Revolution Begins with Evolution

Dear Ones,

How do you feel today?

November can sometimes feel melancholic, a long, somehow languishing month in between, the last pieces of green and the sparkly holiday season. We can feel a bit off or unsafe, especially after almost two years of a traumatic pandemic. We are not alone; everyone, everywhere, was touched and moved.

“Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.” — Oscar Wilde

Behind these days of wild uncertainty and rampant loss lies an invitation to cultivate the core skills of being human; to fortify our inner resources to not only weather the storms but be tempered by them as well. We do this work not solely for our own healing, but also to make us capable of responding to the critical needs of our times.

Fortifying Our Inner Resources

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
-William James

As leaders, we have been asked to meet the uncertainties of the world with a dignified and robust bearing. There is a need to fortify our core faculty of being human, our profound capacity to metabolize our deep experience of life into something nutrient-dense for us and our organizations. And, it is not something that can be learned from management books and programs.

It comes from the inside. There, we find our self-trust, truth and safety. It means coming to terms with our feelings and looking for guidance.
When we give ourselves permission to listen inside, restore our trust, change and evolve, we can make our internal landscape a place of stability, a solid footprint to make decisions aligned with who we truly are. When we mature within, we can make sense of the outer world, confront and create post-pandemic models that work.

How? By digging through the weeds and restoring our connection to our bodies, hearts and souls.
This process requires:

  • a mindset work that examines our beliefs and narratives,
  • a heart-work/soul-work of discovering our core wounds and unmet needs,
  • and a body-work that cultivates a physiological sense of safety.

Of course, it is challenging; we might find while going through this process of sorting, picking over, unhooking, that it will feel like a small “d” death — a death of the adaptive version of us that keeps us tied to our survival instructions and roles.

What would our days be like if we came out of hiding and brought our fears, loves, and dreams directly into the workplace?

In business we are so used to hiding behind the business “professional suit” mask and the famous motto that it’s “Nothing personal, it is just business.” We can feel disoriented and scared when we are asked to bring our whole self (including soul and heart) to work to lead our teams.
However, we don’t have a choice. Our employees are changing. There is a great shift in how they feel and experience work with an urgent need for an upgrade into truth, safety, trust, sincerity, vulnerability, mutuality.
And, to respond to this call in organizational life is to overcome our habitual fear and reticence and bring our full passionate, creative human souls, with all their urgencies and unnamed longings, right inside the office with us.

Expect More No!

Again and again
Some people wake up.
They have no ground in the crowd
And they emerge according to broader laws.
They carry strange customs with them,
And demand room for bold gestures.

The future speaks ruthlessly through them.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

The need for safety and protection has a major impact on how we build ourselves. When we live in a democratic country during peace times, meeting these needs seems easy. At least for our life expectancy, but what about our emotional safety and protection needs?

How to avoid the unpleasant feeling of shame, guilt, aloneness, or the nightmare of being outcast by our society, judged and rejected by our tribe, the people we respect, work with, love, cherish?
We have learned from a very early age that, in order to stay safe from these uncomfortable feelings and situations, we have to abide by the rules of our culture.

The issue is when these rules diminish us, set us into matchboxes, exhort us to behave — or else. Emotional safety and protection are not met. We all have been injured in one way or another by over-culturation. It is so infused that it dictates without us even thinking how we need to behave in our personal and professional life. What we should or shouldn’t do. How we need to fit in narrow places.
When societies, cultures, collectives, families, workplaces become constrained and controlling spaces to the profit of a mundane ONE force, we lose wonder, spark and innovation
. We lose the many different and valuable hearts and minds in our world. We lose our birthright to know and be who we are here for. We lose all our unusual talents.
In organizations with strict hierarchies (superiority versus inferiority), with leaders leading with power over their teams, the creativity dies, disengagement rises, toxicity reigns.

Could we remember the words of Hermann Hess: “It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.” Company culture is supposed to be a set of ideas that allow all of us to work and let work with one another and to create, and to mend and to help, and to invent, for the good of others and ourselves.

Revolution Comes from Evolution

But we are on the verge of something bigger. Things are changing. The government’s motives, companies’ choices, overculture ways and means are questioned and challenged on a daily basis. Fractures are exposed in plain sight. Every business is now facing reality checks and uncomfortable nakedness.

It is like, finally, we find the strength as citizens, as employees, as consumers, as human beings, to say “no, I am going to do what’s right regardless of what you say. I will not comply. I will choose community over contempt and selfishness. I will honor my needs and my emotions and deal with them in healthy ways”.
We are restoring our original blueprint. We are reclaiming our right and responsibility to choose what serves our humanness and what does not.

In our organizations, as leaders, we can see the change. We have been forced to have many difficult conversations around key societal issues, from labor and consumer protections to company ethics, inequalities, and climate change. But these conversations also have offered the great opportunity to take a deeper look at the ways we are avoiding and ignoring what we know to be true: we cannot go back to the way we were doing business. It wasn’t sustainable, it wasn’t fair and it definitely didn’t have our collective well-being near the top of the list.

The Way to Maturity

“Real strength never impairs beauty of harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.

-Herman Melville

There is a dire need for a collective and individual purpose beyond the material and mundane that needs to be addressed. These turbulent times have made more urgent and potent people’s innate need for connection and a desire to be known for who they are, to be seen for their authentic self, to attach in a healthy way in their personal and professional life. It means relationships that involve choice, mutuality, give and take, communication, mutual authenticity, shared vision, respect. From there we create magic.

Mature relationships come from mature leaders. Leaders capable of managing themselves.

Most of us have to realize that we are at least 50 percent of our own environment. The hardest part for me has always been to accept that I need to take care of my state of mind, my state of being, my responses. But if taking full responsibility is uncomfortable, it offers the potential of freedom, adequacy, and wholeness as well.
The starting point is me, you, we — and the first thing that needs to change is us. If we don’t change on the inside, then nothing on the outside will ever change. Our world will be healed by our own transformation, by reconnecting to our inner spark and reigniting our human spirit.

“And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.“

-T.S. Eliot

I thank you for taking the time to do this reading with me. I am so grateful to journey alongside you.

Be safe and be watched over until we meet again in December.

Laurence

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Laurence Duarte

Head of Strategy with innovation on the brain and a focus on creating safe and thriving business environments.