Son: You know about icebergs, dad?
Father: Do I? I saw an iceberg once. They were
hauling it down to Texas for drinking water.
They didn’t count on there being an elephant
frozen inside. The wooly kind. A mammoth.
— Excerpt from Big Fish
I commented to a friend that I only own two movies in my movie library: Big Fish (a 2003 father and son drama by Tim Burton, starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, and Jessica Lange) and the 1962 version of The Miracle Worker (about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke).
And I really never stopped to consider how much those two particular movies shape my thinking as a coach. My comments today will be about Big Fish, and tomorrow they will be about The Miracle Worker.
“Everything starts as somebody’s daydream.” — Larry Niven
It’s interesting how much we are drawn to the performance principle: Do the exact right thing so we can believe we are “acceptable.” From this perspective, acceptance is a performance piece, a simultaneous: “look at me” and “aren’t I great!” collusion. And that pre-conceived acceptance totally ignores the trust and engagement invitation offered in the moment.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” — Walt Whitman
Let me see if I can summarize everything I’ve introduced about self-awareness and the serpent devouring its tail.
- Self-awareness is one of our human endowments.
- It responds to and is activated by trust and engagement; persistent awareness requires engagement, but not necessarily trust. We choose to offer that when we are willing to include it in our actions, feelings and thoughts.
- Continue reading
“Conscience… is the impulse to do right because it is right, regardless of personal ends.” — Margaret C. Graham
Let me see if I can summarize everything I’ve introduced regarding conscience and the mirror of self-reflection.
- Conscience is one of our human endowments.
- It is the deep inner awareness of right and wrong which governs our actions.
- Continue reading
“Not a drop, not a tear, not a gesture, not a feeling is wasted. The net of God’s reign takes everything in” – A spiritual principle for seeking discernment
I have a coaching secret. I encourage clients NOT to place their attention too closely on the way they pay attention. It sounds oxymoronic, but you gain more self-awareness by being less self-aware … at least when it comes to attention and focus.
“He drew a circle that shut me out- / Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. / But love and I had the wit to win: / We drew a circle and took him In !”
From the poem ” Outwitted” by Edwin Markham
The Uroborus image is essentially a system. In systems theory, they talk about self-reinforcing systems and self-balancing systems. A self-reinforcing system gathers momentum. It expands and builds. The system gathers more of itself into itself. On the other hand, a self-balancing system regulates the forces which hold it together. The system holds “in balance” the internal and external factors which cannot be broken apart. The whole is taken up altogether and the parts are kept in balance.
So which type of system is the Uroborus? Is it self-reinforcing or self-balancing?
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” — Nathaniel Branden
The mirror encompasses our social learning. We know, socially, that the truth is never what it seems to be. A “truth” for me is not a “truth” for you”; what’s “right” for me is not “right” for you. A diversity of opinions reflects a diversity of needs. So any approach a complex social situation is fraught with challenge. The boundaries around “social veracity” do not always overlap with “personal veracity.” So the best we can do is be mindful of our conduct. How can we do that?