The Paradox of Results (#739)

One of the biggest shifts that both clients and coaches make when they begin working in a more transformative way is from being primarily results-oriented to being more inner-directed.  It’s not that getting results no longer matters – it’s just that those results stop validating or invalidating your value and worth in the world. Consequently, it becomes easier than ever to create them.

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself illustrating this point on more than one occasion by sharing the story of a young autistic boy named Robertito who came with his family from Mexico to work with Barry Neil Kaufmann (aka “Bears”) and his family in the early days of what has now become known as the Son-Rise program.

The Kaufmann’s ironically controversial approach was first forged in their work with their own son Raun.  After exploring multiple options for “treatment” of what was then considered an incurable disease in the 1970’s, the Kaufmanns created their own program, built around loving kindness, unconditional acceptance, happiness, and desire. Rather than trying to make their son conform to what they saw as “normal behavior”, they joined him in his world, flapping their hands, spinning plates, and mastering a host of other repetitive “isms” that had been universally labeled as symptoms of the illness.

Eventually and miraculously, Raun emerged from his autistic shell to not only thrive as a child but to become CEO of both The Option Institute and The Autism Treatment Center of America™. (To watch an amusing YouTube video featuring Raun, click here.)

Robertito’s parents had read about the Kaufmann’s success and convinced them to work with their son as well, at least until they could learn to create a similar program for him back home.  But the question they were asked before the Kaufmann’s would take them on (and continued to be asked nearly every day of their work together) was this:

“Would it be OK with you if your son never changed, never learned anything new, and was never able to do anything more than he can do right now?”

While at first this question produced tears and indignation, over time they came to see that their happiness and well-being was not dependent on their son changing, and they began to accept and love him as he was.  Within just a few days of being unconditionally accepted and joined in his world, their previously completely withdrawn little boy was making eye contact and accepting and offering up small signs of physical affection.

His parents were so impressed by the rapid effectiveness of this approach that they excitedly asked the Kaufmann’s a question through their interpreter:

“When will you teach him to eat with a knife and fork?”

And in this one innocent question, they dove straight back in to the heart of the paradox of results:

 

When we take the pressure off ourselves to produce results at any cost and instead rest in our innate well-being, enjoying our lives, following our wisdom, and looking within for a deeper understanding of how it all works, life often begins to unfold more beautifully than we could imagine. As if by design, all sorts of synchronicities and serendipities occur, and results that may have eluded us for years begin to happen seemingly “all by themselves”.Yet the moment the results we have been waiting for start to show up, we are tempted to throw ourselves right back into the outside-in, action-oriented paradigm that makes creating specific results matter more than our overall experience of being alive.  If we give in to the temptation, we take ourselves out of the foundational, formless space from which those results have been effortlessly created.

This is the classic “give a man a fish” vs. “teaching him how to fish” dilemma.  If asked, none of us would say that we want to go back to being dependent on others for our food. But the hungrier you are now, the more tempting it is to give up on doing what works long-term and just grab at whatever fish are being offered up on whatever terms they’re being offered.

In my own life, I have found that the rewards of an insight-oriented life lived (mostly) from a place of well-being far outweigh the short-term gains of a “results at any cost” mentality. Worst case, you have a wonderful life; best case, you have a wonderful life and drive a Porsche.

For example, in the past year, my clients have produced impressive results. They made movies, won awards, went bankrupt, bought new homes, got engaged, wrote books, lost weight, stopped biting their nails, lost friends, and made millions of dollars. (Note that I said “impressive results”, not entirely positive ones!)

Yet in each case, the clients who experienced the “bad” results are as happy or even happier with where they’re at than those who experienced the “good” ones. Through seeing how they created those results through patterns of thinking and acting over time (patterns which had begun many years before they began their coaching with me), they are now able to create different results going forward.  They have a deeper understanding of their own spiritual nature and have consequently lost their fear of “bad” things happening to them in the future.

They have, in essence, learned how to fish, and do not begrudge the price they paid for that lesson.  Unlearned, it would have cost them far more in money, stress, and relationships over time than any short-term loss they went through now. And while there is always more to learn, the peace of mind and well-being they experience on a daily basis is priceless.

Have fun, learn heaps, and may all your success be fun!

With love,
Michael

Related Articles

The Paradox of Results (#860)

Before I gained some insight into the inside-out nature of experience, I used to assume that conditions and circumstances had inherent emotional feelings attached to them. Trading in volatile financial markets or working in an ER were inherently high-pressure, high-stress jobs. Getting what you want would always make you happy. Being rich and thin meant you would be confident…

A Different Way of Thinking About Goals (#861)

Every Wednesday evening for the past 13 years or so, my best friend David and I take our dogs up into the hills near our homes for a midnight hike and what we call “the talk on the walk”. This is a free-flowing talk about anything and everything, and over the years we’ve covered thousands of miles and every imaginable topic from comparative philosophy to politics to strategies for diaper changes…