100% Responsibility: It’s Up to You, and It’s Not on You

Baby with mirror meeting itselfI’m participating in Michael Neill’s 90-day Creating the Impossible program, which has recently been released in book form. Some other time I may share what a hoot it is that I would do this. The very name of the program would have once given me hives.

But I digress.

This week, Michael asked us to reflect on how much responsibility and control we have for creating our impossible projects. Another way of saying this is, “What percent is up to me, and what percent of accomplishing my impossible goal is up to Mind/Life/God/The Universe?”

I landed, to my surprise, on 100% up to me and 100% up to the Universe. And 50/50 is not the same thing as 100/100.

  • It’s not up to me to make the right choices (even as to my goal). How could I know? Nor is it up to me how my actions work out. How could I know?
  • It is 100% up to me to choose and act (or not) moment by moment, day by day.
  • It is 100% up to Mind/Life/God/The Universe to generate or give rise to the possibility of choice and action.
  • For all I know it is 100% to Mind/Life/God/The Universe to move me to choose or act and make it look like I moved.
  • And it is still 100% up to me.

100% responsibility is the essence of freedom. Who knew?

I’ve never before seen 100% responsibility as so fundamentally freeing. I can (100% of the time) show up for this goal or not. What showing up for this goal looks like will vary, and it may include times of inaction. It’s always up to me (innocently) as the local agent of Mind. I can do a crap job of it, and it’s up to me. I can do a great job of it, and it’s up to me. Oddly, it’s not up to me to know what is going to make the difference between a crap job and a great job (how would I know in the scheme of things?). And it’s still up to me.

For the first time in my life I see “up to me” as the simple fact of the matter and not the basis for an indictment or praise. I’m the hands, the eyes, the voice; it’s up to me, and that includes choosing to still my hands, look away, and be silent.

Click here to learn more about my impossible project, making the Three Principles the foundation of the International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching and Core Coaching Competencies.

Click here to learn more and purchase Michael’s book, Creating the Impossible.

Patience is a byproduct of understanding how the mind works

Patience is a byproduct of understanding how the mind works.

The mind has an innate capacity for clarity and creativity. That’s our default state but for the moment to moment experience of personal thinking. When that thinking innocently creates an insoluble problem, the personal mind tends to ramp up, work harder, and increase pressure. This is like spinning your tires when you car is stuck. If you keep it up you shred the tires.

When we understand that mentally spinning our wheels (ruminating over frustration, anger, resentments, etc.) always results in shredded mental tires, we naturally discover the “patience” to allow our minds to settle down. It takes no more effort to choose to settle down than it takes to remove your hand from a hot stove.

[A minimally edited transcript follows]

I just finished a conversation with my ongoing Art of Living group. We were looking at patience. One of the folks in the group commented that it looks to her like one of the keys to living wisely and well, and working wisely and well, is to cultivate patience.

We had been talking about how each of us has a perfectly functional GPS, internal guidance system, that delivers information, inspiration, and guidance that is formulated specifically for each moment in our lives and work. We often innocently muck it up, because we have a head full of personal concepts about what we should be doing, where we should be going, how fast things should be moving, or in some cases that things shouldn’t be moving so fast. We muck up our capacity to respond wisely and well in the moment, because we’re innocently imposing a lot of assessments, opinions, worries, and analyses that aren’t actually contributing to the quality of the data and insight at hand.

In response to that, one of my clients said, “Well, that takes patience. So many times in our meetings, I’ve written down, ‘Patience, cultivate patience.'”

What I said to her is, “It looks like it’s patience, but patience is a side effect of understanding how life works, understanding how you work, understanding how you work optimally. When you understand how you work optimally, it’s natural to exercise restraint when you recognize that you’re not optimized.”

It’s natural to not pick up the phone and make the angry phone call when you have a deep recognition that that isn’t likely to work. You don’t really have to restrain yourself by an application of will if you know it won’t help. You may still want to, you’re just as angry, you’re just as wound up, and it just doesn’t make sense to make that phone call.

socks don't require patience, they require understandingPeople often tell me that they wish they could knit, but they just don’t have the patience. That’s always puzzled me. I don’t have patience either. It would drive me crazy to wait for a sock to get done. But I don’t wait for a sock to get done, I make socks. I don’t wait while I’m working on a sweater for it to be finished, I’m making the sweater. I’m engaged in it. There is no waiting, no patience required. No patience required, because I understand how the sock is created and I understand my role in that creation, and I’m good with it.

When it comes to taking action in life but being frustrated in the process, we are going to be more effective when we understand how the mind works. If we allow the mind to grind away, analyze, and ruminate, it’s like spinning our wheels when the car gets stuck. We can spin our wheels and shred the tires, or we can look for a way out of the stuckness. Spinning our wheels and shredding our tires just doesn’t make sense to most of us after we learn that spinning your wheels will shred your tires. Patience (the willingness to stop spinning the wheels and look for a better way) is a byproduct of understanding.

