Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Anatomy Of A Breakthrough

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 7, 2017



"Success is often achieved by those who don't know failure is inevitable." ... Coco Chanel

This essay, Anatomy Of A Breakthrough, is the sequel to BREAKTHROUGH SKYDIVING.

I am indebted to Joe DiMaggio who inspired this conversation.




When something which was once known to be impossible becomes possible, we say it's a miracle. When I say "miracle", I'm not referring to it in the classic biblical  sense. Instead the miracle to which I refer is any event which validates who we really are  rather than diminishes who we really are (as Werner Erhard says). Then when that something which was once known to be impossible, becomes possible and actually happens, we call it a breakthrough. Ordinarily we consider a breakthrough to be a fortuitous, fortunate, even wonderful  occurrence, yet random  ie beyond our ken, beyond our control. Look: you could say a breakthrough has its roots in possibility ie in the impossible becoming possible. True. But possibility has its roots in language, yes? In others words, a breakthrough has its roots in language. Our speaking has the inherent power to create and cause breakthroughs.

When I consider what could  become possible (meeting my ex-wife, the mother of my three children, for the first time in ten years, for example) which I once knew was impossible, it's likely going to require I be committed in a way I've not been committed before. There's so much stuff  in the way. And when I tell the truth about it, I neither know how  to make it happen, or even if I can ever make it happen at all. Here's another example: in my experience of skydiving, there was no way  I would jump out of a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet up in the sky if I listened to what my mind was telling me about it. The way out through the door of that Piper Cherokee 6  eventually became accessible to a terrified me, but only after I'd committed to jumping no matter what.

A breakthrough isn't a better  way of doing something. It's not an improvement  in the way it's always been done until now. It's suddenly accomplishing something which has never been considered possible  before. There's a certain way of being  before a breakthrough. And then something happens. And BAM! Breakthrough!  And the way of being after a breakthrough is a way of being which has never been present before.

The line linking the before  of a breakthrough with the after  of a breakthrough, is obviously not a continuous line. It's more of a dis-continuous line. More rigorously, you could say it's more of a dis-contiguous  line. In other words, if you look at the discontiguous line of a breakthrough after the fact, you'll see there's a jagged  break, whereas describing it as a dis-continuous line suggests there's also a break, albeit a more predictable one.

So breakthroughs start with language speaking possibility, then manifest in unpredictable behavior (ie unpredictable, given the already always known past). They move from impossibility to possibility to manifest behavior, shattering our erstwhile concepts of who we are, of what we're capable of accomplishing, and of what's possible for ourselves and for our lives.

You could say one of the many hallmarks of living a life like it's always business as usual  is it neither grants credence to possibility itself, and nor does it grant credence to breaking through patterned behavior into what's newly possible as an act of intention  ie as a linguistic act, an act of speaking into possibility something which was once known to be impossible. So you could also say one of the many hallmarks of living a life like it's always business as usual, is it's also always bereft of breakthroughs. Listen: this isn't figure-out-able. It doesn't come from there. It comes from taking a stand, and committing to a result, whether the pathway to that result is clear or not (and more often than not, it isn't).

Breakthrough actions are akin to those called for to jump off that highest diving board, or (in my case) to meet my ex-wife, the mother of my three children, for the first time in ten years, or to jump out of a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet up in the sky just because I said I would. What I got clear about breakthroughs while I was skydiving, is a breakthrough in generating something my mind tells me I can never do, requires a shift in the way I'm being, not in what I think I can accomplish. In this way, you could say a breakthrough is a new space to come from  (that's pure vintage Erhard) rather than measured by a place to get to. It's where we come from that determines the extraordinariness of where we get to - not the other way around. It's our being extraordinary that results in breakthroughs. A breakthrough is born of who we really are and the way we're being, not of what we already know how to do, and neither of what we could accomplish.



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