Before I begin this extremely deep dive into reflecting upon Dave Gray’s School of the Possible (as I mentioned in my last post), I’d like to highlight something that I think is extremely important to clarify before beginning. My hope is that this reflection doesn’t come across as a criticism of Dave’s school but rather as constructive feedback that can be built upon.
The reason for this is because I owe Dave a lot. Without him communicating a lot of his foundational thoughts on his school, which are really beyond the edge of conventional thinking, I don’t think I would have had the courage to keep pursuing my own life’s work which lies beyond the horizon of most people’s minds as well. In other words, so much of how I resonated with Dave’s foundational thoughts back in 2018 informed me that I was on the right track and going in the right direction, even though I still felt lost back then in terms of trying to articulate what it all meant to me in a rational way.
The Five Episodes + Lab Page
As I noted yesterday, Dave Gray launched his School of the Possible on May 4, 2018 calling it World Possibility Day, aligning it with Star Wars Day (i.e. “May the fourth be with you”) which I’ll explain why later. But prior to that launch he provided a series of lead up articles that helped to explain the foundation of it. Below is a listing of these five “episodes”, as he called them, plus the lab page.
What I’d like to do now is to analyze each one of these episodes and explain how they resonate with me today but also what parts don’t. Again I’m able to do this more clearly now because I have had five years of growth and development to understand and make better sense of it, compared to back then when I couldn’t fully make sense of it all because I didn’t see the bigger relationship between all of the aspects of my own life’s work and how it related as a whole to what Dave was saying.
What you’ll also notice though is that as each episode progresses, the content relayed within them gets greater and greater in size. And more importantly, as they progress, the resonance with myself increases in size as well, until the final fifth episode feels like a massive bell tolling within me. That’s because while the first initial episodes describe the elements of the school, the fifth episode is really what brings everything clashing together into one big symphony of thought and feeling.
Our society is in a liminal period (in-between state) between a primarily industrial economy and a primarily digital economy. As a society, we are undergoing a phase shift that will issue in a new world that we can’t yet imagine.
This is a unique moment in time that offers great challenges and great opportunities.
Our industrial-age research and learning institutions are constrained by their 20th-century success. Many of them were conceived and designed during the last big shift, and they are not designed for the shift we are in right now. New learning institutions are emerging.
These 21st-century learning institutions look, feel, and operate differently than their industrial-age forbears. Like their predecessors, their purpose is to explore areas of opportunity and discover insights that can help society get unstuck and move more quickly and smoothly through the shift. The insights and methods they teach are the skills that individuals and organizations will need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.
I’m happy and proud to announce that the ranks of the new digital schools will soon increase their number by one. Several colleagues and I are launching the School of the Possible, to formalize and pursue a research and development agenda that has been emerging since the early 1960s, and that I have been focusing on since I started my design consultancy, XPLANE, in 1993.
Above are the quotes that resonated with me the most in articulating what this episode is about and how it relates to my own life’s work. Even more so, I’ve italicized certain keywords that really get to the heart of what’s being said.
If I could translate this all into my own words, I’d say that our world is undergo a massive shift right now, as we struggling to move from one outdated worldview to another worldview which is still in the process of being born and emerging. And for us to step into this new worldview, we need to not just work in new ways but learn in new ways as well. Therefore it’s not about waiting for it to emerge but rather help in the birthing process of it by articulating what we’d like this future to be, particularly in terms of moving beyond conventional education into human development.
I’ve studied and participated in the Big Shift for decades now and I’ve come to see this as a race to build the platforms for the 21st century. These platforms are being built as we speak, and because they are designed and operate within 20th century models, they are constrained by the same systems.
In effect, if businesses continue to use an old, outdate and limited mindset (aka a conventional worldview), nothing will change. The platforms they build will be as limited as their worldview because it is the way they perceive the world and how it should work that limits them.
The future we envision is not yet clear. But here’s what we know.
1. It cannot possibly be based on a standard curriculum, because learning emerges from people with purpose, and every purpose will have its own learning path.