Understanding doesn’t necessarily prevent frustration, but it prevents amplifying the frustration. When we see that we can use our minds to ramp up our frustration levels or allow our minds to quiet, it just makes sense to us to choose the latter. We don’t have to work at it; we just see that it’s a better option.

New options and ways to move forward emerge when we tap into our intelligence, our understanding, and recognize what doesn’t help. This may not sound like a big deal, but recognizing what doesn’t help in a deep and profound way takes a lot off your mind. When you’ve taken that off your mind, so many things that we think of as skills (patience, acceptance, wonder, creative thought, making new connections, looking for a new way, being open-minded) emerge naturally out of the intelligence that we’re part of.

When we understand how life works, when we understand that there’s a certain state of mind in which we’re tire-spinning, and we recognize that trying harder from there will only shred our tires, when we understand that, even if we don’t know yet what to do instead, we can plug into the intelligence to stop spinning, in that space, every time, some new possibility will arise.

If you try to manage the emergence of  new possibilities, you’re doing a subtle kind of tire-spinning. It takes some insight and some appreciation of when you’ve had this going for you in your life to trust the process and allow fresh possibilities to emerge. You can cultivate a feel for spinning your tires and not spinning your tires mentally. You know of times when you’ve done tire-spinning and when you haven’t done tire-spinning. Let yourself notice and appreciate how natural it can be to recognize the difference and exercise your free will to choose the better option.

I’m saying that all you really need to know is that not spinning your tires reconnects you to new possibilities and new options. While you’re spinning your tires, you can’t see beyond your current thinking. As soon as you stop spinning them, you become available to new solutions. You’re not in charge of the timing. You’re not in charge of the nature of the solution. The more deeply you understand the difference between spinning your tires and opening your mind, the more quickly and simply you’ll notice that next steps emerge. They may or may not look like full-blown solutions, but you’ll always see a next immediate step. That’s always an improvement over shredding your tires.

I’d love to hear where this lands, what lands, what doesn’t. So email me or comment. Thanks for watching!

What art tells us about life

I frequently use art as a metaphor for living life wisely and well. There’s The Art of Living, an exploration of how we are designed to live creatively and joyfully and the potential for waking up every day like children eager to paint on walls and splash in mud puddles. (Imagine!) There’s the Reboot Your Life Creative Immersion Retreat I’m doing with my friend, Cherie Ray, at the end of the year. For over 20 years I’ve been coaching people to be visionary (even revolutionary) and effective, whether they are corporate executives, music teachers, or boat builders. In every field, the fundamentals are the same.

The questions we ask ourselves to help us live wisely and well invite different answers when we ask them as if we were making art. When we realize that human beings are inherently creative it just makes sense to lean into this way of thinking about our challenges and opportunities.

 

Are you playing “What’s wrong with this picture?” with your life?

Are you playing “What’s wrong with this picture?” with your life?

Too often we try to change things by tweaking a problem that we don’t realize we created. We play “What’s wrong with this picture?” when we could simply paint a new picture.

Here’s the deal: Every problem we face is constructed of our preconceptions, assumptions, memories, and expectations. We simply cannot see beyond the limitations of our current thinking. However, when we insightfully understand how those limitations work, the mind spontaneously opens to new possibilities. It’s not a trick or technique or practice; it’s the natural and inevitable by-product of insight into how the mind works.

If you’d like to experience for yourself the possibility of shifting from tweaking the picture you see to creating a whole new picture, join me for The Art of Living. It’s a 12-week encounter with magic, meaning, and your creative capacity. Together we will explore the deeper intelligence available to every human being, an intelligence that can guide you in the creation of what you want in life, whether you think it is possible at the outset or not.

Almost everyone who has done this work for me comes back for more–not because they need more in order to be whole, but because they finally realize that they don’t need a thing. Participants report greater ease, optimism, and resilience. They feel better about themselves and their lives. They experience massive reductions in anxiety, second-guessing, and analysis-paralysis. And when they do get caught up in those things, they know how to find their way back home to peace of mind and clarity.​​​​​​​

The next session begins November 9. Click here for details. Gift pricing.

Let life teach you what you need to know & an experiment in the gift economy

This week I share reflections on not needing to know where you’re going, how it is going to work, or what is “right.” What if we don’t need to know these things before we try something new? What if life will teach us what we need to learn? I talk about this in terms of my experiment with the gift economy, and it looks to me like it applies to every area of life.

Where are you holding back because you don’t know what comes after your very next step? What are you not doing because you can’t be sure how it will work out? Play with the possibility that each step you take will show you something about the step after that.

Click here to see how I articulate the gift economy to prospective clients. 

Please share your questions and comments!

How to rock the game of life

This video is a bit longer than usual. It’s all about the freedom we have to make up whatever game we choose to play in life from what matters to what we create to how we keep score. We can’t control the outcomes, but we have infinite choice over the inputs. When we shift our focus from outcomes to inputs, we see that rocking the game of life is more like making art than it is about winning races. Along the way I touch on choosing to work on a gift basis and marrying The Charming Prince. I enjoyed sharing this ride with you, and I hope it leaves you with a good feeling for how much freedom, possibility, and joy are available to you. ♥

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