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




Listening For Greatness

McDonald's, Napa, California, USA

August 21, 2018



"My notion about service is that service is actually that kind of relationship in which you have a commitment to the person. Now I don't mean to the person's body or to the person's personality or to the person's stomach or to the person's almost anything. What I mean in fact is that for me what service is about is being committed to the other being, to the other person spiritually, to who the person is. Now the problem with that is that to the degree that you are in fact committed to the other person, you are only as valuable as how you can deal with the other person's stuff, their evidence, their manifestation, and that's what service is all about. Service is about knowing who the other person is, and being able to tolerate giving space to their garbage. What most people do is to give space to people's quality and deal with their garbage. Actually, you should do it the other way around. Deal with who they are and give space to their garbage. Keep interacting with them as if they were God. And every time you get garbage from them, give space to the garbage and go back and interact with them as if they were God."
... 
"Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you."
... 
"Transformation shows up in my mouth."
... 
"Your greatness shows up in my ears."
...  Laurence Platt 
This essay, Listening For Greatness, is the companion piece to Honoring Your Word.

It is also the ninth in a nonet on Listening: I am indebted to Aaron Bartlett and to Adam Quiney and to Andrew Goetz and to Anna Taglieri and to Barbara Hawes Caldwell and to Barry Colton and to Bruce Miller and to Cathy Elliott and to Curtis Dady and to Don Sullivan and to Donovan Copley and to Dusan Djukich and to Eric Edberg and to Geoff Heise and to George Richvalsky and to George Swan and to Gerard "Father Gerry" O'Rourke and to Gopal Rao and to Gordon Murray and to Ian Becker and to Jack Rafferty and to James "Jim" Tsutsui and to JeanneLauree Olsen and to Joan "Joani" Culver and to Johan van der Put and to John Taylor and to Joseph "Joe" Kempin and to Josh Cohen and to Judy Golden and to Kathleen Morris and to Ken Ireland to and to Kimile "Kimmi" Pendleton and to Lawrence Gerald and to Lebogang "Lebo" Montewa and to Loretta Warner and to Mandy van der Put and to Marcus Hobbs and to Mark Holden and to Mark Krauss and to Maxine Mandel Potts and to Nancy Scott and to Nassrin Haghighat and to Palmer Kelly and to Patricia "Pat" Shelton and to Peter Fiekowsky and to Philip Tokmak and to Reg Leonard and to Robert Cid and to Ron Mann and to Sally Morrison and to Scott Andrews and to Scott Forgey and to Steve Zaffron and to Valerie Hawes and to Wednesday Reynolds-Wilcox and to Yaduvendra "Yadu" Mathur who inspired this conversation.




This is a conversation about greatness. It's about being great. It's about what it is (what it means) to be great. It's postulate (its central tenet) is given by the questions a) "Who  are you being when you're being great?", and b) "Where  does you're being great, show up?".

Those are the two entry points into this inquiry. Let's tease them both out further. The first is teased out by the question "When I say to you 'You're great!', who  is that 'great' (ie who is that being  great) to which I refer?" (that's right: the "who  ...?"). The second is teased out by the question "When you're being great, where  does your greatness show up?" (that's right: the where  ...?").

I propose the following: what it is to be great, is to be who you really are. It's really not more complicated than that. Another way of saying that, is this: what it is to be great, is to honor your word as yourself. It's to honor your word as who you really are. Period. So (first answer): who  you are in the matter of being great, is the one who's honoring your word as yourself.

As for where  does your greatness show up? I propose the following: if being great is honoring your word as yourself ie if being great is honoring your word as who you really are, then you being great, is a function of your speaking. So (second answer): where  your greatness shows up when you're being great, is "in ... my ... ears". And we can safely assert the being great of truly great people, comprises both components: the who, as well as the where.

So what it is to be great, is to speak intentionally from who you really are, honoring your word as yourself, so that your speaking lands clearly in others' listening. I'm saying that the singular, central quality of all truly great people, is they speak intentionally, making themselves heard, honoring their word as who they really are. Most often, this process appears to be completely effortless.

When I listen for your greatness, I'm listening for you speaking in a way that honors your word as who you really are. When I say "You're great!", I'm not referring to your "I" / "me". It's more than that actually. It's without you honoring your word, I have no idea  what it means for your "I" / "me" to be great (in the "I" / "me" realm, if you will, we're either all  great, or none of us are). If we refer to the "I" / "me" when we say "You're great!", it sounds like little more than ego-stroking.

What's wrong with ego-stroking, Laurence? Nothing, really. But I would add this as a cautionary note: it's not only that ego-stroking can never successfully target our greatness and / or make us great (at best, ego-stroking only provides compensation for not  being great): it's that it actively gets in our way  of being great.

Listen: in the ordinary world of ordinary relationships, we're addressing the other's "I" / "me" when we acknowledge their greatness. In the ordinary world, we barely give a second glance to whether or not they're honoring their word as who they really are. In the extra-ordinary  world of extra-ordinary relationships, we're addressing the other's honoring their word as who they really are, when we acknowledge their greatness. In the extra-ordinary world, we barely give a second glance to the other's "I" / "me". Your "I" / "me" is just something that shows up for you. It isn't who you really are. Constantly addressing it, only re-enforces its illusion.



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