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


Talk About It

Rutherford Grove, Rutherford, California, USA

May 2, 2014



"It doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep talking." ... Stephen Hawking

This essay, Talk About It, is the seventh in a septology about my son Christian:
  1. In The Face Of Commitment
  2. Like Father
  3. From Stick Figures To IMAX 3D
  4. To Get Out Of A Rut, Be  In The Rut
  5. Christian Rocks!
  6. You'll Hear The Rumble
  7. Talk About It
in that order.

It is also the sixth in an octology on Enrollment: I am indebted to my son Christian Laurence Platt who inspired this conversation and contributed material.




Something happened to Christian my eldest son during his residence at Canterbury University in Christchurch New Zealand: he discovered diving. Not mere snorkeling - to that he's no stranger. Rather he discovered fully equipped, regulated, airtanked, wetsuited SCUBA  ie Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus diving. He loved it. Even though his first four diving forays into this new world were in Christchurch's cold water with minimum visibility, it didn't detract from his enjoyment and enthusiasm, nor from his indebtedness to SCUBA pioneer Jacques Cousteau.

His enjoyment and enthusiasm for SCUBA diving, however, kindled as they were in Christchurch, is nothing compared to what opened up for him during our sojourn together on the island of Malolo Lailai in the Mamanucas chain in Fiji. In Malolo Lailai's tropical warm waters, Christian discovered SCUBA diving with maximum, crystal clear visibility. Diving in warm clear water is as different from diving in cold water with minimum visibility, as watching the stars on a cloudless night way out in the countryside is from watching them within a neon-lit big city. His six dives around Malolo Lailai, like his four dives in Christchurch before them, were logged. They count towards the sixty qualifying dives required for his PADI  ie Professional Association of Diving Instructors' certification. A whole new world of possibility has opened up for him.

Whenever new worlds of possibility open up, things tend to move fast. New possibilities for being call you powerfully into being. New openings for action call you powerfully into action. With one thing leading fast to another, Christian is now living in the Florida keys working towards his PADI certification under the auspices of a diving company who have offered him a job as a diving instructor, contingent on him becoming certified. On his remaining forty one qualifying dives (he's completed nine more since arriving in the keys), he must be accompanied by a diving buddy - it's not a good idea to dive alone.

This is the first real challenge he's encountered: finding diving buddies with whom to complete his remaining forty one qualifying dives. Why is this a challenge?

On each of his days off (he's working part-time in a restaurant until he's certified), he could do eight qualifying dives, each of which must be at least twenty minutes in duration, and thereby complete the remaining forty one dives in two weeks or less. But he can't dive without diving buddies. And on one notable occasion when he found a trainee diving instructor to buddy-dive with that day, he cited other interests and surfaced after only fifteen minutes - too short for a qualifying dive for either himself or Christian. Trainee diving instructor notwithstanding, it was looking like Christian's the only one committed to being certified, something he can't do by himself.

He called me one evening to vent his frustration that even though there are plenty of other trainee diving instructors like him in the keys who also need to log the necessary sixty qualifying dives to be certified, those guys have set their clocks to "beach time", sit around, talk story  instead, and ignore Christian's invitations to buddy-dive. They joke about him being rushed, that he ought to relax a bit.

Christian's not rushed. What he is is committed to accomplish what he came there for: to become PADI certified. I can easily get his frustration. "You're here to be certified, so do what it takes to be certified" is our message to the other trainees talking story on the beach who could be buddy-diving and being certified faster. The trouble is they're not listening.

But I am. I'm listening Christian venting his frustration. And I continued listening him venting his frustration until I noticed doing so was serving no useful purpose any more. It wasn't forwarding the action. I knew I wanted to take the conversation in an entirely new direction, a direction Christian didn't yet have.

"OK, what if" I asked him, "they're not ignoring you? What if they simply don't get the opportunity? What if the opportunity you see, doesn't occur for them? What if the opportunity is so clear  to you, that you're assuming they must also see it - but they simply don't? What if you're assuming they see it and don't respond to it, and you have a whole raft of interpretations about them because of that (which frustrates you), when the truth may be they just don't see it at all?  Instead of being frustrated with them for not accepting your invitation to buddy-dive, how about taking the time to enroll them in your possibility of being certified?  Talk about it with them. I mean have a real  conversation with them about it. Don't assume they get the opportunity but are avoiding it or ignoring it or are just being plain stoopid  about it. What if they don't see it  and you do, so your job is to share the good news with them and enroll them in your possibility? What if? Well?".

Here's one of the (many) things I love about Christian. He could have argued the point with me. He could have justified himself and his frustration. He could have made the other trainee diving instructors wrong. He could have spoken badly about them for being stoopid and lazy. But he didn't. All he said, after a moment of silence (he listens - that's something (else) I love about Christian) was "OK. I'll talk about it with them tomorrow" and that was the end of that conversation.

The next evening I called him. I asked him how his day went. "We did six dives in three hours" he said, almost casually, and then went on to tell me what's going on with his restaurant job, the place in which he lives, and his new bicycle.

As soon as I could, I interrupted him. "Wait just a moment" I said. "Yesterday there was no possibility  you could find diving buddies. Yesterday there was no possibility the opportunity to do qualifying dives and become certified fast, would be appreciated by the other trainees. Suddenly you go from one non‑qualifying paltry fifteen minute dive in a day, to six qualifying dives in three hours. So between then and now, obviously something happened. What happened?".

This is what he told me:

He chilled first so he could talk about it calmly with the others. Instead of simply inviting them to buddy-dive (a strategy which has failed), he talked about how great it would be to be certified so they could start work as diving instructors and make some real  money - and diving instructors do make real  money. He talked about how great it is to dive, and what a great thing it is that by doing something great, they'll not only be enjoying themselves but also forwarding their careers. He talked about how perfectly positioned they are to do this in gorgeous surroundings (Idaho, for example, doesn't exactly have the same kind of environment a trainee diving instructor in the Florida keys has at their disposal in which to be certified).

He didn't make them wrong and - more importantly - he didn't make himself right. What he did was simply share himself and his enjoyment and his enthusiasm for diving and his possibility of being certified faster. And the next thing he knew, he had diving buddies and had completed six qualifying dives in three hours. Then he went on to tell me again what's going on with his restaurant job, the place in which he lives, and his new bicycle.

But I wasn't about to allow him to gloss over what he'd just shared. "Christian, just wait a moment" I said. "Stop. Hold it right there. I want you to look at something. Nothing was going to happen - until you talked about it. Nothing was going to change - until you talked about it. You were stuck with doing one (sub-qualifying) dive a day or maybe less because you didn't have anyone who would buddy-dive with you, and now you've got buddies who'll do six dives a day with you and maybe more. What you did is you enrolled them in your possibility. I want to acknowledge you for that. It takes guts to do that Christian. Well done, My Son!".

He stopped talking (if you know him like I do, you know that's hard for him) and after a moment or so, said "Thanks Dad!". He got my acknowledgement. Equally important is he discovered enrolling others in his possibility. It's easy, I told him - as long as you're willing to talk about it. And when you're willing to talk about it, that's all it takes  and miracles happen. He discovered the leverage of enrollment ie he discovered the fulcrum  of enrollment. And now both he and the other trainee diving instructors will all be certified a lot  faster ie the action is forwarded for everyone  because of it.

What I like most about this whole episode is Christian has now gained a direct, personal experience of and proof of the power of enrollment and its benefits both for himself as well as for others. It's a power he'll be able to deploy in his own life from now on any time he chooses. That's its legacy.



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