LeadU presents A Story of Inquiry

Leadership University

A Story of Inquiry

Or… self lament and “I can’t believe I was like that?”

Ok Mike, stories are great but I’m busy and I’ll make a go-no-go decision right now if you show me the bottom line.

This story begins like many stories about a guy who, with his own unique problems of personality, pursues his life experiment bridled by “latent” self-awareness and hitched to what some call narcissism.

Aside from looking back on his life and cringing when he realizes… I did that;

he couldn’t have gotten where he was without being largely oblivious to how people felt and what was actually going on.

People tend to say it favorably as having blinders on.

Bottom Line

Now in defense of the guy… I’m not sure girls have this affliction, although I might have thought I saw some at some point…

I’ll stick with this guy for now and the story behind inquiry.

I could make this story richer with a lot of personal stuff and you would fall off your chair if this was a tell all… but that’s not really the reason I’m writing so perhaps later in life?

I met Peter Block once at a conference we were both speaking at in Florida in October of 2001 (911).

Needless to say the presenters got to know each other during that week and Peter remarked to me privately after some of my diatribe about having to cultivate two sides of my own coin…

That as you got older and reached a certain point in your life that the two sides became one, as a Frost-like irreverence… like inquiry in some, is able to live in you without destroying your career.

I’ve probably reached that stage and it’s probably why I’m able to write this story about the inquiry guy.

This guy being the first to graduate from college in his family had all the dressings of the proletariat and today would be referred to as a member of the unwashed.

Late to woke is probably a euphemism that works to describes the guy and his situation.

Although there is most likely some real value in the idea of keeping them dumb and on the farm.

You might be starting to get the idea of the guy, his problems of personality, background and challenges.

Bottom Line

While graduating from college was one thing, marrying beyond his means was quite another shock. When someone, through ability or fortune encounters such a drastic shock, you really have to understand the kind of setback this experience of differences one encounters in this process!

No, not this guy, because he couldn’t see it any other way… because he couldn’t.

Opening a door to Inquiry.

Anyone might imagine that at some point a guy like this might actually sit up and take notice?v Actually there was another way to put this that seems more in line with this guy’s frame of mind, but I should remember his waking up.

You see, most people including this guy, just don’t stop to inquire.

They assume that everything that’s happening is there because of them and they just stick to what is getting them there…

Until it doesn’t.

I guess the only thing that can be said is that if you hit a wall hard enough it might knock some sense into you — then you might stop and start some inquiry?

Bottom Line

Chris Argyris wrote an article in Harvard Business Review back in the 1980’s as I remember called something like Teaching Smart People to Learn.

You see, smart people don’t have enough failures until they hit that wall of incompetence, that almost everyone sees but them — they plow right into it, so to speak.

Now our guy in the story managed to jump, run around and leave most people (including those that he loved and loved him) as dead bodies in the road to glory, but even a fool gets lucky sometimes!

This guy even convinced Russian Oligarchs to hand over very large sums every month because he didn’t see failure as failure but only as a need to influence the right people…

There is a boldness in that form of narcissism that accomplishes amazing things…

If only this guy could share some of that with you?

Bottom Line

As you probably know by now, I’m trying to give you context about the power of living… inquiry.

To live to inquire has to be one of the noblest of professions.

Yet, while this guy stumbled, bumbled, and fumbled his way into more successful failures that one is entitled to have, inquiry wasn’t a part of his life.

My German-Russian grandfather used to say in his accented English…

“Some people can reach into a barrel of slop and come out with a diamond necklace.”

That’s our guy.

The story isn’t written entirely for our guy yet because one of those “reaches” produced an insight, along with a lot of, let’s say, successful failure arthritis

…so much so that the nagging injuries began to produce a slowing pace, increasing, if not bewildering thinking about his thinking and worst (best?) of all, an opening of his eyes about the fact that people were just as important as goals.

Learning to ask rather than task, is a big leap for guys (and gals?) like this guy.

Bottom Line

The first things he began to ask about were related to the problems of his personality.

Little did he know at the time that self-knowledge and corresponding inquiry is a prescribed primary course of action for his type 😉

Like, how he used his talents, how they developed into strengths cursed with limitations, mostly as blind spots.

That his managing conflict and learning not to just get along but be valued by others…

…not just his ability but his compassion and caring spirit always there but not seen… or used enough.

Bottom Line

Learning how to learn is largely based in self-other Inquiry and I can quote a lot of great people who feel the same way.

Know thyself.

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” is one of the Delphic maxims and was the first of three maxims inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias. The two maxims that followed “know thyself” were “nothing to excess” and “surety brings ruin”.

The maxim, or aphorism, “know thyself” has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in literature, and over time, as in early ancient Greek the phrase meant “know thy measure”. – Wikipedia

Passed on through the centuries, ignored by the masses?

It’s not necessarily how you inquire, but that you do inquire.

Bottom Line

In the world this guy lives in, it’s not a bad idea to live… inquiry.

I guess you could say that with the amount of information and the number of ways it’s being combined energetically, that to live Inquiry is probably your best defense against your own obsolescence that the machines have planned for us, such a fickle bunch of folks?

The guy started like most do with Inquiry we learned at a very young age to understand interrogative pronouns!

