Foolish Wisdom … Making The World Go ‘Round …

 
 

“Foolish wisdom is about dealing with the world in ways you have not before …”

 

Challenge is …
Most folks can’t get out of their own way

What I mean by “most folks can’t get out of their own way” is that they lead with their limitations. Of course, they don’t mean to … heck, they don’t even know their doing it 90-plus % of the time … but they do nonetheless.

The reason most folks lead with their limitations can be boiled down to just a few things:

  • Their limitations are intertwined with their “success formula” – i.e.: how they know to create the successes they do

  • They perceive the world from a limited point of view that’s relatively fixed and unchanging, i.e.: myopic perception

  • What they’ve experienced is what they think they’ll always experience, i.e.: they project their past into their future

  • The education they’ve had defines the world for them as they know it, i.e.: they haven’t learned to use their senses

  • Reality as they know it to be has a singular form that’s unchanging, i.e.: they seldom if ever challenge their beliefs

  • Truth/Knowledge/Learning … whatever … all exist “out there” beyond them, i.e.: expertise is external to them

I’m sure I could extend the list, but why? If you don’t get the pattern from what I’ve included above, more items in the list isn’t going to make it any clearer for you. In fact I could probably make it just one list item and cover the whole gambit …

  • Only socially validated and reinforced values are acceptable to them, i.e.: what they know instinctively and intuitively is put aside when they are confronted by others who demand socially acceptable “proof” … they are externally organized and other-referencing, versus internally organized and self-referencing

Now there’s nothing wrong with being externally organized and other-referencing per se … BUT it’s a function of interplay between context and content … and timing. When you know you don’t know, and you seek external input, from experts or otherwise, that’s wise … BUT, when you have gathered the information and knowledge you need the ultimate decision about what it means always remains personal … ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE WHAT’S TRUE FOR YOU.

This may seem obvious and self-evident, and to a very great extent it should be and is so. The challenge for most people is clear however …

SELF-DOUBT

FWIW I’m a big fan of doubt … until I don’t. To quote my own mentor, Roye Fraser …

“When in doubt don’t.” 

What Roye taught was that doubt meant, “not enough information” – simply meaning, you need to gather more information than you have, so you can remove the doubt. So until you become settled within yourself don’t take any action you don’t need to take before you need to take it.

The key in that statement is: “until you become settled within yourself don’t take any action you don’t need to take”

Yet, the deep challenge for most people is they’ve never learned how to know when they are settled within themselves, so they continue to look for and count on external information and validation, i.e.: social proof.

 

What to do about it …
(escaping the pattern of leading with your limitations)

This is in a very large part why I’ve shifted the presentation of what I’m doing around to focus on the idea of “Foolish Wisdom” … i.e. dealing with the world in ways you have not before (that will make you more successful). 

“Foolish Wisdom” is the wisdom of the Fool

This seems so very self-evident, yet most folks have forgotten who or what the Fool truly represents.

The Fool doesn’t represent stupidity, mental limitation, sensory inhibition or even immaturity as some seem to think.

The Fool represents the innate, naive, childlike wisdom that perceives with clarity and without distortion what is happening around them. 

The Fool is NOT childish, but childlike … a distinct difference. The Fool first perceives and then acts, without prejudice. When you get that last statement you’ll get how profound the position of the Fool truly is … beyond where some vast majority of people can or do act from themselves.

Let’s step back for a moment to an earlier part of this post. Take a look at these four bullet points again in relation to the statement about who the Fool perceives and acts:

  • They perceive the world from a limited point of view that’s relatively fixed and unchanging, i.e.: myopic perception

  • What they’ve experienced is what they think they’ll always experience, i.e.: they project their past into their future

  • The education they’ve had defines the world for them as they know it, i.e.: they haven’t learned to use their senses

  • Reality as they know it to be has a singular form that’s unchanging, i.e.: they seldom if ever challenge their beliefs

You can see that if these bullet points are accurate about how most people operate, it’s almost diametrically opposed to how the Fool operates. The typical person’s operating position is mired in prejudice, based on what they have been taught, what they’ve experienced and what they already believe. As it says, “they project their past into their future” … and this applies to how they judge what they haven’t experienced or learned about yet.

In working with some of the largest, most progressive and most well-funded businesses in the world, I’ve had the opportunity to counsel the senior most leaders of those organizations regarding decisions they needed or wanted to make (and sometimes about the ramifications of decisions they’ve already made). I’ve also spent thousands of hours in rooms with these same folks doing developmental training and facilitation work with them.

