Playing the Contrarian Game (Part Three)

You've entered this level having been bombarded by feedback. Instead of getting shot at like happens in FPS (first person shooter) games, you're getting shot down by other points of view. Instead of learning information about the objective world from experts, you are learning about you -- subjectively through your relationships. What you are realizing are things that can be learned, but cannot be taught to you. The content is not being delivered to you, it's getting discovered by you.

In this final domain, there are four challenges that involve joining an ongoing conversation. Each conversation is created by real-life contrarians. Hanging out in this domain utilizes the seeing resources you acquired in the previous domain. If you drop out of a conversation, you drop back to the previous domain. If you cannot see things the way real contrarians do, it's time to go back and pick up the seeing resource that did not stick with you.

The first conversation is is exploring how to say things for effect. It appears to be a positively naive discussion to curmudgeons. If you can only see how you make people despise you, then you cannot join in the conversation. When it occurs to you that you can make a difference the same way you make enemies, you can join in. When you see how you effect people, you can say things for beneficial effect. When it makes sense that people can be hurt by you, you can comfort them through the same connections.

The second conversation is using a different cognitive strategy that has not been available until you reached this level: authentic positive thinking. The participants are positive about positive and negative thinking. They are practicing appreciative inquiries with an attitude of gratitude. If you can only see what bad comes from simple-minded optimism, you cannot join this conversation. When you realize what good comes from everything, you can appreciate conflicts, misunderstandings and problems. You can point out the value, purpose, and meaning of what appears senseless, useless or purely destructive.

The third conversation is exploring everything in-between the extremes. Curmudgeons can only see this as lightweight, non-committal, fence-sitting. When you can see how every idea needs another connection, you can join this conversation. You will see ways to take exception in order to formulate an clever combination of ideas. You will disagree with antagonisms in order to validate an emergent consensus. You will give respect to alienated constituents to extend the boundaries of the community.

The fourth conversation explores the practice of informal leadership. When you can see how you've failed to provide leadership, you can serve your followers more effectively. You will earn respect by showing respect. Your vision of a better future will come about as you validate others' contributions to the evolving conversations. It will occur to how to be the go-to person and how to go to bat for others. You will lend a hand and protect the fragile advances others make on your behalf. You will see the common ground and shared interests to nurture.

When you find yourself in all four conversations with people in your life, you've won this game. Everyone else wins to because of the differences you are making. Your mind is transformed into a real Contrarian. If you inventory your seeing resources, you can expect to find the following:

  • seeing how your reacting to others goes nowhere endlessly

  • seeing how you can effect others for better or for worse

  • seeing how your superiority lacks humility, respect, or empathy

  • seeing how you make problems stick around or disappear

  • seeing how you point fingers to avoid responsibility for your issues

  • seeing how you can provide leadership informally

  • seeing how you'll know what to do when you first let go
Congratulations Contrarian! Game over - play again?

In keeping with last night's Academy Awards (and the practice of contrarian conversations) I'd like to thank the following people who made "Playing the Contrarian game" possible:

Marc Oehlert for bringing his anthropological expertise to eLearning issues and conveying the value of contrarians.

Harold Jarche for sharing the link on Coyote Teaching and raising his own question about the tension between coyotes and free range chickens -- which led to my brainstorming every kind of trouble that coyotes get into.

Roger von Oech for his comment on my Four Coyotes post which reminded me of my use of curmudgeon and contrarian puppets in the 80's (when we met).

Brent Schlenker and Wendy Wickham for extolling the virtues of my own appreciative inquiries into their wonderful blogs and viewpoints.

Karl Kapp for quoting Brent and myself like a true Coyote Contrarian and getting an extremely valuable discussion going on his blog.

Kevin and Timothy Johnson for their encouraging comments on Part One of this three part series.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,

    Really enjoyed our discussion about ISD's value and I really like how you put my thinking process in perspective for me with the label of "Coyote Contrarian." It really seems to fit. Appreciate your thinking and work in the area of how individuals interact both in RL and in the blogosphere. Thought provoking.