Yea… the 5-W’s: who, what, where, why, and when.

For most, we never grew past that seminal set of lessons and our inquiry holds a narrow set of good tools, but nonetheless narrow.

The guy began a process of self-other inquiry using what he knew, like all of us.

 Maslow once was reported to have said:
He who is good with a hammer goes looking for nails”.

It took more than three decades to codify ways to — while avoiding the problems inherent with what I believe was created by Carl Rogers (et Al) Active Listening (AE) (1957) — add additional tools to use in… inquiry sans the projection that occurs along with AE.

I suppose the guy’s focus on developmentalism had a lot of influence all the way back to James and his idea of problems with personality to scholars like Baldwin, Piaget, Perry, Jaques, Fischer, Kegan, Common, and Dawson.

You might imagine that part of the guy’s big idea — meeting people where they are — lent undue influence to starting this process of living inquiry.

This guy realized that formulative inquiry is not discussed much outside of certain disciplines and hardly pressed in leadership, business or even management where you think it’s most needed and more so, appreciated.

Soon the guy realized this unnatural part of inquiry because for most of his life—frankly all the people that had influenced him — poured over the fact that goals were the way to get ahead and achieve success, not inquiry…

Bottom Line

…especially not meeting people where they were but where they wanted to b — a giant and growing gap perpetrated by the Madison Avenue folks and their precursors — headlining my favorite…

Freud’s nephew Eddie Bernays

If you don’t know about him, he wrote the PR Bible called PROPAGANDA in 1925, and we all are living subject to it now, go figure?

Officially known as:
Edward Bernays.
Edward Louis Bernays was an American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”.

Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life. -Wikipedia

And the fact remains… no one has ever heard of him.

Well let’s just say there is a whole other book to be read and written on that one. 😉

Back to our guy

From living propaganda to living inquiry is an amazing journey but our guy plunged forward into the world of the Bourgeoisie… unwittingly, unknowingly and unwoke.

Since this story is starting to branch out — just like this guy did — we need to bring it back to the reason I’m telling a bit of this guy’s story.

Becoming aware is no easy task for anyone.

Self-awareness seems to be, at least close, to the holy grail, if propaganda is not.

And while this guy became ensconced in propaganda’s origins fettered with the birthing of blank slate, an even longer story, inquiry emerged out of the same cauldron.

I want to continue the story, but everyone is entitled to know where’s the milk, a phrase the guy uses to help people to know when to PROMPT RIGHTAction, and use the 5-Ws for sure in transactional work, so here goes.

The guy settled on 7 skills of inquiry, in order to live inquiry, you have to use them all where appropriate with increasing density and frequency as you develop the skills over time.

In short:

• Ping Insight
• Probe Assumptions
• Prompt RIGHTAction
• Permit Story
• Perturb Certainty
• Pause and Breathe
• Pace Change

Bottom Line

The guy wants you to know that he’s willing to show you more, but he needs to know if you’re interested and serious.

First off if you’re a “helper” of any sort using these helping functions

in the abstract: cuing, scaffolding, supporting, lifting, protecting, and guiding (giving advice), this is for you.

In the concrete, coaches, social workers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrators, customer service specialists, and specialists whose day doesn’t go by without using one of those helping functions;

this next part is tailored directly to you.

The guy’s introductory VIP training and charter class for people who want to Live Inquiry and differentiate their tools for inquiry…

…is free with the purchase of his book called (right now anyway) LIVING INQUIRY, 7 easy to learn skills for helpers.

Bottom Line

The book will be available in digital form only in 2022 but it’s easy to print for “markup” readers and costs $6.97.

Why the low price for material that changed this guy’s life?

Because he thinks it will change yours., and that means making it available to people globally, who want to translate and teach this seminal and original work around the globe (hint*;)

Here’s the guy’s bottom-line:

Pay $6.97 now, get free VIP tickets to the 90-minute introduction — comes with PPT if you attend — a recording if you can’t and VIP pricing for qualification, certification, and accreditation. *Country/Area/MSAs* licensing around the world is approached by the guy with the time stamp of the purchase of the book, so if you’re interested in being a representative for your country/area/dma, it’s first come first serve, of course finally based on qualification, certification, and accreditation requirements but time matters.

The guy wants you to know the training has been tested commercially, prototyped, and delivered for the past 2 decades so plan to hit the ground running wherever you are!

The digital book debuts in 2022 and the global hardcover launch follows strategically… 2023 creating the interest and desire for LIVING INQUIRY.

This is the Beginning.

Pick up the skills, enjoy the training, get qualified, certified, and accredited in your area with a business leadership program that makes sense.

Bottom Line

Now the guy is still a recovering shameless promoter but who knows what’s in store. 😉
Thanks for reading!

Mike at 69
Mike at 69

Pre-order your LIVING INQUIRY digital book and be on Mike's V.I.P. list [benefits further explained in his launch call].



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We hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas, and tools during this process, which you can use for your own development as well as your work and leadership with others.

You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring, and trusted advice emergent from dynamic inquiry as a means to cue, scaffold, support, lift, and protect; offering inspiration to aspiring leaders who are interested in humaning where being, doing, having, becoming, contributing, protecting, and letting go help people have generative lives.

Mike R. Jay
Leadership University


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