My first post about exploring the work of Robert Fritz left off at the point of explaining his method for actually changing our life's structures and creating what we want for ourselves. The critical element of Structural Dynamics is Structural Tension, which is the method for creating. We have to be willing to formulate and hold a purposeful, carefully-calibrated, goal-powered tension. Tension, per the laws of nature, seeks resolution. Picture an archer's bow and arrow, or the pull of a rubber band in two opposing directions. Eventually, nature resolves tension.
The tension we're creating is between our desired reality and our current reality. In order to establish authentic tension, you have to 1) Be crystal clear about your desired reality and your goals; and 2) Be brutally honest about your current reality. You're establishing the end points of the rubber band, in essence, then you're going to stretch it and hold it. You may be holding this tension for a day and then it resolves, or you may be holding this tension for years...it all depends on what you're trying to create. The key is this: Your focus must be on the degree of your desire, not the degree of inevitable difficulty. You have to want it regardless of that difficulty and you have to commit to work toward it in spite of that. It's no longer about being comfortable, it's about creating what you want in your life.
To describe your desired reality is to picture the results of achieving the goal, and picture them vividly, in present tense, the good and the bad aspects of the achievement. Quantify it and make it as specific as possible, but do not describe a process. Describe only a result. "I go to the gym five times a week" is a process. "I weigh (insert ideal) pounds" is a result. That result is the vision and desired reality. Also, and this was key for me to understand as a hyper-rational problem solver, don't solve problems in the statement of your desired reality. Do not frame your goal statement as a deficit you want to solve. Frame it positively as something new you love enough to bring into being. You're not fixing something. You're creating something new.
To describe your current reality is to objectively name every current fact that is relevant to the desired reality. In relation to achieving the desired reality from your starting point, ask yourself: What do I know? What do I not know? Keep in mind that your current capacity is not your future capacity. You can grow into your goals. Don't get lost in the weeds of HOW to get to your goal, just describe your current reality as it objectively is in this moment.
That whole business of not focusing on The How? That's terrifying to me. As an administrator who came through the ranks of project and program management, my professional life (and identity) is wrapped up all day every day in The How of problem solving and advancing toward fulfilling my organization's mission. This is different. Let that go. The resolution of the tension, and the action steps needed to move toward the desired reality, will all define themselves organically simply because you're holding the tension. The space in between the two ends of the rubber band will be flooded with The How if you can stay focused on the tension. I know we're wandering out into a flowered field of hippie dippie energy, but stick with me. You have to leave room for magic. Your job is to hold tension, and then say yes.
To make all of this real for myself I tried to think of a time in my life that I used this tool of structural tension, albeit not yet knowing Fritz's language and models. I wanted to walk myself through the process and see what it actually looks like in the real world. I didn't have to think back very far, as it turns out. When I started 2013 I selected a power word (abundance) and launched The Happiness Project. Outside of hosting a monthly book group and cooking brunch with friends, the project has meant boiling down exactly what it is I need in and from my life in order to feel fully engaged and happy. Creativity has emerged as the dominant theme and, without really knowing it, I set up structural tension between my then-creative deficit and my desired state. Resources, websites, ideas, activities, collaborations, opportunities, communities, The How...it has all flooded into my life and started to resolve the tension and close the gap. And by "flooded" I mean to say it's almost overwhelming at times. I just hang on and keep saying yes.
In fact, the desired reality has even upped its game since I first started this crazy year. "Creativity" was all I could eek out as I rounded the corner into spring (yes, spring, because I couldn't even name it when I kicked off the year...it defined itself); but now, what I actually mean by "creativity" has further defined and refined itself. I'm working on creating new tensions to move me toward new desired realities. That, folks, is an Advancing Structure of success. That is also what I plan to write about in my next post. It's not really a part three to all of this Robert Fritz stuff, but it is something that has been percolating in light of all his talk of "What do you want to create in your life?"
Love and beautiful tension,