The SevenSimpleSteps® Way

Step 1:   Look for Differences Between a Map and Its Territory

Step 2:   Index Your Nouns

Step 3:   Date Them, Too

Step 4:   Make Friends With “Etc.”

Step 5:   If You're Not Under Water, Don't Hold Your Breath

Step 6:   Visualize Your Way Through the Day

Step 7:   Begin Again2 From the Beginning1

By looking for differences between a map and its territory, you will being internalizing an important distinction—that A Map is Not the Territory. Perhaps obvious at first glance, the habitual awareness of this formulation will help you avoid many potential difficulties and allow for more flexible responses to situations. For example:

- How many times in recent history have responsible people failed to differentiate company financial statements (a "Map") from the actions company officers were actually taking (the "Territory")? One need only recall Enron, WorldCom and Tyco International in this context.
- Would your business profits be higher if instead of acting solely on Government or other economic professionals predictions (a "Map") you called some of your customers and suppliers for their own views (the "Territory")?
- How often do we have unpleasant surprises when, based on a critic's advice (the "Map"), we dine at a restaurant and sample the food (the "Territory") for ourselves?

For practice, look for a few map/territory distinctions each day at home and in the office. How does this impact your point of view or attitude?

Step 2: Index Your Nouns

By indexing your nouns (employee1, employee2, employee3, etc.), you'll begin to see the world as it exists, full of unique, individual people, places and things. Proper nouns, or generalizations, exist only as high order abstractions, not as flesh and blood or unique objects. In other words, we don't teach "students," but only a room full of unique individuals — student1, student2, student3, and so on. In business, we don't sell to an amorphous customer, but only to unique purchasers of our products — customer1, customer2, customer3, etc. I wouldn't expect you to continuously write or speak using indexes, but to do so only as much as required to develop this differentiating orientation.

For practice, have fun re-writing a page or two of your writing using indexes or talk with a (trusted!) friend that way. What new insights arise?

Step 3: Date Them, Too

By also dating your nouns (Maggie9am, Maggie4pm, etc., business plan2005, business plan1997, etc.) you'll begin to deepen your acquaintance with the world as a place of ongoing processes, a place of change, with no two people, situations or events exactly alike, ever.

- When your staff arrives for work each morning, how would the day go if you allowed for small differences every day?
- How different would your business expense projections be if you explicitly included the age-based performance of your plant, equipment or tools?
- If you have children, or pets, how often do you revise your views or expectations of them based on their current age? Or even yourself, for that matter!

For practice, how about dating yourself? On a piece of paper, substituting your name for the sample name, write: "Bob Miller2005 is not Bob Miller2004." Spend a few moments visualizing some of the differences between Bob Miller2005 and Bob Miller2004. Then move to the next year and write "Bob Miller2004 is not Bob Miller2003" (don't forget to pause a few moments to acknowledge the changes that took place). After going back several years this way, perhaps even experimenting with 5-year increments, skip to the first year of your life, continuing by months: "Bob Millerat 12 months is not Bob Millerat 11 months," etc. The truly adventurous can even work their way back to conception: "Bob Millerat birth is not Bob Miller1 month before birth," etc.

Well, did you have fun? Any surprises?

Step 4: Make Friends With “Etc.”

By making friends with etc. (using it in writing, speaking and even listening[!]), you'll begin to appreciate our ever present human ability to say more, do more, see more, etc., in every situation. We stop at an arbitrary point or moment only by choice. In other words, no ultimate last words, deeds or actions. What we call a "final" analysis can itself be further analyzed, the "last word" on a subject can surely be followed by another, and so on. Having this attitude, or orientation, of "etc." can go a long way towards reducing dogmatic, inflexible approaches to business and life.

For practice, throw in an occasional "etc." in your speaking or writing, or visualize an imaginary "etc." when listing to a public speech. What changes do you notice?

Step 5: If You're Not Under Water, Don't Hold Your Breath

This step involves non-verbal awareness, inviting you to slow down, and come into fuller contact with your breathing and the pull of gravity. Many of us can go through an entire day without having an unhindered breath, or allowing our chair or the floor to fully support our weight. This ability or awareness constitutes a central aspect of The SevenSimpleSteps® Way. If we are not able to experience life directly on these non-verbal levels, the internalization and subsequent benefits derived from the other Steps is not likely to happen. We may also find a lessening of excess stress by allowing supporting breaths to occur on their own. Remember, if breathing required our active involvement, we wouldn't wake up in the morning!

[Note: For the theoretically inclined, it is through this non-verbal awareness that we have the means to reach and influence our affects, and our evaluational responses.]

To experiment with breathing, locate a quiet place, perhaps sitting, where you can wait, inwardly silent, for your breath to rise and fall on its own, without any "help" or "interference." It may take a few sessions to begin to let go of habits learned over a lifetime. What do you find?

Step 6: Visualize Your Way Through the Day>

This step also focuses on our non-verbal functioning. It involves engaging our brain's ability to imagine, picture or visualize future actions and past events, without words or language. By visualizing the sights, sounds, activities, etc. involved in a given event, you bring a much richer structure of possibilities to your consciousness. This allows for a wider range of action, greater insight and increased choices. If you contemplate actions or events only verbally, you limit yourself (usually unconsciously) by the structure and implications of the language used.

For practice in exercising your visualizing abilities, choose a potential action, perhaps a business expansion or a move to a new house. Place yourself in the scene, surrounding yourself with the actions, participants, objects, etc. that will play a role (a gentle reminder: no talking!). Take note of any new connections you make.

Step 7: Begin Again2 From the Beginning1

This "last" step on your journey comes after you've experimented with the first six steps and begun to internalize your new extensional orientation. The phrase "Begin2 Again From the Beginning1," represents an application of indexing, dating and etc. (Beginning2 is not Beginning1, Beginningnow is not Beginningthen nothing is exempt from revision and re-evaluation, including these steps). As you "return" to step 1 on your spiral space-time adventure, I predict it will not look the same.

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The SevenSimpleSteps® Way      The Structural Differential     
Non-Verbal Awareness      Extensional Analysis Diagram     
Some Writings by Jeff Mordkowitz      Jeff's Relevant Biographical History     
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