The Hebrew scriptures, the Koran and the New Testament all insist on the importance of fasting. As an Enneagram coach, here’s what I have seen, experienced and recommend. When we fast, we get in touch – on a deep level, perhaps cellular – of our dependence on reality outside ourself. That brings up our defenses; our ego style is our control strategies, so as we fast we see our strategies more clearly. We see our Enneagram style more clearly. Fasting is intuitively linked with purification and as we face our Enneagram strategies — exposed in our hunger — we have a nice opportunity to prune a few of those strategies back. Fasting is a form of bodily insight into our pretenses of being in control of reality.
When I read promo copy for coaches, the notion of pursuing your passion and following your bliss and realizing your dreams usually comes up.
Why? Why are so many people not doing what they know they should be doing?
Schools are a good place to look to discover the pattern that keeps so many unhappy. Whatever content we learn in school, we always learn the underlying presuppositions of the system. One of the suppositions is that you have to do more of what you don’t like if you’re not good at it. If math is a problem, you do lots of “remedial” math, as though not liking math was a disease that needed a remedy. Or if you are an 8 or 9 and really good at non-verbal communication, you must take more remedial reading. It starts early. I flunked paste at age 6. My desk was stuffed and sticky and sordid and Ms. Johnson was convinced I needed something remedial. My suggestion of recess was not honored and my passion for reading was ignored.
Technically, schools substitute objective standards and extrinsic rewards (gold stars at six, scholarships at 16 with bribes and perks like grades and tracks and memberships in between). When you are most rewarded for doing what others want and your own desires are ignored, passion weakens and obedience is reinforced.
Then you need a coach to help you do what you want to do. Actually, your coach could be considered remedial passion work. I prefer to think of it as an exercise in liberation.
That’s why the Enneagram is so helpful. When you have tried, with varying degrees of success to tamp down your own passion, it is helpful to understand what your deepest silenced aspirations are.
That’s why “motivational” speakers are Robbins, Ziegler and their ilk are not motivational: they are inspirational. Motivation is directional – this but not that – inspiration is more like verbal adrenaline. It can even be used against you – more energy to do what you don’t want. Just keep working harder and you will succeed. I think I’ll position myself as a laziness coach: stop working so hard for extrinsic rewards.
Motivation is a sinister word, rooted in personal and corporate duplicity. Managers ask, “How can I motivate my employees?” and mothers ask the same thing about recalcitrant students. The worst way to “look for” motivation is to go looking for it. “I can’t find my motivation” is a recurring talking point we use to lie to ourselves.
The correct translation of “looking for motivation” that will solve a lot of problems is “I don’t want to.” The mother/manager does not only want the employee/child to do the work. They want them to WANT TO. Just learning to read is not enough; teachers, parents and persons of interest all want the child to take some kind of pleasure in reading. The urchin must want to read when no one is looking. Managers have a gut instinct that employees who hate what they are doing well are still a problem.
So instead of saying to yourself or others, “Find motivation,” try honest emotional anglo-saxon words. “I can’t seem to find a way to like what I don’t like.”
The first time I told a style Nine (who couldn’t “find motivation),” he quit his job the next week. Reality is on our side.
So the next time a manager says, “How do I motivate my workers,” ask her if the job is one they like, and what do they possibly not like that is within your control.
“Like” is an emotionally rich, short honest word. “Motivation” is an abstraction and inherently duplicitous. I could write more on this but I don’t want to.
Coaching, even though the term is hallowed by association with sports, is not the cultural norm. The American popular ideal is the rugged individual who goes alone into the wilderness, into the stock market, invents something and ends up as the focal point of attention. Steve Jobs is the latest example, but Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and of course the whole Ayn Rand pathology of the strong selfish individual creating jobs for the unenlightened multitudes are our unconscious preference. It starts in school. The teacher looks at your paper with suspicion and asks the fateful question, “Is this your work or did you get help?” If you had help (however that is defined) you are villainous. If it weren’t for sports and we had to use a term like assistant or buddy or companion or advisor for what we do, we’d all starve. Even mentor is usually reserved for a beginner learning from a teacher, not getting help from a peer or someone who is supposed to know more (not different, more) than he or she does. The real man or the woman who aspires to the things that real men accomplish don’t need a coach. And when we are rich, we use the term “independently” wealthy. Cultural myths like rugged individualism have to be raised into the light of consciousness — they do less harm there.