Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Figuring Situations Out

This is in response to a call for papers by Dr. Win Wenger for the Project Renaissance Double Festival 2011. Win asks two questions:

"What simple practice might best let you gain traction, building toward your best possible outcome?"

"How best can you bring yourself to be applying/implementing that answer?"

Project Renaissance techniques are notoriously powerful for finding creative answers to troublesome questions with its unique mix of Socratic and Einsteinian technique, otherwise known as imagestreaming. My aim here is not to extend or refine the technique base, but to look at the context within which we analyse situations. I propose that many of weaknesses found lie not within the traditional purview of the Beyond Einstein training, but in the context.

Basically, let us assume that, whatever the question, we can find an answer with standard Beyond Einstein/ImageStreaming (IS) techniques. Two areas immediately present themselves as potential issues:

1. What's the question?
2. What can we do with the answers?

I (mis)quote Jose Silva when I assert that, "If IQ is a measure of how well someone solves problems, then if we can raise their problem solving skills, we raise their IQ." A good percentage of the inhabitants of planet Earth will come across a number of biases in extending their problem solving base which is completely unrelated to the effectiveness of the Project Renaissance techniques. I wish to discuss two of these problems in turn:

Context Bias - Where's the problem?

When we define a situation as a "problem", basically we are saying we have an issue with it. Our internal roadmap, as defined by what NLP calls our metamodels, have a bone to pick with a situation. We would rather a situation not be what it is. Even if we don't know what we would rather have, we just would rather have something else. Or, we might be willing to put up with some situation in the interim, but when a point in time arrives, we want it resolved in a way that agrees with our internal roadmap.

Any and all of the above situations create blindspots which will hinder our ability to solve problems, because they create certain presuppositions about a situation.

1.) We may assume a situation is "bad" and "needs fixing" when in fact it does not, in the greater scheme of things.
2.) We may not know how to phrase a question if we do not know what we want as a satisfactory outcome.
3.) Even if we had a satisfactory outcome according to our roadmaps, there is no guarantee that we are correct in our assessment of what is satisfactory, or that it is even possible.
4.) We may also be missing a better outcome orientation because of what we want.
5.) We may be outright wrong, and a situation may in fact be perfectly acceptable - we just don't like it.

So, in finding the right questions to ask, we have to consider all these possibilities before even getting to the problem solving stage. It is not wrong to put questions such as the following through the Beyond Einstein processes as preliminaries:

(a) Given my mindset, what is the most optimal outcome of the resolution of this problem?
(b) With my mindset's current flexibility, what could the most optimal outcome of the resolution of this problem be?
(c) Why do I have a problem with this?
(d) With my complete willingness to change and adapt with the situation, what is the most optimal outcome of the resolution of this problem?
(e) If I were not who I am, what is the most productive/useful/empowering etc. way of perceiving the situation?
(f) How would an "optimal me" perceive and assess this problem?

Sometimes the questions will be irrelevant. At other times, we may well discover that we ourselves a key issue in the problem. And my personal experience is that a lot of times, we are. The dangers of too external a focus become evident even when we ask these questions without applying standard IS techniques.

My own research into problem resolution suggests that the dissonance that is the dissatisfaction with a given situation arises from the fact that we wrap our minds too tightly around a number of things. Notorious within this category are our identity and what we conceptualise something to be. Because of who we think we are, and how we perceive it to be threatened when one scenario of reality plays out rather than the other, we perceive a "problem". Similarly, because of how we label and conceptualise the essential characteristics of a problem (different people may emphasise different characteristics, or even mix values into it), a situation becomes acceptable or unacceptable.

There is much to be said for the theme in the human potential movement that talks about acceptance of a given situation. However, for practical purposes, solutions must still be sought. Nonetheless, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that we may be calling a rope a snake. And that instead of calling for exterminators the "problem" might be solved simply moving it aside. Or ignored, for that matter, for it does not pose the danger we thought it did.

This leads us on to the application of solutions bit.

Blindspots: I don't understand it/can't do it!

One of the trickier aspects of the IS process involves decoding the actual stream of images. One of the causes of these blindspots is the fact that what may be a perfectly obvious solution to someone else may be invisible to us due to the way our mind habitually works. That is why we have the Joking Analyst process to help with this, at least as far as the decoding is concerned. I will avoid discussion of actual processes here and assume that, for better or for worse, an acceptable answer has been arrived at.

I say "for worse", because more often than not these solutions do not get implemented. A large part of that has to do with (again) perceptual bias and identity. This is not meant to be a thesis on the subject, so I will withhold many of my more involved comments. Suffice it to say that how one views oneself will have a very large impact on how effectively the solution is implemented. A lot of literature in the last decade or so have focussed on "congruence" - how a solution must be in line with someone's passions, beliefs or thought processes. That would indeed be an ideal situation. However, I am finding that many people's passions, beliefs and thought processes create such a dead loop that very little productive comes of it.

In delving into my old libraries, I have noticed that whilst much of the literature and recommendations from the human potential movement are the same cats wearing shiny new spots, a number of players are conspicuous by their absence from about the mid-1990s. These include: resilience, determination, ingenuity and the willingness to be a maverick. Resilience has since devolved into a dirty word, it seems. Determination is now called resistance. Ingenuity is missing altogether, since the industry appears to prefer pussyfooting around people's lack of self-esteem. And willingness to be a maverick? In my capacity as both spiritual and life coach, I have come across precious few of those, although they still exist.

I am not saying that these traits are the key. In fact, I agree with some of the criticisms. However, creating change in a situation involves also changing oneself. Thus, one key question that needs to be asked is, "How should I position, change or adapt my personality/identity/self-image in an acceptable way in order to best implement the solution?"

Food for thought, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you and goodnight.

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