Category Archives: Clarification Dilemmas

…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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…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.

…the dynamics of desire…

“Desire and hope will push us on toward the future” – Michel de Montaigne

Getting in touch with ourselves (and our future) means getting in touch with how we engage ourselves with desire.  If desire is “color,” it would be “all” color.  An absolute rainbow. And the joy (or maybe the problem) of desire is that it shifts and changes on us.  Captivating at one moment, dull the next.  So it really is difficult to know how best to engage ourselves with desire.

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…urgency and convenience…

“Politics is the science of urgencies.”– Theodore Parker

What makes the images we carry around with us difficult to bear is the trade-off we make between urgency and convenience.

In my last post, I avoided a fuller explanation of vocation since I knew that it would touch upon the problem of urgency and convenience. 

The whole notion of vocation is built around the idea of a ‘call’ or ‘calling.’  It originates from spiritual and philosophic disciplines, but it is still common to ask, “Is your vocation — your calling — as well?”  Ideally it is, but not always. 

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…the inner game and its challenge…

“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. … at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” – W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis changed a lot of people’s conception of trust and engagement.  The inner game’s environment is the inner game of focus.  Putting 100% of yourself out there because you keep up a concentrated focus and because you get caught up, involuntarily, in the goal you seek.  Wait!  Did I say “involuntarily”?  That must have been a mistake.  Concentrated focus takes work and effort; it requires commitment and dedication; it is just about as far away from involuntary as you can imagine.  Or is it?

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