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


But And And II

Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Santa Barbara, California, USA

May 20, 2022

"Less 'But, no ...', more 'And, yes ...'." ... Anonymous

This essay, But And And II, is the twenty first in an open group on Possibility: It is also the nineteenth in a group of twenty written in Santa Barbara:
  1. Santa Barbara
  2. Unbelievable
  3. Give Me Money (That's What I Want?)
  4. True Gold
  5. Getting Into Your World
  6. You Say Stop: About Resisting Transformation
  7. The Cavalry's Not Coming
  8. On This Team Everyone's The Leader
  9. Fireside Chat
  10. The Next Best Thing
  11. Full Circle, Full Spiral
  12. Truth, And What's True
  13. Snowflakes In A Furnace
  14. Something In The Air
  15. Vocal Prowess
  16. Flames In My Rearview Mirror
  17. Back Nine
  18. Chess II
  19. But And And II
  20. My Baby Girl, Now A Bride
in that order.

It is also the sequel to But And And.

It was written at the same time as My Baby Girl, Now A Bride.

I am indebted to my son-in-law Harrison Chase Doyle who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

On the surface of it, she seemed to be not getting the idea. She seemed to be unable to grasp the concept. I'll bet that in actuality, it was more deliberate than that. I'll bet that in actuality she was unconsciously blocking the idea, inadvertently euthanizing the concept. That's not something personal about her. It's not something only she does. If we're not awake to possibility, it's what we do: we ask for coaching, then no matter what suggestions come, we may only see a problem with them, so we dismiss them out of hand. In other words we imbue circumstances with power over possibility, a folly which is held in place unconsciously in our epistemology.

In this regard it works for me to practice what I preach. I don't hesitate to request a fresh perspective if where I'm looking doesn't shed any new light on things. At times like these, I'll try on any  suggestion (if not steal it outright). That's what makes me coachable. But she wasn't buying any of it. She wasn't letting any of it in. Even though she'd requested it, the only listening she could muster for my coaching was assessing it wouldn't work. When I'd offer a fresh perspective, she'd quickly disregard it. And when she did, her response always started with something like "The problem is ..." or simply "But, no ...". You know, she had it on full automatic.

Look: it's no big deal if my advice is rejected. If it's requested, I offer it. It's taken, or it's not. I don't know everything. Heck, I've never claimed  to know everything. So I could be wrong but it seemed like a racket that she'd request my suggestions then reject all of them, sometimes even before I'd finished speaking. I confronted her and told her so. "What do you mean?"  she asked quizzically. And I realized what she was asking wasn't to challenge me. It was she ... really ... didn't ... know.

"When your response to a suggestion starts with 'But, no ...'" I said, "whatever comes out of your mouth next isn't possibility. Rather, 'But, no ...' precedes a possibility killer. What you need is less 'But, no ...' and more 'And, yes  ...'. Try this on for size: whatever comes out of your mouth after 'And, yes ...' is possibility.".

It's an assertion that's the inroad I'd been waiting for an appropriate moment to make, the beginning of a conversation I'd been waiting for the appropriate moment to have, a conversation lifted directly from the annals of Transformation 101  in which it's our language that generates possibility for the circumstances rather than simply reporting on an assumed limited possibility already present in the circumstances. And if you're big enough to tell the truth about it, you'll see we mostly live in a world in which our language merely reports on an assumed limited possibility already present in the circumstances rather than generating a new possibility for them.

On the other hand, it takes a certain bigness, a certain willingness, a breakthrough  in fact, to dare to deploy or even to test language as the generator  of possibility for the existing circumstances. We say  there's no possibility? Guess what: there's none. We say what's possible? Guess what: now there's possibility. In both cases, the circumstances are the same. It's only our say so  that's different, new. We need less "But, no ..." and more "And, yes ...". That's what works. It's as simple as that.

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