Landmark Forum Leader Insights


Breakdowns – the good, the bad, and the opening for action

Landmark Insights-Breakdowns – the good, the bad, and the opening for action

Breakdowns and upsets are pretty much always a double-sided affair. On the inside of the box, they’re “inevitable,” on the outside of the box they “shouldn’t be.” That mix sets the stage for a crazy-making dynamic right from the start. (Plus, it invites a familiar overlay—the not very empowering litany of “…what’s wrong with them, me, it?”)

When our attention is primarily directed to how wrong things are, we lose our power to act effectively. What’s worth noting here is: There’s no such thing as a breakdown without a commitment in the background. Commitments express themselves in agreements and expectations (declared and/or undeclared). If we take out the commitment and only have “what is,” there are no breakdowns—breakdowns are constituted by commitment. If we look at what the commitment is in the background (that makes what happened in the foreground a breakdown) we’d have a very different kind of power.

Effective people invent possibilities to which they’re committed and deal with breakdowns as they come up. They have an awesome commitment to completing the breakdown. There’s no hint of good/bad, “should or shouldn’t be,” just that “there are breakdowns” as an inevitable and invited component of any commitment. Seeing and engaging with breakdowns in this way alters the dynamic from one we might experience as thwarting or frustrating, to an occurrence that’s an invention, a making up, something to be embraced and valued—an opportunity to move things forward, to provide what’s missing, to be a powerful opening for action.

Barry Terry
Landmark Forum leader

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