This post is part 3 of 4 in the series Background.

Intention of the exit statement:

  • document personal and academic development
  • provide a self-assessment of the learning goals listed in the entry statement.

Personal and academic development: big picture

Can a good-ole Texas boy who enters the world commanding and controlling, become a true collaborator and consensus-builder in his mid-adult life? YES and more.

What do I want? What result am I creating?
A deep, authentic relationship with myself through an ongoing effort to close the gap between my espoused values and my actions. I strive to live each day with purpose, aligned with my values and goals. I look within for direction.

I am moving from speaking to listening, creating moments for deep listening to others. I am increasing the awareness of my body, creating solitude each day by clearing my thoughts and listening to my breath. Through these moments of listening, the music of Paul is returning.

When I sense there’s a problem, anxiety or stress, I first explore how I’m coping, looking for the deeply ingrained patterns that are self-protective and ineffective.

I strive to go with the flow. I love to leave the path of least resistance and go upstream.

Deep, authentic relationships with others. Life is joyful when I’m on this journey with my life partner, a close friend, colleagues, or a client team. When I invite them to journey with purpose, we are curious and connected. I approach these relationships with care and compassion, knowing that everything I do is an intervention.

I see possibilities for greatness in people. I create a safe space for others to find their own music; I help them find their own purpose, values and goals. This process is energizing and as the new possibilities emerge, the momentum builds to help put words and ideas into action.

I believe in this reinforcing engine of success: The quality of our relationships reinforces the quality of our thinking, that reinforces the quality of our actions, that reinforces the quality of our results (living life to the fullest). That continues to reinforce the quality of our relationships…

“I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you want to be.” — a paraphrase from Martin Luther King

A laboratory of learning for extraordinary experiences. I am a seeker of knowledge, options and choices. I approach each situation with a spirit of curiosity, wonder and delight combined with a lack of certainty. I strive to understand my learning styles and patterns while appreciating others’ gifts and different perspectives. This co-learning / co-creating relationship allows abundant possibilities to bloom.

Pursuing this in a context of finding our “best selves together” (What’s working? and How can we have that more often?), fuels our resources to play and push the limits. These positive emotions give us the resilience needed to face the challenges that come when creating the extraordinary. We are better resourced to go with the flow, to be flexible and adaptable.

I find questions, “letting go” and silence to be terrific tools for this exploration. Searching for the unasked questions opens our individual worlds to make one. Loosening expectations and adding silence frees each person to find their own space and explore.

Believing the answer is in this system when I don’t understand, I look inside myself and I ask others. I set aside my beliefs and open myself through a willingness to change, in order to really hear what others are saying. Trusting that the answer is within our collective reach brings calmness through the inevitable stress or crisis.

Where I used to search for the “right answer,” I now expect the answer to come in multiples of choices and there are usually opportunities to combine choices. When this decision-making process is with others, we create extraordinary opportunities at the same time we deepen our relationships.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful that most of my questions are still unanswered and the journey of discovery continues tomorrow.

A practice that helps me to be willing to be afraid. The rewarding adventures in my life have come when I walked through doorways of fear. Most of my fears are about the unknown and I’ve learned that my assumptions are far worse than the actual event. I’ve also learned that close relationships can provide the catalyst for my seeing the other side of the doorway differently, so being vulnerable and sharing my fears with others is essential.

In the past, I have thought of myself as “fearless” — as in having no fear. Now I think of myself as “willing to be afraid.” The fear gives me energy and courage to take the leaps required.

Now when I think back on my past doorways of fear, they don’t seem as huge. In hindsight, the new view is so appealing, why would I stay outside the door for any length of time?

What I know now I didn’t know then

This is a sample of the many new learnings that have come through OSR.

Now (June 2005) Then (September 2003)
The interconnectedness of systems that I used to perceive as separate.
Patterns in nature are also found in human beings. There’s very little difference between human beings and other living things.
Big differences between peoples.
Complexity can bring emergence to a higher level. Adding complexity is a good thing, as long as the system is monitored. Trying to put order on chaos works against the system — actually making life harder. Put order onto chaos to make life simpler, predictable, easier to maintain.
The answers are in the system. What we have is what we need. Never enough. I know what’s best. Always looking for the fix, the right answer.

I can ask for help. Learning is more fun and a much richer experience in the company of others, especially my learning triad with Dorothy and Susie.

