Today’s podcast, “Breakdown to Breakthrough” is the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.

Tony continues last week’s discussion by reviewing the meaning of breakthrough, how to manage yourself and your environment to increase your chances of experiencing breakthroughs, and the foundational importance of taking control of our interpretation of events.

Today’s distinctions include:
• Why are some coaching concepts called “distinctions”?
• The holographic, non-linear nature of coaching distinctions
• The benefits of not resisting, even welcoming breakdowns
• Both breakdown and breakthrough are creations in language
• The background of obviousness
• Speech Acts: Declaration is an action that changes the world

Video, handouts, and other resources from this and other webinars are available for free at:

Video of this and other webinars are available on Tony’s YouTube channel at

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Thanks to MusicOpen for providing public domain recordings of Beethoven.

Mostly for the benefit of the web indexing engines.

First thing I want to say, besides fact that it is M ay 29 which helps me sort out the many files, it takes to organize this is

By the end of the day, I will have the archive up to date. So there’s you go to you’ll see videos and pdfs and links to other articles for the previous

webinars that we’ve done so you can get up to date. But the thing about it is you don’t have to start at the beginning because there is no beginning with executive coaching. Every time I think of a topic that I’m interested in covering here on the webinar, I think, Well, to do that one. That leads us naturally to this one. And we’ll to set up this when I could do that one.

And just keeps going out in this this tree. In fact, it’s a common thing to say around coaching, particularly the sort of executive coaching idea which is Ontological Coaching I went to

The logical coaching.

Is that it’s holographic and that like a hologram any piece of it has information about the whole image, but the smaller the piece of the less detailed information you have about the rest of it.

So well each distinction or concept that I bring forward can eliminate in and lead us to kinds of results that the other aspects of ontological executive coaching can get to you.

The more of these little fragments we accumulate the clearer the picture we get of what’s possible in what tools can be used.

So if this doesn’t seem linear. That’s because it’s not it’s a it’s a very nonlinear way of approaching the world.

It’s not a five step process. It’s an infinite step process. The good news is, whatever step, you start with you can make some significant progress. So I’m going to check in quickly I see nods. So I guess I’m not completely being baffling on me.

To go along with the sort of counterintuitive.

Portal line baffling approach to this is today’s topic break down to break through.

Now generally breakdown is not something that we are looking forward to, particularly for in the car, trying to get at a particular place at a particular time.

So let me stop the sharing for a moon. Can I do that I have also servers. This change the share I’ll share new share stock show there’s a big red button. Okay. I learned that when I mean

Ah. Alright, so

To talk about a breakdown. I’m going to back up a little bit or amplify bit put another piece of the hologram in there and talk about what I mean when I say a breakdown is something you declare

One of the key insights in the 20th century philosophy that introduced the whole sort of postmodern way of looking at things. There’s new set of tools was to realize that up until

The early 1900s people regarded language to click professionals like philosophers and mathematicians. They thought that language was descriptive.

That it was a way of accumulating sharing saving descriptions of the way the world is. But what we began to notice is, there are certain kinds of language that not describing the way the world is. But they’re causing the world to be a particular way that words actually changed the world.

And one of the key ways to do this is with a declaration, there are some things that when we declare them. The future is now different.

The Big dramatic example of this from history is the Declaration of Independence, where a group of people just declared that these colonies were now independent of crowd.

Is there any reality behind that when they said it. No, but the moment it was published as the Declaration of Independence, things happen.

Pretty significant things even grave things when it came time for everyone to sign it. Ben Franklin was said to observes that this is an opportunity for us all to hang together. What we will surely hang separately.

So that’s where a declaration changed the world suddenly they they were fugitive’s and rebels and people engaged in a violent change, not just

Just talking hate that expression just talking because talking makes so much of a difference in one that money more of us are firsthand familiar with.

Is that powerful phrase that put many of us into a very new world in an instant, which is I now declare you husband and wife.

And that’s so powerful that we have changed that language, over time, it used to be. I now declare you man and wife, as though the males hadn’t changed at all. But now this female was suddenly a wife.

So they recognize the power of declaration and then we forget. And that’s true of a lot of these executive coaching distinctions we invent things, things that exist just because we’re speaking a certain way.

And then we forget they exist because we’re speaking a certain way. So much of our life exists as declaration.

As the philosopher john Searle at Berkeley likes to say vacations jobs cocktail parties presidents, all these things exist in declaration.

But you may be noticing as I’m giving these examples, one person declaring it shouting down a well, doesn’t matter a great deal.

What’s much more powerful is a declaration that is repeated by and another term of art and executive coaching honored by other people. So it just says if we don’t

honor our declarations that is take actions in accordance with them as though they were determined our world we lived in

And if other people are not encouraged and rolls excited about behaving as though those declarations, there’s something real. It doesn’t have much impact.

