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Feb 6, 2022Liked by Dr. Gena Gorlin

Thanks - this is a really interesting post. The Zen master/drill sergeant characterisation - flaws an all - is helpful, and I love the description of the builder's ruthlessness about unproductive tasks and willingness to do menial work. Looking forward to seeing where you take the blog!

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I did a TED Talk once in which I referred to fixers and builders. I think this article gives a whole new perspective to my thinking on builders.

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I’m reminded of the “three dimensions of success” from the Interaction Institute for Social Change. Success = results AND process AND relationships. The sergeant here is focused on the results; the Zen master on process. Perhaps the relationship is that act of finally inhabiting conscious, affirmative answers to: is this really what I want? / is this what I am choosing to commit to working on and suffering for?

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Idk, Zen priests have traditionally been fairly strict, i.e. waking people by hitting them with a stick https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keisaku. I think they have a lot more in common with drill sergeants than you would think.

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Also, the goal of Zen Buddhism is enlightenment, which is something that takes a lot of effort and practice to reach. It doesn't bring to mind the idea of "settling" at all.

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author

I actually agree that they’re more similar than different at a fundamental level (as I suggest toward the end of the piece). But I also think that 1) the current cultural connotations of “Zen” are more of the watered-down “settling” variety; and 2) the original Buddhist quest for enlightenment, as I understand it, involves achieving an internal state free of “craving” for anything in the outside world. So in this respect it does seem to discourage the ambition to build.

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As a Zen Buddhist myself I see the point the author is trying to make, but it is highly in accurate. Perhaps going through some zen training would be good if she’s interested in knowing the type of strict routines and effort these guys are pulling

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author

If I seem to imply that this is a literal and accurate portrayal of actual "Zen masters", versus a deliberate riffing on the cultural stereotype, then I haven't done my job in this article, and I'm sorry for that. (See the clarification in my footnote #1, though perhaps a footnote is not sufficient.) That said: see also my replies above regarding the very different, inward- rather than outward-facing purpose of the strict routines and efforts you're describing. As I understand it, the ultimate focus is on achieving a certain kind of mental state (enlightenment), rather than on building something out in the world.

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Steve Jobs once said 'the vision pulls you forward'. That's why the radiance of the all seeing eye looks upon Care, and its energy illuminating back to the eye what its created. The circuitry of the gods complete. Is this true? You tell me. You be the judge. If the vision pulls the builder forward, then through or is it from the lens of the all seeing eye shall serve as a reflection of the glory of God Almighty.

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What about the non-ambitious among us who don't want to "build" and just want to get to their next non-building type of inspired state in life? Perhaps that's why they don't see psychologists as often.. For them, the question of "is it worth it" is much simpler - it's probably "can I solve this efficiently enough on talent/skill alone and earn the money needed for my comfortable life?" So in a way, they are the perfect builders, because they just say per builder's mindset "it's not worth it" to a lot of things and live a comfortable life and this doesn't mean that they are not creative/good builders, but their goal is disconnected with the work too (just like your drill & zen people). Yet, they may be better than the "inspired"/connected "builder" type because they just happen to be more talented in a field of play.

And then there are the ambitious ones that burned out and no project is worth it to them anymore because they lost confidence in picking the worthy projects.

I think what I'm getting at is that we have to at least try and tackle the question of "what is a worth/value of things" before tackling the mindset question. Because "problem-solv[ing] like mad until she finds a solution" sounds pretty similar to doing the "white knuckle" thing that drill sergeant mindset does. (especially because the question "what will it take for me to build it" is impossible to answer in an acceptably precise manner most of the time). "is it worth it" and how to answer that questions is what I'd be excited to see being addressed and then problem solving(ie building that we all face) will be a peace of cake (I'm exaggerating).

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