When it takes a village, the learning is transformative. My life partner, David; my advisor Bill; my learning partner in California, Claire; my degree committee: Gino, Holly, MaryAnn; close friends in the cohort: Andy, Angie, Jill, JoAnn, Valerie and Tom; on the design teams and CLG, the Saturday learning group, Seattle connections: Sue, Virg, Diana, Sterling, Jon; my psychologist Ron Malloy, James at All Saints, Tracy and Gabriel at Big Mind; and good thoughts from LA: Barbara, Harry and Terry; from DC: Beverly and Chris; and from France: Denise and Jack. To the Master Chorale staff and board for a rich learning lab; and the UPS guy for dependable deliveries from Amazon.

I have to do this myself. No one else will understand me.
Look at the triple bottom line — society, economy, environment. Bottom line = $$ net revenues and expenses
Understand the culture before trying to change it. Be open to understanding. Check the assumptions I am making because my culture is different from others’ culture. I know what’s best. What worked in the past will work here.
Leadership is an activity for everyone. Leadership is authority.
There are no essential truths. There’s no correct way; there’s a way that we agree upon. There is the right answer and I’ll find it if I dig deep enough.
Trying for perfection, for that level of control, is absurd. There are always others involved. Perfection is attainable if I were only good enough to …
No project is perfect.
People are doing the best they can with the resources they have. My world is a safe place to come out and play. People can be deceptive, looking out for their interests only; People are scary. I have to protect myself from them.
Congruence honors myself, my experience, my feelings, my needs. I also honor the person I’m in relationship with and I honor the context of our relationship. Congruence is telling the truth.
The demons of my past create the positive values that give me energy to help others. If I work, work, work for the betterment of others, my demons will go away.
There are gaps between my espoused theory and my theory in practice. I have a theory in practice?
There are moments in life when command and control are good things. Get rid of command and control.
A command is not an invitation, and I’m learning how to invite. Commands are invitations, you don’t have to do them.
Transformative change comes through adaptive work: a change in values, beliefs or behavior. Transformative change comes through technical problem solving.
We can do the adaptive work needed at the same time we are working on daily tasks — we can incorporate it.  Answer to “we don’t have time…” We can do the adaptive work OR we can do our daily tasks. What are we going to give up to do the work we need to do?
What will emerge in the chaos? stable, normal, control, predictable, harness, purge
What bothers me about other’s behavior is usually about my own. Other people bother me.
paradox: there are numerous contradicting answers Pair of docs: Is it so bad that I need two doctors?
ambiguity: living with multiple understandings of a situation Am big UT: The University of Texas is THE university. It’s big.
both/and: replaces OR and BUT and opens up possibilities. Both/And: Huh? How do I know which one is right?
autopoeisis: I’m a work in progress, learning how to spell this and learning what it means. auto poise cease: stop driving in “automatic pilot,” Where are you going?
To restore safety, find mutual respect and mutual purpose. I don’t know how to make it safe.
Balance in my life comes through reflection and downtime. The struggle for balance in my life comes from doing with what I’m passionate about and getting rid of what I’m not passionate about.
There are processes that take a positive approach to problem solving. In creative endeavors, say what’s positive before offering suggestions for change.
When I speak through my heart, I’m here, present, in touch. Why the disconnect between my head and heart? I’m still solving problems from my 13 year-old self.
I am a very complex person. There must be a simple answer to the confusion about myself.
Everyone at work is working out their unfinished family business. I’m complicated and the people around me are idiots.
When I sense stress or anxiety, I look inside myself for the answer. When I sense stress or anxiety, it’s the people and environment around me creating it, and maybe me.
I make commitments to myself. The commitments to others come from the commitments I’ve made to myself. I make commitments to others before I make commitments to myself. When I feel overwhelmed, I shut others out to make commitments to myself.
I enjoy working in relationship and am expanding my comfort zone. I can command groups of 100 or more. I have a hard time being in relationship with a group larger than 4 people and/or cats.
I have the tools to support my commitment to a rich and ever evolving relationship with David, my life partner. I am committed to having a rich and involved relationship with David, my life partner.
I am committed to being fully present in the world — that means creating silence for myself. I am committed to being fully present, living life to the fullest, which means working and doing as much as possible.

