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Who's on Your War Counsel?

About three years ago, I read the excellent book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. At that time, I made a list of the top 5-10 people in my life that I was to and had similar goals with. I sent out emails to them every once a month with what I was working on.

Eventually, I fell off from this habit. Not sure why - I'd had gotten good advice, stayed in touch with people I like, and it was a positive experience. I started re-thinking building my counsel a little over a year ago.

The challenge is, I've got a diverse set of goals and ideas. I write, I do business, I travel, I create art, I adventure, I'm looking to establish a strong family, and so on. I have friends who are writers or artists that aren't interested in business. I've got friends in business that pretty much always stick to their one city. I know guys who are pretty simple, work a normal job, don't make any art or do any entrepreneurship, but have very strong and good families. I know very successful businessmen who travel and adventure, but aren't interested in having kids.

So I was thinking - how do I balance this all on my counsel?

And eventually, the idea hits me. I need multiple, relevant counsels.

The Paradox of Why

On The Best of Sett

In an astonishing number of situations, knowing the “why” – why someone did what they did - is what helps us make meaning, be motivated, transform our assumptions, or open our hearts. At the same time, the “why” question – “why did you do that?” - is often the most difficult to hear, leading us to defensiveness and contraction. Both parts of this paradox have clear reasons (their own “why,” if you will). Once we know them, we can find ways to support ourselves and others in knowing the “why” that are less taxing for all.

I have heard similar themes often enough to trust that in this particular way I am not that different from others. Just think of the last time someone didn’t show up at the time you expected them and you were irritated, then you found out the why and the irritation disappeared. Without knowing, we tend to fill in the gap of understanding by providing our own “why,” creating our own stories about what someone’s behavior means.

This is where our historical legacy can backfire. Only few of us, as far as I can tell, are truly able to live the assumption of innocence in its fullness. As a result, when we don’t like what someone else does, many of us are prone to coming up with explanations that dehumanize the other person: “She set me up to suffer because she is sadistic” or “He only did this for the sake of having more power” or “This decision came from left field; they don’t know how to plan anything.”

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