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Monday, April 13, 2009

Where Are People Who Are...?

The short answer to this is that great relationships are made and not found. You make relationships that are based on ethical, positive, encouraging and forward-seeking interactions on purpose. There are people around here on this forum who are just like that - you're not SEEING them! There are people around you LIKE THAT, you're not noticing them.

One way to recognize people like that is to talk to anyone you believe is "like that" on the phone using Skype, if you can't find people close to you. Once you have some of Those People to talk with, then you'll get better at recognizing them when you run into them in person. That's what I've been doing lately.

Partly, I recognize people like this because they have other friends and aren't isolated. But sometimes, that's not always true. People who are good at relationships have lots of friends - usually from all walks of life. People who don't have lots of friends sometimes find themselves in that position because they're in a situational bind, have moved house to a new location...or sometimes these are older people who have out-lived their passel of long-time friends. Or sometimes they've gone through a breakup, grief, etc. Interesting to note that one of their characteristics of people like this is that they are not people who put accomplishing things in front of their friendships. Relationships come first, then accomplishments. Of course, there's always a trade-off.

The other thing is that people who are ethical usually had a pretty OK childhood...OR they HAD to put out quite a bit of "inner work" to change the effects of bad conditioning for themselves. Although an interest in "inner change" can outline the gaping, jagged edge of where someone falls short and continues to fall short, sometimes it's at least an indicator of intent. So if you get this agreement from people, you can be on the road together, forgive the shortfall in each other generously, and have fun along the pathway to continuing self-improvement.

I learned quite a bit from books and websites. Whenever I saw someone doing that "Take On Personal Challenge" in real life, I would sidle up to them and get to know them personally. For instance, I met Dennis Rivers at an ongoing David Bohm Dialogue group. Dennis was able to get the group to try things that nobody else could convince them to do because someone would always object - Dennis' ways of communicating could quiet people's objections and defensiveness! What he has to say about this on this website is brilliant: He's also got a free "workbook" to help teach better communication.

But watch for this; lots of people who can write do so as if they have the answers. But they cannot deliver because they are lousy teachers. What they say is the way to learn what they are doing will not work...or won't work for you if you do not have identical point of view compared to theirs. The way to learn from these people is to get in their presence and "soak it up" from them...while disregarding their confusing presentations. Look for those who offer their content from a sense of being on a mission to better the world...sometimes this does NOT include being "market savvy."

The short list of books that helped me recognize people who are forward-thinking and capable of having long-term relationships are:

"Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor It's a book on why reinforcement works during training - both positive and negative. It brings together the intellectual ideas of behaviorism with the practical experience of training, which is communication through example and action rather than language.

Check out all the books by William Ury and Fisher that are in the series on negotiation skills, such as "Getting Past No" and "Getting to Yes" , etc. There is a new book I think it was Fisher just wrote about the emotional factor that is brilliant. Here's an article:
These books on negotiation make you realize that you are building tacit agreements when you start any relationship that can become problematic or be a foundation later times it's not possible to "think ahead" when you don't know what you are this is how to re-negotiate tacit agreements before they become problematic enough to require professional intervention.

The area of non-violent communication is also an interesting field...Also is the "Speaking Circles" authenticity work by Lee Glickstein

Friday, April 10, 2009

Learning As Loss

Sometimes a person doesn’t know what they have to gain from a course of action until they do it. Sometimes it's not possible to see ahead until you stand on the next step that you can see ahead. By stepping up to a challenge, perhaps that is the only way to find out for yourself what you are getting from it after you have done so. Sometimes this finding out takes time to allow its effects to seep in enough to show up. This is especially true when the course of action involves losing something intentionally - sort of like losing weight.

Learning from intentionally subtracting a course of action is a "Very Weird Experience." As adults, we're so used to adding things. We don't think of undoing them.

I guess the religious practice of Lent is somewhat applicable here, where people intentionally give up something to experience the lack of it. Perhaps it's a course of action designed for the result of sacrifice or gratitude when you get back the activity or consumable that you gave up. Perhaps the Easter holiday this weekend is making me think of such things. Probably it's merely how much I used Alexander Technique and David Bohm style Dialogue both to practice subtraction for sharpening my own self-awareness.

It's a odd characteristic: as you are giving up something, you know well what you are giving up. What you may have to gain can feel like only a promise; an uncertain elusive conviction of faith or a whisper of potential. Often, you can’t have both - you must choose to continue either the old comforts you know well - or make the leap of faith. Because sometimes, you can’t go in two directions at once, having your cake and eating it too.

I have experienced myself leaping into the unknown. It feels like a complete willingness to risk everything. To me - it feels great, even if it's a little shaky from being a new thing. Sometimes there's a cost. But at least I've decided.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Creative Problem Solving: "Jack's Notebook" Review

Teaching creative problem solving is so often done with diagrams, acronyms and theories. Many good systems exist, but key would be remembering to use their points at moments when new ideas are needed. Did this hunch to write a story that also teaches work as advertised? Turns out that linking the steps of using a process to drive the plot of a story makes new points memorable. I've started three businesses from scratch from pretty much nothing. This story had a great deal in common with my own personal experience of start up - containing both the serendipity of how priorities are established & reinforced, along with why investors want to endorse your particular idea so you might get a better idea of who to approach among those people you already know to make your business idea available for their financial backing.

This story is a fun one to read because it portrays a young man who learns how to gradually become an entrepreneur instead of the wage slave he has been trained to be. From having a couple of dead end jobs, Jack seizes a way to make his many dreams come true from a seemingly random meeting with an interesting person who offers to help him with advice and new thinking strategies. Exactly what "help" means becomes more and more fascinating and involving as Jack's story unfolds.

Applying one of the creative thinking techniques from this book spurred me to re-read it from the point of view of the mentor. Culturally, we don't have many examples of people who use their authority compassionately and thoughtfully; this mentor character portrays an example worth emulating. Many would use the term of "Angel" for a key person who is in the position to open doors for us. Reversing that, it struck me how unusual it seems to be to find even one learner who would actually take advantage of what a mentor has to offer wholeheartedly. What makes the mentor character believable is his ability to choose how he is going to react to circumstances. This mentor has rather humbly learned to trust the value of observing, thinking strategically & creatively under pressure, when survival instincts usually cut off options. But this old guy knows how to open the conduit to ideas by suspending fear & judgments - and he teaches how.

This book struck me how, no matter what my age is, what if I had the opportunity of a lifetime dream staring at me in the face now - could I recognize it on the front end? What resistance in myself would I need to answer? What are the opportunities to make my dreams come true now that are going over my head? Does there exist now among people I know an effective mentor for me? Are there other people who could offer me the sort of support and information that I need, the sort of support and good ideas that this young man in this story got at the right time and way? It even had me thinking of how would I recognize a student who wants to learn what I have to teach.

That this new form of using fiction to illustrate a learning process would spur me to ask these questions for myself made Jack's Notebook meaningful for me. Perhaps this story and its teaching information will work that way for you too. Jack's Notebook is highly recommended.
Here's a link to get the book on Amazon: