Making the bad thing go away is a double negative: bad thing and go away are both negative. And to change my life I want positive energy.
What the genius Buckminster Fuller is saying is an important part of why coaching works. My coach does not have me fight off bad habits. My coach has me execute superior methods of living that make the bad things a mere memory.
Often I do this with my own coaching clients. I listen as they talk to me about their problems and I listen carefully for language that is permanent and pervasive. If I find permanent and pervasive phrases in my client's self-description I stop the conversation and explore.
My client, Odessa, (and that is not her real name) would always talk about herself in permanent, pervasive ways. Such as, "I always…." "I never…." Or "I have a tendency to…." Notice that these phrases describe permanent, ongoing patterns. They hint at perpetual motion machinery in the woman that drives her behavior. She obviously believes in personal patterns that explain her actions. She even tells me often, "I have a pattern of always………."
I want to break her of this mental mistake. So I tell her a story. I ask her to follow the story and see if it makes any sense to her.
One night it snowed heavily as my wife and I were watching late night TV. My wife asked me if I would shovel the walk in the morning, and I said I would do that.
The next day when she came home from work at lunch time to have a sandwich with me, she noticed that the walk was not shoveled. She almost slipped and fell on the packed snow and ice on the walk leading up to our door.
"I thought you said you would shovel the walk," she said when she got inside.
"I have a tendency not to shovel walks," I said.
"But you said you'd do it, and if I had known you weren't serious I would have shoveled it myself this morning," she said.
"My pattern has been not to shovel," I said. "Looking back on my life, I tend not to shovel walks. It's a bad habit, I know, but it kind of runs my life and leaves me in situations like this a lot."
"I don't care about patterns or habits or tendencies," she says. "I just wanted the walk shoveled. You said you would do it."
Was my wife being unreasonable to dismiss and discount my patterns and tendencies?
Odessa said that I, myself was being ridiculous to even float them as excuses for not doing the walk.
But that's what you are doing, Odessa, I told her. You are not doing things and then going back into your past to find the patterns and tendencies that explain it. You refuse to see that the past is over. It counts for nothing. Your word counts for everything. Your word you give yourself on whether you are going to do something. The past is over. Your word is all powerful. It is not over.
* * * * *
To avoid the clichés
Of the obituary writers,
Die in obscurity.
A fine bed in a light-filled room
Someone who adores you is at your side
And vowed to silence.
~ Kenneth Koch, "Aesthetics of Obituary"
Or … as Bonnie Raitt says:
* * * * * * *
"If you're a coach, read this book. If you're a mystery buff, read this book. If you're a romance fan, read this book. If you want a great story filled with wisdom, humor, and intrigue, read this book. Steve Chandler does it again: delights and dazzles us with his generous insight and creativity! Great stuff and highly recommended."
~ Robert Tallon, Co-author of Awareness to Action