Intuitive ideas in the past are now grounded for the future

  • Look at the structure, pattern and process when seeking understanding.
  • Simple explanations are helpful in creating mutual understanding. They are available through: synthesis; visual and kinesthetic explanation using causal loops or models, sculpting, pictures; exploring the senses: taste, sound, sight, smell
  • All models are false and some are useful.
  • Surfacing undiscussables, creating silence and safety are important to me because of events in my childhood, and I have found these strategies are helpful when working with others.
  • “Go with the flow” is a good thing.
  • I enjoy staying in the creative tension and provide calm and encouragement to others to stay there.
  • The train ride to Portland with Susie was a major turning point for me in March 2004. I was the first time I understood how the “positive and negative family trance states” were affecting my relationships. (And that was before we knew what trance states were!) After our conversation, I never saw my mother through Susie again. This intervention played out successfully over and over again, as I studied my reactions to people in the cohort. Our bonding of two people with similar backgrounds and interests made the low points last fleeting days, and made the high points at the top of Mount Rainier. Susie, thanks for taking me to the mountain top at last! Priceless.
  • How I learn is complex.
  • “Go slow to go fast” continues to make sense.
  • I have a clearer idea why David and I are together — more about what was so appealing at first sight. His world view experience. His family of friends. His patience, openmindedness, and mindfulness. His unconditional love. Sharing this experience with me through the readings and degree committee has been a huge gift that has opened many new chapters in our relationship. I enjoy watching him become the grounded interventionist he is so naturally — bringing humor and lightness into his work wherever he goes. I’m so grateful. Now let’s go play.
  • I am a designer for change.

Self-assessment of my learning goals

The bold quotes are from my entry statement, Fall 2003.

“I want to be open to the inevitable surprises that will appear, especially when determining where my next career path will lead.”
I have a greater tolerance for ambiguity and an appreciation for the rollercoaster that change brings. I’m excited about opening myself up to a bigger world of possibilities. I believe I can apply what I’ve learned into whatever path I choose to create.

“I enjoy looking for the big picture and helping people try the changes in strategy that improve their lives and our community.”
I am grounded in the theories of change and have more confidence in my ability to help others explore and find their dreams.

“I expect the OSR program will help me recognize the systems in play and better determine the time and effort that would be required for change.”
I have more tools available to me to help others. The answers for time and effort will come as we begin to learn together what’s in the system, how does it work, and what are the dreams of the system (i.e. the system will determine the time and effort). AND I can estimate time and effort in small steps/contracts to get us started.

“I expect the OSR program to stretch my self-learning — to help give me a fuller perspective of who I am and how I show up in the world. ‘Knowing myself first so I’m able to help others second’ rings true to me. I believe the program will help me clarify many of the questions I’ve been mulling over the last few years, along with bringing new issues to understand.”
I have new understandings about the contradictions between my head and heart. The large gap between the thinking in my head and the feelings in my heart is significantly smaller. I have new ways of being in the world that is less grounded in my past and more present in who I am at this moment in time.

“Where is my role? Am I on staff facilitating change from within? Am I the outside consultant? I’m hoping to clarify where I belong. How do I behave until my role is set? Is my role ever set?”
I want to do this work with others, not alone. The clients I want to work with people who have established relationships and work as a team or as an organization. These boundaries leave me a world of possibilities ahead.

“I expect to learn about group dynamics while forming and operating within a group. The self reflection and group reflection on the process is something I crave.”
I’ve learned about what to look for, how to listen, and how to help the group find its way.

“Pendulum swings become less dramatic. I’m hopeful that through my OSR study I’m able to find and understand how to operate in a middle ground — a combination of my command-control upbringing and my collaborative enjoyment. How do I balance dedication with detachment?”
It’s all a “both/and.” There’s a greater understanding of the pendulum swings, and I believe I have the tools and relationships in place to help me see them coming.


I seek possibilities. I design processes for change that help make a difference in my community and on our planet. I create a safe and stimulating environment to learn more about life in relationships. I challenge myself by looking deep inside, facing my fears in front of others and learning more about how my body reacts to that fear. I have a better understanding about how I learn best, how others accomplish their learning, and how we can learn together. I find that I’m not alone in the world and yet, there is no one else like me. The sharing of learning, especially through reflective writing, expands my worldview. I enjoy challenges, especially those that allow me a look deeper into what makes me tick. I have a greater tolerance for being out of my comfort zone. That is what graduate school is supposed to be.