State of the Being Address

Today marks four years since the revelation that “for all intents and purposes” my life is approximately half over.  It’s also my 42nd birthday and as my brilliant cousin pointed out to me a few weeks ago after viewing one of the http://shirt.woot.com/ items for sale that day, this is the year that I would be the same age as the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything.

Back to this “half-over” business though, there’s no intention in it to be morbid and there’s certainly no science in its half-ness as I could be dead tomorrow, today, or sixty years from today.  It’s lack of morbidity is based in the freedom that living a Being-Towards-Death existence allows for…once you get crystal clear that soon your day will come you can really begin to live each day from the amazing opportunity that it is.  The lack of science is much more obvious, but is worth briefly telling the story of how I came to its conclusion.

Thirty-eight was a turning point year in my existence.  My father was seventy-six years old that year, which made me exactly half his age.  At some point during that year it was really the last time he was with it, or with us, fully at least.  He’s still alive physically but it’s difficult to know how much he’s with us mentally.  He doesn’t speak anymore.  It was the year that I was able to transcend speaking and really just be with him the way every Son should be allowed to be with his Father at some point in their lives (as I talk about in my Positive Outcomes paper).  My father’s sudden and rapid slip into dementia brought out many realizations for me (in a life very full of assessments and realizations).

The most impactful of these realizations was the acceptance that my life was half over.  That if there was anything I really wanted to get done in life, I’d better get to it.  I’d had a good run up until that point and already had a very full and fulfilling life.  This was thanks in no small part to my parents, my siblings, my brother-in-law, my aunt, the guys, my wife, my kids and obviously all the other countless people who’d impacted me.  If you’re reading this it probably includes you.  So this post is really a “What have I done since that realization and what am I pedal to the metal working on?” assessment.  After all, I’m already four years into the second half of my life.

Just for record keeping purposes I want to say a little bit about where I was at that point, what I was committed to, and what results I had that were worthy of score keeping.

  • My major commitments that gave me being and action at the time were:
    • a commitment to my wife (that she is living the life of her dreams) and that we have the relationship of our dreams
    • a commitment to my children (that their children find themselves “elevated”, born into class level above where we find ourselves)
    • And a recently invented commitment to the transformation of Cleveland+ (which already appeared thwarted at the time)
    • What I “had” inside of those commitments was a great marriage, three great kids, two houses, a “pretty good” job, a wife with a pretty good job, one kid in the kind of school we wished we’d gone to, and the other two well taken care of and receiving that requisite dosage of Catholic guilt at least for a while
    • I also had a lot of things that “shouldn’t” – debt, worry, hostile people around me, uncertainty and fear and a still not entirely fulfilled or clearly answered question about who I “really” am

“You’ve committed yourself to a really big game,” one of my coaches said to me at the time.  “You should expect it to be challenging”, she said.  It was.  Even beyond what I thought.  I thought it would be neatly packaged, simple really.  You say something, and honor your word, and the results show up.  It had worked before in the relationship game, the career game, the life of my dreams game.  However, I spent a lot of time looking at the scoreboard in those days rather than playing the big game.  I looked to what people told me about what was happening rather than trusting in who I am, knowing that the score only matters at the final buzzer.

The first shift came out of a really simple yet wise conversation about age in general, and the way I held myself – or said more accurately the age of the conversation I was having.  I was having child like conversation.  I was the youngest.  The youngest always gets their way and I didn’t like it when I didn’t so I would quit playing.  I wasn’t getting my way.  I’d hit a wall where the old way of playing wasn’t working anymore.  Everything I’d relied upon before wasn’t working, even my transformed view of the world.  The big shift came when I realized half my life was over…my search intensified.  I got very serious about finding out what my transformation really meant.  I started searching for the source of it so that I could become my own source of it.  I always wondered, but never asked until then.  How did he keep it up day after day and be the source of the transformation for millions of people.

Asking a new question shifted everything.  It always does.  In fact, just asking a question at all shifts the whole playing field.  I stopped being an answer, having an answer and started inquiring.  What could I find out that would allow me to stop playing within somebody else’s experience of the world to begin to be the source of my own.  I’d only ever known one person that had done it and what do you know he’d just resurfaced to offer a course.

Meeting your idol, or hero, or the most impressive person you’ve ever heard of or been impacted by is something that every person should have the joy of in their lives.  Having them live up to everything you’ve heard, expected and more is even better.

Sitting on a rock smoking.  That’s how I fully experienced who I am.  He was just sitting on a rock smoking.  If you’ve read Zen stories you know of some odd moments when the student is enlightened.  Sitting on a rock smoking was how it went down for me.  I watched him smoke.  Not something I would have ever thought a transcendent human being would do.  I was awestruck though by his power as he smoked, and sat, and talked with the few of us there with him,  I saw that he was just himself.  Not anything more and not anything less.  Then I saw who I am.

Being who I am now is all there is to do.  So this moment, and the subsequent conversation with the man from China where I had the opportunity to practice being who I am, gave me a break in my experience of the world.

I know that as a reader most of what I’m saying here is not clear to you.  It’s better talked through.  But I include it here as a record of what shifted in knowing that my life was half over and the subsequent seeking.  Not the usual kind of seeking.  It was different than the seeking we normally do.  This was a seeking for Aletheia, from Aletheia.  A questioning from truth.  From the space where who we are is calling.  Who we’ve always been and who it’s demanded that we be.  The days of suffering were over for me.

