Shifting Intentions To Allow For Newer Possibilities

Unlearning my expert mindset which allows me to “lead to learn” instead.

I’ve been reflecting on my last post about trying to recognize and face some of my fears and I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve missed the mark or perhaps more appropriately, I’m missing the mark on seeing a much larger fear that’s hiding behind these other ones.

Walking On The Edge

In a sense, what these feels like is like I’m “testing the waters” at the edge of my worldview to see if there is shallow solid footing below the surface that I can walk out upon and, even more appropriately, raise to the surface so that others can walk on it as well.

When I begin to talk, express, and articulate these previously thought of fears, relating to the foundational elements of my work that are probably going to be hard for people to believe, I find that, “Ok, I can find some solid footing here and I can walk out further on this edge” (especially when you have notable people behind you backing you up).

So if I can do this though, the question arises again, “What’s holding me back?” Thinking about this, my natural response would be to revert to my age old excuse of, “This is all very hard for me to articulate.”

But then the follow-up response to that would be, “What do I mean by that?”

Articulating Connections & Insights

If I reflect back on the past two decades of my life, I would say that I see connections between the different disciplinary domains of knowledge that I’ve researched over the past two decades and these connections help me to intuitively see a bigger picture of life which I want to share with others in turn.

Describing this in more detail, while reading about something, I usually come across a quote that sparks a feeling, an emotional connection, within me because I see how it relates to something else I’ve read in the past. In other words, I’m getting an insight into something deeper that’s hidden within the invisible gap between domains.

And when I say I “see” this, I mean that the experience causes me to visualize an imaginary hyperlink in my mind (like a golden thread) between this quote and another previously read quote that I somehow see a hidden relationship between that somehow wants to fully emerge and reveal itself to me.

When I first started my research two decades ago, these insightful connections occurred only once a month or so if I was lucky. Today they almost occur daily.

Seeing The System Emerging

So what this feels like is like I’m getting all of these insights almost daily and often they are repetitions of insights that I’ve already seen which means they are producing solidifying, recognizable patterns.

Yet at the same time, from these patterns I’m starting to intuitively see relationships between them and they are in turn allowing me to intuitively see a larger bigger picture, a system, emerging from them.

This is basically where everything falls apart for me and where I reach a point where I often give up in frustration, even avoiding my research at times, because I feel unable to move past this point.

If I could describe it another way, it would be like seeing all of these building blocks and realizing they connect into something larger that you can actually envision what the end result will be but when you try bringing the pieces together, you can never get them to fit together properly.

Another way of thinking about this is like getting a random page of book every day until finally you know you have all of the pages but try as you might, you can’t put the pages together in the right order.

It’s funny. In mentioning this, I’m reminded of a few notable people who I’ve followed over the years who’ve actually produced books somewhat like this. What I mean is that instead of create a fully structured and ordered book, they instead take the best of their blog posts and compile them into a book. So their book reveals a variety of important insights that have a loose association with each other but they don’t fully come together into a cohesive narrative that relays a bigger picture and overarching insight of life.

Hmmm, there’s something deeper here. Something important.

Seeking Order in Uncertain Times

It has to do with this inherent need to make sense of your life, so that it feels structured and ordered, thus giving it meaning. But also it’s this inherent realization that life isn’t actually like this most of the time, especially within the rapid changing world that is emerging today. We often don’t make sense of things and their deeper meaning until much later after spending much time reflecting back upon it. Yet our entire society isn’t optimized for this way of thinking…and apparently neither am I fully.

Perhaps this all has to do with uncertainty and this inherent need to remove it from our lives. Yet for the world that’s emerging, we have to learn to sit with uncertainty and even intentionally hold space, so as to let things emerge on their own, rather than just forcing things to resolution which often causes us to misinterpret what we’re trying to understand.

And often times that thing we’re trying to understand and make sense of is our very selves.

If I could step back from this all and reflect how this relates to the bigger picture that I’m trying to communicate, I would say that because the world is rapidly changing and feeling uncertain more often than not, it means we require a whole new way of operating for this new world emerging before us. And the simplest way I could describe this new mindset is one of adventuring because it requires us to radically change and unlearn our old mindset and step into something completely new and unknown.

