As this series nears the end of its first cycle of life, I am starting to reflect on just what a rare and precious experience it’s been to participate in it. And I also find myself asking how I can more fully be of service to this unfolding of this conscious way of doing business.
I still have a ‘day job’, one that I struggle immensely to fully engage as a playing ground of expression and creativity. I know that there are many of you who have been following these dialogues and blogs who find yourself in similar positions, inspired to bring consciousness to your Work, and feeling limited by the different agendas that many of today’s organisations embody.
So, this blog is written for you, and for the honouring of aspiration to our personal expression and service.
Extraordinary Leaders Consider Everything a Spiritual Practice
Barrett Brown, someone I consider a good friend, in our interview with him last week, shared the findings from his recently completed PhD study. His mission: to explore the inner workings of a group of leaders possessing “as complex a worldview as science can measure”. What he found, when shining a flashlight into the black-box of these extraordinary leaders’ behavior, something that spoke in a deep way to my own situation.
In Barrett’s own words:
“They have a powerful internal commitment to their work. They see their work as a spiritual practice. It’s not that the people in your life get in the way of your spiritual practice; they are your spiritual practice. It’s not that your work gets in the way of your spiritual practice, it is your spiritual practice.”
This is, I believe, a beautiful articulation of what if feels like to be dedicated to Work, not work, something Diederick wrote about last week.
I find myself, in my own excitedly reluctant way, being pulled toward this same commitment to Being Work. I see myself having increasing difficulty to pull myself out of bed in the morning to work in a context which, in some intrinsic way excludes something of my humanity.
I rely upon regular trips to the bathroom, to release the tangible energy of pain that asks to be acknowledged. I take solace in the wisdom and love of my friends who make space for my outpoured feelings of intense resistance and frustration.
I observe my habits of distraction, seeking to find some momentary peace from the insistence of change. I find strength in the knowing that despite the suffering, there is a deeper commitment to navigate the path toward that which I am being asked to allow.
I notice myself asking ‘what is the right decision in the midst of this uncertainty’. I question my commitments, and my integrity. I question the depth of maturity from which the desire for freedom arises.
Conversations to Catalyse
The conversations in this remarkable series have catalysed something in me. My tolerance for the limitations in my work is thinning. How much longer can I compromise my commitment to my ideals? It is a question with no seemingly certain answer, and yet Barrett’s discoveries did ignite something. This is what the leaders he studied embodied:
“They have this powerful trust and willingness to embrace uncertainty, meaning that they are willing to stand on the edge of the abyss of complexity, of the challenges they face in the very next moment, not knowing what’s going to happen. They use ambiguity as a tool to catalyse creativity. By not imposing on the future – ‘this is how we’re going to do it’ they were then able to listen very closely to what was organically arising.”
And so as I sit here writing, I notice that the certainty I find myself invested in, is that I have no certainty. That the more authentically I am able to embody my situation, with all its frustration and pain, the less sure I can be of what will happen. Something in me is content with that.
This series has been a gift of transmission, affording me the opportunity to learn from some truly pioneering men and women. And if I’m learning anything, it’s to honour the uncertainty that arises in me when confronted with such inspiring possibility.
It is as if the landscape is opening up before my very eyes, the paths of potential becoming as clear as my desire to follow them. And yet at the same time, the realisation that the things that have got me this far are insufficient to take me much further. How do I change, and develop the resilience and intention to continue this new journey?
I find increasing strength and comfort in the fact that I really don’t know. If it’s good enough for leaders with ‘as complex a worldview as science can measure’, it’s definitely good enough for me. And I trust that I am already embarking upon the path to turn more of my work into Work.
A Tribe of Deep Service
Please forgive me, for my somewhat self-indulgent hi-jacking of this space, to give voice to my own particular expression of embracing ambiguity. It is one of the luxuries afforded to me as one of the founders of this series. I hope it gives you something to chew on, in the midst of your own ambiguity.
I will end, if I may, on a rather more generous note, with an invitation from Barrett.
“We’re never going to know how to do it, there’s never going to be a formula, but moment by moment, leadership interaction by leadership interaction, trusting in the process, we can literally awaken each moment such that it is of deep service to those that we are touching.
It’s time to really develop a tribe of collective intelligence around this work and bring it forward in a way that is of deep, deep service to the global changes that we face.”