7 takes on falling sanely in love

I never write listicles but this does seem like a pretty good format for summarizing many of the ideas that I’m going to be talking about in my upcoming course The Mating Dance: finding your center in courtship. It starts on Tuesday and there are only a few tickets left so check it out and sign up if it resonates with you!

1. Falling in love is about answering a question: are we a fit?

This question is more important than making the relationship succeed in any particular way. If you try to make the relationship become something in particular, but it doesn’t want to be, you’re inviting a world of suffering.

Put another way, the question is: what does this relationship naturally want to be? It might be that you’re totally fit to be intellectual companions or business partners, or you’re fit to be hot late-night lovers, but not fit to be spouses. And if you’re looking for a monogamous marriage to raise kids in, then any sexual or romantic relationship that obviously isn’t going to become that is uhhh… kind of in the way. But the intellectual companionship could be wonderfully supportive of that.

The fit question therefore also requires that you’re clear enough on how you want to live and raise kids and so on, that you can connect with someone else who wants to live that way. Or you need to make sure that you and your mating dance partner think similarly enough and are very capable of resolving differences, so that you can navigate that stuff.

2. A healthy relationship means that both of you feel like enough, the whole time.

If you don’t feel like enough for the other person, or you feel like they’re not enough for you, then back up until you both feel like enough. It’s not that you can’t challenge each other, but you don’t want to be feeling like every day you’re failing to live up to who the other person already expects you to be.

Some “too close” warning signs:

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The Mating Dance: an online course on falling sanely in love

Have you done enough “dating indefinitely” and you want to get real about courting?

Or do you know a friend (or couple) in that situation: they’ve started seeing someone, and they’re serious about figuring out whether it’s a fit and not wasting time if it isn’t?

If so, I’ll encourage you to check out (or forward to them) my new online course, the first cohorts of which start next week:

The Mating Dance: finding your center in courtship

This course is not for most people, but fortunately most people don’t read my blog.

It’s for people who are asking the following questions and aren’t satisfied with platitudes or simple heuristics as answers, but instead want something they can ground in their sense of “I can tell for myself“.

Is this the right person? Are we moving too fast? Are we hesitating because of some generic fear of commitment or because there’s something we can sense isn’t a fit? Can we resolve this conflict or will it follow us forever?

These kinds of questions are what this course will help you learn to answer for yourself. I don’t have the answers—I have an approach for finding your own answers and helping your partner find theirs.

Mating Dancing as a kind of Non-Naive Trust-Dancing

The Mating Dance is my first group offering where I’ll be sharing the practice of non-naive trust-dancing with people. (If you want help in a different context, you can book a 1-on-1 or 1-on-2 session with me here.)

I’m really excited to be doing this! I’ve already sold 30% of the tickets, and I’m hoping I can make more of my living from helping people have marriages as delightful as my own.

It turns out that the Non-Naive Trust Dance theory that I’ve been blogging about for the last 4 years makes more intuitive sense to most people when applied to courtship than other topics. In particular… in NNTD Q&A, I posited that maybe NNTD doesn’t matter that much except for people who are trying to do leading edge cultural stuff or dealing with some big trust repair situation.

But over the last year as I’ve gotten married and started to talk to more of my friends about their courtship processes and the kind of trust needed to create a stable bond between life partners… I’ve come to realize that even a relatively ordinary courtship demands a level of skill in non-naive trust-dancing that is (currently) extraordinary. And without this, many relationships end up getting stuck partway in the mating dance, unable to move forward or abort, or they end up committing despite major foundational issues.

Said one friend who read some of my writing on mating dances:

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The secret to co-gnosis

Ninth and final (for now) post in “I can tell for myself” sequence.

I know the secret to co-gnosis, aka “we can tell for ourselves”. In a sentence the secret is:

Nobody and everybody knows the secret to co-gnosis.

Nobody knows the secret, in the sense that nobody can simply say “I know how it works and this is it and if you’re not doing it then well idk what to tell you but it isn’t gonna work.” There is no once-and-for-all secret, articulable or ineffable.

Everybody knows the secret, in the sense that everybody is acutely sensitive to what it feels like for their sense of “I can tell for myself” to be respected in a dialogue, and so if you’re in a dialogue with them, then the secret of how to have “we can tell for ourselves” is right there inside the “I can tell for myself” and “you can tell for yourself”. It’s whatever satisfies both.