When I returned from New York on that trip new opportunities were there.  Somehow, since then, and from that day I now own three laundromats – of all things.  It was not what I would have ever expected in my wildest dreams. 

Also, I found that a group of people, including the Mayor, were already transforming Cleveland+.  I couldn’t believe it.  I came home and found a document about a green city on a blue lake declared in the future from the year 2020.  Never had I heard such language outside of my normal circles.  In this document I found another person who’d “created a new way of being in the world” outside of the normal rules of society that seem to constrain us all.  He wrote of amazing things such as “repatterning our relationship to reality itself.”  Since then I’ve heard amazing stories of people who live here who are doing exactly what I envisioned could be done when I invented my game – giving up what we had been and envisioning/creating who we are in the future.  I haven’t even had to lift a finger yet there is much still that will be done.

Being blown away by these amazing voices I’d found I looked deeper into them.  Right here in my backyard was the most amazing and transformative program I ever could have imagined.  I went to an orientation and put the stake in the ground that I would enter the Master’s program in that fall of 2010.  I’ve recently graduated.

In that program, I’d also created a long range learning plan which included provision for frequent travel and the possibility of another baby and my wife’s completion of her degree.  The baby’s on the way, the travel has been happening at a rate of about 3 adventures per year (4 is the commitment, so we still have some adjustment to make here) including some trips that I just couldn’t have imagined would ever happen way back in 2007.

What’s the point?  There isn’t one.  It’s my birthday and I’m reminded that my life is more than half over.  My wife and kids got me some CDs from an Englishman living in France who I heard on the radio while driving to get groceries on our recent trip to St. Martin.  One of his songs is right up my alley.  He says simply, “Coz we all kick the bucket in the end, the end.”  Look his songs up on youtube and listen to them to celebrate my birthday.  Thanks for being in my life and thanks for your listening.

Like a Hobo and With Love,

Ed

Un-Enlightened

In my last post I made the proposition that we’re all englightened, that we just forgot about it or something happened to cloud over it, conceal it.  Consider little babies, they’re so cute and wonderful and even the most hardened people start cooing and googoo gagaing all over the place when they’re holding a little baby.  They’re like little Buddha’s, making us all bigger and better people than we normally know ourselves to be.  I used to be that cute and that much of an opening, calling out for only the best another human being could give me.  You did too.  The truth/love/aletheia about it just may be that we still are.

What happened?  How did I end up this way when I started out with so much promise.  People used to love being around me and want to care for me, and be the best they could be around me (when I say me, you could be thinking about your me too).  Dare I say, people used to just love me.  That’s all there was – an inexpressible love that people wanted to dote on me, that I drew out of them.  It’s that inexpressible, insatiable feeling that makes you just want to chew on a little baby’s leg and just eat them up (like that will somehow turn out well). They’re so adorable though that you just don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re with them…yet we’re driven to express “something” to them.  It usually ends up with us gooing and gaaing and looking mad, bad, and wrong to others.  But then the others notice you’re with a baby, and they say, “Oh, well, he’s with a baby so it’s okay.”

Consider this scene.  Remove all the people and fast forward a few years.  I was eight years old-ish.  Right there in front of Peaches Records and Tapes.  I was walking toward that spot where the mob is, down one of the aisles of cars with my brother who is about 8 years older than I am.  I’d just come off a rough patch of run-ins with bums as I called them…thugs that liked to beat up or just otherwise mess with little kids for no apparent reason.  They were just kids like me though.  I still thought you could count on grown-ups.

Dark green.  That was the color of the big boat of a car he was driving.  It was a Chrysler New Yorker, or an Imperial, or a Plymouth Fury.  Rusted already though it couldn’t have been more than a few years old.

These people were not at Peaches in 1978

Courtesy of HotFudgeDetroit.Com

He was probably mid-20’s, mid-length curly hair, mustache, jeans jacket, a little rough around the edges but not evil looking or anything.  I watched him the whole way from where he started coming through the stop sign at the end of the strip plaza, just waiting for the traffic to pass so we could cross.  But, I guess I was looking right at him the whole time…or I wasn’t.  I must have been a threat to him (I can reason now), or maybe I was too happy (for him) because I was going to Peaches with my older brother…again, a threat.

Then he was right in front of us.  Window height even with my head as he rolled by and me still looking at him.  Alive.  Experiencing.  Being.  Not afraid…just loving.  Enlightened.

“What are you looking at?”  It was all he said.

Taken back.  Confused.  Threat response.  Is this guy a bum?  Is he going to get out of the car and beat me up?  I looked away.  I looked down.  I looked at my brother.  He was no more eager to get in a fight than I was to get beat up.

I’ve done a lot of work to “find myself”, notice what was lost, or what I invented and I re-invent myself every moment when I’m present to the moment.  I still notice that sometimes I look at people away from their eyes…their mouths, their nose, off somewhere else…anywhere to keep them from asking, “What are you looking at?”

Aware of the source of my un-enlightenment now.  This being the last event.  The one that closed the door and had me really forget anything about the non-sense I knew when I was three…that all there is is love.  All around us, part of us, us.  Our source and our being and who we’ve always been.  Who he was.  This guy I’ll never meet.

We develop these ways of being to compensate, to protect ourselves from these threats.  But we forget about it.  Forget that we created them and we’re left unsatisfied, concerned, restless…looking for something that we already have, something that we are.  Truth.  Love. Unconcealed.  Aletheia.

