A Story

I LOVE CONTROL

I love control. I like to say it because it’s true.

I like my planning of the year. Reporting tools thrill me. And business key figures are my delight. Everything well in hand, everything tightly held, nicely manageable.

When I meet a colleague or a client with whom I can share my enthusiasm, I take fire. I ride the wave of figures and data and get high on my expertise in the wide world of hard facts.

Sometimes what I have planned materializes. Achievement to the point! This catapults me into even higher spheres of enjoying control. I lean back evaluate, plan, and project.and then dive into the rough seas of true reality again.

It’s true: Control is fantastic. It makes me fly.

It’s also true: I wouldn’t know how to do without it. Nothing else makes me experience such a high.

Okay, the high could be higher. As of any drug, I want more.

Because, yes, the high wears out, sometimes I get bored.

Restless for my fix, I look for my next opportunity—something that hits that sweet spot of just enough challenge to satisfy me, get me moving, and feeling my prowess.  Not more challenge, please.

But wait, my high isn’t as high this time. In the shadows, I see a dark blockade lurking. I recognize this wall. I’ve attempted to push through it and it has resisted me.

Deprived of my quick-fix high and tired of turning away from the wall, I resign myself to camp out against it.  I let the taste of boredom melt in my mouth and feel the heat of discomfort rise from my belly. No, this doesn’t taste like a drug. I am alone with myself and my boredom, and the three of us don’t know what to do. A little excitement arouses. Insecurity? Fear? Curiosity? I don’t feel anything clearly. There’s no shape, no color, and nothing to get a hold of.

Someone is calling out to me from the distance. I hear the voice of my colleague, my partner at work, my friend. “What’s it like over there?” she asks.

“Shadowy,” I think to myself.  “Should I tell her how shadowy? Should I really show her that neither I nor my parts know what to do? After all, I am a consultant here. And who am I then? What is going to happen? — And if I don’t show anything, what will happen then?”

I sense nothing tasty is going to come of this, at least not by its own accord.  Mustering courage, I gulp, drop my mask, and present myself bare. The prospect of the wall is worse. Deprived of my expertise, I wave my white flag of surrender.

I’d prefer to have everything well in hand.

“I don’t know what to do,” I concede.

Trembling in my heart, I await her response. How will she receive me? What will she offer me? Have I made the right decision? I’m about to run away when I notice she’s no longer peering down at me. Astonishingly, she’s sitting here with me, joining my lostness, and daring to feel what I feel. “It feels like I’m disintegrating,” her voice wobbles. “There’s nothing to grasp. It feels like the void.” I feel uncomfortably consoled. I need a deep breath.  Here we are–together–in the field of not-knowing. What was at first barely bearable alone, becomes simply bare together. We relax and our void expands. I feel a bit like Captain Kirk and she Spock on the Starship Enterprise. We’ve lost our signal and we’re waiting for what’s on the other side. In this together, neither of us is immune from what lies ahead.

We discover that our not-knowing is a vast field and we’re not the only beings out here–many people have entered before us and more are yet to come.

We are not alone. How strangely comforting! Our void connects us.

The void doesn’t belong just to me, no, it also belongs to us and all the others who have experienced it and are yet to experience it. My void has slipped from my grasp into the void of the world of which I am part. I feel small in the whole, frighteningly adjusted and contained.

The void begins to take shape, color arrives, voices emerge, life teems. I still don’t know anything, neither does my colleague, but our not-knowing is no longer colorless and boring. There’s a bit of taste in it. We begin to explore. It’s almost fun together. We make up a game out of the void, there is laughter, it gets lighter.

Suddenly, I have a spark of an idea. My colleague takes it and adds more. My spark grows to a flame. One of us puts a log on the fire, both of us have the same impulse at once … sputter, heat, splashes of ideas. — We’ve just completely overthrown our project, our website. We start anew, from nothing. We are tracking something we don’t yet have any notion of. It feels right, and completely open.

The new takes shape between our hands. We follow its twists and turns. We co-create it, it grows out of us.

It’s ready. We push the button and launch. Now it’s on the web in true reality. We celebrate.

And next? Gulp…..we feel ourselves bare in the vast field of not-knowing. How will the world receive us? Who will be there to meet us? We’re Captain Kirk and Spock again. This time, we lean into a field of newly emerged trust.

By the way: My colleague and I are marketing experts. How to plan, build and evaluate a website, we know all too well.

Something else: Instead of void or nothing you can fill in depression, passion, anger, shame, pleasure … as we did often times. Meeting in the field of not-knowing is terrifying, amazing, comforting, healing, creative.

And last: To co-create something doesn’t evoke a control high, yet the pleasure exceeds expectations.

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