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


A Possibility Given Approach

Landmark Breakthroughs: Living Outside The Box Seminar, Doubletree Hotel, Rohnert Park, California, USA

July 20, 2015



"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." ... Professor Albert Einstein

This essay, A Possibility Given Approach, is the companion piece to
  1. Immersion In The Conversation: On Being In A Seminar
  2. Ordinary People
in that order.

It is also the eleventh in an open group on Possibility: It is also the sevententh in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: I am indebted to Jane Pritchard who inspired this conversation, and to Ron Mann who contributed material.



Werner's work it could be said, generates, brings forth, demonstrates  a plethora of manifestations of transformation, all of which could be considered to be empowered by / grounded in a possibility given approach  to living.

"What's a possibility given approach to living?" you may ask. To deploy a more colloquial expression (I'd like to avoid the slippery slope  over which perfectly effective language devolves into jargon when used in a new context), a possibility given approach to living is akin to "living outside the box"  - notice I said "akin to" and not "the same as".

So that we can have a conversation about a possibility given approach ie so that we can have a conversation which leaves us clear about what a possibility given approach is and the effectiveness of Werner's work in making it available, it may be prudent to begin by saying what a possibility given approach isn't  ie by saying what living inside  the box is - something with which, if we tell the truth about it, we're all already very familiar.

Living inside the box is essentially a euphemism for staying with what's familiar, for not going past what's comfortable, for trying to solve new problems with what's already known. Although it took Professor Albert Einstein to originally articulate "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them" (in other words, problems caused by living inside the box cannot be solved by thinking inside the box), the truth is you don't have to be a genius to figure it out for yourself.

Another characteristic of living inside the box is our insisting that the source of the problem (ie where the being upset  occurs) lies out there  with someone else and / or with something else, rather than taking responsibility for being upset over here. Not viewing the unwillingness to own the problem and be responsible for being upset over here as an option, is not a bad thing or a good thing. Rather it's an undistinguished  thing which, once distinguished, is useful, powerful, and profound.

Yet another characteristic of living inside the box is being unaware of and / or being unwilling to confront the impact our unkept promises and broken agreements have on our lives (not to mention on other people's lives). We think "It's no big deal  ...". But listen: it is. The impact of unkept promises and broken agreements is a huge  deal. If you've never thought about including unkept promises and broken agreements as staple fare from (and evidence of) living inside the box, think again ...

The quintessential question from inside the box is "What can I do given the circumstances, given what I'm familiar with, given what I'm comfortable with, given what I already know?"  (no possibility ie everything's a "given" except  possibility). The question from outside the box is simply "What's possible?" or spoken with rigor, "Given anything's possible, what can I do?" or "If anything's possible, then what's given for me to do?" or even "Given possibility, then what possibilities does possibility give?" (the latter clearly qualifies as a self-referential "no no"  I'll grant you, yet it's very apropos nonetheless). This is a possibility given approach. It's the access to living outside the box. It requires the boldness, the brashness, the verve, and the audacity to be willing to grapple newly with that which is unfamiliar.

Clearly Albert was right: solving our issues (personal, interracial, intercultural, intercontinental, international) requires living outside the box ie it requires living in a way in which solutions aren't given by what's familiar, by what's comfortable, or by what's already known, but rather by what's possible. And the trouble is inside the box there's no possibility. We say a possibility given approach is simple ... it is, but it isn't always easy (if it were easy, the whole world would be transformed by now).

The first recognition ie the alpha  recognition of possibility in a possibility given approach, is recognizing it's possible to live outside the box. After that, after I take on living outside the box, I start seeing possibility everywhere  - which is to say I start seeing the possibility of possibility itself  everywhere. The conversations which comprise Werner's work tease out the possibility of possibility itself, and with it inter alia  the possibility of being responsible, the possibility of being in communication (ie the possibility of languaging), and the possibility of being of service and more, making them readily accessible and masterfully available worldwide.



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