I love you.  Even if you’re the guy in the Dark Green Chrysler.  You’ll know it, and experience it when I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable by looking at you, seeing you ala Avatar, being with you.  Afraid that you’ll punch me if I see something that you don’t want me to see, but willing to risk and love you anyway.

With Love,

Ed

Enlightened

To say that you’re enlightened is to demonstrate that you’re not.  What’s interesting is that we’re all enlightened.  We just seem to have forgotten about it, or misplaced it, or started believing the things we told ourselves as kids.

In my last post I referred to my most enlightened experience and a commenter and friend had the logical question, “What was your most enlightened experience?”  It’s the type of conversation that flows much more gracefully in the spoken word because you can hear how it lands, if the person receiving the story is with you on the journey or if they’re missing the whole experience. That was the way it occurred when I brought it up.  I’ve really only shared the event with two people, my wife who listens to all of my brilliant soliloquies, and that colleague.

Here I’m going to attempt a much more daring feat.  I’m also going to be brief.  You can make up what you like about whether or not this was a moment of enlightenment, and surely you will.  It’s very possible you’ll discount it because that’s what we do and that’s why most of us don’t really notice that we’re already enlightened.  Whatever description I give it will be inadequate regardless. Being enlightened must be experienced. It must be experienced right now.  You also may want to use it to justify a religion or your religion, or invalidate a religion (or your religion).  Don’t.  Where I was doesn’t matter.  And yes, I regularly attend Roman Catholic church.

I stood in a pew, in a church, with an enclosed ceiling.  There weren’t a lot of stain glassed windows in this particular church and the ones that were there weren’t very large and they definitely weren’t near me.  In the time leading up to this “phenomenon” I’d just gotten very clear about who I am, about who I’d always been.  Love present and experienced.

I stood during a blessing being given to some people that had been married a long time, and my eyes were closed.  Light shone down on me, through me really.  I felt its warmth and the warmth that I felt was Love.  This light extended out through me as if it was coming down on me but as I was a part of it.  In my mind it appeared there was a large opening above me and off to the side of me allowing the full rays of the sun to shine down and wash over me.

Standing there basking in that warmth, not doing anything but also not not doing anything, I experienced what was.  I experienced myself as part of all of it, part of that light and warmth that extended out through my body into all things.  I was that light yet the light was me. I was whole and one.  I was you and you were me.  I was wood and stone.  All those things were love, lit up and warm.

I began thinking more than being, wanting understanding more than wanting experiencing and I opened my eyes to see if there was a window above me, or if there was light shining through a window off to the side.  There wasn’t and I was just back in the church, grateful to know that we’re all loved so deeply.

I’ve had other englightened experiences including my favorite and most absurd where I experienced the complete perfection of a pile of dirt with one of those wooden, stand-up road barriers standing on it in the middle of a road construction site.  God, it was so beautiful.  It all is, when there’s no concealment.  It took me a great number of years after that dirt pile to know a word that accurately portrayed the experience as experienced.  Aletheia. 

With Love and the Warmth of the Sun,

Ed

A Technology Conversation About Lifting The Veil and Revealing Aletheia

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I had an enthusiastic conversation over lunch with a colleague who has read my blog.  We shared conversation about our “most enlightened” experiences and our interest and desire to have enlightened being occur “more often”.

Conversation is a fun, if not limiting, way to presence shared experience or the separate experience that comes from that shared place of who we all are.  We set off to lunch with an anticipated shared sense of commonality, an anticipation that we each mentally knew some of the same things and even that we had individually experienced some type of heightened state of being or being present.

Common language allows for a common way of describing the same things and knowing that another “gets” what you’re saying.  Often it’s the lack of shared language that freaks people out in conversations that are fear inducing such as the ones that  confront your ego.  In a powerful three part series of papers on rhetoric, Dave Logan from USC goes into great depth about these “terministic screens” and the way dual degree MD and MBA candidates were able to translate their medical practice into results in the financial world because of their ability to distinguish these two very distinct language vocabularies.  Having these dual terministic screens gave them the ability to powerfully distinguish things from each realm and tie the two together to make the other more useful.  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=915321

During lunch with this “dual track” colleague of mine, who is both a long time network engineer in the Cisco Systems sense of the term, and a student of transformation/enlightenment/Buddhism/etc., I was pleased to have him suggest a model of viewing our existence in the exact same way as I was recently thinking and viewing it – through my similar dual terministic screen of vocabulary and modeling.  It’s not that it really IS this way, but it’s a way of viewing it that allowed each of us to share the idea and the experience in a way that each of us understood.

Understanding networks and the way they work requires knowing the OSI model.  If you’ve ever studied networking or ever wanted to one of the first things you’ll need to learn is the OSI model – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model.  In simple terms, the model defines 7 layers of the network beginning at the lowest level with the “Physical” layer and moving up through the other six layers to the highest level which is the “Application” layer.  This model defines and allows various distinctions and interpretations to occur at the various layers – each within its own bounds but each complying to various rules that allow the other layers to interact in an expected way.  Certain flexibility but very specific rules.  Each with it’s own protocols and ways of interacting with the layer both directly above and directly below it.

