The Eagle Newsletter — January 2023
HAPPY New Year! I wish you a wonder — full year, filled with wonder and imagination, curiosity, and courage. Wonder and curiosity to explore and investigate all that is in your field of perception. And great courage, resiliency, and imagination to build a year of comfort, peace, and love.
How do you feel at the start of 2023?
As we all do this time of year, I reflect on what has been and look to the future for what comes next. Personally, I do not make New Year’s resolutions, but I do set intentions. I found it incredibly powerful to remember my purpose instead of making plans to become a different version of myself.
Often there is this idea that a “new me/more perfect me” is needed for the new year. But, how would it be to gently allow ourselves to continue enjoying the process of changing and growing without the pressure to reinvent ourselves every 1st of January?
How about if we stop chasing an idealized appearance and instead reclaim our authentic, passionate, and integrated selfhood? To gain recognition, not because of a culturally commended performance with no intrinsic substance, but because of the fierce reclaiming of our mystery and depth.
It is not an easy task. In our more-tech-connected-than-ever world, we are all on view, in someone else’s sight. Fewer and fewer people escape self-consciousness about whether they appear adequate for their families, for their jobs, and so on. There is great danger for our identity here; in order to become accepted, included, and desired by others, we deny our own truth, obey no matter the content of the command, and repress all emotions except fear.
Why does choosing alignment within rather than familiar facades mean being ready to be judged and possibly outcast?
“It is the awareness, the full experience of how you are stuck, that makes you recover,” German psychiatrist Fritz Perls offered as an invitation. Let’s be wise, gentle, and deliberate with how we stand inside and beside those we love. Our right to experience our full humanness should not cost our fundamental need for fairness and complete respect together.
How about becoming aware and brave enough to remove ourselves from the easy trance of our mind and unplug from its many stories of criticism and judgment? Our call is and always has been to give and receive love and fairness.
For any precious one of us to grow fully human, we need more love and more fairness. Love is the essence of consciousness in men and women. It is the recognition and acceptance of the total individual and the love for him, being as he is, such that fairness never disappears.
From Purpose, We Make Meaning
“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.” — Leo Buscaglia
As a woman in management consulting, my intention is to continue questioning our responsibilities to the caretaking of the future and to the other species who share our journeys. We are delicate, and our world is fragile.
These Eagle writings have grown out of wondering what makes us human, out of a lifelong love for the living world and all its inhabitants.
From self-discovery and the willingness to both look inside oneself and share that knowledge, we build an interpersonal bridge that spans the gulf between strangers and embarks us on a collaborative path toward character growth and behavioral change.
I am profoundly convinced of the necessity to raise our consciousness in order to live up to the challenges and responsibilities we face in the business world and in our lives. There is so much truth there that it can take away the dark times of horror in which we live. A time when the cruelest aspects of our natures have been revealed to us daily, wars, scandals, the worrying spreading of misanthropy, and the increasing toxicity of our hierarchical binary systems.
The economic, social, and ecological crises we are in are causing necessary pattern interruptions. How we work, how we produce, how we consume, how we think, how we are in the world … The habituated ways we are behaving clearly aren’t working anymore. Demystification is on. It is painful and liberating at the same time.
Elements of despair and grief always follow when truths that have been kept in the dark are revealed. But then, the regeneration comes from the wreckage of the revealed truth.
A new way of behaving must be sought. The new way requires curiosity, imagination, and freedom. It demands that we look at other possibilities and other points of view. To imagine is to be free. To be free is more than the absence of constraints, it is a way of being, a conscious way of using that most precious property that we all have, a human life. Then we create the context for new choices.
I write and work for people and companies who believe it really matters right now that we learn how to create as human beings of conscience. Learning how to live and work as human beings of conscience goes beyond one’s rank and contributions. Learning to create consciously is about recognizing and reconciling the inward and the outward, one’s full range of choices in everyday relationships, and one’s decisions about what to do, whether major or moment-to-moment.
