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Entries for the 'Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block' Category

Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #7: Claiming Full Citizenship

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

thought-leadersThis is the chapter my soul has been waiting for.

While the process of “growing up” didn’t sit well with Block, it describes my internal state incredibly well.

I can feel the tension between complaining that positional leaders don’t see me on the one hand, and simply, freely, and boldly taking action on my values, convictions and ideas on the other.

I can also feel the personal grief and internal resistance to Block’s assertion that growing up involves accepting “that living out our values and also winning the approval of those who have power over us, is an unfulfillable longing.”

I don’t know where that “longing” comes from, but I can recognize it in myself.

This is what I love about reading together. I get the opportunity to recognize in the vocabulary, experiences, and frames of reference of others what I have up until now not been seeing in myself.

Block points to a different sort of maturity here. I would call is a form of poise. A centeredness. A peace about who I am and how different I am from most everyone around me.

The significance of this poise is that suffices for taking bold action regardless of (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #6: Enduring the Depth of Philosophy

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

thought-leadersWe have lost both the interest and the ability to go deep.

We simply do not know how to reflect deeply about what is most important to us. In addition, we aren’t even sure that doing so would make any difference.

So Peter Block asserts, and I concur.

Instead of exploring the value of and means toward becoming people of depth, though, Block focuses on one of the enemies of depth… speed.

Maybe these chapter titles are throwing me off. The titles point to a positive attribute, but the content elaborates on the negative forces that work against the titled attribute.

I find myself anticipating an exposition of the positive attribute (e.g. “depth” in this chapter, “intimacy” in the previous), and come away disappointed when the emphasis is on all that works against intimacy and depth.

With that off my chest, let me think about the problem of speed in my life.

The first insight that caught my attention was how legitimate needs for quick action, immediate decisions and demanding schedules can expand without my (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #5: Sustaining the Touch of Intimacy

Friday, August 12th, 2011

thought-leadersIntimacy is an awkward word to use in the context of the workplace.

We usually associate intimacy with romantic relationships, family relationships, and close friendships… in that order.

Block highlights the importance of this human, relational, connected, interactive, interdependent reality of working with other people.

As you know, I have long counted “Intimacy” as one of the five fundamental “Cries For Life” that, when working with people, we need to account for. So I was very excited to jump headlong into this subject.

I came away from this chapter a bit hungry still.

I thought Block did a better job warning of the dangers of virtual relationships, marketing based relationships, and digital isolation than he did of proposing strategies and ideas for building intimacy into one’s workplace relationships and culture.

Having said that, I did come away thinking hard myself.

The issue of showing up versus hiding at work arose for me. I can choose whether to bring myself fully to my work and the other team members or I can (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #4: Recapturing the Idealism of Youth

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

thought-leadersWhere did the assumption come from? The one that asserts to be idealistic is to be unrealistic and impractical?

Reform, for example, is an extremely grounded and practical outworking of idealism.

The point, of course, is the one that Block makes in chapter four… that our culture casts accusatory aspersions on idealism that both trap people in the fallacious perspective that nothing is possible except what already exists and chip away at the confidence of those dreamers with the eyes to imagine and create all that might still be emerging.

An unrepentant dreamer myself, the challenge of this chapter came in recognizing how many of the lies about dreamers I believe (whether I like to admit it or not.)

I am often torn between what I want and what “I deserve.” Self-interest, as Block describes it, puts me in a fallacious battle over my worth with people and forces I haven’t met yet. The battle becomes a distraction making it difficult for me to recognize opportunities and directions that are deeply attractive and fitting.

I can’t help wondering if I am one of those people who “abandon their desires (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #3: Defenses Against Acting

Friday, July 1st, 2011

thought-leadersFreedom is a funny thing. While a vocational aspiration for many of us, the implication that when free we bear full responsibility for our lives is often too much to bear.

Hence chapter three. Chapter three is where we get the opportunity to check our spoken aspirations against our actual behavior.

I often have myself convinced that I want one thing, and then find that I am acting in such a way that sabotages or contradicts my own desires.

Block does a nice job of pulling out several of these behaviors that work against our dreams.

When swimming around in my own head, it is easy for me to convince myself about the sincerity and passion of my desires.

When confronted with a behavior, like seeking the approval of those in power or collecting “enough” data to make an informed decision, I have a tool for reconnecting myself to reality.

I have a tool to help me shift my focus away from those things that are outside of my control back to my own choices which are in my control.

