…is a nuance that came to Toto as he started working with sports teams. More on that after a quick lesson in greek.
Two expressions our late builder Larry Allen taught were exotelic and autotelic. Exo means “external” (e.g. ants and beetles have exoskeletens). Auto means “within itself” (e.g. automobile, a horseless carriage). Telic means “whole” or “complete.” After giving us our greek lesson, Larry would tell us “autotelic is the one you want.”
Here’s why. Exotelic is a self-limiting, deficit-thinking Worldview/Identity — you aren’t complete until you attain something outside of you. Weak CORE. Whether wins or championships or PRs or prize medals or the corner office or someone’s approval, it’s always extrinsic and often unattainable, robbing you of hope and opportunity (thanks, Urban). Like pushing a rock up a hill, it’s a life of perpetual hell, right Sisyphus?
Autotelic is a core-centered, abundance-mentality Worldview/Identity — you already have what it takes to be complete from within. Strong CORE. Autotelic is fueled by intrinsic, attainable goals. When asked how he’d stay motivated after winning a gold medal at age 20, Kyle Snyder answered:
“It just comes down to what you value,” Snyder said. “If you value winning and gold medals, the thing you’re going to fear the most is losing. That causes you to tense up. It doesn’t allow you to wrestle to the best of your ability. But I am very strict in the way I think about the sport. I do it because I love it. I do it because I want to be the best that I can be at it.”
The Builder’s Journey from exotelic to autotelic is classic Hollywood, where struggle/crucible reveal the hero unknowingly had it all along. Dorothy must conquer the yellow-brick-road before her ruby slipper MOT awakening. Dumbo can’t fly without his feather until challenged by an MOT nosedive. Good Will Hunting can’t get the girl until transformed by his MOT “it’s not your fault.”
The paradox is it takes a builder coming alongside — autotelic isn’t autonomous or independent — it’s interdependent. We need each other and others need us — together we transform.
Autonomy is prideful, and dangerous. When you think you can win a lone, it works for awhile, but this delusion ends in rude awakening and tragedy. Great teams were built as they learned in victory and defeat. They turn to the dark side when overconfidence says what got us here will get us there — or I am greater than my teammates — or I have learned all I need to know. Autonomy, entitlement and hypocrisy ultimately lead to shameful acts of atrocity, leaving behind a wide swath of destruction.
What do you value? What do you fear? What makes you complete? Who is your builder? Write.
Win/lose and learn.
Embrace it. Live it. Love it (Thanks, Toto — and thank you Larry)…