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 Revolutionary Notion:

Accessing Possibility From Complaint

Napa Valley, California, USA

March 4, 2003

I am indebted to Jenny Charno who inspired this conversation.

Normally when I complain, it is to be right that "something's wrong". It is never with the intention to access possibility. It is to make something or someone wrong. Also, it is most often from the foundation that someone else - not I - is to blame, and that they will do something about it, once my complaint is heard.

This is George Bernard Shaw from his play "Man and Superman":


This is the true joy of life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one and being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


I am struck by what a revolutionary notion it is to look for possibility in my complaints. If I shift "something's wrong" (which is an already always listening for me) to "something is not working" (which is a new assessment for which I am willing to be responsible), I can invent a new outcome for the situation, beyond merely stopping after complaining about it and waiting for someone else to take the blame or to do something about it.

I can say: "I notice that something is not working here. What possibility can I invent here, the outcome of which would transform this situation from non-workability to workability, from complaint to possibility?"

Again, this is George Bernard Shaw, later in "Man and Superman":


Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.


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