I'm on my third Coursera course of this Corona Break, this one The Science of Success: What Researchers Know that You Should Know, with Dr. Paula J. Caproni of the University of Michigan Business School.
So I've completed week three, and this week we learned the formula for success, which dovetails with a lot of the materials I've been reviewing/encountering recently:
The Takeaway being that anything is possible for the person bold enough to declare his future and believe in it.
This one is huge, I transribe the relevant part for you:
You're in a schema and something comes along and knocks out one of the presuppostions so that what you are doing doesn't work, then you're going to fall into an intermediate period of chaos, and the chaos is going to be proportionate to the importance of the proposition that was disrupted, and the importance is going to be proportionate to how much you use that axiom across multiple situations. . . .
Generally you should assume that you calibrated your machine improperly. And I should also tell you something that's akin to that with regards to a self protective mode of reconstructing your schema. . . .
Maybe the reason the person won't talk to you is because you are just wrong in a million different ways. But, let's not jump to conclusions.
So the rule there, the Mental Hygiene Rule is “Pick the simplest possible explanation. and until you disprove it, accept it.”
Redemption is something that is accomplished at the level of the individual. Every time you hear someone say that they've oriented themselves properly, it's like a bell rings in heaven.
As a 28 year old unmarried man, what is the one thing I should look forward to in my future?
The one thing that I can predict is your being a 28 years and one day old unmarried man.
The thing is we walk around thinking the future will happen to us. Some of us get lucky and it does, but most people just get to the next day, which looks exactly like this day.
If you want a different future, you declare a different future, and then you make a plan for that future and then you put that plan in your calendar, and you take the steps you wrote down there.
So the only question left is what do you want to declare. And if you want help structuring your life to get that:
Sharleen and I came upon a group of children. One had said something. Another had taken it as an insult and wanted to take it out of the first one's hide. Others were keeping the insulted one back from his target. We looked. We weren't happy with what they were doing. I suggested we stay out of this. Sharleen chose to engage.
Speaking to them, the tension did abate, but both kids remained upset, with the speaker crying, and the insulted one walking off upset. The father of the insulted one then appeared on the scene. I don't know who asked what happened, but he answered "parents between kids," suggesting that Sharleen was meddling and kids are better left to sort these things out on their own.
This is why I didn't want to engage. I pulled a kid back from another in retreat on another occasion. I took him back to his mother. She gave me an earful about how I should not get between children when they are sorting these things out.
And there is a wisdom to this viewpoint. We do all need to learn how to get along in society. But sometimes we also need guidance.
So I was pissed. I tend toward a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence, but so does the law. Between adults, we call this assault. When I engage, I am rebuked by parents. When I do not, I fail to raise a child and miss an opportunity to shape the community my child will grow up in. I feel like I am being spit on for giving a shit.
So tonight I was on a call with Seth Ellsworth. I don't know how it was connected, but when I got off that call I realized something.
I am right.
I thought about my neighbor with the brain damaged child, the one who walked off while unsupervised and fell into a pool. For a moment I thought "There but for the grace of G-d go I," but then I realized this is bullshit. The truth is I don't go there by my own grace, by the fact that I was and am an involved parent who would not have let his two year old alone to walk off and fall in a pool.
A child absolutely needs his freedom and to be able to explore his boundaries, but there is nothing wrong with setting some limits along the way. And expecting a child to keep from beating up on another is an entirely reasonable place to draw the line. It's just like me not clobbering this dad for blaming my wife. I'd prefer parents teach their kids respect so they don't form a fist in the first place, but teaching them to keep their hands off is at least a decent start.
So I haven't been keeping my word as well as I'd like to. I haven't written here with the frequency I've promised. I haven't generated the business I want. I haven't taken all the actions that align with my stated commitments.
I have a client I am coaching. He knows this about me. I don't give him much slack when he doesn't keep his own promises. This really annoyed him recently, so we are taking a “break."
There is something in what he says. While I do keep my promises to my clients, I lose credibility when I do not walk the walk, when I give myself permission to not keep my word, mostly to myself, but sometimes to those closest to me as well.
I know there is power in keeping my word, especially in those circumstances where I really don't want to, or something “better” comes along. And still, I don't. But that doesn't negate the value. My client knows I don't have the life I want. He also knows that this is, in large part, because I have not kept my promises to myself.
He sees the cost to me, but instead of taking the coaching, he uses my inaction to excuse breaking his own promise. He's up to some really big things. I am a stand that he have those. I believe this is possible inside of keeping his word.
He's willing to not have what he wants because I don't have what I want. While this might seem insane, I think it's a common type of insanity. We use something external to justify how we are, things like “My parents always fought; this is why I am not a great spouse.” “My teachers weren't so interested in learning; so I haven't learned how to learn.” “I was violated, I can not be free.” “I have lost; I must not _______ ever again.” The truth is none of these is connected. We see something, and we may use this to justify a choice, but the connection is our own fiction, an identity we create for ourselves.
We imply promises. We imply some social compact. And when our expectations are not met, we throw in the towel. Something happened leads to I'm justified in not having what I want or doing what I am committed to.
It doesn't need to be like this. I see this much more clearly now. No, I will not be writing weekly again. It's not my current promise. However, you should know this.
You should also know that I am always here for you, and I always bring the best of myself to my interactions with you. And in making a difference with you, I'll be making one with myself as well.
And when you are ready to powerfully build your new future (right now is the only time you will ever have by the way), schedule with me and you'll get it.
I had all this rage in me before, and now it's not. It's been sucked in to become another glaze of malaise.
So what's bothering me. I was up until close to 4:30 working on a house that I don't really want to have anything to do with. Then I get on the phone with Amy, a coach. In discussing the house, I tell Amy my Princess Bride story, that as Sharleen and I sat there in the architect's office, I have this feeling of having a year of my life sucked out of me, and I finally understood the ridiculous machine in that movie.
So Amy asks:
“Do you share this with Sharleen?”
“Of course not. Why would I do that?”
“Does Sharleen knows how you feel about being here?”
“So why are you here?”
“Well, when I met Sharleen twenty years ago, I didn't have any clear vision for my future. She did, and I married her knowing that. So I don't really have any right to supersede that now. It wasn't part of the plan. That, and I think it's good for the kids here.”
In other words, I completely absolve myself of all responsibility for how things are in my life. Instead, I get to be a victim of my circumstances and the choices of a younger me, like I have no say in the matter any more.