But gosh, when you get a lot of other people, aligning with acting consistent with that that creation that declarations, you make

You get to create a world the way people like Steve Jobs did when they declare that a computer is to be used a certain way that a phone means something else.

When Martin Luther King declares that he has a dream, there’s a possibility that if we start acting in a certain way, we will live in a different world. These are all declarations. So far so good, Jane.

Yeah. So far so good. That’s really cool. Yeah.

These concepts shuford before familiar with.

No, actually, but not as declarations, like I like how you you’ve

Been able to see it now. Like, I see it a lot of them as you’re speaking of telling me about it. I’m starting to see little things that I’ve done that people have followed along. I’m like, oh, okay. Interesting. Now, anyway, I’m just

Taking it all in.

As so things like I know created a business a business existent in declaration that people have declared and

A lot of folks have agreed to operate around these invented artificial declared realities in certain ways. So there’s a lot of backup to the idea that if a business cannot repay your debt.

It’s only on the business, no one else involved with the business is on the hook for that. That makes a lot of things possible some some positive and some, some less positive, but that’s a whole nother book which you’re crimson.

wherever books are sold, and I encourage you to run out and investigate that even if it is seem to be printed backwards, your copy will be printed left to right.

Forward. It’s forward.

It is

Just been driving me nuts. I keep adjusting my time the wrong direction.

Okay, let’s because you’re sitting on the other side of my

Okay, so that’s a concept, the coaching distinction of declaration so breakdown is something that exists by declaration. It’s when you declare that something is broken down that it’s has broken down and I’m also talking about a particular kind of breakdown today.

Now, it’s not just when a car breaks down, although that can be a breakdown. It’s not just one an illness interferes with our healthy behaviors, although that can be declared a breakdown

The idea is, is this is most of the time we are operating on assumptions about how the world will respond to us.

And as long as the world is responding to us in expected ways. There is a great deal of information, a great deal about the world.

That just resign its overseas to invisibility friends. If I decide right now. I wanted to take a note. Well, now I grabbed my paper, I’d grab my pen and start writing

But all I’m doing is I’m going to take a note and if if I start getting lines on paper, it works. But if suddenly start starts to skip. What’s the thing you automatically do you go, oh,

What is it about this pen now suddenly we’re not in the world of writing. We’re in the world of pens and pen tips and ink and as the spring right in. Well, that seems work. Okay, maybe there’s something about the paper that could be a contamination and might be to waxy you see this

Assumption that if I pick this up with my hand and press it this in a certain way that I’ll get a particular result that has broken down

This little agreement that have with the world that pens make marks breaks. Now I’m looking through that the invisibility of pens has broken down and now I’m in the world of pants.

And FB the pen. The world breaks down and maybe like I can open it up, take it apart so on. He did with a match. Rub it on something else, all these things we do, once it’s broken down that we would don’t even consider doing. It’s not part of our world otherwise.

And by declaring a breakdown you instead of just dealing with something’s wrong or frustration, we can deal with the thing that is behind what we assume work.

Now with pens. Pretty simple example, little bit more complicated. I get in my car, I want to go to such and such a place. I’m just going out there in driving and most of the time that is so invisible to us.

That sometimes you may have had the experience. I don’t think I’m the only one where you arrive somewhere and realize you have no idea what happened last one minutes

Just got there, because everything worked, everything was normal. But if I jump in the car go for two or three minutes and things start to go like this and then suddenly

It stalls and I started going again. Well then I start saying, well, what’s wrong. Do I have gas I’m checking the fuel that wasn’t in a world of fuel before

One day, this happened to me. I got a particular reaction from the car. And my thought was, I have a bad water pump.

next thought was, how does Tony male know this toenails, not a car guy I say most of what to know about cars is what you can see from the driver’s seat. Yeah, see it from there. I don’t know.

But I had that thought I drove to nearby service station. So I think I’m a bad water pump you open the hood and, as some of you may know reach then grab the fan and shook it said yep your water pumps bad

How did I know those symptoms will bad water pump.

Because my card broken down that way before.

Effect. Everything I know about the different squeaks that we had that breaks can make the way tires can look the way batteries responds when I turn the key.

All that knowledge came from breakdowns came from times the car did not do what it was I wanted it to do so, had to break through the invisibility investigate a little bit. So I got a bigger toolkit of dealing with cars.

Think about the diseases and maladies that you’re familiar with.

It all because you are someone close to you had that disease or malady.

And yet we regard every time something goes wrong with our pan or our car or health as a problem that should not be and that leads to suffering as we were talking before that shouldn’t be this way.

But if we instead think of it as this is different. I’m going to learn something now.

