I hear this all the time, but what does it really mean? How do you actualize it? What does it look like in action? How does that change/inform your behavior? How is the world different when that is a lived experience? I think these are important questions to ask each other and ourselves.
In working to turn this ship around I keep searching for the core, the foundation, the leverage point that will generate the most impactful change. We speak about ‘going back to nature’ about reconnecting to nature. So is nature the foundation, the core? We know we are a part of nature, but that doesn’t sit so well with some of us. We came out of the jungle, we don’t want to go back. We live in cities – how can people in apartments connect to nature?
Janine Benyus’s words about how nature really works, keep coming back into my head: All actions create the conditions that support life. Is it life that is the core, the foundation? Respect and reverence for life, is that the magic ingredient? I do believe that that is the path to shift us from where we are to where we need to be. Respecting and revering life! What does that look like? Are the Jains the perfect example? They walk, devotedly sweeping before them so they don’t step on an insect. They believe that revering life is avoiding death. Is that true in nature? Nature seems to accept death, not avoid it. So what does revering life look like?
All life is conscious and even some things that don’t seem conscious – like stones – can be seen as conscious. Physics tells us that the connections protons and neutrons have for each other exists no matter the distance. They respond to each other instantaneously no matter how far away they are from each other. They exhibit oneness. Therefore anything that has a boundary that is maintained is conscious – choosing to stay connected instead of breaking apart into individual parts. Is consciousness the core, the foundation?
Again I’d say yes. Consciousness is expressed in life and expressed through nature. For me that is why nature is so significant in our search for oneness. Nature is the expression of what it means to be so connected that everything is interconnected – nothing can exist without the other. Life and consciousness really do include us. We know – personally, when we have honored our own life and our own consciousness or dishonored them. Thinking this way offers up a real-time, personal system of measurement. We know when we are in touch and respectful of life, because we feel that disrespect inside of ourselves.
Western civilization is not designed for this. Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass makes what was to me a startling revelation. In her native Potawatomi language there is no gender. There are no words that signify woman or man. The distinction that is crucial to them is animate or inanimate. Think about that; everything that is animate uses the same pronouns as are used for people, for family. Everything that is animate is a ‘who’ only inanimate things are its. Even stones are ‘who.’ This is the shift we need to make. We need to know, deep in our bones, that we are all one, that we are all important and worthy of respect and, yes, reverence – even other humans.
In Kashmir Shavism everything is God. Think about that, everything is God. As a practice that means that nothing is pushed away and everything has it’s place. Finding the ‘fit’ of horrible disasters into your life is a healing experience. Like in childbirth resistance is pain, so in life resistance is what brings the trauma and anguish that so cripples us. Embracing Life does not mean condoning awful things, but it does mean respecting the situation and dancing with it until the ‘fit’ becomes known. Much like running a rapids it is working with the powerful energies of the water that is the thrill of the adventure. We are all ONE – all entitled to respect and appreciation, to be experienced with gratitude and yes, even reverence.
We have been seduced by the thought that leadership means that the person designated as "leader" does something that makes others what to do something too. A corollary of that is that "others" don't want to do anything and wouldn't, if it wasn't for the "leader."
What if that wasn't true? What if, let's just suppose, the "others" really, really wanted to do something. Consider for a moment if you might be an "other," do you want to do something? Do you have dreams and desires? Do you think you just might have solutions to some problems you see everyday? Do you?
So, if "others" do have dreams, desires and possible solutions, what role does the "leader" play? What if, "leader" was a job description, much like teacher, or mentor, or janitor? If "leadership" was a job title, what would the job description look like? Humm, maybe a little like teacher, a little like mentor, a little like coach, and a little like trailblazer, and maybe just a little like scout? Maybe the "leaders" job is to evoke from the "others" their innate abilities, dreams and desires? Maybe the "leader" is really a cheerleader with vision?
That leads to another seduction. "Leaders" often think that that job title means they can now do whatever they want. They have dreams desires and potential solutions that they really, really want to try out. Good on them! What that usually comes with, however, is the whining about the "others." Stories about how "they" don't understand, how "they" won't follow through, about how "they" don't really care and worries that what they do or want to do won't last.
This seduction is most often seen in organizations where the leadership changes about every 4-5 years for top leaders and about every two years for up and coming stars.
Michael Watkins surveyed Fortune 500 company HR Directors and found that executives had an average tenure of 4 years; high-potential managers 2 1/2 - 3 years, he quotes Brad Smart as saying that the cost of a failed executive hire was 15 to 24 times base compensation.
