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Not Getting Stuck

  12/17/13 18:50, by , Categories: Personal, Advice

So I was on the phone with my mom last night. As most people who know me know, I spend quite a bit of time at Landmark. It is the context out of which I run my life when my life is working. At the moment I am in the Introduction Leaders Program (the ILP). This is a program I am doing for the fourth time. The first time around, I met my wife and gave myself permission to be in a great relationship. I also connected to the wireless world (I got a pager; that was a big deal for me at the time). The second time around I got to choose Sharleen all over again, become a teacher, and go back on the stage, acting in my first play since law school. The third time around, I took a four day trip to Germany - I was applying for a job - and reconnected with one of my cousins in Germany, and have been connecting with much more of my family since.

Along the way I have opened and closed law offices, saved a synagogue that was on the verge of financial collapse, passed a few more bar exams, qualified as a lawyer in a second country, home-schooled a child for three years, built some furniture, fixed a lot of stuff (my parents' house, cars, bicycles, computers, a lawnmower, a KitchenAid), rowed more than 12 million meters, run four and a half marathons, run for political office a number of times, taken on my religion, moved to another country, learned another language, raised four amazing kids (thousands of meals, dishes, games), etc.

But that's just some of the fun I had. Courtesy of Landmark, I make a profound difference in people's lives, and the impact has rippled out to thousands of people in the years since I first participated in the Landmark forum.

For all that, I have often been un(der)employed, and have too often reached the end of a day feeling “I'd got nothing done.” I am exiting one of these phases at the moment. I have a program, a coach, a number of new friends who are committed to my success, and admittedly a bit of work to do and a number of habits to take on to carry things forward.

So, what does all of this have to do with my mom? I invited her yesterday to do the ILP. Her response was “I'll do it when you get a job.” Then she started going off on my lack of integrity. There was a time this might have plugged me in (my wife reminded me of $50 for an A), but I was actually amused.

$50 fiasco

In the fifth and sixth grades, I was in a special program the City of Stamford Schools had created called “Project Explore.” As part of this program, on Thursdays and Fridays, we were bussed from our school across town to the Springdale School, where the program took place.

By the sixth grade, being out of my regular class that much caused me some difficulty. I didn't know what was going on a lot of the time, I didn't know how to ask, and I essentially hid behind my clipboard. I came back with a report card of Ns (for Non-Satisfactory) and Us (Un-Satisfactory).

Since I was obviously lacking in motivation - as opposed to say lost and confused - my mother figured I needed an incentive. She offered be $50.00 for each E (Excellent; this is about $250 in 2013 dollars) and $25.00 for each S (Satisfactory). The conversation I had with myself was something like “Oh, apparently the grades are more important than I am. Well if that's how it is, you can stuff it with your damned grades, and your lousy $50 too.”

I pretty much gave up on school that day, and from a grades standpoint, I became a middling student at best.

It took me a long time to appreciate that I love to learn, and there's great value in giving my best, and no shame in having a great grade that can go with that.

So being present to the mess I'd made in the past, I got how ridiculous the attempt to link my work to her doing the program. Landmark's programs are about empowering people in fulfilling what's important to them in their lives. I want her to do the program for her. If what's important for her is my having a job, she might find tools here to enroll me in the possibility that represents for her, but the path of bribery/extortion has never been a good one to take with me, and anyway, why should her fulfilling what she wants in her life be tied to some circumstance in mine.

That said, I can also get that a solid steady job might be a good thing for me at the moment. But if it comes along, I won't take it - or not - because that's the key to my mother doing something, and I won't use it to force her to do the ILP, although I might use it as a lever to get her out to an introduction. I'll take it because it fulfills me, and I won't worry if it fulfills her in some way at the same time.

So this week's invitation is to notice where you get stuck in conversations that have nothing to do with you, that you let stop you and get in the way in your life. Don't do it. It's not worth your life, and in the end it's your life with which you'll pay.

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