The invisibility of how bodies work of how cars operate. What makes a pen useful has just broken down for me and I can leave it. I could pull the covers back over it, let it stay invisible, or I can do some investigating and increase my facility with that domain.

That’s where breakthroughs happen.

That’s how you know whether the light coming on in your car means you should cancel your trip and go to the

repair facility or that can wait. I can drive 100 miles or 1000 miles or 10 miles with that particular symptom.

And we can do that with people to with our personal relationships we all had the experience. I don’t think yes on this one, where we say something to someone and we get a response makes us go what

That’s, that’s not what I expected. And if we immediately go to, there’s something wrong, it shouldn’t be this way. Well, my favorite choices. There’s something wrong with them.

If I’m being a little more charitable a little bit we’re tired week wounded. I think that must be something wrong with me.

But there’s that third possibility, other than wrong with them wrong with me and that is this is something new.

This is a place where the invisibility of my relationship with this person just broke down in a FYI investigated. If I move towards it. I could learn something I could increase my facility and that domain of human relations of being with people.

That’s why a breakdown can be the gateway to break through. In fact, it’s the most reliable gateway to break through. If you allow yourself to use it that way.

Questions concerns what’s coming up. Oh, I see, I see. Robert, Arthur crane and hello john Wilson john Williams hello john but see you on Facebook and Howard Ross honor to have you with me john Howard expert on diversity.

Phil proto, good to see you fill and we video in this and working with it fills a great video

Production and publisher. Alright, so I glanced at Facebook occasionally I encourage you to move over to zoom. If you want to interact. But if I see a comment on Facebook. I’ll address it.

Any questions, concerns puzzlement about this whole idea of breakdown so far.

All right.

So I’ll give you another example to drive at home. I was working with someone coaching someone years ago.

And she said, I apologize for being late to the call.

Because my dog at a breakdown. I said, No, you didn’t have a breakdown. She’s yeah he really did you know he was riding and not getting with symptoms will activate the

The pet people on here but she’s described some pretty urgent symptoms for the doc that she wanted to address and deal with rather than jump right on her coaching call, which is fine.

But what it took me a while to get through the the upset with her and make clear is dogs don’t have breakdowns.

Because dogs don’t have language.

Breakdowns exists in language, they only come into existence by declaration a human being or some other user of language. I don’t know if any others.

User language, say this is a breakdown for me in these circumstances, there’s something about the invisibility. The way things operate that I’m going to look at now. So a sick dog can be a breakdown for the owner

This is something to be dealt with something to be coped with something to work on, but only if the owner declares it

Mean someone else might look at the dog and say, well, those symptoms. I’m not going to bother me right now. I’m going to go to my call or do whatever else.

Could be right, wrong and different, but it’s based on that person’s values really you in willingness to get through and investigate

Now, of course, is that third option of saying, Oh, no. My dog is suffering. I’m going to suffer not going to really do anything about it. I’m not gonna learn anything which is all going to experience the pain and sometimes there’s a, there’s a, there’s room for that.

But once the human declares it a breakdown. Then you begin to investigate. He may increase your facility not dealing with just with this incident.

But with other incidents that come up, like the next time of water pump fails. Next time we’re low on gas next time someone laughs So that’s what we’re expecting a more productive response.

And as we learn these things done, we get more access to break through. Now if you’re able to tolerate without getting

To divert into your own emotional memory on the dog is she’ll give you one that sometimes it is more likely to activate people had a client on the line. She was very upset.

It’s one of those days are just things just couldn’t get going. It was always some breakdown

In latest one was, I have to go pick up my son has school

And it was just the last straw since she was on the edge of despair. I had to go pick up my son at school, instead of running her business. I said, No, you don’t have to just so yeah, I do. He second he has to get. Hmm. It’s a I’m sure that’s true. You don’t have to. You can choose to

Other people who don’t or couldn’t you know there are people overseas. There are people in jobs, they would lose if they walked out of. There’s a lot of ways, a mother could not pick up a child with this set of facts.

But if you say, well, this is a breakdown. This is not the way my day was intended to go

I will expected this I did specs his phone call to happen from the school phone call, maybe should have gone to a sitter or relative

Whatever something broke down. Let’s look into the system and say, based on my values, what’s the appropriate response given that things didn’t go the way I wanted them to

Well, she very quickly got to

Her value is that her children be cared for and that she participate in their most important moments.

And then it was no longer an upset. It wasn’t something in the way of her day it was the way she could be who she wanted to be.

Business, she had choices she didn’t have to be there. She knows. Explain it to anybody. She could just say this other thing I was going to get them.

Not going to get done because I’m going to take care of my son today and extra case, the experience of being cared for and with his mother.