The Work of Love
“When there is no love, put love, and there you will find love.” — Saint John of the Cross
It is a telling statistic that the most frequently “what is…?” question typed into Google last year was: What is love? This fact probably reveals more about the society that asks an internet search engine such a thing, than any answer reveals about the nature of love.
American writer Bell Hook explained that “Everywhere we learn that love is important, and yet we are bombarded by its failure. In the realm of the political, among the religious, in our families, and in our romantic lives, we see little indication that love informs decisions, strengthens our understanding of community, or keeps us together. This bleak picture in no way alters the nature of our longing. We still hope that love will prevail. We still believe in love’s promise.”
Perhaps part of the issue is our one-dimensional view of love, leaving us unprepared for thinking about love in anything other than in a loving relationship. Fueled by our contemporary culture, we restrict love mainly to romantic and its lexical field. Love comes from outside, it happens to us, we fall “in” love.
So, can we pause for a moment and explore the true meaning of love in our lives, including work?
I would like us to reclaim the power of love as a state of mind, an attitude toward ourselves and others. When we decide to stand in love. My invitation is here in the work of love, that is, the cultivation of care, knowledge, respect, responsibility, and accountability in relation to the self and then to others.
What does love mean, exactly? It’s difficult to give a definition of “love” with which everyone would agree. Love remains a mystery, perhaps the mystery of the human experience. However, in her book the “Atlas of the Heart,” American professor Brené Brown gave this definition that emerged from her research:
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can be cultivated between two people only when it exists within each of one of them — we can love others only as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can survive these injuries only if they’re acknowledged, healed and rare.”
I see love as a sacred and vital presence to oneself and others: I see myself / I see you, I listen to myself / I listen to you, I understand myself / I understand you, I am here for myself / I am here for you.
It sounds so simplistic and yet so difficult to do in a culture that tells us we should be worthy of love. That love is something we must earn from approval. Our culture tells us that our value, our worth, and whether or not we can be loved are always determined by someone else. Deprived of the means to generate self-love, we look to others to render us lovable.
Do you see here the fear of abandonment? That if we step outside the approved circle, we will not be loved?
We all want the recognition that would prove our worth, our value, and our right to be alive on the planet, and we are willing to do anything to get it. And so, we follow the cultural / family scripts, maybe because it is the only thing we have always known; even if it means losing ourselves in the search to be loved. The result? Lovelessness. We betray ourselves with lies and pretense in order to be loved, but is it really love that we gain?
As always, from awareness, we find a path to freedom. We have a choice. We can decide to turn from a negative, limited, fearful vision of love and put in its place a positive one that would transform, that would heal, and renew. We can create love.
The question is, are we up to the task? Are we wise enough to take over the controls? We seem very smart, but are we very wise or loving?
Love the Presence Within
“The most precious gift you can give to the one you love is your true presence. So the first mantra is very simple: ‘Dear one, I am here for you.’” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Love accepted as a choice is not an easy change of belief for most people. It means responsibility for our own lives. It means letting go of old dreams for our lives and beginning to embark on new journeys. Japanese American writer Janice Mirikitani explains: “Often a bad reality is preferable to the idea of change; we prefer to embrace the demons we know than the positive force we don’t know.”
Again Bell Hook explained rightfully so: “None of us is getting better at love: We are getting more scared of it. We were not given good skills to begin with, and the choices we make have tended only to reinforce our sense that it is hopeless and useless.”
I mean, most of us have suffered heartache, when we felt that we lost love. Pain has opened us up, and given us the opportunity to learn from our suffering and to accept — or not — that every time we love, we risk heartbreak. We know. The more open our hearts are, the more they can be broken.
And, as terrible as it sounds to say, we will sometimes in our life cross paths with evil in people: those who use lies, manipulation, violence, disrespect, betrayal, power, to harm and hate life and love in a perceived immunity.
