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.


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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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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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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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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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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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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See The Role [Seer Crawl day 33]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 33. [all material from the book appears in italics]:



That was a lot. My head was full. And I was late for a dinner appointment with my friend Bruce so I ran out. I don’t like to be late.

When I got to the restaurant Bruce was waiting for me. The waiter asked if we wanted a booth or a table and I saw a table in the corner. I always like to have my back to the wall so I can see what’s happening. The moment I asked the waiter for the corner table I realized I was locating myself: I like corner tables. I like my back to the wall. I like to see.

I’ve known Bruce a long time. We were friends in college. We don’t see each other often but I recognized that I was already shifting roles. While I was chatting with Virgil I was a receiver of guidance. Now I was in a new role, listener – a giver of guidance. I was amused to be so aware of my role change. It felt like taking off one mask and replacing it with another. It was seamless! Bruce usually calls when he needs advice or wants to vent about work and I am accustomed to this role; it is comfortable, defined. It is the role I play with him.

I watched Bruce’s role change momentarily. He was telling me of his latest frustration at school when the waiter came to the table. Bruce is very knowledgeable about wines and takes great pride in ordering the right wine for us. He instantly transformed into an authority, someone in charge. Once he’d selected the wine, the mask of authority fell away and he once again assumed his role of beleaguered teacher.

Over Bruce’s shoulder I saw the waiter, consummate professional with guests, drop his manner when he was behind the bar with the bartender. They were clearly friends and were having a good laugh about something. Then, with the bottle of wine, his professional waiter role resumed, and he approached our table with his waiter mask firmly in place.

This assignment was going to be fun. I already felt as if I was seeing myself in a new light and was now aware of all the other actors that perform in my play.

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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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Tell A Different Story [Seer Crawl day 30]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 30. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


Me: You gave me an exercise after the last recognition– to distinguish between my circumstance and how I am within my circumstance. Is this what you mean about orienting?

Virgil: Partially. Making the distinction between your circumstance and who you are within your circumstance is very important. Most people confuse the two: they think they are their circumstance. For instance, your business failed and so you started calling yourself a failure. You confused yourself with your circumstance. Circumstance: your business failed. Story: I am a failure. Another possible story: I learn from my experiences. It is important for you to continue to make this distinction. This is only one aspect of orienting yourself in your life.

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.