2. You must come to the school with a purpose in mind, because people find purpose when they connect a problem or opportunity with imagination, practical know-how, and funding.
3. It must be open to everyone who wants to participate. Because everyone must imagine and create that future together.
4. It must be self-funding and self-sustaining, because it can be beholden to no authority other than its people and purpose.
This is what we know. The rest we need to figure out.
Reflecting upon this today, I’m realizing that what’s being said here is a question of individuation, whereby the person has created a stable independent sense of self separate from the societal programming that it was dependent upon before. In effect, if a person understands their purpose, they’ve effectively moved beyond conventional thinking (which Dave calls “Level 1” in later episodes) and have begun to “recoded” themselves with their own self-authored coding.
Then there are people who feel that they have been left behind by the industrial world. They don’t feel they have a place in today’s world. If you feel this way, your future does not have to be a continuation of the past. The currency of the future will be imagination and ideas. If you have imagination and ideas, you can create a future for yourself in the digital world.
This most definitely describes myself. Ever since 2001, I’ve felt like I no longer fit into this world because I see how it is broken, inadequate, and limited in so many ways. This is why I’ve been searching for a new world compromised of a new worldview.
The problem with the companies that are building out these big platforms is that they are still at their root built on the industrial monetary system. They are built on certain assumptions. For example: The assumptions that getting work done requires a formal organization, which places people in positions of hierarchy relative to each other, and that to fill those positions you need to create job descriptions, so you can find and hire people who can do those jobs well, and that you need to put these people into defined processes that are supervised by managers.
We are beginning with none of those assumptions. None of them. If you find that to be a scary thought, it is, and it should be.
This pretty much describes most Future of Work projections I’ve seen which are mainly just built upon the same conventional 20th century mindset. In doing so, most are completely missing the potential and possibility of what the Future of Work can truly be which is a newer worldview that unlocks the unlimited potential of people on this planet.
Matt Webb once gave me a beautiful thought: A platform is an opinion about how the world should work.
For me, a platform is a perspective of how the world should work which usually emerges from the person who created it.
So when you build a platform you should not do it quickly. You should do it carefully, thoughtfully, and you should get a lot of feedback along the way, especially from the people who will be using that platform.
We are not training people so they can find jobs in the future. We are helping people find their purpose, so they can connect and align with others who share that purpose, so they can create for themselves the job that they want. A job that is based on their personal interests and purpose, that is useful, meaningful, and relevant to others, and that nourishes their soul and improves the world at the same time. That’s the world we want and that’s what our platform needs to support.
And yes, the person who creates it should get feedback from the people that are using it, especially with its inception.
And yes, most definitely, the school should be helping people to find their own purpose. This resonates perfectly with my own vision relating to my life’s work. In effect, the Future of Work isn’t about continuously retraining people to fit into another “hole” (i.e round peg into square hole), the Future of Work is about recoding people to understand themselves at a deeper level. In simpler terms, the Future of Work is about being nobody-but-yourself.
3. It must be purpose-driven and learner-driven. This is an inversion of the 21st-century paradigm and platform. The people who are doing the learning must drive everything. The system is for them and it needs to support and enable them to create their lives.
Indeed, similar to a catch line I had on my blog years ago, it is helping people to design their life by seeing their “life in design”.
Our goal is to give everyone on the planet the choice to participate in building the platform that will support and enable their future instead of sitting on the sidelines. To create the future we want instead of just drifting along and seeing what happens.
The past may be written but the future is not. The future is ours to build. find their passion, purpose and place in the digital world. What powers the digital economy is not money so much as passion, purpose and connection. The currency of the future will be creativity and imagination, not rampant creativity but responsible creativity. We need ideas that will make the world better, not ideas that will make a few people a lot of money. That means both passionate people working collectively on things that matter, and a shared responsibility to make a better world that we all really want to live in. A world we can be proud to hand off to our children.
This pretty much encapsulates how I felt between 2010 and 2015, as it resonates with a lot of what I was learning about creativity from Alfonso Montuori who himself said something similar to the above about how we should be moving into the future.
