PSPLife: Vision

The other day we had the TV on one of those music channels–you know where it plays music and gives you “fun facts” about the artist?

Train’s new song was on (I don’t know what it’s called, “Play That Song”?), and the “fun fact” was that one of the band members felt the key to the band’s success was that they all share the exact same goals.

I’ll be honest, I thought this was a pretty boring “fun fact,” i.e., not especially fun, and in the moment I heard it, I didn’t think it was especially insightful either.

But then, recently, when I thought of how I feel about this group — and what I, personally, think is missing — that otherwise banal “fun fact” came to mind.

First let me say that I so appreciate this group, I’m so happy it exists, I’m proud to have been a part of how it started it and even prouder to be able to step away and watch it run itself (although admittedly Naomi, Hadar and other consistent, active participants still form, I think, the “core” of the group that keeps it running so well). I also miss you all (a lot). Even being chin-deep in baby, I couldn’t help but read the blog. I wanted to know how everyone was doing, hear your “voices,” etc.  Also, I will be in Cycle 10, and am really excited to about it. Don’t take what I’m about to say to mean that I don’t want to be a part of the group or don’t believe in it.

Okay, onto the point of this post.

I do not think I share the same goals as many of those in PSPLife, and it makes me feel like something is lacking.

In LP (three years ago for me now), I drew a line in the sand right before Third Weekend.

Now, I used to be someone who never finished anything that I struggled with (if I did well, I could finish with flying colors). I’d start somewhat strong and inspired, then once I faced a struggle I couldn’t ace my performance would wane (and I’d feel really ashamed about this), then I’d drop off or drop out entirely, professing to everyone how the whole thing was stupid and didn’t fit me and was a waste of time.

In LP, I felt that my performance was abysmal (it wasn’t, I just felt that way; the truth is I laid the foundation for my marriage and family during those three months and that’s no small thing). Because I felt that way, I was going to ditch Third Weekend. I was going to just not show up, send an email to the group the day of (I wrote it out and still have it in my email drafts), and leave the work behind. I honestly couldn’t take being faced with the fact that I had “failed” LP.

Well, it didn’t happen that way. I never sent that email. Instead, I did what the work teaches you to do: I shifted, 100%. Yes, this was the last weekend of the program, but there was still life AFTER the program, and didn’t that matter more? And there was still this last weekend, where I could be who I wish I’d been the prior three months. This was the opportunity, this moment, to have everything change. So I dove in. I decided Third Weekend was not an end, but a beginning. I decided from that moment forward, I would live differently; that this wasn’t just a three-month program. It was a new way of life.

Fast forward to a few months later. When we sat around Hadar and Naomi’s living room at the very first meeting for PSPLife, this was the story I told (some version of it; I actually don’t think I’ve ever told anyone how close I was to ditching Third Weekend). I told that story in response to the question: “why are you here?” and “what’s your vision for the group?”

I told that story, and I talked about my relentless commitment to continue the work and live differently from that moment on. I talked about the results I had already gotten on my own as a result of that commitment, and how I would love to have the support of, and get to play with, like-minded people. I would love to have the added motivation and camaraderie of all of us being out there on our respective skinny branches, hearts racing and cheering each other on from our neighboring trees (I took the analogy too far, I know).  I remember almost everyone expressing a similar desire at that meeting.

Okay, fast forward to Cycle 8. We sat around Emily’s living room and answered the question “why are you here?” Several people gave only this reason: “I love the people, I love the community. I want to stay connected.”

And I felt disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the people and community too, but — if at that first meeting, PSPLife had been described as a social group, or even a support group, I probably would’ve said “see ya.”

My reason for being in this group is not to expand my friend group, or be part of a community, or even to get support when I’m struggling. Those are truly wonderful byproducts. My reason for being in this group is to keep the commitment I made to myself before Third Weekend.

So, a couple days ago, I read Hadar’s blog entry about Cycle 9 and felt a little sad. How I “heard” it was that he was feeling disappointed that several people held back during Cycle 9. They didn’t share consistently (whether winning or losing)–but he would take whatever he could get.

That made me think about how we often don’t realize what we contribute to people just by sharing — and how not sharing and holding back takes something (significant) away. Even (especially?) if you’re struggling, you have no idea how valuable that could be to someone in the moment you could have shared it (but didn’t).