The thing is, despite the mark of ash they will leave upon our heart, despite the temptation to give back the hate, the despair, the bitterness, we can always choose another way.
What does it feel to follow the grace of the beloved poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who said, “the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable.”
The question is: Can we stay half awake and half alive, guarded and unwilling to open, remaining closed to protect ourselves from being hurt? Or, can we let our broken hearts stay open and surrendered to life’s greatest joy found through connection, all these relational choices that make life meaningful?
Loving is the way we light up the world. If we are brave enough, if we dare to embrace love as a way of being, we become protective, collaborative, uplifting, holistic, and gracious. Warmth, gratitude, appreciation, humility, completion, vision, purity of motive, and sweetness are the qualities most needed in our world, including our workplaces.
I know that, with so much cynicism, blame-shifting, and disappointment around, especially in workplaces, we might be tempted to give up. We might believe that when we step through the doors of our workplace, we should not be loving beings but “strategic/political” beings.
But what would it be like to decide to bring our presence into our work activities? Whether our role in the company we work for, there is much to gain by fully engaging with the tasks at hand. When we commit to being a conscious, empowered person of integrity, we shift the entire experience of working with new energy and life. With the intention of staying a loving presence, we find and infuse joy in our projects and our teams.
Love and Work
“Work is love made visible.” — Kahlil Gibran
In his book “Creating Love,” American educator John Bradshaw explained that Sigmund Freud once was asked what he thought were the marks of maturity. He answered, “Lieben und arbeiten” — to be able to love and work. For him, work has three main functions: first, to give us a chance to utilize and develop our faculties, then to enable us to overcome our ego — centeredness by joining with other people in a common task, and finally, to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence.
What a profound and appealing business purpose that is, isn’t it? Unfortunately, in most cases, we are far from that. Committed to unlimited productivity, and obsessed with more and greater profits, business leaders have lost sight of the necessary people’s growth and self-actualization in workplaces. When companies make productivity more important than the people who work there, and more important than the life-enhancing quality of their products, they hurt the planet with more pollution, they abuse their employees, and they harm themselves with expensive scandals.
As a management consultant, my job always starts by asking questions and listening to understand what is at play. The most common pattern that I find is interpersonal relationship difficulties. I have seen so many managers and leaders, experts in their field but ill-equipped to handle interpersonal situations, communicate effectively, or motivate their teams. They either avoid any hands-on leadership or rule with an iron fist — mainly because they don’t understand how to do it in a better way. In order to protect themselves, they perpetuate what they have been trained by their culture and often family system to do. They are patriarchal and secretive, they triangulate communication, and they are out of touch with feelings — their own and everyone else’s. They use power, control, shame, and distance as their chief management style.
In the Eagle newsletters, I talk extensively about toxic corporate culture, where it comes from, and why and how it has to change. When we become conscious and responsible, we shouldn’t be surprised by the cost of our addiction to profit and productivity. Most costly scandals could be avoided if we learn from them instead of only shaming, scapegoating, and firing the perpetrators. When scandal, abuse, and loss appear, hard questions should be asked about the corporate culture and the business practice of organizations.
Instead, when tough times come, companies add more degradation to their already degraded work systems. They rigidify and cut jobs almost automatically, adding more fear and more power to a few. When humans are reduced to an item on the ledger sheet under the heading “labor,” there is reason to fear.
For those still employed and working in fear, the demands placed on their time and loyalty are often dehumanizing and unrealistic. The mental and spiritual abuse of employees has become part of the professional code of the modern work ethic. The pressure for greater and greater productivity creates levels of chronic stress that are driving people into addictions and even killing them. I found the recent Twitter turmoil a perfect example of the toxic modern work ethic we are in, with an arrogant disregard for human life and value.
People are the primary asset of any company. Buildings and machinery can be lost and replaced, but if the best people are lost, their wisdom, skills, and spirit may never be found again.
