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

Pitoned To The Cliff Face

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

September 2, 2016

This essay, Pitoned To The Cliff Face, is the sixteenth in a group of twenty three on Integrity: It is also the sequel to 100 Watt Light Bulb.

One of the reasons I sought him out and asked him if he'd consider being a personal coach for me, is his integrity is totally and completely 1,000% unmessable with. If you violate his integrity, or if you violate your own integrity in his presence, there's not simply a raised eyebrow, a mild rebuke, a slap on the wrist, or a token fine of one dollar. No, there are major  repercussions instantly. He'll explode (figuratively of course) in a way you've never seen a human being explode before in your life.

He doesn't merely get angry. He doesn't (what we sometimes call) "lose it". Both of those are reactivations over which there's no mastery or control. No, when he explodes he's totally  masterful and in control - like those masterfully controlled demolition explosions that bring down buildings all in one pile without so much as littering the nearby streets. His is a directed explosion. It's as carefully crafted and as precisely managed as only a directed explosion can be. And it's directed at you  - or at least at your integrity violation. He's not nice about it. He has zero tolerance  for integrity violations and wishy-washy  integrity. That's his power. He's really powerful. No, it's more than that. He's scary  powerful - and that's what makes him so great to be around (if you have the heart for it). That's what makes him such a great coach. Then, once you've owned up to and cleaned up the integrity violation, the explosion vanishes  - as if it never happened.

One day I shared something with him I had written in an essay. It had a quality to it such that when I read it back to myself, I heard myself say "Damn!  That's good.". You know, there really wasn't any ego in it. It really was  good. And when I read it to him, he said "You can't say that.".

Say whut?  He's telling me what I can  say and what I can't  say??? "You can't say that" he said again, "Don't take this personally. You just can't say that.". He didn't explode - at least, not yet. But I could tell the match was lit, ready, and close to the fuse.

That's when I took the leap - just because it was him. I erased what I'd written just because he said I can't say it. I didn't do it because it was a prohibition. I did it because I got there was an integrity issue. And the thing is, it wasn't my  integrity issue: it was his  integrity issue. And his integrity is my integrity. Mi casa es su casa. I erased it, knowing (sight unseen) that doing so would be valuable (I trust him that much).

For me, that was an integrity first. I didn't not say what I was going to say because it was an integrity issue for me. I didn't say what I was going to say because it was an integrity issue for him  ie for someone else. For the first time I experienced my own integrity tied to another's integrity. Alone on the mountain with a respected international climber (if you will) pitoned to the cliff face, there was nobody around who could see or comment on my bravery and courage. No one. Only him and me. It was a pure act of integrity for integrity's sake. There would be no rewards, no kudos, no ego strokes. He knew. And I knew. That was us. But the world would never know. Interestingly enough, everything  I did and said with anyone else from then on, was tighter. It had an extra dimension of integrity - even though nobody knew.

Here's what I got from that incident: being in integrity is a stand you take regardless of whether or not there are rewards, kudos, ego strokes, or people knowing how great you are for it. Arguably, being in integrity by yourself for  yourself is the ultimate stand. Being in integrity for the rewards, the kudos, the ego strokes, for people knowing how great you are, or because it's the right thing to do, is wishy-washy integrity, wishy-washy enough to merit being demolished by a controlled explosion.

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