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In search of a better way to live and make a living, and a better understanding of how the world really works.



May 27, 2008

Talking to Myself

Filed under: Working Smarter — Dave Pollard @ 22:58
portrait 6…In which Dave the Introvert and Dave the Extrovert debate who he is, what he’s meant to do, and where he belongs. Perhaps, as a good friend suggests, it’s a process of elimination?

Dave the Introvert: OK Mr. Love-Conversation-and-Community-are-Everything, let me get this straight: You, the guy who doesn’t like most people very much (you clearly prefer the company of animals), you, the guy who is not very good at loving, or conversation, or community (they are conspicuously absent from your who-you-are and what-you’re-meant-to-do three-circle charts), you are going to (a) start an Intentional Community, with all the persuasion and selling (which you hate) to get members, all the messy emotional negotiation and organization (which you’re inept at), all the compromise (tough for an idealist like you), and then (b) create this think-tank-thing you call AHA!, with more persuasion and selling (to get members and clients), all the organization (which you have no patience for), all the facilitation (which you have neither talent nor passion for), and all the stress (remember your nerve-wracking innovation consulting career?) that you can’t handle. What in the world are you thinking?

portrait ADave the Extrovert: I suppose you would have me spending my life in solitude, in a yurt somewhere, writing. Tried that, you know. In the first place, I’m not good enough at it, especially in the fiction marketplace. Talk about stress and suffering! And how many times have I started my novel The Only Life We Know, only to shred it and start again, and again? And you know how, after just a few hours of solitude, I start to crave intelligent conversation again. Remember, the who-you-are circle is titled “Who You (Would) Love Being”. I may not be a great conversationalist, or great at loving people, or great at creating community, but I love all of these things. Of course I’d prefer someone else to establish the Intentional Community and AHA!, and just invite me to play the role in both of them that I’d do best. But we know that’s not going to happen — this is all Too Far Ahead. Someone has to take responsibility, someone has to start, to be the catalyst. Attract the right people, and soon they can take over the organization and selling and the other stuff I don’t want to do.

Dave the Introvert: You know you have neither the talent nor the stamina to be the heart and soul behind an IC or your AHA! centre. You keep coming up with these ideas, but they’re stillborn. You get comfort from them as ideals, but you’d never dare really try to make them work because you know you couldn’t. Fear of failure, man. You know that, like Pohangina Pete described, as soon as you get an idea you already start to think about, and understand, why it wouldn’t work. Listen to your instincts. Time to get real and move on.

Dave the Extrovert: Move on to what? Things are the way they are for a reason. If my Sweet Spot isn’t imagining possibilities, in AHA! or writing fiction, and isn’t being a model in an IC, or creating a model for Natural Enterprises in non-fiction, then it doesn’t exist.

Dave the Introvert: Your problem is you mistake what the world needs, from someone, with your Purpose. You say that one’s Purpose is what is needed that you care about. And perhaps the world needs models of ICs and Natural Enterprises, though I doubt the world is ready for them. And if they are, then you might have the prescription for them, but you’re not the one to implement. You hate the details of implementation, they bore you. And you’re no good at them. And your prescriptions, clever as they are, are just ideas. Hollow. Dime a dozen.

Dave the Extrovert: Your problem is you’re a defeatist. You’re the one who’s afraid to try. It’s easier for you to rationalize inaction, just going on doing what you’re doing. Your small, faithful, patient blog audience deserves more of you. You want to stop feeling like you’re letting people down? Then do something hard, bold, and stick with it until it works, so no one is let down. What have you got to lose? If you discover that wasn’t the Sweet Spot for you, then pick yourself up and find out what is. And while you’re at it, write the damn novel, keep at it until it’s done, or realize that it’s another lame idea, take it off the list, and try something else. You’re running out of time.

Dave the Introvert: And what if I find out, we find out, that none of our Gifts, our Passions and our Purpose overlap, that for us there is no Sweet Spot? How are we going to feel if we realize that what we’re good at has no Purpose? That what we love doing has no Purpose?

Dave the Extrovert: Always the dramatist! Maybe our Gifts and Passions have no Purpose yet — that’s the quandary of being Too Far Ahead. You can’t make people want or need what they aren’t ready for. In the meantime we have to be pragmatic — maybe spend 1/3 of our time doing something we’re good at that’s needed that we don’t really love doing (e.g. helping Natural Enterprises), and 1/3 of our time doing something we’re not that good at, that’s needed, that we really love doing (and work to get better at it, e.g. conversational skills). And then 1/3 of our time doing something we love doing, whether it’s appreciated or not — fun stuff (e.g. writing). That’s not so bad, if you can suppress your insufferable idealism.

.     .     .     .     .

Perhaps Dave the Introvert and Dave the Extrovert both think too much. There is much wisdom in my friend Siona‘s advice…to just be myself:

To me it seems that there really is only one requirement (for you to be fully yourself) and that the authentic realization of this can’t help but embrace what you’re good at (no one is going to be better at being you than you are) as well as what you love (what other joy would there be than to truly be your own genuine self?). It’s hard for me, frankly, to pull those three rings apartóI want to be nobody but myself; it’s what I do best; it’s what’s required of me; it’s what I love doingóbut then I don’t really feel the need to. I think Mariella makes a beautiful point, too. I could no more distill an essence, or even a constellation of uniquely defining characteristics, than I could count the drops in the ocean. Who I am (what I’m being) changes from moment to moment to moment, and watching and accepting that constant change, the birthing and dying of emotions and thoughts and sensations, is part of the joy of beingness itself. This impermanence is affected by and interconnected with all those beings around me, and allowing myself to rest comfortably with these shifts affords them a similar freedom. A question, if you have the time, and if you’d like to indulgeme: If you felt at home in the world, what would you do next?

I love Siona’s final question. How would you answer it?

I asked Patti the other day: What do you most need yourself to be? How would you answer that?

Enough of this. Tomorrow, something completely different.

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