I have a tool help me notice when I am giving away my power or shifting responsibility off of myself. I don’t need to beat myself up for doing so, as much I need to celebrate catching myself in the act, so to speak, earlier than later.

The good news of chapter three is that I don’t have to stay blind to the subtle means I employ to avoid what I want. The sooner I can spot a fear, an escape, a defense, an excuse, or a weakness, the sooner I can address it.

The sooner I address my “defenses against action” the sooner I’m back to taking action and on the way to being, living and making the unique contribution that I have to offer the world.

Which of Block’s defenses against action do you relate most closely with? How can you reframe an excuse you’ve been making to avoid responsibility into an opportunity to embrace responsibility?

What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.

Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #2: Yes is the Right Answer

Friday, June 17th, 2011

thought-leaders“Ready or not, here I come!”

I think this could be my personal catch-phrase this year. Bold, exuberant, playful, comfortable, audacious, and free from the self-diminishing constraints of playing by someone else’s rules, requesting someone else’s permission, or asking someone else for directions.

My key to Block’s second chapter is realizing that, “we name the debate by the questions we choose.”

I am central to what sort of opportunities are available to the unfolding of my own story. If I frame the plot as linear and scripted by the system, then I have prejudiced and limited my own possibilities.

If I frame the plot as open and not fully imagined until I contribute myself to the process, then the possibilities are unlimited.

If I am looking for the rules, or permission or instructions then I have given away my birthright, so to speak, without anyone even having to steal it from me.

How can anyone else answer whether there is a place for me at the table? The longer I wait for an invitation, the longer I wait.

The second insight from this chapter that resonated deeply with me has to do (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #1: How is the Wrong Question

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

thought-leadersFirst assumptions can be the most difficult to recognize. Beginning assumptions that guide one’s thinking before one has even had a chance to begin thinking.

What if such assumptions were to trap one’s thinking? To mislead and ensnare one in a labyrinth of well-meaning but ultimately self-defeating dead ends.

Peter Block begins his reflections in chapter one of The Answer to How is Yes with just such a survey of fallacious starting points.

If you are new to Thought Leaders Unpacked™ we are not summarizing or reviewing content when we explore these books one chapter at a time.

We are learning, each one of us in particular. We are responding to what challenges us personally.

I am stunned by the insight that asking “How?” assumes that I don’t know and that someone else does know.

I am stunned to witness how easily I denigrate my power, my experience, my wisdom, my expertise and my ability to solve problems by how I frame the question. How I frame the question in terms that assume I am not a crucial part of the answer.

The second personal challenge I encountered was the possibility that my “How?” questions were helping me to miss or avoid more significant questions like, “Is (more…)


Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block

Friday, May 27th, 2011

thought-leadersWe start a new Thought Leaders Unpacked™ series this week with Peter Block’s The Answer to How is Yes: Acting On What Matters.

As you are familiar by now, the chief criteria for book selection is that I have to be willing to learn, stretch and grow myself in the topic area.

Block’s premise is that we end up asking the wrong questions when we believe that life, work, and/or relationships are things about which we simply need to master certain techniques and do the “right” way.

He challenges the assumption that the answers to life and success are all out there somewhere outside of ourselves, and that we need to go discover them, acquire them, and apply them to ourselves.

Life, though, is not something that one can learn to do “correctly”.

He points out that we actually doubt our own abilities and unwisely invalidate our own unique giftedness by buying into the “how” questions.

These themes resonate deeply with me.

I am one of those people who inadvertently subject my dreams to the practical limitations imposed by those who pretend to know the answers. I also hesitate when the means to making a living are not readily apparent.

I am looking forward to taking a more probing look at what is most core to who I am and what I want to be about.

I hope you will join me on the journey and share your journeys as well. Get a copy of the book now and read along.

The Answer to How is Yes: Acting On What Matters

Part 1: The Question
1. How is the Wrong Question
2. Yes is the Right Answer
3. Defenses Against Acting

Part 2: Three Qualities
4. Recapturing the Idealism of Youth
5. Sustaining the Touch of Intimacy
6. Enduring the Depth of Philosophy

Part 3: The Requirements
7. Claiming Full Citizenship
8. Home School Yourself
9. Your Boss Doesn’t Have What You Want
10. Oh, by the Way… You Have to Give Up Your Ambition
11. Care for the Whole (Whether It Deserves It or Not)

Part 4: Social Architecture
12. The Instrumental Imperative
13. The Archetypes of Instrumentality and Desire
14. The Role of the Social Architect
15. It’s a Mystery to Me

Each week I will post my reflections from one chapter of The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
Welcome to the discussion!