His suggestion (had he thought of it this way before, or did my listening allow for and create it in the moment in conversation?) that there is an OSI model for our existence as human beings was fantastic.  We talked about our moments of enlightenment and how these occurred almost “below” the physical layer that we believe we interact with and we talked about how our allowing ourselves to come from and interact with more power from this Being layer allowed our applications or our Doing in the world to produce different results.  We also talked about people we’ve read or experienced and their unattachment to the various “higher” layers and that this unattachment allowed them to virtually shift the way “reality” occurred for those in their presence.

Mostly though I was just pleased that I was drawing out people around me that were willing to share their experience.  It is only through this conversation of network nodes that further realization of our human potential will occur.  Connected by dark matter, or being, or presence, or time and space, or whatever it is that we don’t yet know how to describe because we’re way up at the application layer, so far removed from the physical layer that we don’t speak in the same protocols, shouldn’t prohibit us from experimenting and reaching out to converse with each other openly and admitting that we may not really understand how it all works.  We know that there’s something there, connecting us all, maybe it’s Truth and Love or whatever words your terministic screens allow for, yet for now it’s mostly concealed behind the veil.  We get glimpses of it out of the corner of our eye or when we’re letting go of attachment to things. Join me in unconcealing, leave a comment, send me a note, have a conversation to explore – maybe you’ll expose the next human facebook riding at the application layer.  Maybe you’ll just experience Light and Beauty, Freedom, Truth and above all things Love.

With Nothing And Love,

Ed

Not Everything Can or Should Be Broken Down to 5 Easy Steps

Tips abound on drawing traffic to your blog, or your web site or your garage sale.  They show up as advice to break things down into bite sized chunks, come up with the top 4 and a half ways to do something lists…keep them short.  I’ve read these “6 simple steps to be an amazing leader that people will follow through the top 7 obstacles your company will face”, “8.5 methods to cure your urinary tract infection”, “3.1 methods to make Windows Phone better than the iPhone” articles and some of them are posted on very reputable literary forums. I’ve been distracted and hooked by them by my lizard brain looking for that quick fix to whatever ails me.  But the Truth/Love/Aletheia about it, if you’re willing to do the work and uncover, unconceal and get to what lies at the heart of life is that not everything can be broken down and resolved in 5 easy steps.

Admittedly, my blog entries are wordy.  Some of them go on and on and I love it.  I write as much for me as for you, as we are really one in the same.  I’m also not interested in the short term change effort, the one that will satisfy me for a little while only to have the root issue, dilemma, problem, dysfunction, or organizational malformation resurface later.  Some of the concepts I want to put out there are emerging after quite a number of years of reflection and there really isn’t a short form way to express them.  Many of the diagrams and applications that I am developing need the form created by language first to accurately depict them to enable their graphical form to take shape, rather than creating the graphic first to cause misinterpretation about what the graphic is intending to say.

Most of the 5 easy steps to “fix” things are based in the inherent illusion that something’s wrong that needs to be fixed in the first place.  Really getting to the bottom of that illusion will be an ongoing underlying theme in these pages due to the persistent nature of that illusion. An unconcealing.  Change is an emergent phenomenon which means sometimes you have to let what is be, and let what’s happening happen.  And watch.  Inquire.  Make sense of.

This may, however, mean that I may not become the most popular blogger on the web.  If my aim were popularity, virality, clicks, retweets, and flash mobs of glory about my cardboard arcade (a really cool story by the way) then I will most likely fail in my ambition.  My ambition is already complete however.  It is no less than having love be present so that it may be experienced right now. (Are you experiencing that you are loved?  You little devil you…)

There are no 5 steps to removing all the barriers that human beings put up around themselves, to protect themselves, and make themselves look good (because they’re so afraid of what people may think of them if they look mad, bad or wrong).  There aren’t 3 ways to make your Organizational Change go perfectly and make you look like the brilliant beast that you are.  There aren’t 7.5 things you can do to be in this moment, not like a concept but as a phenomena, that allow you to experience all the manifested glory that each of us is – even if doing so will have leadership be a natural expression for you.  It takes some work, some reflection, some inquiry, some practice and experimentation.  Sometimes it even gets a little messy and doesn’t turn out the way you want it to.  If you can bypass your judgement just long enough to let the experience settle in, you’ll unconceal some of the Aletheia and experience perfection.  What’s there, if you look, will be love.

With Love,

Ed

We’re Stronger Together, Except When We’re Not

This blog and my life are about unconcealing what’s already there, getting closer “from” truth so it may be experienced, presenced and lived out of.  When we’re closest from truth there is an experience of love and being loved, a foundation from which all things are created.  I have no proof for this, but it is my assertion and it has been my experience.  I have also experienced that when we come from truth/love/aletheia we develop and design more powerful, stable and sustainable human institutions, relationships, and futures on top of a solid foundation.  Many of our common and current models of interacting with ‘reality’ leave us powerless and unstable, longing for and seeking something or resigned that we’ll never find what’s already surrounding us.  It’s an experience of insatiable hunger.  This makes sense to me now, having unconcealed enough of “what’s so” to be able to recognize these moments of clarity more readily.  From the moment we pop out of the chute, we are afraid, and cold, and crying for survival.  We go on in this confusion until we are able to settle into who we are, who we’ve always been, which had been concealed from our view.

Having said that, truth/love/aletheia is change which brings up that fear.  When standing in truth/love/aletheia change is. Truth/love/aletheia is right now and then it’s right now and then it’s right now.  It occurs as change to us as our memory works to process what has happened to position us to better deal with an uncertain future.  This post is a start at pointing out the paradox or dialetheia that occur alongside change.  It’s also about disrupting the world as we know it today and intentionally designing a future and a world that works, whether that be an individual world, an organizational world, or a whole wide world.  