I’ve been having trouble finishing my “I can tell for myself” / gnosis sequence, and part of why it’s been hard is that my answer to the problem I spend the sequence framing is the same thing I’m already trying to point at in most of my posts. This is the meta-protocol all over again.

And so every time I went to write the conclusion to this sequence, it felt like it was just another post I’d been meaning to write for awhile and which might stand better on its own. Having said that, since we’ve built up some new ways of talking, let’s see if I can give some reflections on the meta-protocol puzzle in terms of “I can tell for myself” and “we can tell for ourself”.

I wrote in the previous post: merely getting everybody in touch with their own knowing isn’t enough. When multiple people are both operating from a grounded sense of what they know, they tend to avoid each other because they see things differently and either don’t know how or don’t want to bother sorting out those differences. It’s HARD. But it’s possible.

Bridging between what I can tell for myself and what you can tell for yourself is an additional skill beyond each of us being in touch with our respective knowings in the first place.

On further thought… it’s a bunch of skills.

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Releasing myself from a confused self-contradictory commitment

I have a commitment that I made pretty strongly nearly 7 years ago, and then 3.5 years ago I sort of released it for myself, and even though I don’t particularly think anybody is holding me to it, it feels wise to formally release it. I would say I released it for myself in 2020 the moment I had my non-naive trust dance insight, but since it was a social commitment it feels right to withdraw it from the social sphere too. It’s good, in general, to follow through with commitments; it’s bad to keep pretending to be committed if it’s no longer alive. In this case I would say I realized that the commitment was both self-defeating (as in I could serve its purpose better by dropping it than by keeping it) and in some sense impossible as stated.

In 2021, I published “Mindset choice” is a confusion, which is precisely about this. In it, I describe how while committing to a project can make sense, committing to a way of seeing the world (except as a very bounded temporary experiment) has within it some basic confusion or commitment to not looking and not listening to things that might counter that way of seeing the world. It may be a useful stepping stone, but that doesn’t make it not a confusion.

In 2017, I had a taste of a new experience of easeful flow, that I tried somewhat unsuccessfully to point at in Towards being purpose-driven without fighting myself. The same day I had that experience, I tried to distill my clarity into something that would help me keep it, and wrote up a commitment that I then performed as a small ritual that evening with my learning community as witnesses (I also ritually repeated it daily for months while donning some rings and a necklace, as an attempt to enact it). I still stand by the spirit of the content of the commitment, but the tone of how I approached committing now strikes me as entirely antithetical to everything that was precious about the experience I tasted and loved so deeply.

This blog post is both a formal renouncement of that commitment, as well as a case study in the whole “Mindset choice” is a confusion insight.

The text of the 2017 commitment read:

I hereby commit (and hereby act on the basis of such commitment)
• to take myself and all others I am in relationship with seriously
as centers of experience, understanding, and agency, and from there
• to take response-ability for generatively re-interpreting
oscillating tensions into creative tensions &
double-binds into opportunities for shared laughter, and thereby
• to be access-able as a resource to collaborators
towards caring for the ongoing survival and thrival of humanity

I hereby uncommit to that, not because it’s not a good way to live, but because it’s the sort of thing that a commitment is not a good way to approach (as far as I can tell). Keep reading for more of my thoughts on this.

Goodself & badself

The context for how I got here today was that I was re-reading The Guru Papers—one of my all-time favorite books, which interestingly I would have first read in late 2016, relatively shortly before the experience of freedom/liberation in 2017 that plugged into this commitment. Specifically, today I was reading the chapter on addiction, which describes the inner struggle for control between some sense-of-self-that-is-good-in-terms-of-social-uprightness/superegos and some sense-of-self-that-seems-selfish-or-self-centered. The “goodself” and “badself”, although these names are tongue-in-cheek and more refer to what they tend to call themselves; in fact, both have both wholesome desires and self-destructive patterns.

And I was reading about their take on Alcoholics Anonymous…

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3 Loops of Expressing Feelings

By request, a published resource elaborating slightly on my response to a question a friend asked in a groupchat:

A lot of advice is some variation on “express your feelings to not be haunted by them forever,” but what do people mean by ‘express’ here? On one end there is being alone in a room and naming the feeling silently in your head, on the other end is telling your married boss you’re crushing on them, in between is stuff like journaling or going into the woods to scream and writhe or talking it out with a friend.

