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


Lions' Den

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

August 5, 2013



I am indebted to the participants participants in the Landmark ILP  ie Introduction Leaders Program who inspired this conversation.



It's easy having easy conversations with easy people. There's no training required. But having hard conversations with hard people isn't something I've always included in my list of favorite things to do. In the past I've even shied away from being trained to do it. It takes a certain guts, a certain brass, a certain verve  to start, to stand for, to commit to a conversation for transformation in the face of demeaning disagreement, in the face of insulting skepticism, and (in some cases) in the face of outright hostility. When a conversation for transformation is easy, it's easy. When it's not, it's the lions' den. And no, I'm not about to vacate the lions' den. What I'm about to do is tout the skill of the lion tamer.

The truth is it calls for a certain authentic power to be in and to stay in hard conversations with hard people. Even though it hasn't always been on my list of favorite things to do, I do it because uncovering the access to this authentic power, is worth it. And when I discover the access to this authentic power, I can embody it. These days I'm willing to request training from and be trained by others in this regard. Mostly I train myself. And the way I train myself to be in hard conversations with hard people is by not shying away from being in hard conversations with hard people.

You can't embody what you don't fully experience. And you can't fully experience what you're unwilling to experience.

In the realm of sharing transformation, there's the preaching to the choir  audience (when you're sharing with people who already got it). Then there's the enrollable  audience (when you're touching, moving, and inspiring people to transform and invent new possibilities for their lives). And then there's that third group who, no matter what you share or how you share it, will resist transformation for all they're worth - that is to say the machine they are  will resist transformation for all they're worth.

Standing for transformation is to stand where all human beings stand, and to enroll others in this stand. Enrolling others in this stand isn't akin to persuading people to vote  for it - like persuading people to vote either Republican  or Democrat. It's not akin to persuading others to agree with your political opinion and to vote the way you vote. Enrollment is akin to offering people direct access to the possibility of who they really are. The event enrollment  occurs in the context of being  rather than in the context of agreeing.

When we hear the possibility of transformation for the first time, what it is may not be readily obvious to us (if it were, the world would be transformed by now, yes?). But it's more than that actually. It's the possibility of transformation, when heard for the first time, can be threatening  - which is to say the possibility of transformation when heard for the first time, can be perceived  as threatening. And when people perceive they're being threatened, they (which is to say we)  will do anything in self-defense, ... anything  ... at  ... all  ....  And notice I didn't say "When people are threatened ...". I said "When people perceive  they're being threatened ...". Big difference.

When people perceive they're being threatened by you speaking transformation, regardless of whether the threat is real  or imaginary  (and mostly it's never real), it takes a certain willingness, a certain commitment, a certain presence  to stay in a conversation for transformation with them, keeping enrollment as your intention. The highbrow intellectual debate and reasoning against transformation isn't personal. It's just a defense mechanism - and it's a predictable  defense mechanism at that. They're defending themselves against an imaginary threat, and they're not agreeing with you. That's all. And: so what?! It's not a big deal. Listen carefully: if you require them to agree with you for your conversation for transformation to be valid, for it to be enrolling, for it to be authentic, you have no power. Gee! I hope you get this ...

Standing for transformation in a conversation for transformation in the face of no agreement, is like standing in the lions' den. That's not necessarily true, by the way. But it can feel like that sometimes. It's nothing to shy away from. Rather it's something to get practiced at. It's something in which to train yourself. To do so is to discover the access to your own authentic power.



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