Change is loaded language.  People know many things about change including that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”, or that “People don’t resist change, they’re just more attracted to something else.”, or that “You can’t change, Rocky!” (did I mention yet that I’m a fan of the Rocky movies?  You can hold it against me if you like or love me more because of it…either way I love them!), and on and on.  Yet change from truth/love/aletheia has very little to do with knowing anything.  Change is regardless of what you know or don’t know.  There is however the discomfort that arises with the uncertainty and the illusion that we like to create of having some control.   Especially when things are working, can we even keep our selves from wanting to keep them working?  Or when they’re not working, that longing for all of it to be other than it is.

Intentional change requires knowing some things and paradoxically it’s an emergent phenomenon requiring giving up the control illusion.  To be able to see that something has changed you do have to know what is now, and then you have to intend what is to be then. Change is measured from one point in time to another, based in some result or metric.  The requisite of change is measuring or identifying some starting point so you can get to another point with another result and say, “Look, something’s changed.”, or maybe “Things have changed ‘the same’ over a period of time”, or sometimes, “Awww man, this stinks, nothing’s changed”, or whatever your favorite whine is. 

Anyway, getting comfortable with intentional change takes practice and a willingness to play.  It’s honestly pretty straightforward to do once you’ve done it with intentionality and if you haven’t an amazing model of “how intentional change happens” has been designed through years of research by Dr. Richard Boyatzis, one of my professors in my MPOD program.  The model, known as Intentional Change Theory (ICT), was the most pleasant surprise of MPOD for me.  I’ll be honest.  I’d never heard of Boyatzis or his theory or his work with Daniel Goleman and I’d never even heard the term Emotional Intelligence prior to my coursework.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I got into my second residency and started to read this stuff.  Talk about resonance.  This reading was an amazing and accurate representation of any change effort I’d ever put myself through.  Quitting smoking. developing the relationship of my dreams, creating a powerful relationship with my father, building a successful IT career, becoming a Master of Active Directory, creating a laundromat empire (laughing)…all of these successful change processes followed the spiral of ICT. 

My favorite paper reads currently are regarding the use of Intentional Change Theory in the development of groups that work.  Which is what has brought me to this post.  Because the theory is so clear, and at the same time so unknown, I want those of you who are out there struggling with change to understand a couple of phenomena that I’ve noticed.  They’re not always described in the papers that I’ve read, yet they’re painfully obvious from experience. 

The first of these phenomena goes back to measurement and touches on some of my other posts regarding knowing one’s Self.  It points to one of our delusions that keeps us from experiencing truth/love/aletheia and it’s something that I first experienced through my work with Werner Erhard.  It’s the notion of where one occurs, first for yourself as a phenomenon and then for and to others or yourself reflected from others (The meaning of the gesture is in the response – my favorite Complex Responsive Process folks say).  Werner distinguishes it as the “listening” that one is, or the space, or the clearing.  Since it’s a phenomenon in and of language, listening is the clearest distinction for me. 

Said more clearly, hopefully, I listen myself a certain way.  To use a specific example, when I smoked, I was a smoker.  There was no doubt about it.  I knew I loved it, I was addicted to it, every day the first thing that I’d reach for when I woke up was a cigarette, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to quit, and everything about myself occurred inside of that “listening” I had for myself.  In Intentional Change Theory, this is explained as my real self.  To change, I first had to invent a vision of me, occurring in the future, as my ideal self.  By practicing and experimenting with different behaviors (I subconsciously had taken stock over my many attempts to quit of my strengths and weaknesses, though they didn’t seem to occur in my experience, they did) and I, through trial and error and very unceremoniously, developed a learning plan which eventually led me to stop smoking for good about 8 years ago.  I sit here today as that Ideal Self, the person who knew at that point that if he could just quit smoking, would be able to do anything.  Here it is, anything.

Seriously.  This is anything, and nothing, and everything.  It wasn’t possible prior to inventing and fulfilling that vision of my ideal self.  It took a lot, there were many times that the hope generated by the vision of this future just wasn’t there.  That is the individual aspect, and I think it’s pretty clear, especially in hindsight the way it worked.  The Theory is a validation of the process I went through.  There is a more insidious aspect to this “listening one’s self” bit though, it’s pretty well concealed and difficult to distinguish until you’re out of it, or until somebody points to it. 

If you can see that we’re unconscious about the way we “listen” ourselves, you’ll recognize that we’re very unconscious about the way we “listen” other people.  It’s pointed to in ICT as the “Ought Self”, as the way it occurs for us, and there are additional studies that show the way our listening imposes an outcome on others.  This ought self has a pull to it which reminds me of the first attack in the movie Jaws.  She was out there swimming, just doing her thing and then it came and pulled her under.  She did her best to rise above it but it wouldn’t let her go and eventually just dragged her under.

Again, I’ll use the smoking example though I have more pernicious and wicked examples that come more readily to mind.  In the smoking example, we all reinforced each other.  See, I grew up with a group of fellows that I’d known since grade school.  Many of us started smoking together in high school and we “knew” each other a certain way.  Knowing people that way and being known that way is a very powerful mechanism – I mean, we REALLY knew each other.  So much so, that we knew each other’s strengths and knew each other’s weaknesses.  This is where much of my base experience of being loved developed…when you are loved fully for exactly who you are and for exactly who you are not and it’s never expected that you should be any other way…that is what it is to be loved.