Example:  there was a woman in Cycle 9 who just had a baby. In her first few posts, she talked about what she was struggling with, and I felt like I had found a goddamn oasis in the desert. I hung on her every word. I would’ve commented on her posts but I didn’t want to creep her out, I don’t know her (my stuff). When she “disappeared” toward the end of the cycle, I was like, damnit. I needed her.

But then I should turn my scrutiny on myself. I can sit here and give feedback, but I can see how it may fall flat. I sat the cycle out and watched from afar. What could I have contributed to that new mother? I feel actually pretty shitty about my choice when I think of it that way. If I want things to be different, sitting it out is obviously not the way.

To get back to the point, though, when people fail to participate consistently (whether winning or losing in terms of their goals) — or treat this like a social group and choose goals that either don’t matter or that they have no real intention of actually accomplishing — I get a little discouraged. It’s out of alignment with my vision for the group and my vision for myself.

This is by no means everyone–many of you play hard, newbies and veterans alike.  Open, vulnerable, risking, the whole bit.  Sometimes you could share more, not realizing perhaps what it does for others, but I don’t doubt you’re fully in the game.

In general, though, I experience a mismatch of goals within the group and confusion in overall vision.  The hard part too is I don’t know what my role is, in light of my personal vision. I can live and let be, as I have been doing. I give honest feedback on PSPs at the outset (i.e., if I feel a goal is not in the spirit of the work I’ll say so), but otherwise I let people play the game how they want. Because of the Great Resistance many have to LP, we’ve actually intentionally made the group loose enough to allow and encourage people to utilize it however, and for whatever, they choose. Even so, almost every “closing meeting” a handful of people will complain that what they wanted, and really needed, was not only an accountability structure, but someone pushing them. Someone shoving them out on that skinny branch, and calling them out when they play it safe.

If we all shared the same goal for this group, I think we could all be that for each other. We could tell each other your goal is too small, go bigger (like, tell, not suggest). We could call someone up the day after they said they were going to have a tough conversation with their boss/girlfriend/coworker and say “did you do it? You didn’t? Okay, by when will you? What do we need to work through to get you there?”

What stops me from stepping into being that person is I feel, again, people use this group for different things, and many do not see it the way I see it. When I sense that, I shrink back (and I know that part is on me, and I need support with it; it’s this quid-pro-quo attitude of well, if you’re not going to step up for me, and if you’re playing small, don’t expect me to step up for you; instead I’m going to focus on tackling my own goals and not trouble myself with the people in the group who are bullshitting their way through this or disappearing like they always do).

Also, I’ll be honest – if I fully stepped into that role, and as a result in turn let someone shove me out on the skinny branch, that scares me quite a bit. I like (very much) being in control.

Where am I going with this? I don’t totally know. I guess I wish everyone saw this group the way I do (even though my own vision for it scares me a bit), I get discouraged when I come up against the reality that many don’t, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I guess that’s it in a nutshell.

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6 thoughts on “PSPLife: Vision

  1. I guess I’m wondering if you’re complaining or making a wish. I’m in it for the community and support so my reaction is defensive. I’m thinking about the tenets: meet people where they are. If it’s to be its up to me. …if a subgroup wants a culture shift it’s going to take work and energy on those that want it. I just feel blamed for liking it as it is and i know i can or will shift from being defensive. I’m also open to being inspired to bring a new experience for myself and others. I also think it would be powerful for everyone to state expecations with small groups and buddies which may naturally occur for some but not others.

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  2. Thanks for your comment and your honesty, this is kind of what I need to work through this. I think I’m not alone in this feeling–every cycle we hear from participants (new and old alike) who want more rigor. That’s what led to ideas like the integrity captain. That said, I don’t think you’re alone either–several people are here BECAUSE of the permissive nature of the group. If it were different, they wouldn’t be here. On the other end of it, some do reject the group for its lack of rigor–Jimmy participated once and never again and that was the reason.