In reflecting upon everything within this episode though, I’m wondering why the School of the Possible didn’t embody its very own philosophy for its own launch though. In other words, why weren’t the first people who were attracted to the school treated like students and the school helped them to articulate their purpose which in turn would help them to become teachers themselves?
Instead the school’s approach assumed that you fully understood your purpose enough to articulate it clearly and thus be a teacher for it. But if that was the case, why would you need the school in the first place, since you’ve be teaching your own purpose already? Right?
I think the key issue here comes down to purpose and what it actually means. But rather than go into that now, let’s save that for later, as it will be brought up again in a later episode.
This new platform will have some basic elements that are common across everything, but it will also be an aggregation of many platforms, many of which will create opportunities to build more places and platforms, and more platforms on top of platforms. We will be able to build or grow as many platforms as we can imagine. Why shouldn’t we have a chance to see and evaluate them all?
This touches upon what I said about episode three. The school should be about helping students (who have a unique perspective of how the world should work) to become teachers, thus helping them to create their own platform in the process. This is how organizations of the future effectively work in terms of embodying leadership in everyone collectively. Leaders within these organization are helping other people to become leaders themselves.
The studio model is a teaching method that mimics the guilds and master/apprentice models that preceded the enlightenment and the industrial revolution. It is still the most common approach to learning in environments where the trial-and-error, learning-by-doing model is still the only one that works. This is the simplest, most effective type of learning because it projects people directly into the experiences so they can develop good instincts. This is the most effective kind of learning when the given domain is contextual, creative, and complex, which is most of life. The design studio model is based on the following principle: watch one, try one, teach one. Meaning, in the first class you watch a master do something. The second time, you try it yourself and get feedback. Because you just watched one you can compare your result to the master’s. But you still haven’t truly mastered a skill, tool, idea, or method until you can reliably pass it on to someone else.
This is extremely poignant because in terms of my own life’s work, I actually want to create a “guild” for the 21st century because the wording and metaphor of it plays into the larger narrative and allegory that I’m trying to get people to see is already at work. That’s because it perfectly plays into the mythopoetic language that is unknowingly being used by almost everyone (i.e. Brené Brown’s Braving The Wilderness), since we make sense of our outer physical world and our inner psychological world in the same way, using wayfinding to do so.
Since my vision is to apply the studio model to world-growing, it makes sense that I need to go first. You need to watch one before you can try one, and you will need to try one before you can teach one. So I am going to create one, from scratch, right in front of your eyes, so you can decide whether you want to grow your world from scratch or you want to grow it on top of the one I’m growing, which will be conceived and designed from scratch as an open field for platform-growing. The School of the Possible is going to be a platform that teaches people how to grow and scale thoughtful, transparent, opinionated, beautiful, meaningful platforms. This is a platform that is designed to help people find and fulfill their purpose and pursue happiness, which includes making money, not because everything is about money but because money is an important tool for sustainability, and every human group needs something to sustain itself, and although money is not always necessary it is definitely a tool that needs to be in the toolbox. While we must recognize money as an important tool, at the same time we must be sure that our platform is not based on money, with no secrets or prevarications about the opinions embedded in the foundation. This will be an institution that is fully autonomous and independent, created, supported, nourished and inhabited by its own inherent purpose and the needs of its constituents.
The challenge here is not simply to create a platform but to do it publicly and transparently in order to blaze a trail that others can follow. So I’m sharing my theory in this way, as a story, so I can create a learning journey for you as well as track and record my own progress.
So what I’m doing here is not just starting a team, not just starting an organization. Not just starting a platform. My goal is to create an incubator, or maybe I should say nursery (because growing is different than building) that will give any idea, generated anywhere in the world, the best possible opportunity to grow into a platform.
In a way, what’s being described here is how I wanted the school to function because it’s almost implying you are a student at first before you become a teacher. The only difference though is that this is just being broadcasted out. It’s not a school format or even a guild format. In these other settings, there is a watching to tacitly learn (i.e Jiro Dreams of Sushi) but then also an opportunity for a dialogue, a conversation, to clarify what the student is seeing…or trying to see.