This is expensive in every way. The constant yanking around that happens as "leaders," who believe this seduction, strive to make their own mark, at the cost of the organizations progress. This becomes a never-ending cycle, one that organizations survive in spite of the turmoil it causes.
In some organizations and in many governmental roles tenure is mandated with the belief that change will prevent corruption. This process has become so ingrained that leadership succession is almost mandated in some companies.
Organizations that continually rotate leaders select for those that can "get their way" the fastest. The focus on manipulative power, political cunning, and strong will have more to say about the character of the person, than about their ability to serve and build the organization.
These two seductions create a lazy approach to leadership. It is way easier to try and get your own way than it is to listen and hear what the collective is saying. History is littered with "leaders," including kings and others, who tried to go against the will of the people and paid dearly. It is much easier to frighten and cajole, manipulate and out smart than it is to erase self-doubt, clarify vision and believe in others even when they don't believe in themselves.
We are not taught collaborative techniques to work and play together, we are taught competitive techniques that keep us separate and reinforce the belief that one someone is better than anyone else.
Knowing these seductions and being able to address them is critical as we move into regenerative business practices. The pressing need for organizations to be flexible and resilient, the demand for innovation that is off the charts, all call for a leadership that is skilled in evoking the very best from "others." This kind of shift cannot be done by one person - no matter how skilled and forceful. In fact force is the opposite of innovation as it is an expression of fear, not experimentation, trust or curiosity - all components of creativity and innovation.
The ability to be collaborative, to evoke the best from others and to create a culture of excited experimentation and innovation are the hallmarks of the new transformative leadership and are the new measures of a leader practicing resilient intelligence.
By applying the ‘methods’ nature uses to create thriving ecologies, by acting with each other the same way that the rest of the planet’s life forms interact, by recognizing our interdependence and working to strengthen it, transformational leaders use the dynamics of systems and the Resilient Values Set™ to engage with each other that evoke the best from us.
All of us are seeking to contribute, to grow in service to what is important to us. We want to contribute to the grater good and we want to see the results of our labor create a thriving world, not a desiccated desert, yet when we look around that not what we see. Knowing that nature is both regenerative and distributive surely gives us a clue about how we should behave. The world should be better for our presence. Everyone should benefit from what we do, make, create, but that’s not the case.
There are just two of the fifteen values from the Resilient Values set™ that can make a huge difference in our lives, if we but lived them: Work to Maintain the Health of the Whole, and All actions Create the Conditions that Support LIFE. Think about these and consider who living just these two would impact your own daily life choices.
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In times of difficulty sometimes things take on new meaning. In my Spiritual Practices class I was struck by a new understanding of hospitality. When things get difficult and scary, when things don’t seem to be going my way the need for hospitality just increases. In times of strife hospitality can be expressed by giving people, (the ‘other’ side), the benefit of the doubt.
Nothing can be harder when I cannot imagine how ‘they’ can think that. Nothing can be harder when I know ‘they’ have got it all wrong. Nothing can be harder when I have to wonder ‘how dare they.’ But I’m sure that if I bring curiosity into the situation and wonder, instead of declaring, then perhaps I can be more hospitable to those who seem to think differently.
We are all such unique individuals. The process of individuation by which we learn and understand what makes us not only special but valuable to others can get lost in the individualism that sees ‘me’ as the only important being. In truth, the interconnectedness that this time has made so clear, offers up the importance of the uniqueness of each of us that is manifested in the interdependence that makes our lives.
Sometimes that very interdependence, that being needed, can be felt as restrictive, because interconnection requires small ‘sacrifices’ of self in order to work together. When that feeling of being restricted prompts people to distance themselves from others instead of reaching out in curiosity, then the circle of interdependence gets broken.
Now is the time for me to practice genuine hospitality, to give others the benefit of the doubt. I need to trust they have the same goals even if they approach the situation differently. I need to appreciate being needed and not run from the demands that makes on me. I need to make strengthening that interconnectedness my service. I need to open myself and extend that hospitality to others.
Everything in the universe is different. Think about that, everything in the universe is different. We talk about snowflakes, but it’s even true about identical twins. The differences maybe subtle, but they are there and they are important. The truth is that what we offer to the world is our difference – not our sameness. That is just hysterical! We spend our whole life – at GREAT cost trying to be the same and our real value is our difference!
