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.

Summary

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.