This is what I was hoping the school would have functioned like. In effect, I needed an opportunity for a conversation which in turn would have drawn out the clarity of my own purpose in a way that I could have articulated better. But instead of that it was just dumped on me and I had to clarify my purpose on my own and even more so, articulate it in a very specific format which felt “wrong” in some way that I couldn’t articulate at the time either.
So it kind of felt like university where the professor just broadcasts / dumps a bunch of stuff on you and you have to figure it out, like sink or swim. But at least in those settings, you have access to other students and you can at least converse with your peers to learn from them as well.
So, you see, what I am doing here is not just explaining an idea, or an opinion, or a vision. This is a demo. A live demo, like the ones I learned from in design school. I am building a global platform, from scratch, with no money, and with a foundation that has no hidden agenda.
Because it’s my first time doing this, I expect there will be a lot of redundancy as I explain every idea in multiple ways. But even the redundancy is important because many of these ideas are counterintuitive and need to be seen from multiple angles before they can be understood.
I am trying to explain a very big theory with a lot of pieces and parts. I am trying to create an artifact, a document, a theory and a story, that is also a proposal, which will include some exercises along the way, and which, later, will involve an experiment, that you must must do for yourself.
My goal is to convince you that I have developed a mindset and worldview that is worth replicating. And that I want and need to get this world view down on paper and I need to spread it out on the table so you can see it more clearly, view it from multiple angles, think about it more deeply, and evaluate it, in order to think about what it might mean for you and where it might fit into your life’s priorities.
This is effectively trying to teach someone about what a worldview is by just reading about it. This is exactly why this should have been part of the curriculum of the school itself and the graduation of the student to teacher is helping them to teach their own unique perspective as a worldview as well. But of course a worldview as a platform that resonates with the same deeper values as the school itself.
So, in order for you to join my research lab and sign up for the School of the Possible, you need to understand the vision and what you’re getting into. And you also need to understand the things I have found in my research to date. I’m inviting you into my mind, and if you accept that invitation, I’m going to share a world view that I have been developing my whole life, and sharing with others, in books, keynotes, and workshops where I have been teaching recipes, tools and methods for the last 25 years.
It’s a world view that resonates deeply with a few, but feels oblique and, well, just really really strange and incomprehensible to many. In part this is because it introduces concepts that require new language in order to be expressed.
The word “vision” here is extremely important because there’s a big difference between knowing your purpose in life and knowing your vision. More on this later.
But again, what’s being said here emphasizes what I said earlier. This Big Shift is a shift between worldviews. From an outdated, limited one to newer one. And to go from one to the other, we need to learn how to “level up” between them. And not just by being told about it by actually learning how to do it.
And most important of all, using a new language with a deeper meaning behind it can help us to do this. Again this mirrors with what I said about there being this larger mythopoetic language already out there that’s effectively unseen by most people, even though it’s hiding in plain sight.
That’s the stage the School of the Possible has now reached, and since its a great big vision, it’s going to need a fair number of people to grow this particular vision into a belief. That’s the next stage for this one, and that’s why I’m going slowly here, and telling you all this in the form of a story, because beliefs are formed through experiences and the lessons we learn from those experiences, and the best way I know to share experiences and lessons is by sharing stories.
In a way, think of a worldview as a collection of stories that define an overarching narrative that one can follow to navigate their life with. From these stories emerge not only beliefs but also values. This is important as I will explain further below.
So in order to do that this particular story has to serve a lot of different audiences and to do that it must be stated in a kind of hybrid language that’s probably deeply satisfying to nobody but has a little something in it for everybody.
And this mythopoetic language as I mentioned above, as well as the narrative / allegory it is expressing, needs to be universal as well, so as to reach a larger audience.
But I can tell you one thing I know. If you want to create a new, different, and better world, practice noticing things and wondering about them. Start there. It’s a gentle, beautiful and natural way to start generating meaningful and actionable ideas.
