Spotting the pattern

When you first see a pervasive personal pattern – and just how much it has been a pattern for you – in my experience, there is a kind of ‘oh no!’ moment.  This is normally accompanied by a bit of embarrassment and feeling of being a child for me.  Have I really been just doing this again and again and again for 20 years?  Why haven’t I seen this before now?  Where have I been for 20 years?!

As Anthony De Mello used to write, the key is awareness (his book Awareness is an excellent read). Because in full awareness, change already starts to happen.  Because full awareness includes not just noticing the pattern in question, but also the effect it is having, what it is costing you and what is getting left out.
The pattern I am starting to see has come out of my Enneagram studies.  It is called ‘starting again’ and is common of the 7.   I saw some arresting words recently from Oscar Ichazo, the originator/discoverer of the Enneagram of Personality in modern times.  In relation to type 7, my likely type, he said the words ‘always starting again’.  I can really recognize this pattern in myself.  Every time I get some space, I grab my journal and the ideas flow about what I could be doing in my life.  It always feels so real, so freeing. And because I find it easy to go from starter idea to starter action, some of them will get kicked off, often with a sense of urgency.  My business partner once commented on this – how one day something which has been an issue for a while suddenly becomes a big and urgent issue.  Then I might not talk about it again for weeks.  (I have found that David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a really useful set of practices to militate against this)
A recent example of how the ‘always starting again’ can play out for me.  Martial arts seems to be on my radar recently.  I had coffee last month with fellow integralist Mark Walsh who is a practiced martial artist, and got me thinking they might be a good way for me to have a channel for aggression and getting in touch with that part of me.  As well as building discipline and bodily awareness, which has a lot of currency right now in personal growth circles (‘nice idea…but is it embodied?’)  And then I found myself looking at Bruce Lee movies the other day.  So, it having taken a few days for me to act on this, I felt like I was behind.  It’s reminding me of a book I started (how ironic) when I was in university.  The title?  ‘Fully behind’  The sense that at 19, and having achieved more than most in mainstream education (Cambridge sporting blue, first year double first, straight A ‘A-levels’, Head of School), I felt like I was behind on lots of my ideals and projects.  It makes me smile thinking about it, I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to mentor the younger me.  And it is humbling to see that the same pattern, if less intensely and with less anxiety attached, still has a decent hold on my life.
The teaching for the 7 is to appreciate that being fully present has much more depth, interest, beauty and variety than anything we can dream up in our minds.  When I was on an Enneagram 7 panel in Minneapolis during a week’s training there, the advice that I came up with for a younger 7 was ‘your freedom lies not in options, but in decisions’.  A couple of people came up to me afterwards to say they found it a powerful share.  One I am still sharing with myself!

About Jack Butler

Jack Butler is a social entrepreneur, coach, workshop leader and speaker. His latest venture provides full spectrum human development through coaching, programmes and other development resources for leaders and entrepreneurs. He founded Future Foundations (www.future-foundations.co.uk), a leading youth personal development training organization. He is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association and a former fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Jack was the IAB 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year runner-up and took a double first class degree in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Jack spends his time between London and Brighton in the UK and Boulder, CO and the Bay Area in the US. In his spare time, he enjoys physical challenges (3 Peaks Challenge 2010, Tresco Marathon 2006) and supporting The Simultaneous Policy Organisation (www.simpol.org.uk). He is a Partner in Passion and Purpose of the Grubb Guild, a voracious reader of personal, cultural and spiritual development, and likes to inquire, journal, travel and write.
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