The Last Word on Power:
Re-Invention for Leaders and Anyone
Who Must Make the Impossible Happen

by Tracy Goss (Betty Sue Flowers, Editor)



Tracy GossCapsule Review

Tracy Goss has long been closely associated with Werner Erhard, the originator of EST and Landmark Education Corporation’s Forum. I expect happy graduates of those programs to be very happy with this book (I am and I am). The book presents the central concepts of those programs very clearly and in a format designed to help business people put the “distinctions” to work immediately. I doubt, however, that a person not trained in ontological coaching could get much sense from these pages. It can seem to be merely jargon and wild promises unless you have actually put the techniques to work for yourself with the assistance of a coach (as I have and I do).

For people experienced with the methods, this book is an effective refresher and spur to action. A friend and I read the book at about the same time and immediately formed a mutual support program employing its ideas, along with structures from the courses I teach. We are getting exciting results. I recommend the book to anyone eager to transform their lives from survival to adventure.

Key Excerpts

Page references are to the hardback edition

[Items enclosed in brackets are paraphrases or commentary by Tony Mayo.]

p. x All those whose life work has powerfully impacted my thinking, my professional work, and my life, especially Philip Amato, Hubert Dreyfus, Charles Weslet Emerson, Werner Erhard, Fernando Flores, Buckminster Fuller, Michael Goldstein, Martin Heidegger, Joan Holmes, Randy MacNamara, Jim Selman, William Shakespeare, and Constantine Stanislavsky.

p. 76 The Universal Human Paradigm:
There is a way things should be.
And when they are that way, things are right.
When they’re not that way, there’s something wrong

  • with me (the interpreter of events),
  • with them (other people), or
  • with it (anything in the world).

p. 103 “Dying before going into battle”

p. 108

Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature.
Nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing
–Helen Keller

p. 123 People often misunderstand what taking a stand means. It doesn’t mean being resolute, stalwart, or grimly determined. It means committing yourself to continuously act consistent with the possibility you declared, from the moment the declaration is spoken, regardless of the circumstances.

p. 138 When you are being the future of your organization, you are being what Martin Heidegger called a “clearing” in the world: an opening in which an invented future can crystallize. Over time, others will quite naturally relate to you as this invented future, rather than as a personality.

p. 140 The German [Deutsche] word Heidegger used for “clearing,” Lichtung, means literally a clearing in a forest. Heidegger used it deliberately because it conveyed a sense of “opening.” A clearing is an opening in the world of dense, conflicting interpretations–a place of light and simplicity,

p. 151 Leadership always includes knowledge of the possibility of failure. In this type of game, that provides a remarkable degree of confidence. If you operate with an acceptance of failure, you will remain confident no matter what happens during the course of the game.

p. 167 But in real life, when an event takes place that demands your response, you are always drawn to operate under the Universal Human Paradigm. Thus, you get “hooked.” Your interpretations snag your emotions in some way, without your consciously realizing it. This happens even if you have a “game” developed and even if you are committed to the concept of Re-Invention.

Being “hooked” in this way, like any addiction, leads you to take actions that serve the addiction foremost. [emphasis added]

p. 170 What happened is, someone offered you (an offer is a form of a request) their assessment of your company’s products, your reputation, and your skills. [You could fall into the U. H. Paradigm of looking for what’s wrong or: ] you might simply respond by asking if they have any specific request of you regarding the company’s products, your reputation, or your skills. If not, they clearly just wanted to “speak their mind–their point of view,” and this needs no response other than perhaps social politeness. If they do have a request, you can respond appropriately. [See “One More Question” on this blog.]

In the Re-Invention Paradigm, what happens–whether generated by you or someone else– is always and only a conversation: always and only a request or a promise.

p. 171 Suppose five of those [six] people decline. You are in a better position to move the action forward, by continuing to move on–presenting the possibility to new people and making your requests of them–rather than going back and trying to convince any of the decliners to change their minds, pressing them to think about it differently or bargaining with them. Even if you are successful in convincing them, the one person who willingly accepted is going to be far more powerful in moving the action forward than the other five whom you talked or pressured into acceptance.
[I agree with the need to move forward and the value of getting clear “noes” but this advice could be taken as an excuse not to convince or bargain. Bargaining, particularly has been shown to increase compliance and promise performance. See recommended book: Influence.]

p. 172 What allows people to authentically accept a request?
The assurance that they have the authentic opportunity to decline.

p. 172 If you don’t think you need to make requests, if you don’t need to ask anybody for anything, you are playing a very small game.

p. 173 [Attachment:] Her commitment to customer service was muddled because she was also committed to her preferred method for improving it.

p. 180 [Conversation Context:] There must be enough background conversation to ensure that both parties are willing to play in the same game.

