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partner with Sage Empathize for Positive Intelligence

by | Aug 5, 2020 | Eric Clapton, partner, Positive Intelligence

The partners you need are 5 Sage voices… 

That is probably the longest I have written about “negative” things in a long time.  The way the Positive Intelligence material is presented is similar: we are spending time really getting a grip on how to blunt the voices of the Saboteurs before cranking up the volume on the antidote – the natural good nature that is in there… somewhere.  I wasn’t fond of the approach, but quieting my own inner “They’re doing it wrong!” voice, I have used that to help me remember how trusting others is an important learned capability – not just in life, but in leadership.  Being a good follower is a critical skill, particularly when you get to be “at the table” with partners who are equally or more talented, and all of the work you do is interrelated and interdependent…

… who offset all 10 of the Saboteurs… 

The Sage is the exact opposite of the Judge and his friends.  It accepts what IS, ALL of it, as a gift and opportunity… and knows that ALL the negative emotions are self-generated.  Read that again – we create our own messes.  In my work with leaders, I call the point where that happens “The Pit of Despair” – my homage to The Princess Bride.  By that point, we have systematically removed all of the “Theys” from the conversation – the people that have … well that was last week.  You get it – those are the Saboteurs cleverly telling you that they are actually much better for you.  In her book, My Stroke of Insight, a brain surgeon has a stroke… and as it is happening, has an unbelievable peaceful feeling – euphoric actually. Her stroke hit exactly where all the Saboteurs live, and suddenly all of those negatives are gone, and she was left with simply loving life… while realizing she couldn’t breathe. That section of the brain is very helpful for controlling the life part… but not the living of it, and that is our first clue to the journey forward.

When they are in charge they produce beautiful music

461 Ocean Boulevard is technically a couple of records back from Slowhand, and is listed as one of the 500 albums you have to listen to.  Releasing a solo album in 1970, he “lost” 3 years to heroin, and finally sought professional treatment working on a farm.  After listening to a lot of Blues while there, he was primed to record some old slow blues.  He was contacted by his bass player from the Derek and Domino’s recordings, and with much of that backing band, he went back into the studio that had produced Derek and the Dominos.  Knowing he had great partners around him, he sketched out only the basics of each song, leaving room for each player to add their own touches.  The review – “Perhaps the most brilliant exploration of the metaphorical capacities of country blues ever attempted, way better than Taj Mahal for all of side one”.  If you know Taj, that is quite the compliment… 

In my own work, I distinctly remember that moment for me.  My coach pointed out that all of my corporate career had been roughly the same.  Showing up after leaving some stupid group of people, and then realizing that the same stupid people were here also… Repeat.  Repeat.  The common denominator – Me.  I was causing this reality – the exact opposite of what I really wanted and needed.  I could continue this (… now these idiots were REAL idiots…) or I could face the fact that this was, in fact, a gift.  I was surrounded by all of the stimulus of what brought out my strongest Saboteur voices.  As I tell leaders now, that sucks for you – but as their coach, I look for this opportunity.  Faced with continuing real misery or a potential path forward, they are forced to face… themselves.  It is not easy work, it is not supported by many around you (yea – they ARE idiots they will say)… but I have found it to be the only path to lasting change. 

Starting with Empathize…

The first voice of the Sage is Empathize – which, the spell checker tried to make Emphasize – which I will take. 😉  It is looking for what you appreciate most in every situation – other people, circumstances, and most of all, yourself.  It is not natural – yet – as your Saboteurs have been at work telling you, “You have to be tough – on others, on you or you will be taken advantage of”.  The shift starts with quieting those voices (last week) and this week, flipping every situation into a Gift – 3 to be specific.  Find 3 things you appreciate/love/see positively in the next person you meet.  Practice that consistently … and it will be hard to stick with it.  We are so used to our conditioned Saboteur’s voices… but start turning up the voice on Empathy – really putting yourself in that other person’s shoes.  The hardest person to do that for will likely be – yourself.  As you make progress, any time you run into a challenge…

… Always look for at least 3 Gifts… 

Note that Eric’s path was started by others trying to help, but it only succeeded when he hit rock bottom and started to climb up.  And his path forward is not without future tragedies we will cover, but for today, he is in the studio with trusted bandmates, and again with one of the best engineers on the planet… and trusts those voices more than his inner demons.  I had trouble choosing a song for today honestly – I thought Willie and the Hand Jive fit – this technique probably looks like that hand jive dance to you.  And, there is the great Let it Rain, which matches a visualization that we did to wash away our negative voices by standing in the cool summer rain, which I literally did the other evening.  But ultimately, it is this very slow track – that starts with a deep breath (listen for it…)  As he turns away from the Saboteurs, Eric breathes into what I hope will start with all of us… the inner Sage we need.  Let it Grow. 

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