So start practicing your noticing and your wondering. One observation can lead to many questions, and each question suggests a different fuzzy goal and a different vector or line of research that might be worth following. As you start noticing things and asking questions about them, you will start to encounter new things. Try to be careful about putting these new things into old conceptual boxes. New ideas often need new words, or at least new definitions of existing words, in order to be described fairly.
And this last bit of knowledge from episode four helps us to understand how we can create our own worldview. What I’d like you to pay particular attention to is his mention of noticing things, questioning them, and how we will encounter new things when we do so. This lies at the very epicentre of this mythopoetic language and allegory that I’ve been talking about which will finally be revealed in episode five.
Now unfortunately due to the extreme length of episode five as a final massive brain dump by Dave to sort of will his vision into existence, there’s just too many excellent quotes, so I can’t cover everything in detail. Instead I’m just going to focus on the key patterns that kept emerging and explain those using just a few quotes for each.
Star Wars > Hero’s Journey
George Lucas had just showed me, in a masterful demonstration of creative imagination and industrial light and magic, how puny my imagination was, and with one poke, he opened up a whole new world of possibility and opportunity. He tickled my brain cells and it opened my mind. He proposed a possible future that lit up the imagination of the world.
The man who wrote the Star Wars story was a dreamer. He had big dreams. I’ve never met him. If I ever do, I’ll shake his hand, because I’ve got a lot to thank him for, and a few things to tell him. Because, although I know he was well aware that he created his story as a synthesis of a thousand stories about a thousand heroes who had similar journeys, I’m not sure that he realized that he was also creating a key that could unlock the next level of human consciousness.
Now I mentioned in my post the other day that I noticed two aspects of Dave’s work that go much deeper than he may be aware that they did at the time of writing these episodes back in 2018. Or alternatively, he was fully aware of their depth but didn’t relay them for some reason, although I can’t figure out why.
This is the first aspect which goes deeper. Star Wars isn’t what unlocks the next level of human consciousness.
The Hero’s Journey, as defined by Joseph Campbell and used by George Lucas in Star Wars, is what unlocks the next level of human consciousness.
And while Dave may be right in that George Lucas may not have been aware that The Hero with a Thousand Faces deals with unlocking human consciousness (just like so many people today are unaware of this when they misinterpret the Hero’s Journey as just a formula for writing a great story). Joseph Campbell was completely aware that the Hero’s Journey was an allegory for unlocking the next level of human consciousness. In fact, he was aware that it held the key to unlocking multiple levels of consciousness, as the Hero’s Journey is repeated in life.
But perhaps Dave was fully aware of this at the time but found emphasizing Star Wars worked better in telling his story, especially in light of him talking about the Jedi and the Sith, which I’ll discuss more in detail later.
Levels of Consciousness > Vertical Development
A key to unlock a next level of human consciousness.
Another observation which happens to be a direct experience: Well this is going to sound a little weird, but I think humanity has levels, and I think that I know this because I just achieved level two. Yes, I have leveled up. I am not sure yet if this is a learning path that can be replicated, but I think it can, because the Universe reveals her secrets to those who are patient, observe carefully and gently, and wonder. More about leveling up later, and if you join the School of the Possible we can go into it in depth. But all this only works, it only works, if you have a true and living purpose burning brightly in your soul. Short version: It’s awesome! But it might disrupt your sleeping patterns. Actually, it might possibly disrupt your whole life. Because working with possible facts is fascinating work. It can be compelling and addictive to see your ideas become real things, worlds even. It’s exhilarating but it’s also exhausting.
We cannot know the global mind in this moment. This is a moment of original magic as well as deep natural logic, that you will have to confirm by performing this experiment for yourself. You can’t take anyone else’s word for it. You have to do it yourself. We may know it intimately one day. I’m not sure. Maybe that’s level three.
Now the second aspect in episode five that goes much deeper than Dave may have been aware of is when he talks about levels of consciousness.
What this is talking about is vertical development.
