Letting Go of the Grind to Begin Playing Again

It’s never enough to just tell people about some new insight. Rather, you have to get them to experience it a way that evokes its power and possibility. Instead of pouring knowledge into people’s heads, you need to help them grind anew set of eyeglasses so they can see the world in a new way.

John Seely Brown

A month or two back I said to myself that if I couldn’t figure out a way to articulate my work to people, I was going to give up…at least for the interim. While something I’ve been working on has suddenly clicked in a way that is helping me to makes sense of my work for me, I believe I am still going to give up on trying to persuade people to understand my work.

This is hard to describe but I effectively feel like I’m at a point where I don’t care anymore because trying to articulate and persuade people to see something that they have to be primed to see is effectively impossible, since it requires a transformation of their perception to see it. So not only does the person have to have a basic intuitive feeling about what vertical development is but they also have to have an intuitive feeling that life is a roleplaying game as well. That’s going to be a pretty small percentage of the population.

She stopped “selling” people on the value of what she had learned. It didn’t matter if they had any interest or not, the approach was counter-productive. Her heavy-handed tactics had alienated not only the people who lacked any real readiness for her message but also those who might have otherwise expressed some degree of interest. In fact, the more she was driven by a sense of responsibility to “save everyone,” the pushier she became, further estranging herself from the audience she had the greatest likelihood of affecting.

What finally brought her peace of mind and far more effectiveness when interacting with her colleagues? She reframed her role from a demanding parent trying to force a solution on everyone to a coach providing support—but only to people who said they wanted to play. Although she wished all her colleagues could see the light, Sara narrowed her scope of attempted influence to those who showed an interest in, and predisposition for, what she was advocating.

This style took some getting used to because it meant many practitioners were left unaffected by what Sara had learned. At first, she found it hard to avoid trying to “pull people in” when it was obvious to her how much better their lives would be if they had access to her wisdom. What really helped her to let go was when she realized she wasn’t going to impact them anyway. There were far fewer people actually ready to enroll in Sara’s insights than she had hoped, but by focusing on the ones who were ready to learn, paradoxically, she ultimately had a much greater reach than could have been accomplished by coming on too strong and disaffecting so many people.

Daryl Conner, A Hero’s Journey for the Practitioner

Above all else though, it’s evident that I need to help myself first and foremost if I ever want to help others. So whatever I do going forward, it has to help me map out and make sense of my work in a deeper way (which I think this new approach will hopefully let me do).

All said and done though, I’m exhausted. I just want to find a way to play and enjoy myself in my work again. If others get it, great. If they don’t, then they probably weren’t primed for the metaphorical language I’m using anyways (and would be better suited to a different metaphorical language from someone else).

Such an understanding will also make it clear that finding a guide for your journey isn’t a question of finding a special person. It is a question of becoming a special person: a traveller, a pilgrim, a person on a journey. When you have done that, the whole world turns out to be full of guides.

William Bridges, JobShift

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