One model is that the key is to “let yourself fully feel the feeling” and the relevant sense of expression is whatever moves you towards that. Another is that feelings are for taking action in the world so apply appropriate thoughtfulness and discernment to avoid being rash and stupid but ultimately figure out what this trying to make you do and do it, and that will be the relevant expression. Does anybody find this advice helpful and wanna try to convey what it actually means for me?

From my perspective, there’s:

  • a loop that just involves yourself
  • a loop that involves a third party
  • and a loop that involves the person who the thing is about (eg the boss you have a crush on)

I’m calling these loops because they all have a kind of feedback loop quality to them, even though the feedback is quite subtle. There’s a sense of something landing.

AI art by me, generated as 3 separate images that I then composed

I mean what I mean

The first loop is about cultivating the sense of “I mean what mean“. Articulating something. Modifying it if it isn’t quite right. Trying again. Saying it out loud and feeling if it resonates. Getting to the point where you’re like “Yeah! THAT!”

Think of a time when you try to explain something to somebody, and they didn’t get it. Whether that was a model or a framework, or some emotional or relational thing or whatever.

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2023: Allowing Diligence

My 2023 was unequivocally awesome.

It’s a testament to the ways in which having a few key things go right makes any other mistakes or problems or challenges feel navigable.

Themes & dual meanings

I started 2023 with a theme in mind, which was Allowing Diligence. Coincidentally, like my friend’s year theme “Play With Responsibility”, this has a dual meaning:

  1. allowing myself to have diligence
  2. having diligence about allowing

One of the things I had in mind when I oriented to allowing myself to have diligence was that I’d get more on top of my email inbox, which for the past few years has been more like a stream I’d dip into every couple of days to glance for possibly-relevant-and-actionable items, and a repository of things I might search for. I’ve had a few alerts for specific kinds of emails, including any replies to messages I’ve sent, but otherwise… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And last year for some reason I felt like it was a good time to get on top of stuff. I intended to be diligent, set up some new systems, have consistent routines or habits…

I failed at this. I’m as on top of my email as I was a year ago. And… I’m okay with that. Maybe at some point I’ll get inspired to rejigger my email system, but it doesn’t feel like something I want to make a point of doing.

Part of why I’m okay with my distant relationship to email was that I had the experience a few times of telling people about it and hearing them get hugely envious. Somehow I’m getting away with not checking my email. I feel it too, when I say it: a bit cheeky. High status, like Christopher Nolan, who famously does not have an email address (obviously somehow he has an assistant or something). Sometimes I drop balls, but on the whole this has been worth it for me in order to not be addicted to inbox zero, which has happened to me many times in the past. It’s compelling, but a to-do list that anybody can put stuff on is a distraction from proactive intentionality. Obviously there could be better solutions, but for now, this is mine. If you want to reach me, DM me on twitter or text.

Part of me is tempted to say that this conclusion was a win by the other meaning of Allowing Diligence: having diligence about allowing. But it’s not really the main point in that direction either! But I did perhaps get better last year at allowing the reality that I can fail at stuff.

I figured it would be appropriate to make this year’s post image using an AI image generator, since those really took off this year. This is an image I generated sometime in December, not for something but just as part of moodboarding & envisioning something about the vibe I want my life to have, and it’s apt for this post. Regarding images, you’ll see various photos below, many of which are contextualized by the adjacent paragraphs but some aren’t. They’re all basically in chrono order though. Think of it as a way I’m saving a few thousand words.

generated by DALL-E with the prompt 'a regal beam of light shining down onto a single eye of awareness, suspended in the air above waters that are tranquil in the middle and stormy further out'

The story of 2023, starting with the end of 2022

In my yearly review last year (2022: Deepening in a Different Direction) I noted how the editorializing process leaves out details for various reasons, and how that had historically included any of my struggles that I hadn’t figured out how to frame (read: rationalize) in a positive optimistic light. And before I can talk about what happened last year in anything resembling chronological order, I need to fill you in on something that happened in 2022 but which I left out of the blog post, that shaped the arc of my entire 2023:

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Merely getting everybody in touch with their own knowing isn’t enough

Part 8 of “I can tell for myself” sequence. Previously: The eyes-open student: “I can see things my teacher can’t acknowledge”.

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Even those of the intelligent who believe that they have a nostrum are too individualistic to combine with other intelligent men from whom they differ on minor points.

— Bertrand Russell

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the messes wouldn’t end if we could just somehow get everybody (within some context) to have grounded confidence in their sense of “I can tell for myself” even when others say something that seems to contradict it (or find enough people who already have it and herd them into the same room).