Watching segment number seven of the Radical Remissions series of folks (me included) who have been victorious over breast cancer, ALS, MS ovarian cancer, liver cancer etc. has been most inspirational! It has pushed me to better understand that I too have a voice, one I need to share. Duh…
Every person in that series has a most interesting and profound journey. Many that make mine look almost tame. What is true is that each of them only achieved victory when they took their life in their own hands and decided to LIVE it! What a simple, amazing, courageous thing to do! That’s what it means to be awake, to be enlightened, to be holy. It’s not rocket science, and it’s right in front of us, but we are SO blind to it.
Your voice – this is where we come to you – your voice. Grab hold of your life, stop living it for: your parents, your kinds, your spouse, your status, your neighbors’, your friends, live it for YOU. Ah, I can hear you saying, “but I don’t know how.” “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” That’s all true. What you learn from dealing with a crisis is that you never know what you need to do. The next step is never clear and what’s more no thinking will help. It’s simply doing – what seems like the next best thing, with out thinking too much about it, but taking the next action that occurs to you. How do you think Spirit connects? Letters? Ha!
We talk about empowerment, but what we really need is confidence in saying what we really believe in a way that gets heard. This is a learned skill! It takes courage, yes, but it also takes practice. Please join me in the group: Thinking About LIFE on my Facebook page; http://Facebook.com/KathrynLive.
I’ve been feeling a bit stretched lately, running from one meeting to another. Perhaps you can relate? Now, there’s…time, real time, nothing to do, a requirement, in fact, to do nothing. I’ve been taking a breather finishing projects I’ve put off, including house cleaning, and enjoying the refreshing pace of life. It’s not the life I’ve made, but the life I need to live to be comfortable, healthy, engaged. It’s been a time of life, not for money, but for…life.
I’ve been in a transition, a rather fuzzy transition. Now it’s gotten fuzzier, but more interesting. It’s very clear how far from living versus being driven I’d gotten myself. Now I’m reconnecting with old passions and interests and seeing a possible new connection and interdependence of my various parts that I’m going to take the time to explore.
We’ve come such a long way from being in harmony with nature – if we were ever in harmony with nature. Maybe now that the fear of survival from starvation is diminished and the fear of sickness and possible death is striding around nature, with it’s creativity, fertility, and beauty is calling out to be recognized.
I’m a cancer victor and I’m watching a series of reflections by 19 other folks who have chosen to deal with cancer in their own way, as I did, and I’m struck by the love of life they each express. Living is not about existence it is about the love, the joy of LIFE! That’s what it’s all about. Somewhere I seem to have lost some of that. I’ve always done only what I enjoyed doing, but lately I’ve become overwhelmed, burdened by loved projects, but burdened never the less.
For the next four weeks I’m going to explore the values that Nature lives by and how I intend to bring them into robust actuality in my own life.
Working with a coach in these kinds of times can be helpful!
Stress is a factor in daily life. The doctors will tell you it is a ‘fight or flight’ response and it is not harmful unless it is a constant state – our bodies are not geared for constant stress. In modern life stress is our response to our life. OUR response to our life.
We resist what is happening or what we have to do. Why? Resistance is futile said the Borg and that’s the truth. We resist by making things wrong, bad, or difficult. In the end we have to do them any way, so just get on with it. Housework? Learn to love it! It does SO much for your attitude and energy when your surroundings are ordered and shining – present with you. Cleaning is actually a way of worshiping as you deeply appreciate the wonderful things you have surrounded yourself with.
My religious home, Kashmir Shavism taught me that everything is perfect. EVERYTHING is the natural progression of what went before. Everything is good – the universe is beneficent. Hard things are lessons about: needed skills, misunderstandings, accepting the consequences of our own actions. My cancer, the death of my son have all been gifts, it just takes a while to unwrap the package.
We believe we are responsible – for everything. We are ‘in control’ so WE are the only one that can make a difference. Accept that the world will work itself out. We can help by doing our own role, and the only role we can actually fulfill well are our own. Enjoy the show. By learning to watch the show I have learned to appreciate the skill others bring to their lives as they deal with the situations they are presented with. I am saddened by the pain I see people inflicting upon themselves through resistance, misunderstanding, or denial of responsibility, but watching as they learn the lesson can be very gratifying. We are ‘responsible’ but not attached to the results – that allows me to do with out doing.
Meditation can help release the attachment that causes the stress. Knowing that the universe really does care – it is up to us to discover how – frees us from having to carry the weight of anything except our own small part. Caring does not have to be painful, stressful, or a burden. Caring is recognizing the love that infuses everything.
