How methods that promise to help can make you sick.

There’s fools that rule, there’s foolish rules that we follow and there’s the fool rules. Fool Rules put dominant convictions upside down and offer a way out.

Education: large scale version of the confusion between method and need, and how method then overrules real needs.

THE TROUBLE: The method is not the answer.

“The only use left for hammer and saw on a finished cabinet is to destroy it.”

I just arrived a bit shocked home from a trip to a bookstore. Whole racks of self help and advancing self interest books, all focussed on selling you a method that will give you the advantage. That advantage may lie in leadership, weight, start-up, career, love making, relationships, etc. “Do this and you get on top.” And they’re disturbing, for the lack of depth, wisdom and reality. Just for fun compare any self development or management book with the Tao Te Tjing. The latter is the thinnest of them all, yet shows mastery beyond any method. Yes, these books full of promises may work for a bit and do make a difference, if not just make you feel better for a few weeks. And, admittingly, for some they may work…if you love following steps. The trust in methods and approaches is overrated, sometimes stupid or even outright misplaced. Let’s look at why.

3 Reasons why Great Methods are Flukes.

1. Following a formula kills the life within the program.

Would you ever play a game that told you all the moves you needed to take during every step of the way? Boring, deadly, sad. We like solutions with complex puzzles, but only after we frustrated the hell out of ourselves. That’s where the real pleasure and fun lies. I heard a story of someone visiting a therapist who followed the steps of a therapeutical method as an automaton. It killed the experience. This person felt not seen or taken serious at all. it had to follow a script to get to an expected outcome.

Thousands of people know how to facilitate family constellations. It’s first. Same with Non Violent Communication, SCRUM, Agile Teams, etc. Then students who start to apply it, shift to performing the method as a trick. ‘Hey, why don’t we do a constellation about this question?That could be fun.’ They do everything ‘right’ and yet, somehow the magic is gone. Some students see it happening and create their own style out of the wreckage. Yet their raft may float, but the deep understanding, the original ship, is missing. The same gap we find between Jesus, and the watered down version of a Catholic priest, following orders of his bishop.

So what does work? True understanding. This is the authentic openhearted and open eyed you, giving a question and the one(s) asking it your full attention. Then answers and methods will come. Not as a trick, but as an inspiration of what is the right thing to do right now. And when you are well versed in a method, than yes, that method may be the route you take, but more deeply connected to purpose, rather than to the ‘script’. In the end the method is a hammer, and not a Swiss army knife with a heart ready to solve everything. In fact in education I found method (however new and better) can’t compete with the difference the quality of attention and intention from a loving teacher can make.

2. Focus on self benefits when applying methods misses the point.

What is wrong with books with titles like: ‘Productivity Ninja’, ‘the Art of not Giving a f#*k’, ‘How to get Rich/Beautiful/Successful/Happy/A Partner’? Oh, all those people who found an answer or trick, that barely needs more than a back cover, at most a magazine article, to tell everything it has to tell. Oh man, all those long talks with people who have so much discovered about themselves. Hours and hours of self discovery talk and little real world action to show for it. Don’t get me wrong, teenagers, early 20’s to mid thirties should be wonder who they truly are. Yet (fool rule) Reality is Ubuntu. We are only in relation to others. There’s no real (fixed & separate) me to find. We are fluid processes adjusting the whole day to new input; we all shift from parent, to professional, to friend or child in mere seconds.

We constantly act to please, get, control, enjoy, overcome, avoid. Tricks may help, but when the focus is on your success, your happiness, your lust, your interests, your leadership you’ll always feel poor. When you seek to give, enrich others, help, add, serve (yes, in a balanced healthy way) then you’ll find connecting to the world as a whole, that communities open up, that you become all those things you desired, without even trying. (fool rule) It is when we start to make a difference for others, that the magic begins. When the intention behind that is still self interest, however, such steps will disturb you and others.

3. When we start confusing method for ideology.

A method is a tool, not a solution. Using methods, rulebooks, lists may do as much damage as that they help. From placing authority outside of us ( governments love that), being self centered and wondering why we don’t find the real me (because your true me is an ever changing you among all of us) there’s a third reason to be hesitant. This one you’ll find with people who just finished ‘the right’ way method offered by the man who invented it. It’s like early Christians. They have found Jesus and now start to convert heathens, convinced Christianity is the only answer (Yes, I know, many still believe this.). They think having an approach, they now can deal with anything. And if you don’t understand them, man, it is you, they claim, who has still a lot to learn.