What I’ve found again and again is that these bright, extremely well educated, accomplished and successful individuals sometimes don’t know their rectum from a hole in the ground when it comes to making good decisions, taking meaningful action and/or leading others to do the same!

The “standard path” that many senior business leaders take (and you can include most entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals in this group too) … is to use past performance to determine the future direction and action they should, will and do implement. STUPID! STUPID!! STUPID!!! Not only do they do this in their organizations as leaders … often based on “best business practice” bullshit … they also do it in their personal lives. STUPID! STUPID!! STUPID!!! (I can’t say or emphasize this enough regarding this ridiculous pattern of thinking and behavior.)

Okay, let’s back off a minute … calm down and cool off, shall we?

Why would anyone do this if it were such a stupid thing to do?

Three profoundly powerful reasons:

  1. Because it’s embedded in their success strategy

  2. Because they’ve learned that this is the way to do things

  3. Because it’s socially acceptable to do it this way 

  4. And, when they do they get massive CYA (Cover Your Ass) benefits

Simply put, they don’t know any better … so they do what they know.

On the other hand, the Fool always knows that they don’t know … so they can’t do (act on) what they don’t know … instead the Fool acts “in time” based on real data/information in the system as it emerges, i.e.: their perception, decision-making and action strategy is always emergent.

 

Where to go (I’m going …) from here …

I’ve learned a tremendous amount of how to help people make transformational change in the last two plus decades of doing the work I do … and most of it revolves around helping them to unwind bad learning.

The starting point of real change is the ability to accept that what you’re doing now, and the way you’re doing it doesn’t work … or at least doesn’t work as well as it could. You’d have to be willing to try what you haven’t tried before … and YOU can’t do that … literally!!!

YOU can’t do what you haven’t done/tried before, because YOU won’t even be able to recognize it if it bit you on your arse!!!

You can literally only see, hear, feel, taste and smell what you are already accustomed to … until the doors of perception you operate from are opened further than they are now …

YOU CAN’T DO THIS YOURSELF!!! …
It must be done from outside of YOURSELF

There are pretty much two ways to get there … i.e.: outside of yourself:

 

  1. You can step aside from what you now know and believe … putting all your learning, experience and beliefs aside

     

    -or- 

  2. You can allow someone who has been where you haven’t been perceptually to open the doors of perception for you

 

This is the work I’ve now committed myself to doing, i.e.: working with clients to provide them with Foolish Wisdom … pointing to the emergent present with enough clarity, humor and provocation so that they can see, hear, feel, taste and smell it for themselves. 

In this regard I see myself as the “Wise Fool” leading the way by proving that I don’t know … claiming to neither possess nor offer anything except the most valuable thing of all for the truly wise … NOTHING.

Hell, that must be a claim you can believe …

“When you come to me I promise you I’ll do my best to neither have nor give you anything, and if we’re successful you’ll leave with NOTHING for yourself.” 

There’s really only one good reason to pursue Foolish Wisdom for yourself …

Because you want to make better decisions and take more meaningful action in your life.

By making a commitment to become a Wise Fool yourself –

  • you’ll become a better leader …

  • you’ll experience life more fully …

  • you’ll transcend the limitations that you now encounter repeatedly …

  • you’ll find a way to achieve what you haven’t before …

  • you’ll transform your relationships – with your spouse/lover, children, parents, friends, employer, employees, co-workers – EVERYONE …

you’ll begin …

Having the experience of YOUR life!
(both on your own and with others)

Foolishly yours,

 

Joseph Riggio, Wise Fool and Provocateur Extraordinaire

Princeton, NJ

 

PS – Soon enough I’ll be announcing my workshops for 2013 … in the meantime you can still register to attend the MythoMania program here in NJ on Nov 29 and 30, Thursday and Friday … and it’s almost FREE, my gift to the MythoSelf community each year …

 

MythoMania 2012 Register NOW

 

 

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Comments

  1. t says

    Hi,

    I like the clarity of this piece. It clearly points to both what is “it” and what is not “it”. In my experience I’m moving more from my foolish wisdom and I deeply like it. I love it. Of course I do. It’s the best and only leverage I have on being what and how I want to be and what and how I wand to do or perform in the world.

    I also realize that there is a Generative Nothing and an Inhibitory Nothing along with a Generative Knowing and an Inhibitory Knowing. There’s also a Generative not-knowing and an Inhibitory not-knowing. The difference that makes the difference in all of these is the somatic arrest or the somatic agitation. The somatic foolish wisdom and foolish action/thinking/experience comes from my somatic arrest or aesthetic arrest.