    PSPLife has tried to create a happy medium by having ground rules, but they’re (very) permissive. Even so, folks habitually break them with no consequences. It sounds like, pursuant to the ground rules, several people should’ve been told to sit Cycle 9 out after not blogging several times in a row. That’s a ground rule everyone agrees to at the outset of the cycle, and a consequence everyone agrees to at the outset of the cycle. The same was true for Cycle 8.

    Your comment is helping me have some clarity. I think I could be good with the group and its permissiveness if the ground rules were enforced — either by people policing them, which Hadar and I have talked about taking on, and/or people owning it when they know they broke them too many times and need to sit the rest of the Cycle out. When folks don’t at least adhere to the ground rules, the group, in my view, loses too much value. Those who want rigor are left feeling like there’s none whatsoever – those who want community are left looking around, wondering where the community went.

    The last thing I’ll say that the above (enforcing the ground rules) would not address – is if my intention for being in the group is to change my life and someone else’s is to just be social, I’m not sure a buddy relationship, for example, could be beneficial. I’d be annoyingly (to them) pushing that person, they wouldn’t be pushing back, and in general we’d be speaking a different language. But maybe that’s something I need to work through, because it comes from this desire for my group/buddy/what have you to be out there playing the same game.

    In LP, we couldn’t have that really — the group was the group, whoever paid to be there, and in every LP several people check out and it impacts the group when they do. My original (personal) vision for THIS group was to be with a bunch of people playing full out by choice, to surround myself in that mojo, without dealing with people disappearing etc. I thought that may be possible because the pool of potential participants are people who did the work and presumably believe in it. I’m willing to accept that may be a total judgmental fantasy, but this is what I’m struggling with. The side of me that believes in my vision still wants this group to be that. In the end, maybe it’s, as you suggest, an exercise in enrollment (and as I say that I think that’s exactly what it is). But the idealist in me says give me a bunch of people who are already enrolled, and that, I think, is the root of the problem and the part that’s just not realistic.

    Thanks again for your honesty, I know the above probably sounds sort of confused and all over the place but I do think I have more clarity around it now.

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  3. I understand your thought process.

    In my LP, there were people that didn’t participate as much and/or weren’t as committed and it was frustrating. I thought that was one of the points (how to deal with them, myself, how to hold myself high, how to hold them high) so I’m wondering if the ideal of everyone being as checked in as you are and in the same ways are feasible and/or actually as beneficial as you believe it would be. I’m not sure myself- i’m posing the question.

    I struggle blogging personal things on something that has public access. So when i was struggling, i chatted on whatsapp. i could have blogged “something” but it felt in authentic to do so just to do so. I would not have wanted to check out of the cycle. i thought i was contributing and being contributed to.

    my buddy and i both grew. we were tough on each other and not just coasting through the cycle acting like best friends, though that would not have been apparent to the group by using any of the integrity checks.

    there were things in lp that i did not want to do. looking back, i don’t think i would have done them and would have suffered the consequences for it. i’m wondering if there are things in psp stretch that people are and are not going to want to do. are we going to lose the value of what they do want to contribute and the chance to understand why and how we can support them- perhaps support a shift. i don’t know. this last part is just a stream of consciousness.

    I really appreciate this conversation, Kyla. and I always appreciate you and what you share.

    this just landed in my inbox and i like it so here it is:

    “Think about it: what’s a greater challenge for you—
    dealing with yourself or dealing with others?
    People test us and push our buttons.
    Through them we see our issues.
    Who would challenge you
    if you lived on a desert island?
    You can’t share this path with a coconut.
    You need someone to interact with.
    Sharing the path has many other benefits:
    prayers, guidance, new perspectives.
    Medical research shows that people heal faster
    when they have someone, even a stranger,
    praying for their recovery. Enough said.”
    – Yehuda Berg

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  4. Kyla thanks for sharing your thoughts. I want to be pushed out on the skinny branch, go in the bat cave, and do the dirty work. I need to work on doing the pushing in this group. At times I have sat back because I wasn’t sure that my buddy or the person sharing was in it to be pushed harder or held to a higher vision. But that is why we (at least many of us are here). Am I serving my buddy or others in the group when I hold back? no. I am in this to continue to grow and stretch to take on things on that are risky and scary. Thanks for bringing this reality check in for me and how I want to create, be and recommit.

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  5. Pingback: Onward | PSPLife

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