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
American Canyon, California, USA
April 28, 2012
is the companion piece to
If I tell the whole, no holds barred truth about my life,
many of the people from whom I've learned truly profound things about
living, aren't necessarily what you would call "nice guys". It's true.
I'm a nice guy. I would know. And even though they're not nice guys, I
wouldn't want to go back to the life I lived before I learned what I
learned from them. No kidding! I wouldn't.
If this conversation is going to have any value at all (I was going to
say "If this conversation is going to make any sense at
all", but I changed my mind), I'll need to articulate what I mean by
"nice guys" ie what I mean when I say "He's a nice guy" or
"They're nice guys.". However, what I consider nice guys to be,
may not be what you usually consider nice guys to be.
The starting point in articulating what nice guys are for me, doesn't
start by describing what nice guys are for themselves. Rather it
starts by describing what nice guys are for others. To do that,
I first need to suggest what others may be for themselves.
Whether people are introverted or extroverted
isn't as powerful a distinction for me as whether they settle for the
status quo ie for the way it's always been, or whether
they have a sense of something else possible other than
the way it's always been. You could say
is shifting from settling for the status quo, to living with
possibility. That's as good a
as there is. As good as it is, it's not what I intend to outline here.
What I intend to outline here is this: if you're comfortable settling
for the status quo, the idea of something else possible other than the
way it's always been, is threatening. It's very human to be threatened
this way. Who others may be for themselves is carefully guarded against
expanding, and all the while assuming being guarded against expanding
is a prudent way to live.
If that's the way you are, you'll prefer being around people who
neither expect you to expand nor challenge you to expand. Nice
guys are those guys around whom it's easy to be, who aren't
threatening, who don't challenge you to expand. Guys who
aren't nice are threatening (threatening, that is, to the
status quo) and intrusive, challenging you to expand even when it feels
risky and uncomfortable to expand. Nice guys aren't intrusive. Rather
than challenging you to look into and expand into new areas of Life you
may not feel comfortable looking into, nice guys are protective of the
status quo - which is to say your status quo. This is what
nice guys are for others: protective of your status quo.
Nice guys for themselves may be more
to their own status quo, more
to staying the way they are (comfortable, not risking expanding)
to their own expanding and the expanding of others. Nice guys
rescue others from the threat of expanding. Nice guys, being
to maintaining their own status quo, are also
to others maintaining their own status quo. Rather than seeing
expanding as an opportunity (even if a risky and uncomfortable
opportunity at first), nice guys see the threat to
others of expanding, as an opportunity to fix and
rescue the threatened.
Nice guys are those who,
to their own status quo, protect me from the wild west outback beyond
my own status quo. Make no error: for that, I've been
deeply grateful in the past. But it's taken me a while to
see there's only so much I can learn from nice guys. The guys I've not
considered to be traditionally nice guys, aren't committed to their own
status quo. They're
to something bigger than themselves. They're
to expanding - in any way they can.
Now, there are ways of expanding any way you can, which are pure
lawlessness. I'm not
in that. I'm
in those not nice guys who expand any way they can without pandering to
the status quo and without resorting to lawlessness. These are the guys
in learning from. Not nice guys.