Sharing Everything

Leading up to and when my relationship with my wife began I was experimenting with some behaviors that were fairly new to me…ala, experimenting in the cycle of Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Theory.  It didn’t take long until I was seeing powerful results in my relationship to warrant moving from experimentation to practice.  I think what really happened is that I committed to practice anyway prior to seeing any results.  The behavior I’m talking about is one of full disclosure.  Sharing everything.  Whether I wanted to or not.  Whether it seemed like a good idea or not.  Definitely whether it was safe or not.  It took some time, but over the years I felt fully known by another human being.  Not just sort of known, or mostly known, but fully and unequivocally known.

Freeing and powerful are words that come to mind when I think of the new space of relationship that this allowed for.  It really altered what was possible in relationship and at the same time it forced me to alter who I was being not only in the relationship but outside of the relationship.  Certain things that I may have tried to “get away with” in the past weren’t possible anymore when full disclosure was the order of the day.  Being pushed around in shopping carts by drunken friends while totally inebriated took on a whole new meaning when truth was a commitment to be lived from and within.

Despite the fear that is initially present with it, once the possibility of that kind of relationship is revealed there really is no choice anymore.  I first saw it, like a lightning flash, when somebody I knew told me about a truth that she told.  She put everything at risk and told it anyway because she saw that to not tell it was just a waste of time and that to tell it, and to put everything on the line anyway, would change everything in an instant.  That’s the way it works too.  As soon as it comes out of your mouth everything changes.  There’s no taking it back.  It’s a$$ on the line, no holds barred, life at stake.

In that space and with everything on the line, relationships take on a whole new meaning and gain a whole new area to expand into.  Secure, real relationship is built as long as that integrity is maintained.

Eventually, and it takes a while, a certain level of comfort develops with disclosure.  One is secure and grounded in one relationship with another human being that “helps, supports, and encourages each step in the process” and experimentation begins again.

This is where I am today.  I’ve been experimenting with full disclosure.  With many people.  Experimenting, seeing what would happen, observing, pulling back, trying again.  Could I develop deep, powerful relationships with many people?  Create a tribe as some people call them.  Could I be so known by them that they begin to see that I am them as I see that they are me?

Somehow, it doesn’t feel like it’s being courageous when it’s just an experiment.  I’m just learning after all – building on my strengths while reducing my gaps.  But man is it freeing and fun.

With Love,

Ed

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Source

There is one blog I read very regularly.  It’s not even a blog really, but that’s the most common way to describe it in today’s parlance.  It’s not hosted on one of the big blog sites or custom hosted by one of the big blog engines.  Rather than attempting to explain it I’d rather just send you to two of my favorite posts.  One of them is about a snake and the other is about a nametag.  For me these two posts sum up much of our existence, though there is a lot more written in these Conversations For Transformation that point to the whole of it.  It’s just that these two speak to me at the deepest level without actually talking about it, in a similar way that a poet can presence love without even using the word.

Snakehttp://www.laurenceplatt.com/wernererhard/snake1.html

Nametaghttp://www.laurenceplatt.com/wernererhard/nametaga.html

My relationship with Werner Erhard starts over half of my life ago.  The most common way of putting it is that “I owe my life to Werner Erhard.”  That probably isn’t the clearest way to say what I’m trying to say but it communicates the depth of it.  To say it more clearly is to say that my encounter with his work in the world altered the way I experience my life, both the joys and the sorrows, the love and the fear, and everything in between.  There was my life before I encountered his work and there is my life ever since.  There is also my life ever since ever since in which I actually met Werner, but that’s another story.

Many people probably “owe their lives” to somebody they’ve never met, for example, every citizen (or not) of the United States “owes their life” to the founding fathers of that country and the work, or the manifestation of an idea, that they created.  You can also use the example of formalized religion and the way the customs and norms of that religion shape your life.  I “owe my life” and the way I experience it to being a Catholic.  It’s seldom that the before/after distinction is made so clearly and matter of factly that we actually notice it though.  Now, there have been many things written about this work and it’s value or not, but that isn’t the point of this entry either…maybe that’s another story.

This blog entry is a continued attempt at making sense of who I am as a result of being forever altered by somebody else’s ideas.  In a way you could say that I was created inside of the conversation of that work.  I invented myself in the clearing that was created by my participation in the Forum in 1989.  In the years since my participation I’ve read many scholarly articles about social constructionism (as a general corral for these ideas – though that isn’t necessarily accurate) and the ways in which reality is created by our meaning making in shared conversation.  I had a conversation, guided or led by two other people, over the course of two weekends supported by probably 20 others, paid for in part by myself and in part by a loan made by a complete stranger, and experienced with and through about 125 other people, including my brother-in-law and one of my best friends, and at the end of that conversation I was left with an experience of complete freedom to say what my life was going to be about.  In the 22 years since then I’ve said, and produced, quite a few results that wouldn’t have been possible (or would they) without having had that first Conversation For Transformation.