When you are unaware of the way reality is created however, through Social Constructionism, you may find yourself stuck by the very people who love you.  They certainly don’t do it to be malicious or to hold you down, because of course they want what’s best for you (except when they don’t because they do know you’re trying to change and it scares the bejeezus out of them because they think that change isn’t already happening anyway – ha – another post, on another day).  There came a day though, with those friends that loved me, when I realized that if I was ever going to fully realize myself, or at the very least quit smoking, that I may have to separate myself enough from them to experiment and practice with new behaviors.  To surround myself with supportive people who knew that in my Ideal Self future I didn’t smoke.  My lungs are pink as my ideal self…pink as the day I was born.

I made the determination, after a while of actually pulling it off (not smoking) on my own or in my newer circle of support, that when I did immerse myself back into experiences with my friends that before I had a cigarette I would first leave where I was, being with them.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love them, but I knew that, as Martin Luther King said, “I cannot be who I ought to be until you are who you ought to be.”, and that as much as they were constraining and enabling me I was constraining and enabling them.

What’s the point then?  Be aware of the power your listening has of those around you, be aware of the power that the listening of those around you has on you, and never, ever be afraid to sometimes step out on your own and find some new friends.  Your old friends will someday love you all the more for it.

With Love,

Ed

Get Over Yourself

I’ve just finished reading the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  I only read it because somebody mentioned to me that the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” guy recommends laundromats as a place to start for building wealth, and, it just so happened to be in my wife’s audible book queue.  I don’t remember if I put it there, or she put it there, but it was there, it was short, and I wanted to hear what he had to say about laundromats.  He didn’t say anything about laundromats.  It was an easy listen, and inspiring at times, a little hostile at others but overall it covered a lot of the things that I’d like to make sure my kids understand about money – mainly that money is a conversational construct.  This isn’t a book review for that book, however.

Get rich infomercials at night, people blogging and hawking different “new and better” ways of viewing the world, self-help books, Self-help books, transformational seminars, positive psychology and just about anything that involves selling or marketing something tend to bring up an automatic defense mechanism for many people.  I know they do for me.  “Here they go”, I think to myself as they secretly try to not tell me that they want me to join their multi-level marketing scheme which certainly must work for some people or they wouldn’t continue to exist.  I generally tolerate them enough to sort of watch them squirm through the agony of trying to sell me on something, letting them be with themself as a salesman and be with me as a customer.  I’m not much of a salesman myself and I certainly bring up plenty of defense mechanisms for many people, mostly because I can be abrasive, and rude, and disrespectful and fairly focused on myself.  Complaining is definitely evidence of that focus since most of the complaints have a “how the world is affecting me” air to them.

Complaining seems to be something that I’m just thrown toward.  I’ve had nicknames such as “the b*tch” because of incessant complaining about things at places I’ve worked, I think I always feel tired so I’m generally a complaint about that, and I seem to want to control things around me – though I think this is more of a recently developed phenomenon than something that’s been going on my whole life (or am I just conscious enough to notice it now?).  Either way, this post isn’t about that either yet I did want to point it out so it doesn’t appear as if I’m deluded about my thrown-way-of-being in the world.  I got it…I like to complain (usually when things are out of my control).

Something that I’ve noticed about complainers, through this recently revealed view of myself and through viewing other people who complain, is that they’re really committed to something.  Additionally, while complaints often have the appearance of being about me, or about “one”, they often point to some greater injustice outside of the self – and I use the term injustice very tongue in cheek.  Taking the Appreciative Inquiry approach to complaints and finding the “unconditional positive question” (http://portal.kessels-smit.nl/files/02_Interview_With_David_Cooperrider.mp3) to that complaint opens a portal into that person’s deep commitment to something.  That’s not all that this post is about either, the complainers that are committed to something.

What is this post about.  Well, certainly, love.  That’s all it’s all about – Truth/Love/Aletheia.

Practically, what it’s about is my declaration that I’m over myself.  So listen up and get ready to relate to me in a way that may be new to you, may make you uncomfortable, may just get in your face and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, may make you realize what me really being abrasive is like, and may just have you get what truth/love/aletheia is.

Aside from the practical part, the part about me being over myself, this post is about you.  You quiet non-complainers, or super secret back office complainers, you who are so resigned that your complaints are muffled by sarcasm.  You fine people, or even better, sarcastically great people.  I really don’t know what to say to have you be straight, to stop pretending, to stop putting on the good face and start saying it like it is for you.

These infomercial guys, these authors, these transformation experts – why are they always trying to get you to do something?  Buy their product, read their book, take their course…now I won’t speak for all of them as certainly you’ll be cautious and driven by fear (can you help yourself?) and you’ll find some of them to be completely in it for themselves and struggling and miserable trying to fix what’s wrong.  But there are others, some of them out there, that are doing what they’re doing completely for you.  They write, and they promote, and they sell because they know it will make a difference for you.  They’ve done it, they’ve gotten over themselves and proven enough to themselves for their satisfaction that they’ve made it.  They got this.