In effect, vertical development is the overarching narrative that describes and helps us understand how we “level up” through multiple levels of consciousness in life. And the Hero’s Journey is the narrative or allegory that describes what this inner psychologically journey feels like in “levelling up” one level which requires us traversing a stage of development to do so, like an unknown part of our inner terrain that we need to explore and map out.
But what Dave may not be aware of is that what he’s describing here (i.e. level 1, level 2, level 3) are not actually levels so much as “plateaus of growth” which align with Robert Kegan’s work in describing the Socialized Mind, Self-Authoring Mind, and Self-Transforming Mind as a larger theory of adult development.
But within these expansions, as I like to call them, are actual more granular levels which equate with our level of consciousness and our stage of development, as well as our worldview.
Every human being grows in stages of psychological development, operates at levels of consciousness and makes decisions about how to get their needs met based on their worldview.Richard Barrett
Playing The Game
And in our game, one team is proposing a more beautiful world and actually playing a different game, a Jedi game, which will confuse and disorient the Sith, and by the time they figure out we are playing a different game, the game will be over and we will have won.
But the game we will be playing is a different game, a higher game, dare I say a more evolved game. And since it is a game that pits level two humans against level one humans, I am confident we will win. We just need to get enough people to decide to join the game.
So really, people, we have to spend less time and energy on the little games and more time and energy on the big game, the infinite game. We must put purpose first.
Yes, it’s a story, but it’s also a game. A game with a lot of thought behind it. A silly game, an absurd game, but a game designed to point at the ludicrous and undeniably absurd foundations that are still there, but are clearly obsolete and need to fall away. Because the game is necessary to simplify the battle for the global consciousness
And if we are building a global consciousness and we can some how imbue it or infuse it with powerful forces and playfulness and infinite gamesmanship, maybe, just maybe, I can imagine that we might even generate or discover or find some kind of force that we decide to just call The Force, and we will develop into real Jedi, with real Jedi skills and powers that seem today to be too fantastical to be possible.
Okay, it’s a science fiction story that has a theory inside it, with an experiment inside the story, an experiment which is also a game, which is also a strategy for opening a door that will open a new universe of possibility. But what a story!
Every activated node grows the global mind by one, and when enough nodes are activated, we will reach the tipping point, and the cascading effects will kick in, and we will be on to the next great infinite adventure game, the quest for level three.
So if you are trying to figure out how to game the rules, or subvert them, please move on from that notion.
What Dave is describing here is that not only are there levels of consciousness but each level is like its own game that we’re playing within a larger overarching game. So again the Hero’s Journey is a story but it also leads us to seeing an infinite adventure game that we’re also playing and questing within. (Come on! You really have to be seeing the obviousness of where I’m going with this, right? More on this later in another post though.)
But to simplify this even more so, what we have to recognize is that even though we may think we are “adults”, inside we are all still children playing make believe. Think about it. Each massive shift that has occurred before in history was also an experiment, a new game to play, just like the one we are trying right now.
The only difference between people at “level 1” (Socialized Mind) and people at “level 2” (Self-Authoring Mind) is that the people at “level 2” realize that the reality we are living within is one that was constructed by us, thus we can imagine and construct another. People at “level 1” though aren’t aware that their reality has been constructed and thus they believe things within it are permanent and never changing. This is why people at “level 1” are often fearful of change, whereas the more a person levels up, the more they will be able to cope with and even embrace change as a creative life “force”.
This also gets to the very heart of how a person often begins their levelling up process. A person begins to question the assumptions of their “reality” and they begin to realize it’s just a construct, a simulation, a game that they’ve been playing, but one created by someone else. And they realize they can change the game and create their own path forward, as noted by Dave below, and what the Hero’s Journey is all about. In effect, the Hero’s Journey as its own game is a fictional story talking about the truths of life, metaphorically explaining our inner psychological journey as an outer mythical journey.
I mean, once you see these assumptions for what they are, and you really start to notice them and ask questions about them, you realize that not only are these assumptions highly unlikely to be true, they are arrogant as all hell and they are easily shown to be false, simply by observing them carefully with non-industrial eyes. Because these assumptions are a lie. And this can be proven by experiment. An experiment that I will share with you, that cannot be done by anyone else. Each person has to do this experiment for themselves, because this is an experiment that involves both your inner and outer worlds and the feedback loops that connect your inner concept of reality with the actual reality you experience.
