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


Double Dare

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California, USA

May 4, 2010



"No man is an island, entire of itself." ... John Donne



Whenever I'm operating solo, whenever I find myself being the lone gun, it's great. It's really great. No kidding! I get a lot  done in this mode. But it's never for long. On Planet Earth it always comes back pretty soon to being with people. The myth of total, absolute independence is easily pierced. Imagine an ocean with only one wave. Get the picture?

I worked solo with a company once. I contracted with them providing a service. What I provided worked - brilliantly, in fact (even if I may say it myself). I delivered what I was hired to do, over and beyond the call of duty. They got their money's worth. Many times over. For a while, everything was sweet.

And then something happened. The details of what happened aren't essential. Sharing them in a public forum like this wouldn't only be a betrayal of trust: it would just be gossip. In essence, something which once worked, something which the company was well known for providing, started failing. And when it started failing, it all went downhill from there very quickly.

Nobody expected it to happen. No one expected this company to suddenly start failing to provide what prior to then they'd been considered to be the experts  in the field at providing.

I know why they were failing. They'd become complacent. And yet knowing why  they were failing wasn't useful. It contributed nothing. If I'm contracting for them and they  are failing, I'm impacted even though  it's not my company, and so what  I know why? What became unavoidably clear to me is this: if their  side of the canoe tips over, I'm in the river also.

That's when I saw it: I'd become complacent too. It wasn't just them, the experts in the field, who'd stopped generating their livelihood assuming their prowess in the area assured  future business. It was I who had become comfortable, secure in the contract, certain the contract needed me which assured me my tenure would last. This comfortableness brought with it its own complacency.

My complacency had ceded responsibility for generating my life (or at least for generating my financial  life) away from me. When watching the possible ramifications of this became uncomfortable, I noticed my wheels of blame started spinning ie there was no traction  any more in my story calling out the company for becoming complacent. And before I got that, there I was: pointing my finger at their  complacency. I saw not only was I finger pointing, but I was being petty  finger pointing.

Looking at what works, the moment I took responsibility for my own financial well being even though  there was ample opportunity to plausibly blame something else or someone else for the company's already begun demise, I was suddenly catapulted into a position of being empowered to make a real difference with the company for the first time. Until then, all I'd done was provide a service which was wanted and needed (and paid for). But from that moment on, I was in a position to really make a difference, something which simply wasn't available before, something which wasn't even on the horizon before, something which wasn't possible  until I'd taken responsibility for my own complacency.

"That's  interesting ..." I mused, watching the whole dynamic gradually unfolding then clearing up in the space created by taking responsibility.

Once I could be responsible for how I was being with the company, only then could I make a difference with the company. At first, I couldn't see where  I could make a difference. I was just a contractor with the company. I had no decision making authority. At first, I couldn't see anything I could do  which would make any difference at all.

Then I started being the possibility  of the company getting its complacency wasn't working ie I started being the possibility of the company working. I never really figured out anything to say  to them either, although clearly I did say something. Whatever I said, coming from being the possibility of the company working, worked. And that's a very subtle  distinction right there: it wasn't what I said, whatever  I said, which ultimately made a difference - it was whatever I said coming from being the possibility of the company working  which made the difference.

I said (only to myself at first) "I'm being the possibility of the company working.". It's an assertion. It's a declaration you make. It's a stand  you take. It's not necessarily something you do. It may not even necessarily be something you say out loud to others, although you may. I know you can grok  what being it is (as Robert Heinlein may have said).

This is the bottom line: the company stopped being complacent. They got the possibility they are and they started being true to it again - even though I'll bet my hat, ass, and overcoat they wouldn't say it in those exact words. But they did get it. They got it by direct osmosis, so to speak, without saying anything, without acknowledging it, from me.

As it turned out, this is what they really  contracted me to provide, even if they didn't quite articulate it exactly this way when they hired me originally.



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