    Love your foolish wisdom and I’m having it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

    Best,

    T

    • says

      Hey T,

      There’s a piece of information you point to here in your comment that is absolutely critical in terms of the work I do …

      The difference that makes the difference in all of these is the somatic arrest or the somatic agitation.

      One of the things I strive for in my work with clients is helping them to perceive the position of somatic arrest – in fact this resides at the core of virtually all I do.

      I’m loathe to leave the idea of somatic arrest unbounded and therefore open to misinterpretation and confusion. The boundary I refer to is awareness – awareness in the sense of the state experience.

      State experience as I’m referring to it simply points to the general awareness of state that someone experiences in any given moment, Yes, it is ‘Like This …’ for me. They are able to recognize a kind of settling in the system.

      Maybe the way they recognize this is based on a feeling that is good, or pleasant, or calm … or simply a sense of a readiness to act, or act NOT. The system in this way “comes to rest” – and that’s enough for someone to know that they are experiencing somatic arrest.

      There is also a strong possibility of a kind of cognitive arrest as well. This is the mental process “coming to rest” – there is no extraneous thought, just a clear and present awareness. Normally this awareness is semantically organized, i.e.: there is a word or phrase that represents the state of cognitive arrest … and the word or phrase resonates for them throughout the system.

      When the system is organized somatically around the body experience, or semantically around the cognitive experience, the system comes to rest. Learning the somatic and/or semantic trigger for bringing the system to rest … i.e.: somatic and/or cognitive arrest … opens up the immediate possibility of becoming present to emergent form, and also to reset the system instantly, or instant by instant, to remain present.

      This is the ultimate key to what I’m calling Foolish Wisdom … although for most folks what they’d be pleased to get from it all would be access to the possibility of elite performance and remaining at rest that these triggers offer them.

      Joseph

  2. RM says

    “I also realize that there is a Generative Nothing and an Inhibitory Nothing along with a Generative Knowing and an Inhibitory Knowing. There’s also a Generative not-knowing and an Inhibitory not-knowing. The difference that makes the difference in all of these is the somatic arrest or the somatic agitation. The somatic foolish wisdom and foolish action/thinking/experience comes from my somatic arrest or aesthetic arrest.”

    I know the meaning of life. I know the location of Atlantis. I know how the universe started. I know what God does on vacation. I know the true purpose of the Kardashians. I know the way to San Jose.

    But I do not know what the quoted paragraph means. Me and my foolish lack of wisdom. ;-P

    • says

      Ross,

      Given that you know all that you know … AND that you know that you don’t know what the quoted paragraph means … it means you already know all that can be known.

      You can’t possibly know what that paragraph means … it’s in code and you need the “key” to decipher it. It’s a standard book cipher, except the book that T’s using hasn’t been printed and is in an obscure, unspoken language. It’s the same language that The Artist Formerly Known As Prince used to create his new name.

      Me … I just know NOTHING, and that’s been good enough for me …

      Joseph
      A True Fool’s Fool (… Just Being A Bit More Foolish Than Usual)

  3. Kevin says

    I had a problem with this posting, as once again I see how the supposed desired state means being child like, or Eastern in approach, with an affinity for paradoxes that are not in synch with the western mind, and also come off as being a little pretentious.
    Additionally, while perhaps perceptive, children also have not learned to resist the inner impulse, and thusly can be counted upon to act more rashly and without thinking.
    Isn’t the meaning of sophomore “wise fool,” as well as the inspiration for “sophomoric?”
    Does everything have to be brought down to the level of being child like, or in touch with your inner child, etc.?
    Cannot I not be a serious grown up and also be enlightened?
    Also, if a person knows nothing, and knows that he knows something, he may know more than the person who does not that he does not know, but, outside of that, what else can such a person offer?
    I want to know, not to not know, or to know that I know that I do not know, etc.

    • says

      Kevin,

      Thank you, I really like your comment … mostly because I vehemently disagree with it from the perspective I’m reading it.

      Let me jump right in so you, and anyone else, can understand what I mean about disagreeing with your comment from my point of view, and to minimize any confusion or misinterpretation.

      You seem to disregard my strong distinction between “childlike” and “childish” – although I think I’m really clear on this point. In fact the way you write your comment almost makes my case about “judging with prejudice” – versus a childlike behavior I attribute to the Fool of being without prejudice.

      Killing the Buddha, and the Bodhisattva He Road In On …

      First of all, while I’m sufficiently well-read in the Eastern philosophical approach (having started my investigations into philosophy there at the tender age of 11 or so), I am a Westerner philosophically through and through, and more than that an American Westerner aligned with the philosophical stream of the transcendentalists and the pragmatists (or pragmaticists if you’re a fan of Pierce, which I am, as well as the rest of the lot).

