Excellence as a process

Applying Xi is about the process of putting one’s extra intelligence to effective use in a certain environment or context. It is the most unspecified Practice:

  • It is about stretching your limits, like venturing into new territory with only a sketch for a map.
  • It is about looking for an unknown connection between two different subjects or disciplines: You know it must exist, and are determined to discover or prove that it does.
  • Your Xi is not a form of expression that “Everyone can do,” rather, you are trying to find the proper use for your specific kind of extra intelligence in a sustainable way.


No recipe

There is no standard recipe or procedure for the Practice of Applying Xi, and I see three reasons for this:

  1. Due to the inherent diversity of XIPs, their form of expression is similarly diverse: Every description of the typical application of Xi has by definition very many variations and exceptions.
  2. Applying one’s Xi in a certain form is the result of a process that takes some time. This process is very specific to the XIP in question.
    Barriers or incentives for sustained action differ widely, depending on the XIP’s personal history of acknowledgement of his/her own Xi and his/her Xidentity. A meaningful general description of the process of applying Xi is by definition questionable.
  3. The application of one’s Xi, essentially, is a very personal experience that involves awareness of one’s senses and a focused state of mind. It is illogical and possibly distracting to suggest a prescription.


Balancing autonomy and rapport

The most complicated theme of the third Practice is about two competing dimensions that always have to be considered in order to develop one’s personal effective mix of the two: The balance between Autonomy and Rapport in the process of applying one’s Xi.
Many XIPs need a certain autonomy to be creative. Exchanging gifts creates rapport. Fulfilling expectations of excellent performance creates rapport too, but striving for mastery or personal excellence may need making autonomous decisions that put rapport at risk.
I have experienced with my clients that the mentioned diversity of XIPs also implies that different XIPs encounter different aspects of this balance between autonomy and rapport. For instance, given the existence of Multiple Intelligences, the musician comes to another balance than the mathematician or the charismatic leader. Additionally, Temperament theory suggest that different temperaments will also differ in their approaches to become or be excellent, while even having different definitions of what excellence is.

A Hero’s Journey

Coming back to the three elements in the first paragraph, the process of finding one’s personal way of being excellent can be compared to the narrative pattern of the so called Hero’s Journey; a metaphorical story of a ‘hero to be’, who is forced to disembark on a strange journey into unknown territory. After many adventures he wins a victory or survives a crisis that is transformative, and returns home as a changed, more mature person.
The idea was put forward by James Campbell in his book A hero with a thousand faces, and has since been recognized as a natural format for all kind of coming of age stories in books and movies.

I have developed a presentation / workshop on the specific kind of adventures and challenges that XIPs have to face when they make their Journey. It is found to support the process, as it makes you aware of the larger context of your struggles for excellence and helps to identify the nature of the challenges that are to be faced. And of course it is also inspiring to know that there may be a happy ending to the journey after all.