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]:

 

30.

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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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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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]:

 

17.

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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Consider The Names [Seer Crawl day 20]

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PAX

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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Leave It [Seer Crawl day 19]

cropped-david-robinson-prometheus-resurrection.jpgYour thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 19. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

11.

Stories and story cycles are patterns. There are endless story formulas out there to describe what makes a story work. One of my favorite definitions of story comes from Robert Olen Butler. He writes that a story happens when a yearning meets an obstacle.

This is a simple pattern and the result is energy! Nothing creates movement toward fulfillment than a yearning meeting an obstacle.

I had a revelation after scribbling my note. I wanted Virgil to tell me how to do it so it would be easy. I wanted him to tell me the answer. My assumption was that an answer exists and I just can’t see it. That is another form of problem thinking. What if there are multiple answers? What if there are no answers but more and more steps? Isn’t that a great description of business in the 21st century? If I lived in the 19th century it might be appropriate to problem solve. The world I inhabit moves too fast. Moore’s Law is in play. Ambiguity and rapid change are the constants. That is why it is an imperative that I recognize that I have patterns not problems. Problem solving is like looking at the ground while the world passes by; pattern recognition demands that you keep your head up and eyes open.

The name I give things either opens my eyes or blinds me to what’s possible. My language matters!

I sent an email to Virgil telling him of my insight and he responded that I’d stumbled into the second recognition: language matters. He congratulated me and then asked me this question:

Virgil: Are you ready to leave behind all that you know?

I wrinkled my nose at the words on the screen. I knew exactly what he was asking of me and didn’t like what it implied.

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

 

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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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