To put this another way, we need an entirely new societal system and way of operating that focuses on open ended development and progression, one in which we have to be comfortable with not knowing where we’re actually going in terms of the outcome until we actually get there and realize what that outcome is. More simply put, a system built for emergence.

Ok, wait a minute. This just sparked something.

Shifting Intentions & Mindsets

Right now, I’ve basically set the intention to create a Player’s Handbook to encapsulate my work, since the metaphor I’m using is seeing life as a massively multiplayer roleplaying game (i.e. we don’t see reality, we effectively see a video game interface instead, with vertical development helping us to level up our interface, etc).

What this means is that I’m effectively trying to force my knowledge into this metaphoric container, even though it may not be the right nuanced outcome.

To put this another way, I’m effectively adventuring, yet at the same time I’m writing a guidebook on how to adventure but I haven’t even completed my adventures yet to reflect back and understand them fully in a meaningful way. I somehow feel like the Ship of Theseus.

But why am I doing this all? Why am I even writing about this right now?

It’s because I want to share what I’m learning as I undergo the process of it. And more importantly, I think sharing the experience of it, including the frustrations and challenges one encounters on that adventure of learning is important in understanding the deeper meaning of it correctly.

In reflecting upon what I’m doing though, my current intention is writing something as though I’m a master of it already which is evidently not true. I’m not a master of it at all. I’m still struggling through it.

Ok, so what if I change my intention to something that feels closer to what I envision this future to be and what I want to be (i.e. not seen as an “expert”)?

Being A Learner, Not An Expert

What if instead of creating a Player’s Handbook for the larger MMORPG of Life that I haven’t fully understood in detail yet, because I haven’t fully played it out, what if I set an intention as a player playing the larger MMORPG of Life and sharing what I’m learning about it, as I’m playing it. In effect, the very thing most Twitch or YouTube streamers do when they’re playing a new game and sharing the information they’re discovering about it.

Whoa! Ok, that’s actually pretty hilarious when I think about it because it also correlates with what John Seely Brown described as happening within guilds like in World of Warcraft. And in fact, he also describes why guilds are so critical in this process as well which would also explain why I feel so overwhelmed doing my work alone.

And one of the reasons why these guilds are so important is there’s so much knowledge being produced every single day. That without the guild structure to help you process this kind of knowledge, you would simply be overwhelmed, end of story, in terms of how do you really want to get a high performance capability out of this.

John Seely Brown

Holy shit! I just realized what a “guild” is in rewatching this part of the video. It’s effectively a collective system for converging many divergent exploratory ideas down into a few that can be then exploited and put into practical use.

Leading With Collective Learning

This is effectively what I need for my own work. So it’s not about trying to create a Player’s Handbook alone first and then creating a guild afterwards to just regurgitate and share what I already know (so the typical old school “expert’s” approach). It’s about creating a guild that adventurously explores, discovers, and plays with these practical ideas first which in turn helps craft this Player’s Handbook afterwards.

I need to reflect upon this some more but it’s interesting to see what happens when you let go of older mindsets (i.e. you need to be an “expert”) and set a different nuanced attention with your work, thus letting it take an unexpected path of emergence that differs from your original expected path. In doing so, this also remarkably sounds like the self-transforming mind approach whereby a “leader leads to learn.”

Oh, I almost didn’t realize the obviousness of this all as well and how it relates to my fears. One of my fears that I’ve mentioned in the past is not feeling like I’m knowledgeable enough with this all to take a leadership stance with it, so as to be seen as an “expert” with it. Yet if you let go of trying to be an expert and just focusing on learning, that’s where the leadership stance can be taken from instead.

Again, if you watch most video game streamers, especially when they’re exploring a new game, that’s how they become recognized as leaders in the community because they’re discovering and sharing new information and knowledge, bit by bit, that collectively helps the community as a whole.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for the roleplaying game called Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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