Let me put it another way.  Recently I came to the conclusion that I’m done “living my life to the fullest”.  For the past twenty years or so I have been living life “from death” – realizing that my time is short here and each minute is precious and in the end they are going to lower my lifeless corpse into a hole and throw dirt on it.  I’ve studied and learned and had amazing experiences and dug deep to fully understand Heidegger’s statements such as, “When resoluteness has been ‘thought through to the end’ in a way corresponding to its ownmost tendency of Being, to what extent does it lead us to authentic Being-towards-death?”.  Then, I’ve attempted to take those learnings into practice and live them and create results “Being-in-the-world”.  I’ve studied being appreciative, and intentional change, and I’ve had plenty of experiential learning.  I declare myself complete.  My life is full. (Don’t hear this as I’m done learning, or growing, or inquiring into – oh, no not that). It always has been and my results indicate it.  Even the failures indicate it.  The truth only revealed itself after I gave up the lie however.  It’s a full life and I’ve done many things beyond what I’ve ever imagined possible.  Still I’m afraid, living within my own constraints.

Strangely, what I’m afraid of now is sounding like I’m bragging.  Being concerned that people will hold it against me if I tell the story of how great my life is or target me to try to knock me off of my pedestal.  Even while I have some really messed up things happening in my life, it’s still incredible.  Rather than buying into that fear I’m going to push it out there anyway, full disclosure, like I said.

My approach will shift ever so slightly.  Instead of living my life as if each day may be my last, I’m going to begin living my life as if each day may be your last.  My last “full encounter” with my Dad before he slipped off into speechlessness is the kind of example I’m talking about.  Being present and with you fully so the depth of our connectedness reveals itself even though our relationship is brief and in passing, or has not been this way until now.  Now, there are times when relating to my own life, and living it to the fullest, where I slipped into unconsciousness…and I’m allowing for that I probably will slip into unconsciousness living your life to the fullest as well.  However, being with you, in your world as if your life depends on it is my purpose.  It always has been – love present and experienced for each and every, now, demands it.  I can’t love you fully until you can love yourself fully and I know you don’t.  It’s why you’re afraid, why you’re resigned, why you’re cynical…it’s why I don’t get any life from you when we converse.

Noticing the truths that you dodge, and the ways that you put up with things, and the ways you’re resigned to “That’s just the way it is” and letting them slip by unnoticed, unmentioned – those days are over.  You want to talk about abrasive.  Now, I’ll do my best to be gentle, and I’ll promise to recognize if you’re just not open to it – some people are a flat out denial that This is it!  I’m ok with that…I’m not going to push it and I have no attachment to your waking from your slumber, yet I’m at least going to let you know.

Why blog about this?  Why put it out there, and annoy people with it via facebook?  Just be that, right?  Here’s the thing about all those infomercial dudes, and the people who want you to come to their thing – the ones who’ve made it – they really just want to share what they got with you.  They’ve seen that there is something concealed, hidden from our view, that’s so simple and so attainable.  So freeing, and joyous and fleeting.  Sharing it, and unconcealing for other people is the easiest way to keep it from getting concealed.  It covers over so easy you see…this truth, this aletheia.  Like cities in the desert in a sandstorm…buried.  The concealed truth is that you got this too.  You’re brilliant, vibrant and can be or do or have anything you want in your life.  I know because I am in mine and I’ve met enough people that are in theirs.  You just have to be willing to let go of the one thing stopping you from having it all.  The belief that you don’t.

You’re going to die, they’re going to put your body in a hole, and throw dirt on it.  Maybe they’ll just burn it to ashes.  What do you want your life to be about before that happens?  Visualize your body vaporizing as flame consumes it…what will you wish that you’d have done?  What are you afraid of?  What are you protecting?  Reveal it and I will love you.  Don’t reveal it and I will love you.  The only difference is, one way you experience that I love you, the other way you’re afraid and unlovable.

With Love,

Ed

Truth/Love/Aletheia Gets Unconcealed Where You Least Expect It

First off, I have to give props to the Truth and Cake lady.  I was jealous when she showed up on freshly pressed with her pretty pictures and immediate thousand followers after only her second post.  I’d started my blog unconcealing truth two months prior and had only a couple of random followers and then there she was with her cupcake eating pig, pretty face and beautiful words.  Jealous.  I watched to see what she’d put out there because staking a claim to truth is a big stake to claim.  I wanted to be the definitive source of truth on the web.  That’s the thing about truth – it’s truth whether you want it to be or not and nobody owns it.  Very similar to love.

Rian‘s post titled Fail Harder is inspired reading and was the final bitch slap I needed to break me out of my funk.  I’m coming off of two failures that are unprecedented in my life and I’ve been working out how to make sense of them in life and if possible, in the blog.  I haven’t posted in a few weeks, I’ve been having difficulty writing my final paper for MPOD, I’ve been struggling putting together all of the pieces and writing a new policy at work, my life has been occurring as bleak and meandering, and even my recent vacation to St. Martin – while simply fabulous – did not “occur” that way for me.  This blog began inside of one of the failures and it’s been a long and difficult sort of grieving and “making sense of” process.  The other was simply unexpected and really threw me for a loop, threw my confidence off and made me start questioning who the hell I am to be writing about Truth or Love or Aletheia.

Which is why Rian’s post has unconcealed an attachment that I have.  Failing harder is beautiful and describes what I’ve done, where I was stuck, where I’ve been invalidating myself.  (It’s also pointed out that I’m very still attached to the limited perspective that there is a “self” to call my own).  Failing harder is a universal truth, unconcealed Aletheia…sweet beautiful Love.