Sith > Shadow Self
Why the Sith are not the real enemy.
Most of the time, Jedi are pursuing their purposes and ignoring the Sith altogether! Jedi cannot fight the Sith for too long without becoming Sith themselves, so this is a thing to be avoided if possible. Because the purpose is the thing that a Jedi cares about. Not fighting. The only enemies a Jedi ever has are those who would distract or deter them from their purpose.
When the Jedi meet a Sith, they don’t see an enemy. They see a person who has become lost, who has strayed or become disconnected from the true purpose. And a true Jedi will only fight Sith if it is the last possible resort, because a Sith Lord is simply a Jedi who became lost when they strayed from the one true path.
Oh, yes, this is also a theory about good and evil, and two sides, but the two sides are not fighting the same fight. In fact the Jedi are playing a different game than the Sith, and that’s why it’s so important for every Jedi and every possible Jedi to get involved in this consciousness-leveling-up thing that we are doing.
Don’t ever forget that we are all people. Even when you are an obstacle, a barrier, standing between a Jedi and their purpose, you are still a person. That is a strength of the Jedi and a weakness of the Sith. You see, the Jedi view every living thing as conscious and worthy of respect. The Sith are only interested in immortality, power, domination and control. These different world views lead to different cultures, a culture of the possible and a culture of control. All these us’s and them’s are really all just people. They are not good or evil, they are just people. And anyone who is on the other side today is just one tiny assumption away from being on the side of purpose and potential and possibility. Just one.
These Sith within Dave’s story are our “shadow selves” which distract us from our own growth and development, thus blocking us from heroically levelling up and discovering our true selves and true purpose (as Jedi) which is what the Hero’s Journey is all about.
Why this is poignant is because back in 2011, the following words flowed out of me, almost as though I wasn’t writing them. And at the time, I wasn’t sure of the meaning of what I was writing but it became more and more more evident as time went on. I realized that the real enemy is within us. But it’s not even an “enemy” but just an aspect of ourselves that has “lost its way” as Dave notes. When we can bring this shadow self “home” and reintegrate it with ourselves, healing ourselves in the process, we will be able to achieve things we couldn’t imagine possible before because we will be playing, learning, and working on a whole new level in a whole new world.
There is an epic struggle going on, a war if you will. This is no typical enemy though. We need to be real creative in fighting it. Why? Because this enemy can’t be seen. It lies within us, fighting for the very control of our hearts and minds.
We are our own worst enemies. We are our own heroic liberators. Action or inaction will determine our fate. The choice lies with us and is our responsibility alone, whether we like it or not.Nollind Whachell
Creating Our Own Stories
And this is why I have stretched my story out so long, and strung it out in such a convoluted and redundant and long-winded way. Because I had to think my way through this, and since it was a demo I had to feel my way through the story and imagine the questions and think through the pieces and parts, and a story is the tool we use to make sense of the world, and we still love stories, but the industrial world is so good at churning out great stories and they are so entertaining and that’s great, and I love them too, but we have forgotten how to create them for ourselves.
Now before I end this segment analyzing episode five though, I’d like to cover this one final quote from Dave above because I think it’s extremely important. What people need to realize is that writing out something helps us to think about it and feel our way through it, sense-making our way through it. This is because when we’re writing out something, we almost having a conversation with ourselves.
That’s something people need to realize about the Hero’s Journey as a whole as well. When you begin your Hero’s Journey, you are effectively beginning a deeper intrapersonal relationship yourself. And in doing so, you begin to understand yourself on a deeper level by conversing with yourself (i.e. blogging, journalling, etc). This embodies the Hero’s Journey because you’re spelunking deep within the “dungeons” of yourself and discovering things about yourself and bringing those “treasured” aspects of yourself back to the surface and into the light, sharing your gifts with others.
