Category Archives: Adaptive Transformation

…independent will as the high dream in action…

“Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying” – Christian Hymn, anonymous

The high dream of conscience is the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream that fills us with hope, and purpose, and desire —  and for most of us — we take ourselves off the hook by assuming the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream is an unreachable ideal, a vision of perfection.

But still, we can’t really let it go.  Most of us have a bad case of “the hopes.”

Conscience is a profoundly driving motivation. Why? Because the high dream of mutuality and sharing binds together our deepest feelings of security and certainty.  It’s the “peaceable kingdom” that lies behind religious aspiration.

Life loving life requires doing whatever it takes to persist; life loving life brings together security and certainty so that peace can be maintained.  And, as I mentioned earlier (see …conscience as life loving life…), life loves life – NOT the conceptions we bring to it.  The unreachable ideal, the perfect vision … they’re not the point.  It’s more about action, about the specific actions we take — given the context which our high dream offers us.

So, as I turn my focus to Independent Will, (the third of the four human endowments), I want to put some attention on the importance of action.

Creative Imagination, Conscience, Independent Will, and Awareness would have little meaning were it not for action.  And given our skepticism and desire to run away, the high dream may not disappear, but we DO lose sight of it temporarily.

Here’s an example:  John put a $1000 in the market.  He got a “hot” tip.  He rode it up some 20%, and got nervous.  He was told that this stock should double and maybe even quadruple.  But John was already anxious about losing what he earned. He tried leaving it alone, but when it reached $1,500, he sold it.  A short time later that initial investment was worth $4000.  John sold too soon.  But he was ahead in the game.   John thought to himself, “I can always try again.”

Action made the high dream come alive AND it also made John fearful.  Something could be taken away.

Yesterday morning, I read an article. It trumpeted the headline: “The new American Dream is no longer about seizing opportunity but about realizing perfection.”  The commentator distinguishes between equal opportunity (that democratic drive to treat one another equally) and perfection (that undemocratic drive to realize an outcome).

And, as the commentator pointed out, in a competitive marketplace we lose IF we fail to meet perfection.  The high dream of shared mutuality is now untouchable because the dream, itself, is no longer about people.

My immediate reaction was to ask: “Can anyone find peace in that?”  Equal opportunity offers at least some way to honor mutuality and peace – but perfection?!?

So action then, must speak to our high dream while at the same time offer some sense of humility. Perfection doesn’t offer humility. Nor does our desire to over-reach – especially when we act out against one another by choosing to over-reach.

Consider my high school senior quote: (Robert Browning) “Speak as you please, what does a mountain care? | Ah, that a man’s reach may exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.”  I have long understood that over-reaching is part of human condition.  And for better or for worse, there is a persistent sense of hunger built into our high dreams, a hunger that drives us on … searching for life’s peaceable kingdom … (or so I hope).

So what becomes of our high dream? … I guess we’ll find out.  But I will tell you this:  It has something to do with action and choice.

Independent Will, as Stephen Covey defines it, is the action we bring to bear when we exercise choice.  It’s the action we show by being resolute.  It’s the statement we make through our actions because REALLY … we have no other voice.

The peaceable kingdom (as life loving life with security and certainty) is offered to ourselves and others … or it is taken away.  And, of course, there are many ways to “be in choice.”

The hymn, quoted earlier, offers one possible way.  But be aware!  The hymn implies two simultaneous actions: “Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying”

If we want there to be any peaceable kingdom, then “action” must include both.

Thanks for listening!

…conclusion: the high dream of conscience…

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”–Henry Louis Mencken

It would be foolish to assume that conscience can do its job — without its FIRST being the voice of a high dream.

In coaching, a high dream is “alert awareness” recognizing itself.  A high dream IS our capacity to stand in the present and recognize what we want in the current moment … because it arises from who we know ourselves to be.  We select what we perceive based on our desire for self-recognition.

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…conscience as a desire for confirmation…

“Did you forget that men prefer peace and even death to having to choose between good and evil?”  –  from the play, The Grand Inquisitor

The “2% truth” holds that every opinion we have possesses 2% of the truth.  No one is completely wrong – OR – completely right.  A full 98% is un-determinable except by consensus.  And not that “consensus” gets it right.  Consensus merely reflects the popularity of the opinion.  “A lie told long enough becomes the truth.”  This cynical adage illustrates both our need for consensus and the difficulty we have in obtaining one.  Coordinated response is impossible with too much disparity.  Yet, we are often at a loss when trying to confirm either our opinion or the opinion of others.

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…conscience as life loving life…

“Sacrifice still exists everywhere, and everywhere the elect of each generation suffers for the salvation of the rest.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

Theater is full of dramas that exalt “sacrifice” as love.  These dramas make the statement that any change is intolerable:

  • If balance – once experienced – cannot be restored,
  • If love – given freely – cannot survive, OR
  • If one’s relational boundaries – as originally experienced – cannot be justly maintained.

And, of course, sacrifice is then both honorable and inevitable.  Self-identification requires it.  We cannot stand apart from the love which grounds us to meaning and purpose.

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…conscience as a landslide…

“And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills / ‘Till Landslide brought me down.” – Stevie Nicks from the song Landslide

I went to visit my 83-year old mother yesterday.  She struggles with Parkinson’s, a disease the makes everything harder.

And during our afternoon banter, she asks me:  “Do you remember what the 5-year old boy says to his mother when asked to recite the golden rule? —  “Do it to others before they do it to you.”

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…conscience as trust’s intangible possession…

“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” – a Zen saying

Developmental shifts happen all the time. And they are very hard to spot.

In my last blog (…conscience as necessary forgiveness…), I described the developmental shift that happens when the intangible is more highly valued than the tangible.  Necessary forgiveness re-establishes trust.  Trust and forgiveness are what we give ourselves once we accept the intangible – both as an expectation and as an agreement. There is more than “heaven and earth” here – if we can learn to see it.

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…conscience as necessary forgiveness…

“Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.” — Andre Gide

I need to apologize.

My last blog, entitled  …conscience as the folly of self-determination…, might have led some of you to assume I’m NOT in favor of self-determination.  Au contraire.  What coach would be worth is salt if he/she did not place high value on self-determination?

So I need to be more nuanced.  Self-determination is no folly; it’s just that issues of conscience cannot be solved by focusing solely on self-determination.  No one is an island.  So being transparent and honest about our need for shared interdependence and trust gives us a whole lot more room to work with.

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