The Last Word on Power
The Last Word on Power provides the essential core of ontological coaching. It is a difficult book—one full of jargon and non-intuitive concepts. It is easy to think you understand it until you try and put it into practice and discover that you don’t know how to take the first step. You reread it and try again—with the same lack of results.
It is difficult because it requires you to think in ways unlike the ways that you normally think. And the ways that you currently think are so ingrained, so unconscious that you mistake them for reality—for how the world is. Your fundamental understanding of what is real must shift, if you are to benefit from this book.
To borrow a contemporary cliché, you need a paradigm shift. Unfortunately, if you’re working on your own, you probably won’t be aware of your current paradigm and thus have difficulty shifting it to a new one. Consequently, the book can be inscrutable.
I have listed this book among the most important self-development books I have read because mastering its paradigm will truly bring you power. By power, I mean the ability to do whatever you set your mind to. That said, I recommend it only to the most eager of my clients. It’s a tough read.
The ultimate goal of Last Word is to provide you with the tools to make things that appear impossible to you, possible. To be clear, Goss is not about showing you how to violate the laws of physics, but instead how to violate your own laws—your ways of thinking that limit you. She’s out to show you how to bust through your personal impossibilities—which is all about you changing how you think, act, and “be” in the world.
Question for you: What would your life be like if you could accomplish what appears impossible for you?
Reinvention requires that you reinvent who you are being in the world—not what you are doing, but who you are. This is a seven-step process:
- Distinguishing the behaviors that you currently use to produce results. Understanding how they limit you.
- Distinguish the context by which all of us interpret the world: that something is wrong. Something is wrong with you, with your company, country, the world, god–whatever. This context leads you to “improve” and not “transform.”
- Learning to “die before going into battle.” Or to operate with no guarantee that you will succeed. Dying before battle frees you from thinking that you can control the outcome. Once you give up that belief, you can act outside or beyond your self-imposed limitations.
- Create your future by declaring it.
- Mastering the use of requests and promises—the linguistic tools that move people forward.
- Stop interpreting reality; instead, accept it as it is. Our interpretations (e.g. he is a gossip; she is mean) come from our past and thus limit us to what we think is possible. Learn to view people and reality from the standpoint of your declared future (#4).
- Operate beyond the limits of the current behaviors by which you produce results (#1). This step develops your capacity to take actions to build your “impossible future” (#4).
In simpler language—you first must distinguish the cognitive structures you currently use to engage the world and then, once they have been cast aside, master the new structures that free you to design and build the life or future that you want to create.
This requires work. Once you’ve mastered Goss’s theory, you still must master yourself. Giving up your interpretations (or, not being bound to them) takes serious effort. Even more difficult, is taking the actions required to create your future—because it means breaking free of old ways of being and practicing and mastering new behaviors. Fear usually makes its appearance here—we are stepping beyond our comfort zone—and no matter how intellectually committed we are to giving up our interpretations (#6), evolution has designed us to feel fear when we step beyond our safe and familiar world.
Goss’s framework is the one I use when working with clients who truly want to exceed their self-imposed limitations. If they do the work, they succeed. Several years ago, I worked with a client who was failing to meet his sales goals—which would have put his company at risk. We used Goss as a guide and by the end of the year, he’d tripled his sales goal. He’d brought in more business than his other two partners combined.
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