This is why I think noticing things and note taking about them, so as to wonder and question about them is something that’s a profoundly important part of this process, as Dave mentioned. That’s because when we begin to question about things in our lives, we begin a greater quest in our lives towards a larger sense of our Self.
How To Start A Lab
It’s easy and it’s also hard and it’s also something you should do anyway. Here’s how to do it.
You know you have a personal purpose, right? Your reason for existence. Why are you here on this planet? If you don’t know, I want to help you figure it out. There is a simple recipe for this, and here it is:
Just write a medium post that clearly states your purpose in the world. Tell us about the place you want the world to become. There are a few examples below.
Then answer a few simple questions about your personal purpose. If you haven’t done it, you should, and you know you should, and as a reward, if you actually do it, we want to see it and share it with the world.
Q. What is the future you want to create?
Q. How do you track progress?
Q. How are you doing so far?
Q. What are you NOT doing?
Q. What have you learned so far?
Q. How can you help others? (+ a way to connect directly)
Q. What help do you need? (+ a way to connect directly)
We’re finally nearing the end of this monumental, deep dive into The School of the Possible and I think covering the final lab page will really emphasize where things deviated for me, especially considering how so much of what Dave wrote up until the lab page resonated with me on an extremely deep, almost profound level (yes, even when I first read it five years ago).
Purpose > Vision
The first thing I’d like to emphasize here is something I mentioned earlier. Your purpose is something completely different than your vision. That’s because your passion and purpose are looser, more abstract things that guide you in terms of feeling your way forward but your vision is something more detailed and concrete, an actual destination you want to reach.
So back then, I had a decent idea of what my passion and purpose were. My passion was identity and my purpose was helping people to integrate or heal their identity. Like even when I was a teenager playing Dungeons & Dragons, I was fascinated with create identities for NPC “characters” and even fascinated with the character of my friends in real life (i.e. the choices they made) as they played their player “characters” in the game.
But describing my vision, how I was trying to put my passion and purpose into practice was something completely different. And to me that’s what Dave was asking here. He wasn’t asking me to articulate my purpose, even though that’s the word he used. He was really asking me to articulate my vision. And I think that was the deeper thing that felt so off with the lab page.
Interpersonal Conversations > Vision
Now as I mentioned before as well though, if the School had treated me like a “student” first, creating a conversation within it, either between Dave and myself (which is impractical I realize, as it would have overloaded him) or between myself and other students, then possibly those conversations would have helped me to make sense of my own vision and articulate it more clearly.
Why this is important to understand is because my vision is not something that was planned. It is instead something that intuitively emerged from my life experiences, almost pulling me like a “call to adventure” without really telling me how to proceed with it. So again, you’re not rationally deciding where to go but rather you’re exploring and feeling your way more than anything, navigating and testing different paths to see which is the right one for you.
Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds
I think the icing on the cake though for the lab page was when it asked the question, “What have you learned so far?” Uh, like how much time do you have and how much space do you have for me to write this out? Understanding vertical development is enormous, as it like realizing that our reality is just one within a larger multiverse, with each level of consciousness like it’s own reality.
Now imagine me trying to write that out five years ago, when I couldn’t even make sense of it as a whole…at least as a larger narrative / allegory that might make sense to people like I think it can today. So it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough of a sense of it. I had too large of a sense of it. But I couldn’t organize and articulate the maze of narratives in my head into a larger cohesive narrative to explain it others.
The School Teaches The Larger Game
This is why I think this final lab page deviated from the greater potential of what this school could have been. That being teaching this larger game of life and the multiple levels it contains. Because when you realize that, that’s when you also realize you can create your own game. And you do that by recoding your “self” and coding a whole new game for you in the process. That’s what Robert Kegan’s Self-Authoring Mind embodies.
So the students of the school learn the true foundation of our constructed reality and in doing so are able to create their own reality. And that reality that they create, their own framework, becomes their platform to help other people with. And helping these “students” figure that out and articulate it, should have been the primary purpose of the school, with the final articulation of their visionary platform as the event that “graduates” them from it, becoming “teachers” in the process.