The first section of my book Finding the Sweet Spot is about discovering where what you’re good at, what you love doing, and what is needed in the world (that you care about) intersect. The book describes a number of exercises you can use to help hone in on this ‘sweet spot’. Over our lives, as we learn more (including more about ourselves) and change, this sweet spot will change, too. The search for the sweet spot is a lifelong, evolving one.
On the weekend I pointed you to an approach my friend Jean-SÈbastien has successfully used to help a group of people find their collective sweet spot — the work they as a group are ‘meant’ to do. Today I want to bring to your attention an approach you can use personally if you really haven’t a clue what you are meant to do — if you don’t even know where to start. It’s an exercise in acquiring self-knowledge, designed by Otto Scharmer’s Presencing Institute.
The exercise entails answering the following 17 questions, a process that Scharmer says should take you a couple of hours. It’s called the U Journaling Practice, and the questions are as follows:
The purpose of this exercise is not, as it might first appear, to create a roadmap of your future life and career. The real purpose is to get important insights about yourself. If you’ve never thought about your Gifts or your Passions, these insights are likely to come from questions 2, 3, 5, and 7 — but only if you give a lot of thought to them, and if you have either the experience or imagination to really know what the answers to these questions are or might be. If you can’t answer these questions easily, you may have to try some new things to discover what you really love, and what you really do well. You may also find that some of the things you’ve idealized, that you think you would love doing, you’d actually not like at all.
For others, more knowledgeable about their Gifts and Passions, the insights may well come from the “What’s holding you back?” questions 1, 4, 6 and 13.
Questions 8-11 are about perspective. In my book I suggest as an exercise writing your own obituary, assuming you’ve accomplished everything you hoped to in your life, to gain that perspective. Insights from these questions are likely for those who are so bogged down in their day-to-day existence they can’t see any way out, or forward.
If (or once) you have that perspective, the insights are likely to come from the “First next steps” questions 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. If the first 11 questions have forced you onto the high-diving platform, these last questions are the ones that will push you to jump. You may get cold feet and be tempted to go back and modify your answers to the earlier questions, and make those intentions and dreams more modest.
I hope you can resist this temptation. Better to sit down on that high lonely perch and think awhile, than to make the humiliating climb back down the ladder. I confess the last four questions are the ones that I found the hardest, and my tentative answers to them brought me the most startling insight. I’m a lifelong procrastinator, and even in my Last 37 Days exercise (another exercise I’d highly recommend for gaining self-knowledge) I was pretty damned complacent — saying it wouldn’t give me enough time to do anything new and important, so I’d just spend it in reflection, alone.
So my answer to question 14 was: My future begins with meeting a lot of new people, people I’ve intended or always wanted to meet, and inviting them to co-invent our future together. That will take a lot of courage, perhaps more than I have, yet. It will also require me to keep an open mind about the new people I meet, to love them more easily, and to see the opportunity to live and make a living with them, even if it may not be obvious at first. I think I know what I am intended to do, and to be, but perhaps this answer will change as I explore, collectively in conversation in community with people I love, our collective intention.
And my answer to question 15 was: It would be the first collective design of an (intentional) Natural Community with three or four Natural Enterprises operating within it. The very concept of a genuine collective design, of trusting other people enough to have them co-design your future, is very frightening. But I don’t think working models are likely to come from anyone’s individual genius — not social or ecological models anyway, since they are inherently complex. Individual genius is useful only for the merely complicated designs — technologies. And technologies aren’t going to fix what’s broken.
My answer to question 16 was: I haven’t the faintest idea. My initial answer was the people in my blogroll, and specifically that subset in my Gravitational Community shown in the right sidebar of this blog. But I don’t even know most of these people, not really. Somehow, however, I think we’ll awkwardly find each other. With lots of practice inviting others to explore these important questions with us, we might finally learn who we’re meant to live and make a living with. I am completely convinced it is not one person, not a nuclear family. In community is the future of the world, even though almost none of us remembers or knows what real community is about.
And my answer to question 17 was: Keep on being myself, and doing what I do, specifically: to play, to love, to learn, to converse, to give (ideas, energy, knowledge, capacities), to be self-disciplined in maintaining my health and expanding my personal capacity, to write, to reflect, and to be attentive. Some may say that is not ‘intentional’ enough, that it is not a clear vector towards my intentions in questions 14 and 15. But we can only control so much of our own lives, and we have to learn to trust that, by being the best we can be, and by being open, the paths we must follow, together, will emerge from our collective wisdom, and these paths will realize our collective intention.
We must not procrastinate, but we must be patient.
What insights did you get from answering these questions? What did you learn about yourself? Where do you see your future beginning?
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 145 Posts, by category, from newest to oldest ---
Dying of Despair
Notes From the Rising Dark
What is Exponential Decay
Collapse: Slowly Then Suddenly
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Making Sense of Who We Are
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Post Collapse with Michael Dowd (video)
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
If We Had a Better Story...
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
A Short History of Progress
The Boiling Frog
Our Culture / Ourselves:
The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
The Right to Die
CoVid-19: Go for Zero
The Process of Self-Organization
The Tragic Spread of Misinformation
A Better Way to Work
Ask Yourself This
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
May I Ask a Question?
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
Learning From Nature
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
Republicans Slide Into Fascism
All the Things I Was Wrong About
Several Short Sentences About Sharks
How Change Happens
What's the Best Possible Outcome?
The Perpetual Growth Machine
We Make Zero
How Long We've Been Around (graphic)
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self, and Free Will:
Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
Healing From Ourselves
The Entanglement Hypothesis
Nothing Needs to Happen
Nothing to Say About This
What I Wanted to Believe
A Continuous Reassemblage of Meaning
No Choice But to Misbehave
What's Apparently Happening
A Different Kind of Animal
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
Reminder (Short Story)
A Canadian Sorry (Satire)
Under No Illusions (Short Story)
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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