having a problem and working on a pattern. Now I understood the power behind his lesson. I was starting to fully grasp why I needed to practice “not knowing.” With “knowing” comes prescribed labels. With “not knowing” the labeling process is interrupted. Then, at least, the naming is conscious.

It is a matter of order. “To know” is to place a label on an experience before having the experience. To “not know” is to reverse the order: the labels follow the experience. Virgil would call this reversal of order a flip.


The Seer’s 9 Recognitions serve as the framework for my coaching, teaching, and consulting.  Learn more here

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