[Generative Space:]a background from which their commitments are related.

p. 182 Keep complaints out of your request. … Complaints create a clearing for no possibility.

p. 187 A threat is a form of a promise.

[ ??? ] In making the impossible happen, action is always and only a speech act, and always and only a request or a promise.

p. 188 When you make a bold promise, you are also agreeing to stay in communication about your promise. You have made yourself accountable to the person who is receiving your promise.

P. 225-228 Rackets [See also, Werner Erhard on Self, Mind Traps, etc.]


  1. You get to be right
  2. You get to dominate or avoid being dominated.
  3. You get to explain how you are, and justify staying that way.


  1. Health & vitality.
  2. Happiness & the enjoyment of living.
  3. Being able to receive and express love.
  4. Full self-expression.

If you think about it, these four categories represent your whole life. A racket can diminish the joy of living to the point where you are merely surviving.

The Last Word on Power:
Re-Invention for Leaders and Anyone
Who Must Make the Impossible Happen
by Tracy Goss (Betty Sue Flowers, Editor)

Synopsis: The Last Word On Power

prepared by Ron Dimon

Uncovering your Winning Strategy

Discovering the source of your success, which is also the source of your limitation.

  • What do I listen for?
  • What is the desired outcome of my life?
  • “Listening for __________ so as to act by ___________ in order to _________”
  • From what actions do I expect power?

Experiencing the limits of the Universal Human Paradigm at work in your

  • Already Always Listening
  • The way things “should” or “shouldn’t” be.

Learning to put everything at risk

  • “Dying” before going into battle.

Freeing yourself from the illusion that you can control life so that it turns out the way it “should.”

In the long run, your Winning Strategy will never completely “work.”

Your life will never be complete.

You cannot control the outcome of your life.

Inventing a new master paradigm that provides you with a new source of power

Acquiring the capacity to make the impossible happen.

  • Declaring the future.
  • “I declare the possibility that ‘what is possible’ is ‘what I say is possible.'”
  • “I declare the possibility: ‘who I am’ is the stand I take.”
  • “I take this stand: ‘There is no such thing as right or wrong and no fixed way that things should or shouldn’t be.'”
  • Taking a stand

The stand generates a unique kind of certainty.

There are no explanations, evidence, or proof in this arena.

There are no justifications.

There are no prescriptions.

There is a commitment to take action.

bullet “Who I am is the future of my enterprise.”

Inventing an impossible future

Creating a new game that redesigns me as a leader.

  • Leaders are the “clearing” in which the future happens.

Designing my game:

Principle #1 – Assume you will fail at this game.

Principle #2 – Something within the game has to be more important than something else

Principle #3 – The game I design must be currently impossible, and I must be passionate about engaging in it.

Principle #4 – The bold promises I make should have challenging time frames.

Principle #5 – The game must be large enough in scope to hold all of my other accountabilities inside it.

Building the bridge between “possibility” and “reality.”

Implementing my impossible future

  • Breaking the addiction to interpretation

Something happens, I make up a story (assign meaning) about what happened, I confuse the story for what really happened, and I take action based on my explanation/interpretation/conclusion.

  • The bridge from possibility to reality is a conversation for action
  1. Requests: Queries that generate commitment. Four elements:
    1. A committed speaker (a background of relatedness)
    2. A committed listener (someone who can do something about the request)
    3. A specific set of conditions
    4. A deadline or time limit
  2. Promises, bold promises.
    1. You can keep it
    2. You cannot keep it
    3. You can revoke it
  3. Three questions after something happens:
    1. Question #1: What happened?
    2. Question #2: What’s missing?
    3. Question #3: What’s next?

Operating beyond the limits of your Winning Strategy: Being Extraordinary

Creating a lifelong practice.

  • “The price for being extraordinary calls for a relationship with practice that is equivalent to the commitment that artists and athletes have to the practices of their professions.”
  • Six “Best” Practices:

1. Six impossible declarations before breakfast
2. Tuning into the world of interpretations
3. Giving up the meaningfulness of my past
4. Have the “world” fit my “word.”
5. Recognizing the cost of the tantrums I throw
6. Learning to see the “hook” coming before I swallow the “bait.”

“Shift my focus of attention from what I am doing to the way I am being. Specifically: Am I being the ‘invented future and context’ that I created, or am I being “right,” dominating, and avoiding domination, and justifying the way I am?”

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making me happy.

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

“I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” -George Bernard Shaw