“Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” — Stephen Covey
Yesterday, I looked at speculation and tension-resolution. Today, I want to look at speculation and the choice we have to either honor or ignore life’s various invitations.
In earlier posts, I talked about personal and unique invitations come from “outside…other interests.” That is, from people, places, activities, or interests that draw you out so you can be bigger than yourself. “Outside…other interests” always present themselves as “subtle and playful invitations.” Nothing is ever demanded. It’s always your choice. You decide what works for you.
This particular skill is #3 on the short list of four. Do you remember what the four skills are?
- Let go of pre-conceptions.
- Self-determine what you want.
- Feel the personal and unique invitation to be bigger than yourself.
- Find the belief that “enough” is genuinely possible.
For #3, I could have used the verb “speculate.” And I understand that these two verbs — “feeling” and “speculating” — appear to be two entirely different faculties. One is a “gut and heart” verb. We feel things out the same way we grope in the dark, using hunches and suspicions, calling forth our intuitive capacity to second-guess what the situation requires. The other is a “head” verb. We speculate by asking questions, making assessments and judgements, calculating our way toward some larger resolution or answer. Both verbs are important here, since these invitation can come at us from any where, any time and from any ONE of our “outside…other interests.”
Malcolm Galdwell wrote a wonderful book called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. In that book he talked about one form of rapid cognition called “thin-slicing.” Thin-slicing refers to our unconscious ability to find patterns in situations and behavior based on a very narrow slices of experience. Pattern recognition is a deeply engrained skill. Our survival depends on the way we become attune to the world around us. It allows us to make snap judgement based on very small amounts of data.
Gladwell uses the example of German Morse Code detectors. These people listened to morse code transmission during WWII not to decipher it, but to identify who the sender might be. Germans war plans could be inferred by knowing who the sender might be. Morse code depends on an auditory pattern, which, like speech, is unique to the sender. It is possible to ‘thin slice’ the identity based solely on the auditory pattern of the various dashes and dots. The more attuned you were to each individual’s pattern, the more you could intuit who the sender might be.
So what does “thin-slicing” and “attunement” have to do unique and personal invitations to be bigger than oneself? Remember: I said that invitations are “subtle and playful.” They are like the felt desires that help us put trust into focus (see …felt desire, putting trust into focus…). Invitations whisper to us in voices that only we can hear. At times, both soft and firm, these invitations are voices of desire that no one else canembody or express. So it is important for us to learn how to listen.
Freedom has a lot to do with reciprocity. We become bigger than ourselves by adapting to the larger, outside world. So most of our invitations have reciprocal learning edges. And discovering a deeper sense of reciprocity is explicitly an invitation to play with our learning edges. Both ‘thin-slicing’ and ‘attunement’ are skills that enable us to listen and decode these reciprocating invitations. Are we ready to speculate about what we are being asked to do?
What we are invited to do — reciprocally– can move us into a state of openness and freedom or into a state of resistance and withdrawal. And, like Stephen Covey says, “Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” Reciprocity has a sense of history. To “choose otherwise” is our challenge – it is the challenge we give to ourselves. To meet the world differently. To be bigger and more adaptive. To be more connected and fulfilled. To live with greater abundance — because we can “thin-slice” our “attunement” and listen for the invitations that let us be bigger than ourselves.
Thanks for listening!