Category Archives: Coaching

…creative imagination as variable opinion…

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts”  – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

In legal circles, a short acronym describes the art of legal thinking.  It’s called IRAC.  It’s short for Issues, Rule, Application, Conclusion.  Lawyers use this “formula” to build a context for the characterization of a conclusion.  When used, it runs something like this:

  • The issue at hand is: Robbery.
  • The rules regarding robbery are: it’s illegal and to prove “robbery” the following criteria must be satisfied….
  • The application of the “rules” to facts would be… and
  • Therefore, my conclusion is: this particular event was a “robbery”… under the rules of law.

(Just to be clear – I’m NOT a lawyer.)  And, needless to say, most people do not think this way.

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…nature and nurture…

I’m going to stick my neck out here.

I’m going to tell you — without any empirical data — that people filter data according to what is useful and valuable to them AND they overcome those filters in ways that can only be described as learning.  But here’s the catch:  learning is not entirely voluntary.  Learning is simultaneously unreflective, unconscious, and involuntary AND reflective, conscious and voluntary.  Learning is both completely intentional AND completely instinctual.

So… what’s going on here? … Is this a nature – nurture discussion? … Well, yes … and no.  Let me explain.

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…contentment versus being “well-cared-for”…

 “When I’m trusting and being myself… everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.” – Shakti Gawain

There’s a real irony to being resourceful.  Sometimes by getting exactly what you want you lose an opportunity to discover something unexpected, or you miss out on an alternative that only later becomes available.  That “I-Coulda-Had-a-V-Eight” moment that leaves us wishing we weren’t already committed to an earlier decision, leaves us feeling “let down” by our actions and choices.  

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…the social unknown…

“The cure for despair is not hope.  It’s discovering what we want to do about something we care about.” — Margaret Wheatley

In the last couple of posts, I have looked at one of the four human endowments: self-awareness.  The root image for self-awareness is the serpent devouring its tail (or the Uroborus). This image points to how we gain awareness through experience.   Early in this series I outlined two types of self-awareness:  1.  the “truth-that-our-experience-teaches” which increases our awareness of “the-game-we’re-in” … that is, our awareness whatever is happening right now, and 2. the “impact-of-our-truth” which shows us how we limit our awareness by being faithful to a single idea or purpose.  Both types of self-awareness are important.  One expands and becomes bigger (#1) while the other balances and limits (#2).  

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…immersed and curious…

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Arthur Ward

A client calls you with an emergency.  You drop everything even though you have many other project waiting in cue.  He calls and says: “I’m in a tight spot, I need to have a feature added to my web site before I have a client meeting tomorrow.   I’ve emailed you the specifics and the data you needed.  Can you do this for me?”  You think for a moment.  You’ve worked with him before, normally reasonable. There was some previous difficulty but it got smoothed over.  You say, “Yes.” 

Working like a dog over night, you get the job done. He calls you back very early the next morning leaving a message.  “What you’ve sent is a mess.  You’ve got to do this over.  The data isn’t labelled and the chart is clearly off.  I need this redone by 10.  Give me a call as soon as you get in.”   Well, you can imagine how that message felt.  You pick up the phone and start to call but then you reconsider trying to pull yourself out of the emotional hole that you have just fallen into.

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…choose, respond, change…

“We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.” – Edwin Markham

What is this chain of commands:  “choose, respond, change”?  Is it a natural sequence or is a sequence that comes only from self-awareness? 

Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, examines the Principles of Interpersonal Leadership by focusing on Habit Number 4: “Think Win/Win.”  This, I believe, is where “choose, respond, change” gathers most of its energy and force.  As Covey makes clear “Win/Win” is one of six potential paradigms from which people operate.  These include: “Win/Win,” “Win/Lose,” “Lose/Win,” “Lose/Lose,” “Win,” or “Win/Win or No Deal.” Without elaborating on all six of these, what I want to focus on is “Win/Win”  and how it makes use of “choose, respond, change.”

The command, “choose”  for me, goes back to memory and imagination.  Memory engages us in “Call up and Select” while imagination engages us with “Hold and Contain.”  Of course, we do both simultaneously.  That’s how memory and imagination work (see …memory or imagination (part 2)…). 

The command, “respond,” calls up the human endowment of self-awareness (see … appreciating our human endowments …).  Self-awareness insures that our uniqueness is included in the world around us.  When we respond, we fit the awareness that we have brought up from “choosing”  into what we make of the world by identifying “what-game we are in.”  Making the self-awareness connection allows us to be more flexible with our response. It allows us to be more effective in tailoring our behavior to the situation; we do not operate by default. 

Lastly, the command, “change,” is a measure of how comfortably we can stand within the unknown.  When we are willing to change, we can stay curious and open, we engage ourselves in the situation before pigeonholing our trust.  If we are too narrow with our trust, we opt out of change; preferring instead to stay with our earlier awareness – the one that comes from what memory and imagination bring to us.

How does this fit in with Stephen Covey’s idea of Win/Win? 

In his explanation, Covey talks about Character (its one of the five dimensions of Win/Win).   The important point that he makes about Character is that it uses of all four human endowments (self-awareness, creative imagination, independent will, and conscience).  Character is composed of integrity, maturity, and an abundance mentality.  Integrity uses all four endowments to create a proactive stance, one that can honor commitment and obligation.  Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration.  It is the willingness to step into the unknown because something can be gained for both parties.   And the abundance mentality is the belief that there is plenty out there for everyone.  We do not need to paint ourselves into a corner because we only believe in scarcity. 

So “choose, respond, change” requires a demonstration of Character.  It requires integrity, maturity, and an abundance mentality. It puts us in touch with “Win/Win” because we are willing to commit to the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and we can only do that if we have complete access to all four of our human endowments.

Thanks for listening!

…appreciating our endowments…

“Every human has four endowments self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” —  Stephen Covey

This quotation by Stephen Covey highlights the four endowments that constitute our “human” heritage.  Each root image is associated with one endowment.  As Covey makes clear, all four endowments are necessary to realize freedom and to enable us to “choose, respond, and change.” So how might the root images be useful in helping us appreciate the four endowments?

First, let me provide the necessary associations.