Paying Attention

I grow weary under the onslaught of information that pervades our wifi world. It is no longer possible to fully participate in work or play, professional or personal relationships and growth without using a screen. Passively (as in television viewing) or interactively (smart devices and computers) we are bombarded with information – images and messages in cascading collage fed incessantly onto the screens we rely on to participate in all aspects of life. Many of us are taking “media breaks” in an effort to counteract the deluge. The breaks, however, are only temporary because modern life demands screen-based interaction.

Attention is a sort of 4 dimensional peripheral vision. Our attention receives information from our senses – our 3D lives – and also receives the thoughts and emotions of our interior lives. Attention can be drawn, directed, focussed, and trained, but we seldom make disciplined use of it. Our attention is demanded and we are paying attention – but are we aware of how and where and why?  We are attention spendthrifts, paying attention without consciously managing how the payment impacts us. . . . read more

Discovering Agreement Is Not A Conversation About The Relationship. The Conversation Is The Relationship.

Traditionally, we start our conversations about our business deals with negotiations of “deal points.”  This leads us to assume that the deal points define our relationship.  Discovering Agreement challenges that assumption. What truly does define a relationship?  Relationship is defined by how we treat each other, by what we share (vision, mission, values, efforts, benefits), by our reasons for joining forces, and by the nature of the ongoing conversation that we have as we journey forward together.

Another common feature of traditional contract talks is that we come together and imagine ourselves as future enemies fighting projected, potential battles and deciding how the burdens of loss or misfortune will be divided amongst us in that imagined potentiality. We battle to get our ‘fair share’; and we negotiate terms to which everyone will concede.

Starting From A New Perspective

When we make a start with Discovering Agreement, our attention is directed first at the basis and nature of the relationship we are entering.  This moment of exploration, clarification, calibration, and mutual creativity is the beginning of the ongoing conversation that we are entering together in order to bring something of value and meaning to the world and to our own lives.  The first step is to come to the conversation with an alert awareness that we are not enemies and that we wish to design a relationship that will never devolve into enemy camps.  We acknowledge that when we work together towards a goal or in an endeavor, we depend on one another, on our shared goodwill and on our shared well-being.

Don’t Let Deal Points Define Your Relationship

The deal points are our Action Plan – important to clarify and carefully consider – but not the defining features of our relationship.  In fact, it is highly likely that we will have discovered in our conversation that the deal points are not the ultimate reason we are taking up the shared work; the deal points are created to serve the ultimate reason for our work.

Discovering Agreement does not suggest that we leave behind our “hard earned calluses of caution and prevention” when we sit down to plan a shared effort.[1] It suggests, instead, that we approach the planning as a side-by-side undertaking where we are joining forces to see if our shared energies and abilities can be harnessed to generate greater well-being for everyone involved – greater than if we did not join forces. . . . read more

The choice:

fitting myself to the system or communicating myself, ‘in my full stature and proportion,’ through the work and the way I choose to do it.

–Linda Alvarez

The common experience is that the man fits himself as well as he can to the customary details of that work or trade he falls into, and tends it as a dog turns a spit. Then is he a part of the machine he moves; the man is lost.

Until he can manage to communicate himself to others in his full stature and proportion, he does not yet find his vocation.  He must find in that an outlet for his character, so that he may justify his work to their eyes.

If the labor is mean, let him by his thinking and character make it liberal.  Whatever he knows and thinks, whatever in his apprehension is worth doing, that let him communicate, or men will never know and honor him aright.

Foolish, whenever you take the meanness and formality of that thing you do, instead of converting it into the obedient spiracle of your character and aims.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Spiritual Laws”

After seeing what was required to fit into the system of traditional practice of law, I realized that I was wholly capable of succeeding in that milieu and also realized that to do so would be antithetical to my character and aims.  A change was imperative. I began searching for what I would/should/could do instead, trying to make a plan, trying to imagine a new direction, a new occupation, and to “get it right” this time.

Available time planners and self-help books seemed to belong in one of two categories.  On the one hand, I found plenty of systems for those who already knew their calling—had fully imagined a new direction and were committed to that new path—and just needed a tool for organizing workflow.  On the other hand were a multitude of voices that advised finding and following a “bliss” regardless of financial imperatives.  (I noticed that most of their examples described people who had a spouse paying the way while the bliss-follower built the new dream.)

I did not have the option to quit my job and chase a dream with no visible means of support; nor did I have the energy to start a new career from scratch while simultaneously maintaining the one I was in.  Filling out questionnaires in workbooks and doing end-of-chapter exercises to illuminate my true bliss did not lead to ACTION.  It all left me feeling hopeless at the thought of all the re-schooling and re-tooling I’d need to leave the law.

I was yearning for a whole-hearted livelihood, not a job or career from which I would endlessly strain towards escape.  And I wanted to find a way to sustain my momentum and motivation once a choice had been made.  I needed a way to keep myself moving forward, bringing my dreams to fruition rather than watching them fade in the face of daily obligations and obstacles.  Unable to find a planner or system to fit my needs, I developed my own—the  Flourishment Planner—to discover and bring into being my new career. . . . read more