Jul 19, 2023·edited Jul 19, 2023Liked by Dr. Gena Gorlin

Hi, found this from a link on twitter. I appreciate the "thinking in color" idea, that drew me in—it's a good way out of black/white->grays->then what? sequence which comes up everywhere (e.g. politics.)

The way this is written threatens very much to establish "builder" as just another thing you "should" be, to be drilled-towards or zen-ed away from. I do not think "be a builder" is actually the right way to give this advice. And citing figures e.g. Steve Jobs as paragons of this virtue sets them up as people you "should" be like also—which is very likely to produce a narrowly-conceived idea of the person someone should be. Most, or much of the time, up to some point in their lives, Jobs/Jordan/etc probably *were* acting out of a sense of doing what they "should"/proving themselves, but one that was very coherently-held, so they were able to flourish as that version of themselves without actively employing the taxing drill-sergeant emotional posture.

The word "Builder"—and the figures you cite as inspiration—is better thought of as a sketch of what a flourishing/agentful person looks like, rather than what a specific good life looks like. It can be a revelation to learn that neither oppressive discipline nor painless detachment is necessary to live, and that a life with neither is desirable. The word "Creative" will resonate better for many people, in the sense that the fundamental choice to be made over and over is: out of all the general possibilities of my life, which one will I choose to create? Like creating art, or writing: you cannot be successful creating what you think you *should*. To step free from "should", and recognizing the *choice* in writing, art, OR life (which feels I think like a certain relationship to "fate", or the concept of "identity", the Buddhist direction is unavoidable)—this is what we are pointing to.

Your last advice, to ask yourself over and over"why do I care about that"—including "why do I want to be a builder?", "why does the word builder appeal to me?"—is in my opinion the critical *skill* it really takes to live in flourishing way. The drill-sergeant voice seems to come in when the answer to "why" is "to avoid facing the pain of not being seen/never being worth anything"; the zen voice appears as an answer "why should I have to prove I am worth anything"; the rabbit-hole of "why" can lead you to why you believe you need to be worth something and why you believe you are not.

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This is the first piece of yours I've read, and I'm clearly late to it, so forgive me if you covered this somewhere else. Could you give some concrete examples from peeling back why's like suggested at the end?

"arbitrary standard you’re trying not to fall short of" vs "a real and credible one, with the enactment of your fully-lived life as the ultimate value at stake" is not a clear distinction for me.

If I had to guess I think most of my deepest (failing) whys are of the Zen nature, but it's hard to be certain if I'm avoiding arbitrary standards or truly living a fulfillingly non-coercive life.

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