Laurence, the writer behind Conversations for Transformation, often refers to “Source” and “You” in a very abstract way.  I imagine that it’s meant to be abstract, a little tongue in cheek, a little “slippery”, though I’ve never asked.  It makes sense to me that it is slippery because I experience the slippery-ness of it.  Granting myself the responsibility of having created my own experience is one of the major learnings of the Forum and it’s one of the major learnings of my MPOD coursework as well.  Or is it?  If having that experience was created inside of another’s experiential learning opportunity, how can I be sure that I’ve created it?  The dialetheia of it indirectly points to the self-referential nature of social constructionism and it also indirectly points to Heidegger’s writing on aletheia and the nature of unconcealing. 

The unconcealed aletheia of it occurs for me as there are times when I’m experiencing myself as the source of my experience and there are times when I’m experiencing myself as occurring “inside of” other people as sourcing my experience.  It’s interesting to me that my two intersecting, yet diverging, paths of education are both currently and concurrently leading to similar methods of presencing “something”. 

My MPOD coursework in Europe had quite a bit to do with the use of improvisation as a method for generating “new” types of conversation in organizations and Landmark Education (the current manifestation of Werner’s ideas in the world) offers “The World as Your Stage” workshop.  Additionally, much of my MPOD coursework has centered on recent research from the field of neuroscience and the “proof” of the ways the brain is altered in positive based conversations including Appreciative Inquiry, positive psychology, and Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Theory.  Landmark is currently offering the Direct Access course and the Invented Life seminar which have components of neuroscience smattered in them.  (Full disclosure – I’ve only taken the Invented Life seminar and not the World as Your Stage or Direct Access courses). 

Slightly tongue in cheek then, I ask myself, is this a coincidence that my two avenues of learning are heading in the same direction or is it that I am the source of it all.  Maybe I’ve always been the source of it all?  Maybe I’ve been the source of Werner Erhard and his transformation on the Golden Gate Bridge (it was just a year after I was born after all)?  Maybe I was the source of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, facilitated by my professors from Case, which then led me to find the MPOD program (it was just a year after my declaration of myself as the possibility of the transformation of Cleveland after all)?

Either way, I love having conversations of inquiry to consider the possibilities and make less sense of it all.  It looks like I am the source of my own confusion…and why would I have it any other way?

With Love,

Ed

Loss of Power

Conversation with another human being is a great way to regain your power when it appears to be lost, assuming there is a degree of rigorous listening present.  It’s one of the reasons I’m grateful to have such an incredible wife because when I really need her to be she’s the source for me.  She grants me the space to speak and in her listening I am recreated and sense-making, as the social constructionists call it, occurs.  Sense is made for me, sense is made for her and we walk away from the conversation with renewed sense of purpose or reinvigorated presence to our existing purpose.

Losing power is aggravating and annoying when you are aware of aletheia as I am.  Knowing that you’re in a vicious circle of story about what happened influencing the way what happens is perceived thereby adding to the story about what happened and on and on (a vicious circle) doesn’t make any difference in getting out of the vicious circle.  Usually it involves spending a lot of time looking inward to try to find the source of “it”…that thing which you know is wrong.  But then, I know that nothing is wrong so I tell myself that everything is exactly as it should be, perfect in this moment, and so I spend time trying to be present to this moment so I can get that everything is exactly as it should be and be present to the miracle that life is.  The more I try to get back to that present moment the less I’m able to get back to it and the more evidence I gather that there’s definitely something wrong.

This shouldn’t be happening to me.  I’m so transformed that I’m writing a book on a unified theory of change.  More evidence that something is wrong.

She was in the shower listening and I felt despair.  I just started talking.  Half of the time she probably wasn’t even listening, even though she was listening, but it was the space she was granting me to just question out loud the possible causes of what was creating this chemical imbalance (as I put it) that had me feeling so disempowered.

I’d examined all the possible causes in the past few days and the more I attempted to identify them the deeper it seemed to get.  It started out that I’d been sick for so long I thought, and that led to me getting better, but continually getting sick.  Then it was the lack of sun caused by this very mild Cleveland winter in which we’ve actually had quite a bit more sun than I’ve ever recalled.  Then it was the impending completion of my MPOD program after next week’s residency and all the work I’ve been actually having to do at my day job.  Then it was the day job in general and the wholesale feeling of despair about being unable to make any difference in the company I work when I’m supposed to be coming out of this program being proficient in organizational change (not to mention I’m writing a book about it).  Then it was the laundromats and the fact that I still haven’t moved on some of the initiatives and then it was this and then it was that.

She mostly just listened.  At times she would echo some of the same sentiments and recreate what I said in her experience.  At times I would cut her off when she would start talking about her experience and she would let me, and I would let her let me because I, for a change, really felt like I had to talk.

Mostly I attempt to position myself in that space, as the space, into which other people can express who they are and generate themselves as who they are.  I find that when I’m caught up in a number of deadlines and doing a lot of things that others are expecting outcomes from, including myself, that I have a more difficult time being that space.  Caught up in doing rather than being.  When it goes on long enough and it doesn’t appear that I’m really making any difference in the world I find myself caught in that place of despair.  It’s great to have a committed listener to let me be and let me be known and let me be heard.  She didn’t actually do anything, or suggest anything, or make anything better.  She just listened.

She granted me power through listening.  We can each do that for each other.  It makes a world of difference.

With Love,

Ed