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


On Knowing When To Be Ordinary

Oakville, California, USA

January 16, 2019

"Whose  air?"  ...   responding to "Werner, there's an air of confusion in here" from a graduate in an introductory event with over one thousand five hundred guests 
This essay, On Knowing When To Be Ordinary, is the companion piece to The Magnificent Seven.

It is also the seventh in the open second group of Experiences Of A Friend (click here for the complete first group of thirty five Experiences Of A Friend):
  1. Friend, Partner, And Ally
  2. Go To The Beach
  3. Proof Of Life
  4. Going Out Like A Supernova
  5. Relationships: They Start, They End
  6. Evidence Of Source
  7. On Knowing When To Be Ordinary
  8. Letting Be
  9. Transforming The Untransformable
  10. There's Always The Next Piece
  11. Plastic Chandelier II
  12. Yes You Really Are That Big
  13. A Way With Words
  14. The Quietest Mind
  15. Approaching Integrity
  16. Dancing With Life II
  17. Staying In Integrity
  18. Ordinary People Star, Extraordinary People Recreate Themselves
  19. Committed Existence
  20. When You're Being Like Werner, You're Not Being Like Werner
  21. "There's Life Happening Where You Are"
  22. At The Level Of Self-Expression
  23. Intergalactic Dude
  24. Wonderful With People
  25. in that order.

    What stunned  me is what he said next. I'll recreate it for you. I asked what he looks for in people to lead his courses, specifically those who'll lead his senior programs - for which a mere hundred or so women and men worldwide over the last fifty years have met their measures to be candidated and certified to lead. I asked him what it's like for him personally to lead, and about the signature of his interactions: his ruthless compassion  which instantly cuts to the heart of any matter. In sharing it, he said this verbatim: "I have to be that way because that's what works"  (I have to be ruthlessly compassionate because that's what works) ... "have"  ... "to" ... "be" ...

    It took me a full minute for the gravity of his point to sink in, during which I wasn't giving his speaking my full attention. "Wait!"  I eventually exclaimed, cutting in, interrupting him, something I never do, but this time I couldn't stop myself, "you have  ... to be  ... that way? You mean it's a way of being you create for yourself?".

    I was suddenly sitting bolt upright, wide awake, paying attention, and 1,000% engaged. With regard to his world-renowned demonstrations of ruthless compassion, I was amazed  to hear him distinguishing between "I be  this way" ... and "I am  this way.". Here's the difference: the former is a "freedom to be and freedom to act"  with total creative choice; the latter is an absolute with no creative choice. He was distinguishing between leading senior programs, coming from a "creating-being" (like an active verb) ruthlessly compassionate, as distinct from leading while coming from a mere "is-being" (like an absolute noun) ruthlessly compassionate.

    I, like millions of people worldwide, know how extraordinary he is. Now we're sitting here drinking tea, just the two of us, and he's being an ordinary, regular guy. In courses, he's extraordinary. Sitting here, he's ordinary. And both these ways of being of his, it slowly dawns on me, are chosen, created ways of being. He's not stuck with being a particular way. He knows when it works  to be extraordinary (ie when he has  to be) ... and  ... what got me is he knows when it works to be ordinary ... and he can create being either way at will. And the fact that he knows when (and how) to be extraordinary, proves he also knows when (and how) to be ordinary. It reveals he's creating  being extraordinary when he's being extraordinary. Like I said: for him, "extraordinary" is a "be" not an "is". Look: most people would just quietly take the kudos if they were perceived as extraordinary. Not he. He chooses to tell the truth: he says it's a way he has to "be" because it works; he says it's not an "is".

    When I finally got the enormity of it, I must have unfurrowed my brow and its silent, embedded "Wow!", and smiled - because I looked over at him again, and noticed he was looking back at me, and smiling a smile which said kind of telepathically "Yes, you really do  get it!". And I did get it. It was by far one of the most decisive, easily getable, dramatic unpackings of all the demonstrations of a freedom to be and freedom to act in any way the situation requires, as I've ever observed him do.

    In retrospect, there's power in being extraordinary and ordinary at will, if you're going to generate a context (as he does) in which human beings transform their lives. Being extraordinary without being ordinary, belies the fact that we're all, after all, ordinary human beings. Being ordinary without being extraordinary, is to miss what's possible for human beings. Who he is, is an ordinary  guy with extraordinary commitments. And one of the things that's extraordinary about him is he knows when (and how) to be ordinary. Listen: there are so many extraordinary people who don't know when (or how) or who are afraid to be ordinary. He's extraordinary, and he knows when (and how) to be ordinary, and he's not afraid to be either. Experiencing it up close (and listening him speak it), stunned me. I got it, like a possibility for myself and my life by osmosis, by direct experience. You don't get transformation by understanding it. You get it by osmosis, by direct experience. Then you share it.

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