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]:





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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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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Find Your Second Master [Seer Crawl day 46]

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I just used this image but it seemed appropriate for today’s post. This is WEEPING MAN

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



When my business failed my confidence collapsed. Like Parcival’s sword, everything that I thought I knew was worthless and lay in pieces all around me.

I stayed in bed wallowing in my misery for a week with my blankets pulled over my head. When finally I realized that I had nothing else to lose, I got out of bed and called Elizabeth. My business was gone, my pride, my reputation, my intention, my identity. I was pinned down and had no fight left in me. I surrendered. And that was when I found Virgil.

It seemed that the Parcival story was a braid strand entwined with my life story. Was I following the story or was the story following me?

Parcival’s sword exploded. The pieces of his power lay all around him.

The panther, the warrior of the earth, stood above Parcival poised and ready to strike the fatal blow. Parcival was pinned down by the weight of his armor. Laying on his back, he looked up into the warrior’s eyes, surrendering himself to death. He closed his eyes thinking, this is going to hurt. Nothing happened. Parcival opened his eyes and the warrior, like the castle and the maiden, was gone. Parcival managed to roll onto his knees and something broke inside him. He wept.

After the warrior vanished, Parcival retreated deeper into the woods. In his five years of searching he had become intensely self-reliant. He couldn’t go back to court. He had no idea how to get home. The source of all his power had just been shattered. His life was not unfolding as he had imagined that day long ago, when he first bumped into the knights and confused them with gods and he decided that he, too, would become a knight.

While Parcival was deep in his despair, he was discovered by a hermit. Now, it’s harder to be discovered by a hermit than you might imagine. A hermit, by definition, likes to be alone and generally avoids contact with other people. However the hermit found Parcival just as Gornimant had found him. Because Parcival was ready for his next life lessons, his teacher emerged.

That’s the same story I tell myself about for Virgil. I was ready and he emerged. Elizabeth had given me Virgil’s contact information a few months before I emailed him. I wasn’t ready to learn until I experienced the collapse of my business. Just like Parcival, I needed to lose my sword before I was ready for the teacher to find me.

Parcival was sitting on a stump, helmet off, weeping – which was why he retreated deeper into the woods because he didn’t want to be seen. It was the perfect time for a hermit to come along. I think the sight of a knight in full armor, sitting on a stump having a barking-style cry got the best of the hermit. It piqued his curiosity.

Hermits are notoriously quiet so Parcival didn’t hear the recluse sit down on the stump next to him. You can imagine his surprise, after his cry had run its course, when Parcival heard a crackly old voice say, “That’s a hell of a giant you’re fighting in there. What’s his name?” Parcival yelped and jumped from his stump. Keep in mind that this story is happening in the days when forest spirits showed themselves to mortals. Parcival wasn’t sure if he was about to be spelled or cursed. When he jumped up, he landed sideways on his foot and, being in full armor, he made the sound that a stack of cans in a grocery store makes when a cart bumps into it. He kind of looked like that too, as he crumpled all the way to the ground.  

The hermit chuckled and said, “Simmer down boy. I’m not going to turn you into a frog or nothing. I’m a hermit!”

That was not very comforting although it did help Parcival relax a bit. The hermit helped Parcival out of his armor so he could stand. The hermit looked him over, and invited Parcival back to the cave for some stew. Parcival went with the hermit, leaving his armor behind.

He broke his vow not to stay two nights in the same place until he found the Grail Castle again. Parcival stayed with the hermit for a night, then two, then he lost count of how long he’d been there. You’ve probably guessed by now that the hermit was his second master. The first master teaches craft. Second masters are the midwives for the birth of the heart.


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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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Lose Your Gift [Seer Crawl day 41]



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



This is what happens to illusions:

On a famous day, while riding through the forest, out of the trees rode a warrior like none that Parcival had ever seen. The warrior didn’t wear armor, his skin was dark, and he somehow belonged to the land. He was an enormous man. He moved like a panther, beautiful, easy, fluid, and confident. He sat atop a black stallion. He squared himself to Parcival and drew his sword for battle.

Parcival surprised himself; he did not want to fight this man. He felt a deep sadness and was suddenly very tired. He told the warrior that he would not fight. He asked the warrior to stand aside and let him pass. The warrior stood his ground. Parcival said that he had no quarrel and would not draw his weapon. The man said nothing and stood his ground. Slowly Parcival drew his sword, thinking that once his sword was seen, the warrior would recognize Parcival and retreat. The man saw the sword and stood his ground.

Parcival felt as though he could not breath. They stared for a long moment, sizing up each other, and then, silently, as if in agreement, they suddenly rode at each other. Their swords met with a ferocious clang that echoed off the trees and hills. The impact knocked both men off their mounts. Parcival landed hard. Like a turtle on his back, pinned down by the weight of his armor, Parcival looked up and saw the warrior, the panther, standing over him, raising his sword to strike. Parcival raised his sword in defense and found he held only the hilt of his weapon. His sword, the Fisher King’s gift, had exploded into a thousand pieces.

Whether you recognize it or not, this is a great business (as well as personal) metaphor. What happens when your gift fails you?

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Find Your Worth [Seer Crawl day 40]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 40. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


Parcival failed in the Fisher King’s castle because he did as he was taught to do. He heeded Gornimant’s advice. He lived within the code as the only way to fulfill his heart’s desire. Like me, he stopped seeing. Like me, he cut himself off from his nature.

The Fisher King gave Parcival a sword. The detail of the story that I play over and over in my mind is the maiden coming out of the woods and telling him his name: Parcival the Unfortunate. She also warned him that the sword, the gift from the king, would fail him when he most needed it.

I wondered what was my sword? What was my destiny? How had my sword failed me when I needed it most?