Briefly, I’ve played hard in two arenas, expecting to “win” or at least expecting to not fail.  (As I type I can hear my ego still trying to find a way out of the first one, the first fail – “well, time will tell”, it says.  “We won’t know for years”, it justifies.)  Which is why the second fail, so immediate and definite, really brought up the shut-myself-down defense mechanism that I’ve perfected since Ms. Hein didn’t give me all the awards that I “deserved” in third grade.

I’m going to focus on this second fail for the remainder of this post as I still haven’t figured out how to be straight about the other fail without compromising other people’s space.  While I am committed to full disclosure, no stone unturned, full revelation and display of my “self” for the betterment of our shared “Self” there are boundaries that I share with family, friends, co-workers, or other human beings in general where they may not be as open and willing to disclose.

Playing the game of Master’s student has been immense fun and I didn’t get into it even considering the scoreboard.  I was so blown away when I saw the curriculum of the Master’s of Positive Organizational Development program at Case that I jumped on it immediately.  Certainly there were a few hurdles to overcome and work out but the decision was immediate.  It was why I never began an MBA program…I just wasn’t committed to what an MBA would develop me as.  But this, man, this is who I already was and I’d get to claim to be a Master at it.  This program would take the block of stone that I was up until that point and carve me up into David leaving me refined and powerful and able to cause change with not only profound logic and theory, but with results and data driven deliverables.

Somewhere around the middle of the program I made a crucial mistake and looked up at the scoreboard and I noticed I was winning.  Other people made comments about grades they’d gotten on certain papers and I just kept my mouth shut.  It was all A’s for me.  I’d gotten a B on one paper but there were other assignments in the class that averaged the grade out to an A overall.  Once I noticed the scoreboard all the machinery kicked into gear.  The assignments started to take on more significance and I added meaning to all of my actions, more care was taken in delivering assignments the “right” way, and some of the experience of fun and love of learning for learning’s sake was worn away.

Fear slowly became the programming language of choice and it started to show up in my reality.  The assignments seemed more difficult, managing “all of life” became more arduous, occurred as difficult, things started to show up in the space of life that hadn’t been there before.  My created space that I lead a charmed life started to occur as a something to question rather than a place to come from.  Now, a story in retrospect is always a little more dramatic than the occurring, so it didn’t necessarily seem all that bad at the time but there was definitely some undistinguished shaping of the future occurring.  I continued trying to get back to Aletheia, had a harder time being Love present and experienced in the world. After all, I had all these things that I had to manage and control, and I had to perform well enough to maintain my A’s.

Failing harder wasn’t something I was planning.  I hadn’t played the get all A’s game this well, this long, this hard probably since that third grade with Ms. Hein.  I gave it a go on my bachelor’s degree long enough to prove that I still had what had always come easy to me and even had a couple of 4.0 quarters, made the dean’s list, and was happy to know that I could call it up if I really wanted to.  But then the allure of fast cars and faster women took my focus away and I was cool with that.

This time was different though.  This was like first grade, second grade, third grade.  I wasn’t even concerned with the grades I would receive in the class, I just loved the learning.  Ate it up…like truth and cake. When I noticed the scoreboard the experienced world shifted just so slightly based on that experience after third grade ended.  The awards were handed out and I received plenty…I don’t remember which.  Big ribbons for Math and Religion I believe.  First Honors for everything else.  And I was happy.  But then, my Mom would tell me later, Ms. Hein told her that, “He could have gotten some more awards but we had to give some to the other kids.”  That’s the way I remember it anyway.  I was pi$$ed.  What I made up that day was that there was no point in giving everything you had because you weren’t going to get what you deserved anyway.

It was a sort of failing hard by succeeding.

From that point forward my academic effort was lackluster at best.  I’d approach it as a source of Power where I would only give as much effort as I wanted to.  Always knowing that if I really wanted to I could be as brilliant as I wanted to and do A level work.  I sabotaged much of my academic life through high school as a result of that decision made in the early summer after third grade (I made a lot of decisions that summer about people and the world…see other posts, not yet written).  And as Tom Hanks says in Saving Private Ryan after he tells his squad that he’s an English teacher, “I just know that every man I kill the farther away from home I feel.”  Only for me, it was that every time I didn’t give all of myself to any given challenge the farther away from Aletheia I was, the farther away from Self I was.  As I’d give less effort, I’d get less recognition and I’d get more proof that I was right – that I’d never get what I deserved anyway.

Twisted what the human mind does to itself…social constructionism with two idiots.  Your mind and your ego.

I’m an evolved space monkey though and I’d gotten over all of that.  And I’ve given my all to these two endeavors.  In my final semester of Master’s school on the only assignment that wasn’t a pretty much guaranteed A, I got a B.

Logically, I know truth.  Life is empty and meaningless and it’s empty and meaningless that it’s empty and meaningless.  Logic does not make any difference.  Knowing something has no impact on being.  Especially when I’m being “I knew I wouldn’t get what I deserve”.  The beauty of truth, of love, of aletheia is that it isn’t something you can know.  It’s only in experience, in unconcealing and revealing those hidden things that you can live closer from truth.

I failed.  Hard.  The truth and cake lady gives me permission.  Tells me I should fail harder even.  And from there I’m present to Love.  I haven’t met her yet, but I know I’d Love Rian.  But then, I love everybody.  Especially my other Epic Fail.

With Love,

Ed

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