The hardest work

The self is always under construction.*
(Harriet Lerner)

Define the problem, not the solution.**
(Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler)

There’s a gap between who you are and who you can be. You often sense this. This is to be human; you cannot undo it:

And the mythological images always pointing toward transcendence and giving you the sense of riding on this mystery.^

We want to fill the gap but often do some more off-the-shelf solution, covering up the problem for a while, but eventually the gap reappears.

Edgar Schein, in considering his work with different organisations, adds detail to why we need to first define the problem:

I had to develop two kinds of empathy. Empathy One is to listen for and be curious about the actual situation or problem that the client is describing. Empathy Two is to listen for and be curious about what is really bothering the speaker as she is explaining the problem or situation.^^

This is also true for the individual. What we think is the issue is not necessarily the prime one:

The protagonist looks for every comfortable way to solve the problem. By the climax, he learns what it’s really going to take to solve the problem.*^

There will always be this gap in your life.

You need to know this, but it is good news. As you get to grips with the problems of being you, then finding the best rather than the handiest solutions, you will find the horizon has also shifted because who you can be is not fixed unless you choose it to be. We are, as Joseph Campbell reminds us, ‘riding on this mystery.’

I was going to write about six protocols for moving towards your future, but that would not be recognising what Schein, Diamandis and Kotler say: problem first.

(*From Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Connection.)
(**From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(^From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(^^From Edgar Schein’s Humble Consulting.)
(*^From BrenĂ© Brown’s Rising Strong.)

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