      This is not to say I don’t draw from the Continentalists, I do, but I cannot help but to be deeply influenced by the American philosophical tradition having grown up and been educated in New Jersey, and continuing to live here today … it’s in the soil, water and air … it’s the terroir in which I was born and nurtured to adulthood, and my roots continue to draw from this place a sense of identity that I cannot evade or escape, nor would I if I could. So not only am I a Westerner, but a very specific one at that, an American, East Coast, New Jersey born and bred Westerner (very distinct let’s say from a West Coast, Californian).

      So we can put aside the talk of pretentious Eastern philosophical considerations. It’s likely that I consider them more pretentious than you (although I cannot know that, I am pretty far into the swing of the pendulum on that count).

      Let’s take another step forward …

      I’ve never suggested anywhere, in anyway, or anything about “being in touch with your inner child” – yet you imply the accusation that associates this kind of thinking with what I’ve written. It’s simply not where I’m coming from, or ever have come from in my writing, speaking, thinking or acting. I think if you have an inner child you should abort it now – so another potential fallacy put to rest shall we say?

      Now to the core of my actual message …

      My entire message is about Becoming An Adult, or as I sometimes prefer to phrase it, A Fully Realized Human Being … an idea which I first encountered in the work of Joseph Campbell, and his suggestion that the promise of being born, was the possibility of becoming fully human, but that the process leading there was indeed a journey, not a given or guarantee.

      I don’t think you can be enlightened without first becoming a Fully Realized (Adult) Human Being. You must step beyond childhood and childish things and thinking into the domain of adult maturity to even consider the possibility of being something like enlightened.” This is a position where you retain the wonder and awe of a child, but make fully informed decisions and take meaningful action along a trajectory aligned with self-awareness and self-realization … ultimately action that is aligned with what is real in terms of the emergent form that contains you. How would it be possible to even consider this from a position that yearns to satisfy the desires of some “inner child?” … it’s beyond me for sure.

      While I respect that you “want to know, not to not know …” … I think you totally missed my point or misconstrued it. It’s not a question of what you want … YOU CANNOT KNOW WHAT YOU CANNOT KNOW, and you cannot know what hasn’t happened yet. However, most people respond to what is happening AND to what hasn’t happened yet from a position of knowing what they cannot know. Instead of remaining open and present to what is emergent they leap to a position of comfort based on what has happened, and treat what is happening and what hasn’t happened yet as though this is like that.

      Kevin, if there’s one thing I know … beyond knowing that I don’t know much if anything at all … it’s that “THIS IS NEVER LIKE THAT … THIS IS THIS, AND NOT THAT!” Yet, every “adult child” I’ve met (about 99% of the population of folks I have met) treat life as though this is like that … they prefer being comfortable in their assumptions and prejudices … even when they are clearly wrong and/or out of their depth – rather than to risk being uncomfortable and unknowing, waiting to experience directly what it is that they haven’t yet … i.e.: residing in in NOT KNOWING, until they do … and then letting that too pass realizing that once the moment has unfolded anything that was true about it is now just illusion.

      Conclusion …

      So from my point of view … the only reality resides in unknowing, retaining a death grip on residing in NOTHING with a childlike transparency to the wonder and awe of it all … the miraculous unfolding of the Universe which contains us all … and don’t think for a moment that I miss how counter-intuitive or challenging residing such a position is for a Westerner … they is me.

      Thanks again,

      Joseph

      PS – If I intrigued you or pissed you off, you might want to check out the writings of E.F. Schumacher, Graf Karlfried Durckheim, David Bohm, Charles Sanders Pierce and of course my old standby Joseph Campbell for some of my more Western sources for the claims I make (some of you might also like the writing of Joseph Chilton Pearce too) … if nothing else they’ll validate the desire for some external evidence for those that want/need that … PACE BABY!

      PPS – If anyone is really interested, heck why not take the whole ride and read some of the transcendentalists too … you can start with Thoreau and Whitman and go from there … or just stop at Whitman and just go deeper.

  4. Ross says

    And the joy in all of this for wittle ol’ me is that it takes the weight of a budgie’s feather to settle upon Joseph’s button to generate responses like these. There is no better value anywhere! Joe – you’re a star.

    cheers
    Ross
    A Foolishly Foolish Fool of The Fool of Fools
    (I couldn’t realistically get away with any more than 5 – it was fool up)

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