Instead we get new messes!

If I can tell for myself that “X”, and you can tell for yourself that “Y”, and it seems to us that it’s not possible for both X and Y to be true at the same time, then we’re going to be pretty stuck! The resulting communicational impasses can be pretty intense, depending on what’s at stake (and how emotionally resilient participants are, such that physical stakes feel more or less gripping). I described above how it tends to play out when there’s a major power imbalance on some relevant axis. What happens when there’s not?

When the conflict isn’t too central, what happens is: they have relationships that work out. This is pretty good! They have enough overlap in what they each want, and how they each already see the world, that they’re able to found a company together or get married and have kids, or co-run a community or some other kind of project, or just be lifelong friends. There may be other arenas where they don’t see eye-to-eye, and can’t figure out how to bridge, but those arenas are sufficiently inconsequential to the relationship that they can be ignored (or periodically explored in a low-stakes way, as friends sometimes do with philosophical questions).

But when the conflict is at the core of their identity and/or purpose and/or worldview (which is broadly the case when we’re talking about spiritual teachers and/or those who are aiming to discover and embody pragmatically & philosophically workable answers to life’s big questions (I count myself as one of these))… well, I may be missing something, but as far as I can tell what usually happens is, oddly: “nothing”. The really high-self-trust people just don’t interact that much. They keep to their own contexts where nobody is self-trustfully challenging their worldviews that are based on generalizations of their direct-knowings. They run their training center, or monastery, or company, or online community, or whatever, where their wisdom can flow and so can others’… to the extent it doesn’t contradict theirs. These contradictions may not even be on the level of “what’s so”; they can even just be “what’s relevant”.

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The eyes-open student: “I can see things my teacher can’t acknowledge”

Part 7 of the “I can tell for myself” sequence, picking up where Guru dynamics: “I can show you how to trust yourself” left off:

To the extent that the person in the more student-like role is able to stay in touch with their own direct-knowing even though it conflicts with what they’re hearing from the teacher-role person… now what?

I’ve studied in depth a handful of cases of this (firsthand and secondhand) which is more than most people but not a lot, so I may be missing something major here. These situations can come from the situation described in the previous post, where the student develops self-trust while already inside a container that they had previously been more naïvely surrendered to… or it can involve someone who already has sufficient self-trust to listen to themselves consciously stepping into a learning environment with someone else who also has a lot of self-trust.

In these contexts, where one person is the official or de facto authority in the space, what I’ve seen has tended to involve what-the-authority-knows being the sort of dominant view, with the other person’s knowings (where they contradict, which won’t be everywhere) getting a lot of questioning and suspicion, or treated as irrelevant. This is functionally a form of “oppressive culture”, even if it’s actively intending to be a welcoming culture.

And it turns out that the main approaches are basically the same: stay & pretend, say the unsayable, or leave. But they look a bit different in learning community than in a kind of default societal context.

  1. Stay & pretend to go along with the authority’s worldview, so that they get to stick around. I said in the “oppressive cultures” section that it’s best to leave, but that was intended to be more referring to a situation where someone doesn’t have enough self-trust to be able to hold their own worldview even in the face of outside pressure. But if someone has that, and has enough time & freedom to journal or talk to people outside the context of this dynamic, then it can make sense to stick around at least for a little while.

    Someone’s reasons for sticking around might include one or more of:
    1. wanting to learn from the person’s wisdom (“yeah he’s belligerently confused but he still knows stuff I don’t, and I trust myself to learn safely in this context”)
    2. wanting to learn from interacting with the person’s confusions (“I’m honestly just trying to understand how someone can be so wise and so foolish at the same time”)
    3. wanting to reconcile the relationship and the viewpoints (“I want to get to the bottom of why that rift years ago originally happened, and have more ease”)
    4. wanting something out of the relationship or context, whether material or social or whatever (“people keep ignoring the obvious, but on the whole this is still a better place to live than any of my other options, for the time being”)
    5. wanting to keep an eye on the person and their context and make sure others are okay (“this former student of mine is getting into risky territory in her container, but if I say everything I’m seeing she’ll just kick me out and then I won’t be able to advise her at all”)
  2. Say the unsayable. Speak to what you can tell for yourself, ideally in ways that also make space for what the blindspots are protecting. This is usually an unstable approach; eventually it converts to pretending or leaving, although with enough trust-dancing/bridging skill I think it can theoretically result in insight and healing.
  3. Leave the context. Sometimes this happens with a lot of anger and resentment, from pressure built up from months or years of pretending not to notice what one notices—particularly if someone had years of being unconsciously in this culture where they repeatedly denied their own knowings—in the name of learning how to trust themselves!