Having practiced yoga for 30 years doesn’t make you more spiritual, just more practiced at yoga and probably more healthy. But it doesn’t make you deeper and wiser, let alone more spiritual than others. I’ve seen facilitators of methods crack down on others for not following the rules in the right way. The method may be brilliant, but sometimes throwing away the script is the best next step. Often facilitators, trainers, managers freeze up or anger up because people question their answers. The people then feel often subconsciously, that said method man knows the steps, but not the foundation. When such happens, we feel method masters framing all problems and all solutions within that frame that they know. And all the reality outside that box, all the situations where this method doesn’t apply for the context or situation is lost. Thus many gifts of children at school remain unseen, unaccepted, unsupported and or forbidden.

Thus we see that those that give away their authority away to a method, demand that authority back from others, based upon their mastery of given method, religion, plan. Their approach becomes a banner we must follow to get where they promise to lead us. And we, those that follow, feel manipulated. Such authorities panic when we want to get out of their limiting box. We often see such people become (passive) aggressive to confine their flock within their own frame of understanding. They expect that the fullness they felt, when coming in touch with this method, book, training, would also enthrall you. When it doesn’t, they feel you’ve not done it right enough. Especially religious zealots seem often to believe in ‘happiness and liberation through force’.

To nuance a bit, I trust you’ll do more nuancing all by yourself, I must admit I have met masters who are almost one with the method. I once followed a weekend workshop by a woman on the ‘Natural Voice’. Whatever the issue was in a persons life, she could address it through her work with voice. A bad relationship, fear for a horrible boss, shame; these issues all return in breathing, in voicing, in attitude and willingness to be fully present. Such people are masters with the method as a tool, and don’t turn it into a sacred religion. A master carpenter can be a master at hammering, but he’ll use other tools if he needs to cook.

Here’s where we learned to believe in methods and forgot to think and feel for ourselves.

FOOL RULE: I stumble forward, true to myself.

I will make mistakes, but at the least their mine. I choose to seek understanding by trying our my own methods, staying open for criticisms, by giving it my full attention. I find that I live as if every training, every text, every new method (hahaha) I unfold is a journey I take with others. We find answers together and at times I have to say I’m sorry, or throw out my script.

Yes and I’ll still read such books or follow workshops at times. I learn from them as well. But never ever are they sanctified by me, or do I see them as the best solution. This choice costs me authority. People love titles, confirmed trainers in sigma six or lap dance tantra. But a title doesn’t say mastery. To many of the books and even trainings are as fluffy as your doctor having to use google to second guess what ails you.

“The Only Sacred Cow is Irreverence.”

Of course believing me isn’t fun at all. I bet you rather follow the new training on a method everybody speaks about, because this one promises to be ‘the answer’ (read: ‘everyone else speaks highly of it, so you better adapt to the crowd’) And while following the path of others, you become ever more blind to your inner wisdom, your authentic gift and the needs of the whole world. Consider; the ones most benefitting from the management methods are the owners of the companies you work for. They love you being ‘an agile scrum master in effective leadership through sigma six’. It raises profits. But really, is you being an awesome manager what the world as a whole needs? Does it serve nature? Does it make you feel alive and meaningful? Does your stress level benefit your children, if you know them at all? And all that self development? All these long hours talking about your discoveries and ‘steps still to take’ can just become a higher form of distraction.

What’s the way out? Become alive! Be with others in this world. Question believes. Stay curious. Wonder. Feel what your inner compass says. Love. Help others. Stay healthy, treat yourself and others with dignity and respect. And don’t think you’re the center of the universe. Place the well being of the whole in the middle. Help it to flourish. That will make you fly.

Comment of the Sage: “Okay, now push the close button, and if you loved it, the share button before that one, and then go outside and live to make a difference.”

Comment of the Fool: “How to make that difference? These last tips even, isn’t that more of the same? And how to apply them? I think I found a book that tells me all about it, in just three easy steps.”



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Floris Koot

Floris Koot


Play Engineer. Social Inventor. Gentle Revolutionary. I always seek new possibilities and increase of love, wisdom and play in the world.