While not everyone’s idealistic, most people just want to get ahead and feel good about themselves in doing so. Problems arise when: people are measured on the work other people do, and when people are rewarded for goals that distort the system.
The first issue affects ALL managers and some leaders. If you organization holds you ‘accountable’ for the results that your team achieves, that is often a setup for blame. No one can actually make anyone do anything and that’s where leadership style enters the picture. If a manager or leader believes that their value is based on the results of others that is inherently a powerless feeling. What do you do? Do you harass, cajole, bribe, yell, shout or punish others into submission? Is micro management the answer?
The second issue comes when results are measured either by amount or by revenue. Both of those measure encourage people to game the system since the ‘how’ is not measured or even discussed only the amount is deemed important. In these situations the ‘leadership’ style is often rationalized by the results it achieves. If the goals are met and the rewards acquired, then all is good.
Trust is a funny thing, we often put our ‘trust’ into something or into a person and then we never reflect to see if that ‘trust’ is actually vindicated. Trust is often confounded with loyalty and that can make us blind to the facts and prevent us from seeing what’s happening, on the ground.
I’ll be doing a webinar soon on trust and leadership. If this is of interest, please click this link and tell me what questions you’d like explored or what areas would be most valuable to you to be addressed.
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Some animals have cells that are not programmed to age, therefore they can live until they are killed or eaten by someone or something else. Both the Hydra and the Turritopsis dohrnii Jelly Fish do not die unless they are eaten or become diseased. Many other animals can live hundreds of years, the Bowhead Whale, the Red Sea Urchin, and the Aldabra Giant Tortoise to name a few. Trees are known to live thousands of years. We live an average of 79 years and the longest lived human lived 122 years. This is an improvement over our 47-year average life span in 1900.
What if we could repair our DNA and keep our cells from aging so that we could live 6500 years. Would YOU want to live 6500 years? How about 200 years? Why or why not? Turtles and trees just live. I have to believe that they get joy from just being alive. They ‘neither toil nor do they spin’ yet they find life worthwhile, enough to keep doing it long after we throw in the towel. How would your life change if you knew you would be around 2-300 years or 6500 years even?
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I was ruminating on why we form relationships – specifically why do we marry? When we are young children are a biological push and to a certain extent property and status are social pushes. So I put these aside and thought about those folks whose relationship really seems to work. What I’ve noticed is that there is an appreciation of each other that appears to give each of them a freedom to be themselves. Their very differences are what make the relationship strong. They have learned to see the value in the others difference and they even come to depend upon that difference at times.
What would happen if we saw 'marriage' as more of a partnership? What would happen if we saw our other relationships as more like a 'marriage?' Maybe the key is looking at building a long-term asset/value. Not all relationships have to be a 10 to be perfect as they are, but the commitment to maintain over the long-term needs to be shared.
Relationships are curious things. We come to them with so many preconceived notions, expectations and desires. What would happen if we became curious about our partner? Curious about who they are and why they do what they do, willing to explore in order to understand and then be willing to express delight in the unique person they are?
This led me to think about how inherent in their appreciation was a deep respect. I believe it is possible to respect someone and not appreciate them, but I don’t think you can appreciate someone and NOT respect them. What do you think?
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Habits, we all have habits. Habits are, ideally, shortcuts to behavior we find useful. Once we make something a habit we can do it without thinking, we put it on automatic pilot. The problem, of course is that some habits are not our friends and we find ourselves doing things we’d rather not do, or that have bad or inconvenient consequences for us. Habits can hijack our best-intended behavior.
Our brain is a willing partner in helping us form habits. The neurons in our brain have dendrites at the end. Information jumps from the dendrites of one neuron to the dendrites of another. If we do something over and over we collect a lot of neurons that are engaged in making that activity happen. If we do it really, really often then the brain figures that this is important and to make it happen even easier it covers these neurons with white stuff called myelin. It’s a bit like paving a highway versus a muddy road, same path, but you can go faster.
Get angry a lot? What about those ‘hot buttons?’ See a spider and scream? Each of these denotes a myelin-paved path that the brain has made very easy for that information to go down. These experiences are sometimes called an amygdala hijack. They happen fast and make us feel like we are out of control.
Being ‘out of control’ is sort’a true, but the good news is that you can get that control back. Neuroplasticity – the ability of your brain to change, is something that you can actually stimulate. In doing so you actually change the structure of your brain. This is what happens when you consciously decide to ‘break’ a habit.
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