Raise Your Eyebrows

539. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Over a decade ago I did an interview for entrance into a graduate program. I wanted to study art beyond self-expression, intellectual statement or forms of commodity; I knew art was at the center of identity and transformation. I knew intuitively myth and communal narrative were key. Harold, the man conducting the interview, raised his eyebrows when I told him what I wanted. He said, “You understand this is an organizational systems degree don’t you? You recognize this is a Whole Systems Design degree?” I did. I understood completely. “What greater organizational system is there than a culture?” I responded. “What could be more whole than a culture operating from a cohesive narrative?” Harold raised his brows again and nodded, saying, “This should be interesting.” It was.

That day Harold offered me two tidbits to ponder. He told me these two notions were things that all people studying organizational systems came to realize. The first was this: I already knew everything anyone at the university could teach me; what I sought was a way of seeing and I just didn’t yet recognize that I already saw systemically (insert the word “artistically” – they are largely the same thing). The degree program would open my eyes to what I already knew. Second, he said, “ You will set out thinking you know where you are going; you believe you know what you seek. Yet, what you find will be far greater than anything you ever imagined.” He was right on both counts.

I’ve thought often of Harold’s two tidbits of advice and I think they apply as much to life as to the university. First, there is nothing I can teach anyone that they don’t as some level already know. I can help them with their courage or shake up their assumptions, but at the end to the day self-knowledge is what the game is all about and it is a game of recognition. Second, as Joseph Campbell said, “No one lives the life that they intend…” and usually, the life we live is far more rewarding, far richer than anything we initially imagined. The obstacles and intrusions and unforeseen challenges are what give life its dynamic, the relationships are what give life its potency. What if you approached each day raising your eyebrows like Harold, saying, “This should be interesting.”

4 Responses

  1. Wow. This post totally speaks to me, David.

  2. okay, my new morning greeting, “this should be interesting” thanks I love it.

    Best to you as you and yours celebrate your mother-in-laws days.

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