I did a mix of all three of these when I had my own self-trust breakthrough in 2020, as I wrote about somewhat hotly just after I moved out and more spaciously 2 years later. That’s a great example of a context that was attempting to be welcoming everything but in practice didn’t know how to welcome many things. And there were many aspects of me that could tell they were uniquely welcome there, which is part of what made it all so confusing. And when I tried saying the unsayable there, it was difficult of course, but we were able to sincerely approach the challenge together to some degree. There was no “you can’t say this”, just a “you can only say this if it also accounts for this other thing that’s really important” which was around the edge of my ability.

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Guru dynamics: “I can show you how to trust yourself”

Sixth post in “I can tell for myself” sequence. On the last episode… Reality distortion: “I can tell, but you can’t”, which opened up our exploration of interactions between one person who is in touch with their own direct-knowing and another person who is more just taking others’ word for it. With this post we’re finally reaching some of the core ideas that the other posts have been a foundation for.

(I left “guru” in the title of this part, because “guru dynamics” are what I call this phenomenon, but I decided not to use the word “guru” in the body of the text. It’s a loanword that originally means “teacher” but of course in English has the connotations associated both with spiritual teaching in particular and thus also with the dynamics I want to talk about here, some of which are well-documented in The Guru Papers. To be clear, I don’t think guru’ing, as a role, is necessarily bad—it’s just extraordinarily hard to do well. But “guru” as a frame… the roles are probably best not thought of as a student-teacher relationship at all. Instead, perhaps, “one who’s remembering” and “one who’s reminding”: ancient wisdom tradition words for this like “sati”, and “aletheia” mean “remembering” or “unforgetting”. Those are awkward though.)

Things get weird when a person who has consistent access to their sense of “I can tell for myself” across many domains—especially spiritual, interpersonal, esoteric, subtle, ineffable., ones—finds their way into a position where they’re trying to help others develop this capacity for themselves.

This happens remarkably often! There are many factors that contribute to this, of which here are six:

The many reasonable roads into this attractor

  1. Lots of people want to learn how to trust their own experience more, and will gladly sign up for (and in many cases pay quite a lot for) instruction in it. They may even demand it from someone who clearly has some wisdom but was uncertain if they wanted to teach it or would prefer not to be in an authority role for whatever reason, who then reluctantly assents.
  2. Many spiritual knowings are only grokkable via direct-knowing (and taking someone’s word for it is not just irrelevant but a distraction — “the dao that can be named is not the dao”) so reminding people how to tell for themselves emerges as either a precondition or a byproduct of pointing out some other spiritual knowing.
  3. Having fluent access to one’s own knowing is obviously very precious and beautiful, so a kind person would want to share the experience with others!
  4. It seems pretty apparent to many people who are in touch with their own knowing that there are forms of social organization that only work when everybody involved also is, so since there aren’t a lot of such people, it becomes a practical project to train more of them.
  5. It can feel lonely to be the only one in a room (or community) who is experiencing contact with one’s own “I can tell for myself”, so there’s a natural desire to help others develop this same capacity! In addition to being lonely, it can also be risky for one’s own sanity, as the following bullet illustrates:
  6. Getting to be the massive one who gets to exert a lot of pull on the conversation can satisfy many shadowed desires, whether for control or attention or just to have their experience repeatedly validated in regions that they don’t know how to do for themselves. (For most kind people, this is not how they get into the situation in the first place, but it can be something that inadvertently keeps them in it because they’re able to meet certain needs in this social context that they can’t meet outside of it.)

So it’s very common for someone who has developed their sense of self-authored direct-knowing to find themselves surrounded by a bunch of people who also want to develop this capacity. (We’ll explore in a later post why there’s often precisely one teacher per learning context; the previous post also hints at it.)

The paradox of teaching self-trust

But attempting to teach “I can tell for myself” (or self-trust, or whatever you call it) leads to what is nearly a paradox:

  • How do I tell you how to tell for yourself?
  • If I tell you how to not take my word for it, will you take my word for it?
  • Of what relevance is my trust in my own experience to your trust in your own experience?

