Right now I am on the Being a Leader course in Abu Dhabi, it’s not often you get to sit in a room with 250 people who have flown half way round the world to listen to a couple of octogenarians talk about the nature of reality and how it’s all constructed in language. It’s not really the kind of smalltalk you make at the bus stop, maybe at 5am when you come out of Fabric..but not normally with a smart shirt on in a 5* hotel – not guys like me anyway.
In all seriousness though being in a room with Werner Erhard and Steve Zaffron for 10 days is a privilege’ I can’t easily articulate. These guys largely go under the radar but both have changed the world immeasurably in their lifetime. I have followed them for a while reading Steve Zaffron’s book 3 Laws of performance and listening to Werner’s speech’s from the 70’s on YouTube as well as taking loads of the Landmark courses, which are derived from Werner’s work. It’s a huge privilege to hear them speak about the work they founded, whilst namechecking many of my other heroes like Noam Chomsky, Malcolm Gladwell and Heidegger in the same breath.
So it’s about as good as it gets for me, and already on day 2 I feel like I have discovered so much my brain is just popping..
My take home for today was something ‘throwaway’ Werner said. It just got stuck in my head and made so much sense. He said “Don’t be an Is’er”. I.e. don’t go around saying you know how the world IS and thinking you are right..
What I saw in this statement was that actually everyone thinks they know how the world IS, but we have all interpreted the world in our own way. We all share a base reality, but due to our own contexts and cognitive lenses the world occurs to everyone differently and is distorted for us all. I have often heard people talk about getting into someone’s world, and today that landed on me in a whole new way! They literally mean that.. as to some extent we do all live in our own version of reality, billions of personal parallel universes, each with a population of one.
Everyone has their own occuring world (the way the world appears to them), they don’t see it like that though (they are Is’ers). Most people go around talking about how the world IS, and we generally all see the world as it occurs to us as a fixed and concrete thing.. how it is..
It occurs to me that this is a source of a lot of the world’s problems, people hang out with other people who agree with them about how the world IS, and butt up against people who don’t agree. Half of the disputes seem to be about people trying to be right about how the world IS and prove someone else wrong.
Rather than seeing this is just how the world ‘occurs’ to them – they see the world or a situation actually IS that way. This stops them relating to other people for whom the world occurs differently, restraining their options for action in the world, and also in relating to others.
To breakthrough and really have a conversation with someone you need to get into that person’s world. This literally means, listen to them and understand their occurring world. Once you get into someone’s occurring world with them, you can relate to them and truly have a conversation, you get into their reality with them, rather than trying to make them see the world IS like you say it is.
Day 3 starts in 8 hours, if I am lucky I will make the pool before breakfast – I have been walking past it for 2 days and determined to make it soon. Depends if I hit snooze or not on that 6.30 alarm!