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


Free To Be And Free To Act

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

October 19, 2015



This essay, Free To Be And Free To Act, is the third in the ninth trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. Questions For A Friend
  2. Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing
  3. Free To Be And Free To Act
in that order.
The first trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Prelude
  2. Ask Me Anything
  3. Coming Around Again
in that order.
The second trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Familiar Unfamiliar Territory
  2. Interview
  3. Straight Talk
in that order.
The third trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Dancing With My Mouth
  2. Cave Paintings
  3. Velvet Tsunami
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Creating Creating
  2. Tell Me Something About Nothing
  3. Lucid Disclosures
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Closer And Closer
  2. Tête À Tête
  3. Dancing With Life
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Would I Ask You If I Could Ask You Anything?
  2. Wonderings About Nothing In Particular
  3. Tipping Point
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Once In A Lifetime
  2. Fireside Chat
  3. Whole And Complete
in that order.
The tenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Attracted To Dance
  2. I Told A Friend I Love You
  3. Terse Transformed Communication
in that order.
The eleventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. A Context Worth Playing In
  2. Tie The Brush To My Hand
  3. Unimaginably Terse
in that order.



This is a privilege - plain and simple. Of all the aspects, subtleties, nuances, foci, categories, components, and facets of this Conversations For Transformation internet series of over a thousand essays I've written down so far, it's arguably this Questions For A Friend group which speaks to the heart of the matter of what drives these conversations - indeed it speaks to their very raison d'etre.

There are two qualities present for me as I scan this compilation of our recent exchange:

 1)  the friendship you afford me (which is to say the friendship you afford people), and
 2)  the laser-accurate, vast space which opens up around your words, a space made all the more powerful because of #1 ie because of the friendship you afford us.

In the end, I've got very little left unsaid, except "Thank You" and "I love You.". I'll share this exchange tersely in a way that honors who you are, while intending people gain full access to who you are and to what you make available and to what you make possible - that's my job (it's also my job to not get in their way).



The First Question



"You recently turned eighty. To look at you, you're ageless. To watch you in action, you're unstoppable. Do you adhere to any physical health regimens? If so, which ones?"

I swim one day. I run the next day. I do weights the third day. On the fourth day I swim again etc. Yet going to the gym is one of my least favorite things to do. The trouble is gravity takes its toll, and the alternative is far worse. So I exercise as a matter of being responsible for my physical well-being, and staying in shape. If I don't take responsibility for my own physical well-being and staying in shape, who will? When I look at you, I'm clear the light and the energy coming from you, is who you are. It can be argued that when who we are is fully unleashed ie when who we are is fully present, much less is required of us to maintain optimum health. Yet I'm interested in what else you do in lieu of being responsible for your physical well-being, and staying in shape.


<quote>

I WALK FOR 45 MINUTES 4 OR 5 TIMES A WEEK. I DO YIN YOGA 4 OR 5 TIMES A WEEK. I HAVE CERTAIN PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE AN EMPOWERING CONTEXT IN WHICH I WORK.

<unquote>


Knowing you, I'm clear it's your regimen which supports your expression of who you are in the world, rather than the other way around - and it shows. Regimens hold far less interest for me when they're the other way around (no, they hold no  interest for me when they're the other way around).

When you said "Yin yoga", at first I only heard "yoga". Then, double-taking and realizing what you actually said, I read up a bit on Yin yoga to educate myself. It's a discipline which is new to me. While it seems to overlap many areas of better known yogic traditions (Hatha yoga for example), its "poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body - the tendons, fascia, and ligaments - with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility"*. It sounds like it's the perfect  regimen for people who work long hours at a desk. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if interest in Yin yoga escalated as a result of people hearing about you doing it in this exchange (even though that's not your stated intention).

As for you having "certain people who provide an empowering context in which (you) work", that's arguably the ultimate regimen, the smartest one, one I'll take on.



The Second Question



"It's a matter of legend (which means it may be true or it may not be) that a Japanese Zen monk who didn't speak English, participated in your training. At the end, he came up to you, put his palms together, bowed, and said 'I gaht it!'. Does language have the power to communicate transformation in the absence of an accurate translation of what's being said?"

My own theory about this is that the meaning ie the translation of whatever's being said, is actually far less relevant than it may seem. If it were relevant, people who don't speak the language couldn't get transformation. Yet clearly they can - and they do. So it could be the mere act of a human being speaking, which has the power to convey transformation, or it could be it's where they're coming from  when they're speaking, which has the power to convey transformation, or it could be both. Does speaking have this power?


<quote>

YES, INCLUDING FOR PEOPLE WHO SLEEP THROUGH A GOOD DEAL OF THE LANGUAGE.

<unquote>


I get that - both from observing people occasionally nodding off in your presentations, and also from my own experience of sleeping through a good deal of the language when it became too abstract or too "heady" for me to stay present with it, or when (to be quite honest) it simply became too hard for me to confront my responsibility in what it revealed.

I smiled when you said this. There's something beautifully and poignantly human about us sleeping through a good deal of the language, when what's on offer is nothing more (and nothing less) than the possibility of enlightenment, of transformation (the Publishers Clearing House  sweepstakes winning team is knocking on my door, but I don't let them in because I'm asleep ...). That said, there's also something beautifully and poignantly human about us being able to get it even though  we sleep through a good deal of the language.



The Third Question



"What discontigous breakthroughs have you had in what it is to be a leader, out of sourcing and delivering The Leadership Course?"

I'm totally clear you, unlike many other coaches, don't merely talk about  leadership. I'm totally clear what you do is you inquire into the essence of being a leader, you look for it in your own experience, and you share what you discover. We could say inquiring into the essence of being a leader, looking for it in your own experience, and sharing what you discover, is  leadership. This would suggest that in being in the inquiry yourself, you're not merely leading The Leadership Course: you're also intimately participating in it.

So: as a result of participating in the processes of The Leadership Course yourself, what breakthroughs have you had? What have you seen?


<quote>

UNLESS YOU ARE FREE TO BE AND FREE TO ACT, YOU CANNOT BE A LEADER AND EXERCISE LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVELY AS YOUR NATURAL SELF-EXPRESSION.

<unquote>


This distinction of yours rocks my world.

WOW!

When I first heard you say it, I opened my mouth to respond, then shut it again ... and it stayed closed for more than a few moments until I said "Of course!", having realized and savored the enormity of what you'd just said: being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as our natural Self-expression stands on the shoulders of  being free to be and free to act ie we cannot be leaders and exercise leadership effectively as our natural Self-expression unless we are free to be and free to act.

I get it. I really get it. I get it viscerally. I get it experientially. What you've said here effectively encapsulates and underscores nearly forty five years of your work in one brief sentence of twenty three succinct words.



The Fourth Question



"What will be the next major iteration of your work following The Leadership Course?"

I always want to know where you're going. Wherever it is, it's a direction I should keep my eyes and ears on. I'm interested in what you'll be doing next.


<quote>

COMPLETING THE NEW PARADIGM OF PERFORMANCE PAPER.

<unquote>


It would be trite of me to say to you "I'm looking forward to reading it" (which I am). Rather, I'm indebted to you for keeping the flag of this particular distinction flying in front of me, which is to say in front of us, and for never removing it from our view. Being that it's always in front of me and always in my view, it calls me and inspires me in ways that ordinary life doesn't call me or inspire me, which is to say I'm called and inspired by it in ways I'm not ordinarily called or inspired by life.


* Courtesy wikipedia.


Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2015 through 2017 Permission