Suppose that when someone says something you don’t understand or resonate with, your two available moves are either to reject what they’re saying or “take their word for it”—a condition which is tautologically the starting point for someone who has learned to not trust themselves in the face of what someone else is saying, and is wanting to develop that self-trust—then if I’m trying to convey “how to tell for yourself”, you’ll either… reject what I’m saying as senseless, or… take my word for it that this is in fact how to tell for yourself and you just need to do it exactly as I say yessirree!

…which is not “I can tell for myself”. Or is it?

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Reality distortion: “I can tell, but you can’t”

5th in the “I can tell for myself” sequence. Previous post: The primacy of knowing-for-oneself

This is a short post that introduces the second half of the sequence. The first half focused on what it means to have a sense of being able to tell something for yourself (direct-knowing or “gnosis”) as contrasted with taking someone’s word for it, and how people get out of touch with their own knowing, in many little moments as children and structurally as a society. The remainder of the sequence investigates interactions between people, tensions that arise depending on how well each person is tracking their sense of being able to tell for themselves, and possibilities for collective direct-knowing: “we can tell for ourself”.

So. Sometimes one person can tell for themselves, while another is taking others’ word for it. There are a few ways that can go. Sometimes the asymmetries are simple, functional and productive; well, relatively—there are a few caveats. These simple functional asymmetries are what this post is about—companies being one example.

Lopsided conversations

When there’s a conversation between one person who is consistently checking everything that’s being said with whether it accords with their experience, and another who isn’t, the conversation can easily become lopsided, with the person who is grounded in their own self-trust ending up with a position of authority. That’s not the only place that social authority comes from (institutional power, or pure charisma spouting bullshit, work just fine for that) but I would say that it produces a kind of authority that holds up under quite a bit of inspection, which naturally engenders a kind of sustained trust from others.

When this is the case, the person who is uncompromisingly checking everything with their own experience ends up exerting kind of a large gravitational force on the conversation, and people let them do this in part because they don’t know how to access their own full weight, and in part because the other person does seem to be speaking with a kind of grounded honesty.

Prompt: A dramatic scene depicting two men in a conversation. One man stands on the edge of a rugged cliff, dressed in casual hiking gear. His posture is assertive, and he is making strong gestures with his hands. Facing him is another man standing on a towering pile of speech bubbles, symbolizing an intent verbal exchange. The speech bubble pile is as high as the cliff, putting both men at eye level. The background features a dramatic sky with dark clouds, enhancing the intense atmosphere of the scene. Both men are of average build, one with short hair and the other slightly longer.
AI-generated by ChatGPT+DALL-E with my prompt: a guy standing on a cliff’s edge, arguing eye to eye with a guy standing on a pile of speech bubbles (view image alt for the full prompt used)

And so this authority may override what others say since the others don’t trust their own “I can tell for myself” sense, so they speak in a kind of flimsy floaty way (not to say it might not sound confident, just that its source of confidence is not in the room). Simultaneously, the authority may not be bothered by people attempting to put out ideas, because they’re grounded in what they know rather than subject to some ideology that they need to uphold in order to maintain their legitimacy. And in technical domains where there’s a clearer sense that we can converge on the right answer, there can be lively debate and the authority will recognize “oh wait, you’re right, my bad”. In general, conversations in technical domains tend to have more sense of everybody involved having at least some sense of “I can tell for myself”.

My guess is that a lot of (relatively) healthy companies have a bit of this going on, and it’s not ideal but it’s legit better than a company where everybody is bullshitting, like I described in the oppressive cultures post. And there are definitely attractors, but there’s no clear binary distinction between any of the dynamics I describe anywhere in this sequence. Many situations could be analyzed through the lens of different kinds of dynamics, and multiple elements might be present or relevant at the same time.

The stability & simplicity of asymmetry & hierarchy

It’s been observed by many people over the years that while consensus has various kinds of appeal, it is often much less efficient and effective than having someone who is in charge for some scope of project or whatever, and can decisively choose what’s going to happen. There is a deeper level of complexity possible, of collective consciousness or co-what-now’ing, where everybody is fluidly organizing and integrating and differentiating and so on—the fully meta-rational workplace—but that’s hard and even the forefront of development of our species can only kinda do it sometimes. So it’s often more workable to just have one person call the shots—at least at a given level; maybe someone else calls the shots within their subproject, etc.

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A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm developing scalable solutions to fractal coordination challenges (between parts of people as well as between people) based on non-naive trust and intentionality. More about me.

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