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

Thinking On My Feet

Lynmar Estate, Healdsburg, California, USA

May 6, 2017

This essay, Thinking On My Feet, is the one thousand two hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the companion piece to It is also, with An Experience That Begins Before It Begins and No, It's What You Say  About It, the prequel to the trilogy The Leadership Course:
  1. The Leadership Course: As Your Natural Self-Expression II
  2. The Leadership Course II: Leadership Is A Barefooted Girl
  3. The Leadership Course III: Pillar Of The Community
in that order.

I am indebted to Donovan Copley who inspired this conversation, and to Verizon Wireless who contributed material.

The first time it happened (actually it's closer the the truth to say the first time I discovered  it ie the first time I discovered how it works), it changed everything. Specifically it changed the way I regard my own Self-expression, and for what I can be counted on in this regard. Yet however I describe what happened, what's true is I would not be the same person again afterwards. That was the moment I figured out how to (quote unquote) "think on my feet"  (so to speak) for the first time.

Photograph courtesy Verizon Wireless

Warren, New Jersey, USA

3:19pm Thursday June 9, 2011
Training Verizon Wireless mainframe computer operators

The scenario: I was leading a week-long technical seminar for a group of thirty five mainframe computer technicians at a Fortune 1000  company. The topic of the seminar was DB2  (Database 2), the premier IBM  (International Business Machines) RDBMS  (Relational Database Management System). Standing on a podium in front of the group in a room festooned with computer screens, keyboards, whiteboards, and flipcharts, I was well prepared (I was always  well prepared - I had  to be) when someone asked me a question, and I froze.

You could call it "stage fright". I don't know what it was - but whatever it was, its onset was sudden and disconcerting. I'd never experienced anything quite like it before. My tongue turned to mush. I couldn't come up with an answer to the question which, on any other occasion, I would have said something intelligent, accurate, and even witty about. On that day however, when I looked into the vaults of my knowledge, I couldn't see a god-damned  thing. Everything in it was obscured by pea soup.

I can hazard a guess as to what prompted me to do what I did next (I'm still inquiring into it today). Whatever inspired me in that moment ie wherever (or whom-ever? ...) the inspiration came from, gave me an access to something I had no idea was available, and something I had no idea I had the ability to call on, and  count on it working. Indeed, I've deployed it countless times since then under different circumstances, with the same dramatic results every time.

What I did was simply open my mouth and say "One of the most remarkable aspects of this database management system is ...". Now, intrigued by having triggered the process (the participants in the seminar were none the wiser), I myself wondered what would come out of my mouth next. And listen: I had no idea  what if anything  would come out of my mouth next. Indeed, the entire episode had truly fabulous odds in favor of quickly turning into a terribly embarrassing fiasco for me.

What did come out of my mouth next was a stunning (even if I say so myself) ten minute burst of conversation which crystallized and encapsulated every essential concept of DB2 which those techies  would need to master if they were ever going to tame the beast and succeed at their jobs. The sensation of it was almost eerie. It was as if I was also one of the participants in the seminar sitting in the back row, listening to what Laurence was saying in the front of the room, hanging on to his every word. They applauded.

I had unleashed something je ne sais quoi  (ie I don't know what), and I certainly didn't understand how  it got released. But whatever it was that got released, it was what they had paid me the good money ($US2,000.00 a day) for, to come and hear. And in that moment, everyone knew  (myself included) that they'd gotten their money's worth - and we still had four and a half days of the seminar left to go.

I've exercised this dancing with my mouth  (if you will) ability many times since then, the latest of which was very recently. I'd alerted some friends to my upcoming ten day absence from these United States. They asked me what I'd be doing and where I was going. For the purposes of this conversation, it's worth noting they weren't graduates of Werner's work (for all I know, they may never even have heard of Werner). With that in the space, I said "I'm going to participate in the Leadership Course* in Cancun, Mexico", to which they replied (inevitably, and somewhat obviously) "What's the Leadership Course?".

Now I, for what it's worth, am not a graduate of the Leadership Course (at least, not yet). So being called on to answer from experience, I froze (again). But this time, in a split‑second, what flooded over me was what I discovered leading that week-long DB2 seminar way back when. I bin  there before (as Huckleberry Finn may have said), standing in front of the room, paralyzed by stage-fright. So I opened my mouth and said "One of the most remarkable aspects of the Leadership Course is ...". And again intrigued by having triggered the process, I wondered what would come out of my mouth this time next.

What came out of my mouth next wasn't, of course, the definitive of what transpires in the Leadership Course (it couldn't be, given I'm not yet a graduate - I will however have something more to say about that later). What it was however, was an authentic account of what I anticipate I'll get from participating in it (based on what the registration process I'm currently engaged in, is revealing).

Even that much garnered their rapt attention. The more I spoke, the more information they wanted, some of which I could actually give them (even the minimal amount of information I was able to share with them, fascinated them). When they inevitably asked for more, I directed them to the Leadership Course website. I also promised to e-mail them the link to the Leadership Course materials (which I did - later that evening).

I haven't yet figured out how this thinking on my feet works ie how this dancing with my mouth works (which is the way I poetically licensed  it when I was preparing to share it with a friend a few years ago). Indeed, my attempts to figure out how it works, only seem to cheapen it. What I'll venture however, is it's more than likely what got their attention was the way I was being  with them. My ability to share what transpires during the Leadership Course, was minimal at best. To be sure (and even so), that played a part. But it was how I was being with them that got them listening, interested, and enrolled. I'll wager that. As for the thinking on my feet aspect of it, that's simply the ante  I'm required to up, if I intend to sit with them at this table.

*   With permission, I've linked the PDF  (ie Portable Document Format) of the Leadership Course materials with its over one thousand pages, effectively giving you a copy (all the related Leadership Course materials have been made available by the SSRN  ie at the Social Science Research Network website so that you may freely download them for your own personal use).

Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen, and Steve Zaffron, the authors of the Leadership Course, aren't concerned about you downloading their materials - to the contrary, you have their permission to do so, and they encourage you to do so, and to scrutinize them. 100% of the Leadership Course is the promise to leave you being  a leader and the effective exercise of leadership  as your natural Self-expression. The course materials support bringing forth these ontological  distinctions which you'll experience by participating in the course. However you can't get these distinctions by merely reading about them.

I request that if you share these materials (and please do so), that you only share the link. Do not distribute the PDF of the materials. This is because the materials are constantly being updated, so by sharing the link only, you're always sharing the latest version.

Click here to download the PDF.

Click here to go to the Leadership Course website.

Click here to register in the next Leadership Course.

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