Finding Clarity – the secret power of heuristic writing
I spend most days helping successful men and women find clarity for their second half. Clarity about their calling, about their spouse’s dreams and mission, and clarity about how they will measure the results. Any tool that helps them gain clarity is a friend of mine. There are a few secret weapons and one of the most powerful is Heuristic writing- “writing to explore and discover what I do not know.”
Last week I was speaking at the Barnabas Group in both San Diego and Orange County, CA. Several hundred marketplace leaders gathered to listen to short, powerful and compelling presentations from innovative ministries in their region. They’re looking for opportunities to serve. If you are not clear on your calling, it can feel frustrating listening to an array of captivating ministries, wondering which one you should explore. There’s a temptation to ‘just jump in’ and try something. You can soon become tactics-looking-for-a-strategy. So I asked them to “write down in one sentence “what you believe is your calling.” I saw some blank stares and frozen pens – minds whirling – scanning for some sense of focus from which to begin to write.
What’s happening in those moments when you are confronted with having to write down what you may not be clear about? Why pose such a blunt question?
Halftime coaches around the world have seen the power of writing out of our confusion – and we often need someone to lovingly prod us to take a risk and put down on paper what we don’t yet have an answer to.
Eugene Peterson, pastor and author of The Message, learned through a dark period of his life that“Heuristic writing is… creating what has previously been inarticulate, unnoticed or hidden. It’s writing as a way of paying attention. Writing as an act of prayer.”
As you map out your second half you need clarity about your core strengths, interests, long-term desires and that requires a different kind of listening. We resist writing down what is not clear to us, and yet mysteriously as we find the courage to write heuristically we are surprised by the clarity it brings. Much of our work at the launch event and in one-on-one coaching is wrapped around heuristic writing – driven by the power of having someone ask you to do it.
You can begin on your own, just take 20 minutes in a quiet place with pen and paper and answer these questions:
- If your life turned out perfectly, what would the elements be?
- Based on everything you know about your spouse, what do you think their calling might be or what are their biggest dreams?
If you find these difficult to answer, welcome to the club. Most of us struggle with these big questions. We’d love to help you and with one click we can start the conversation – Lloyd.Reeb@halftime.org.