As a choice. It was something that she could do with more energy and freedom and has another burden something that’s wrong, something that shouldn’t be.

So that’s the continual choice that I’m encouraging everyone to take on something happens that’s unwelcome unexpected we can

Treat it to usual way my usual way of it shouldn’t be this way. It’s wrong error and just sync giving up all of our power proving that we don’t have any power or we can say this is interesting.

That’s not what I expected. That’s not what I wanted. What’s going on here. How does this operate. What are the rules here. What am I, values, how can I express my values, give them a I’ve just learned about this new set of circumstances.

And that’s where the breakthroughs comms but we’re breaking through is there wrote routine way of being that we all live most of the time. That’s okay.

I mean, you can’t come down to the kitchen every morning and start running analyses of what’s poison and what’s food. I mean you some routines, you expect that box to have the cereal in it every time.

You shake it out. And there’s some really worms. That’s a breakdown. You want to deal with that they just such during Stephen plastic containers. I don’t know. But, you know, we’re kind of go through routine. We’re going to base our lives, our actions on our assumptions, most of the time.

There’s always that opportunity when something breaks down this veil of invisibility. That’s so much of our lives is covered with breaks down and we can suddenly say, oh, what is it with this pen.

That we have an opportunity to break through to a whole nother way of being. I’ll give you one more pets most powerful example from my own life. This came to me when someone said, What’s the biggest change in your life since you began getting coached having coaches work with you.

I said, the biggest difference. I’ve noticed is that most of the conversations. I used to have in my head where the person was thinking about talking with could only respond in a way I expected them to

The there’s no chance for break down there because breakdown requires something surprising something unanticipated somebody that’s not following

The rules. We thought the world operated by inside my head. That’s all the other people can do is what I expect what I anticipate

So the biggest shift was taking those conversations from here and having him out there in the world actually talk to the person. So, you know, I was thinking this, and I’m wondering how you respond to that.

No, it’s a certain level of confidence, once I realized I can’t control the world.

Then what’s left for me is a possibility of having confidence that I can respond to the world. So I’ll engage in this conversation. They’ll say something

Like what I expected. Okay, good. My world models working keep moving or they say something I didn’t expect or welcome or want in any way or even understand. Wow.

Something just pulled away the veil of of invisibility. I’m now looking at this, this is another person who’s respond to me in a dynamic unexpected way well golly, he’s that’s what people are for. Yeah. Things that respond and wrote routine manner. That’s not really all that human

Although we use that occasionally. So now we have a breakthrough, we can relate to a person in a new way, we can learn their values, what matters to them.

Or with groups would make an announcement. So many times my clients will make an announcement to their company.

And be shocked at the response. It was one company. In particular, they were experts. They were masters.

At allocated budget expanding funds on things they thought would motivate and make their employees feel rewarded and having new

Employees thing I them and if your thing is like this. Why they wasting money on this. You just did it over and over, but they never declared a breakdown

It was just these employees. I mean yes just can’t please them will keep trying stuff because we know this is good stuff, but not responding appropriately. Yeah. Yeah. How much of real life is explained by people just don’t get it.

They responded appropriately all my offers would be accepted beautifully. Or you can sit back and say, well, that’s not what I expected.

What can I learn how can I adjust myself and next time next Tuesday. I’m going to go into some detail. I’m going to hand out that describes exactly how all of this operates. So you could have more of a cookbook approach to it. But for now, I’m encouraging everyone to

Respond to this as

in a broad sense, the idea being, I’m trying to get to. Another thing there we go and share my screen. If I can’t

Yeah, there’s a little teaser for next time. There it is.

So that when something unexpected unwelcome happens, you can just pull this out, say, Well, if it’s a problem, I would handle it this way problem being something’s wrong. They should not be

But if it’s a breakdown is something to learn and their other actions, I can take so will be digging further into that and I hope applying it to very real world examples in our lives.

With a quick look over Facebook’s you’ve gotten the same, they’re all right, I’ve got no comments there. But if the same folks still listening. I appreciate that. And Jane. Anything you want to say to apply. This question it get a little more elimination on the topic of declarations in breakdowns.

I really like how you be you worded it as honoring honoring your declaration. So you making the declaration. Now you’re putting into action. I like that that that wording for that really hit home for me.


In I should finish up by saying and honoring once word declaring a break down the veil of invisibility. This is all the work of many, many other people. I don’t know that I have seven original word today except my personal examples.

Deep in the 20th century philosophy and people who developed a second of coaching as we know it today, but I hope you use it and the

Brief version of today is when something happens that you don’t want or expect you have a choice of stepping back and saying, I’m going to call this a breakdown and investigate

And declare problem and resist. Cool. That’s all for now. Thanks. Buddy.