Parcival was confused and ashamed. Remember, he immediately sought Arthur’s court for help and guidance. He entered the court wearing his shiny new armor and carrying a new sword. And before he could ask anyone to explain what had happened in the castle, the loathly damsel entered, denounced him, stripped him naked before the whole court, and blamed him for the horrors to come.

Parcival was more confused and more ashamed than ever. He left Arthur’s court with all eyes avoiding him. He left vowing never to rest in the same place for two nights until he found the Grail Castle again and set things aright.

He kept his vow, too. For five years he searched for the Grail Castle. He was, as they say, completely in the field of action. He was a knight. A warrior. He rescued damsels. He defeated dark knights. He conquered ogres and giants and dragons. He liberated villages from curses and cretins. And during those five years, despite his best efforts, the crone’s prophecy still came true. Many knights died. The land became barren. People starved. Children were orphaned. Widows mourned their losses. It seemed that the more Parcival searched, the harder he looked, the more he tried to prove his worth, the more independent he became, the more devastated and empty was his world. Which made him fight harder to prove himself worthy. He thought that if he sacrificed himself he could keep the land alive.

Have you ever been so good at something and wanted to succeed so badly that you unknowingly compromise your self? Your work becomes about proving yourself instead of serving others? You find, one day, that everything you’ve strived to create is empty and you are living out of balance. That’s what happened to me. I was working so hard to prove myself that I forgot why I was doing what I was doing.

Parcival also forgot the object of his quest. He forgot that he was searching to find the Grail Castle. He became filled with a kind of fervor, zeal. Every act became an act of redemption. Every action was an exploit to prove his worth.

No one and nothing could defeat him in battle. He became famous! People talked of his sword, this magic sword, and after awhile even he came to believe the sword was the source of his power.

The parallels between the story and my life are startling! That is why stories are so useful: learn to see the patterns and read the metaphors and you will see yourself in them. The metaphors open when the story takes you. This is what I see: in my business, every action was intended to prove my worth. And, like Parcival, I invested my power, my safety and my security in an illusion. Parcival came to believe his sword was the source of his power and I came to believe that my intellect, my knowing was the source of my power. My knowledge was my sword and I wielded it like a weapon. Tim had tried gently to explain why our primary client dropped us: I was the reason. I was too much the expert. I became a fixer, an answer man who had no time to hear the client’s story.

Stories often turn on the moment when the main character learns how drastically that he has separated himself from himself. Trying to prove worth is an act of separation. Investing in an illusion like a magic sword or sharp knowledge is an act of separation. It reinforces the belief that our power is external to us. Worth is not something that can be proved or attained. It is in us all along.


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Learn [Seer Crawl day 39]

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this painting recently found its home: inward looking he

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 39. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


In my life to this point I was always perceived as the one who knew what to do. I was always rewarded for knowing what to do. I was taught in school that a good businessperson has a plan and he follows the plan; he knows where he is going and he knows what he is doing. I believed I was a good businessperson. As Virgil wrote, “That’s old-world thinking.” The whole equation has flipped because the river is moving too fast. Have the experience first. Act. And then make meaning. Act. Test. And then Aim. See the patterns.

People who think they know look for problems. People who understand that they do not know see patterns and create.

My business failed. I did not. I learned. I am learning.

When I emailed this to Virgil he told me that the fifth recognition was very close at hand. He said it was a nuance, a subtle addition to the recognitions that have come before. He congratulated me for beginning the process of removing my armor. He wrote:

Virgil: Everyday you get closer and closer to actually seeing.



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Take A Willing Step [Seer Crawl day 38]

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waterfall dreams, a detail and crossover from today’s studio melange post

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 38. [all material from the book appears in italics]:



I was now on a journey within my own story.

During our last chat Virgil told me that change is often counter-intuitive. For instance, sometimes you must slow down to be more efficient. For me, he said that I needed to work on my “being” if I ever wanted to succeed in my “doing.”

I am now seeing the roles I choose. I am discovering the agenda beneath each role. I see what I need and what I want. I see when I manipulate. I see where I place limits on myself. I see where I remove them. I’m learning to recognize my investments.

Early in our work together it was my habit to get angry after my chats with Virgil. I wanted answers! I wanted to understand. The last thing I wanted was to “not know” what I was doing. My anger revealed my judgments. “Not knowing” made me uncomfortable. “Not knowing” felt vulnerable, exposed. I got angry because I told myself the story that Virgil was responsible for my discomfort. He was the cause, not me. It was easier to blame him than it was to own my feelings.

When I learned to suspend my judgments I saw why I was so angry. For me, to know is like armor; “knowing” is my protection. I’ve never really innovated because I’ve never willingly stepped into the unknown. I was guarded against ever stepping into discomfort so I was guarded against learning, growing, seeing, innovating, and creating. Virgil exposed the truth: I do not know.

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Step Role To Role [Seer Crawl day 35]

cropped-circle-of-elders.jpgYour thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 35. [all material from the book appears in italics]:


Me: All week I’ve been paying attention to the roles I play and what happens when I assume each role. I have these polar opposite sensations like I expand when I assume a role and then shrink when I assume another role. In some roles I feel like I know things and in other roles I feel as if I know nothing. For instance, this week I facilitated a workshop for young entrepreneurs and, in my role of facilitator, I was competent, clear, and certain of what I was bringing to the group. As I was leaving the workshop my parents called to check-in and I was suddenly 10 years old again, telling them of the fun day I just had. My language changed, my posture changed, and I engaged in an entirely different way in my role as “son.”

All week I’ve asked myself, “why?” Why the dramatic shift in experience from role to role? I’m a bit shocked to realize that I play many, many roles each day. In each role I want something and what I want is different depending upon the people I am with.


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