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


Hat Over Wall

Buellton, California, USA

March 27, 2010



This essay, Hat Over Wall, is the companion piece to

Sometime around now (it may been today or it may have been last week or it may have been last month or it may have been seven years ago on Sunday August 17, 2003, but nonetheless sometime around NOW)  I promised I'd write two new Conversations For Transformation a week.

It was an open ended promise. I didn't promise to write two new Conversations For Transformation a week for a month or for a year. The context was simply "from now on" ... ie with no end in sight.

Too late!  (my act lamented) - I realized I'd made a promise with no safety net. It's not a comfortable  promise. If I knew what to write, it would be an easy, comfortable promise. But I didn't know then and I don't know now what to write. Because I don't know what to write, making a promise to write two new Conversations For Transformation a week from now on  isn't easy or comfortable. It's not as if I've got a stock of unwritten titles in a vault somewhere, waiting to be written. I've got nothing. This could quickly turn into a total fiasco.

Later, once I could listen to myself think above my act, I realized I'll write two new Conversations For Transformation a week from now on because I say I'll write two new Conversations For Transformation a week from now on. And I say I'll write two new Conversations For Transformation a week from now on because, as paradoxical as it may sound, what works if you want to keep transformation in your life is giving it away. That's vintage Erhard.

Now - seriously  - promises aside: is it authentic to promise to create, and to promise to create on a certain date  to boot? Is creativity deliverable in this way?

The truth is until I started this inquiry, I simply didn't know. So neither did I know if I'd be able to keep the promise I made. I didn't even know if it's possible  to keep the promise I made.

This conversation, Hat Over Wall, recreates what I figured out.



Context For Creating On Demand



I assert people are creative. Not as a learned skill nor as a practiced art. Not as a gift  some people have and others don't have. Not as one side of the statement "you're either a creative person or you're not". Not as the other side of the statement "some people aren't creative and others are". I'm saying all  people are creative. Period. Being creative is what it is to be human. If there are any exceptions, they only show up when the possibility of being creative is suppressed.

Do you create only when you're inspired? Do you create only when the mood strikes?  If so, can you create intentionally, on demand  ie deliberately? Or do you have it that creativity must be spontaneous ie it happens when it happens?  Have you ever sat down to create and nothing came? What did you do then? How did you deal with writer's block  or with its other forms like musician's block, painter's block, communicator's block (sometimes referred to as "communication breakdown")  etc?

We have it that there are times when we're more  creative than others. We have it that there are times when we're less  creative than others. If either of these are true, are you being creative  count-on-able?

Is it possible to, for example, promise  to be creative? Can you promise, for example, to create something new, something of substance, something worthwhile, twice a week, every week, on time?  Can you make a promise ahead of time  to create something new, something of substance, something worthwhile, twice a week, every week, on time, without knowing at the time you promise what exactly you'll create?

If you being creative may or may not be count-on-able, can you ever make a reliable promise to create, and then reliably fulfill on your promise? Is it possible? Or are such promises doomed from the outset to fail ... doomed from the outset to fail, that is, at least some  of the time?
Werner Erhard says "When you're keeping all the promises you make, you're playing too small.". While this would seem to fly in the face of the perhaps well-intentioned yet often misguided moral premium we place on keeping our word no matter what, if what you're promising is always within your realm of what's do-able  and comfortable for you, then you're playing too small ie your promises aren't big  enough.

<aside>

Playing big and making big promises is almost certainly going to result in some promises being broken. It's almost certainly going to result in giving your word then not keeping our word some of the time. That's the nature of playing big. However, not keeping your word isn't as much of an integrity issue as not honoring  your word. The distinction is subtle yet profound.

<un-aside>
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How does this apply to promising  to be creative? What can you put in place to support yourself fulfilling on your promise  to be creative? What might this look like? Here's one possible scenario from Conversations For Transformation's glass walled studio. It specifically supports me promising to create at a future date, without yet knowing at the time what I'm going to create exactly:

  1. Throw your hat over the wall ie make a promise to create;
  2. Follow your hat over the wall ie keep your promise;
  3. Find your hat when you get there ie fulfill on your promise.
Engaging in this inquiry, I realize with hindsight  (and hindsight is always 20/20  vision), making a promise to write two new Conversations For Transformation a week actually isn't as daunting as it sounds. In fact the only time it's daunting is when I've lost sight of who I really am. Who I really am is my word. In honoring my word as myself I recognize my language as the expression of who I really am.

Therefore as long as I'm alive and being who I really am, although I don't yet know exactly what I'm going to say or write in the future, I can authentically promise to write two new Conversations For Transformation a week without end ... AND  ... it's clear to me it's possible to reliably fulfill on my promise. It's count‑on‑able.


Hat Over Wall



When I throw my hat over the wall, I don't need to know where it lands. What I need to do it is get myself over the wall after it. I'll find out where it lands when I get there.



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