What companies and investors fail to see is how faulty this move is. It only postpones the downfall. Frozen in fear, nothing moves. The energy serves only to defend and protect a rigid management, everyone trying to survive the snake pit, with more scapegoating, shaming, blaming, and terrorizing. No imagination is given to other possible solutions.
We can’t force businesses into success, whatever amount of money and power we have. The only way companies can survive is by developing the capacity to love, learn, and create with empowered employees.
When we put love into work, we see others both as a part of ourselves and in their uniqueness, and we treat them accordingly. We become leaders committed to personal growth, emotional openness, integrity, maturity and responsibility, high self-esteem, and a positive attitude toward life.
We offer a safe work environment, and we recognize the unconditional worth of our employees, we foster creativity to bloom, and we awaken wonder, curiosity, playfulness, spontaneity, resilience, and experimentation.
How does it show up in organizations?
- Everyone belongs. Period.
- We are safe. We bring our whole selves to work. We have the freedom to grow personally as well as professionally. We accept our differences and learn from them. We enjoy the space for personal fulfillment, respect, play, joy, and celebration.
- We dialogue with no need to dominate others in personal interaction. We are flexible, and we combine our unique perspectives and passions with a wide range of others’ viewpoints, making each other more interesting and creative.
- We take responsibility, share accountability, and have each other’s backs when things get tough.
- We get curious, ask questions, plan experimentation, and are open to learning.
- We build meaningful and reciprocal goals with our teams and stakeholders.
- As we stretch the limits of what’s possible and create innovative work, we embrace failure as an opportunity to learn, not to blame.
- Focusing on what we do best and love most, we produce work that enhances life.
Is it possible that the beginning and the end of all things is love? Of course, it is. In the end, when all is said and done, only love remains. And we don’t need to wait until the end to understand that love has always been in our hands. Love can happen if we are willing to commit ourselves to making it happen. Of course, love is a process that requires hard work and courage.
Here is my wish for us in this first month of the year: to remember and honor on a daily basis the vast wells of love inside, this essential and grounding force at our center; always emerging, moving, learning, adapting, and flowing on, giving its gift and finding a way through every difficulty. From there, we will create a better world, better work, and better relationships.
Art from the beloved book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy. For the lucky ones living in London, you can discover his work at the selling exhibition “Look How Far We’ve Come,” at Sotheby’s.
This Year, Don’t Forget the Holding Gift
“When we hug, our hearts connect, and we know that we are not separate beings.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Watch and be touched. Photographer Richard Renaldi shoots portraits of people who were strangers to each other only moments earlier, making some manner of warm, embracing physical contact with each other. Some of the portraits affect a sense of romantic intimacy, others simply express companionship; but they all present the subjects in relationship that did not exist moments earlier. The magic? After this experience, the subjects all report a degree of emotional transformation from the experience.
“I embrace you with all my heart,” Albert Camus wrote in his beautiful letter of gratitude to his childhood teacher shortly after winning the Nobel Prize. To embrace one another with our whole hearts is perhaps the greatest act of recognition and appreciation there is. To do so in more than words is the ultimate gift of our shared humanity. And yet, despite this awareness — or perhaps precisely because of it, because of its enormity — we rarely give each other this gift.
What would it be to re-allow ourselves into the therapeutic value of holding and being held? To embrace with all our heart? We all benefit from physical touch, whether it’s an arm around a shoulder, a handshake, or a hug. These gestures can have a range of positive meanings, from affection and closeness, to support and nurturance, to protection and security.
Holding is a basic human need that can restore security at our most primitive level. In holding, we can open a space for vulnerability and openness, mutual understanding, growth, and change.
My greatest wish for us all is that we let ourselves hold and dance. Let’s open our arms. Let life in. Let it all in. And let love be.
May we always remember, with all our beating hearts, to make this year a Loving one.
As always, I thank you for taking the time to do this reading with me. I am so grateful to journey alongside you. Please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas, suggestions, or comments.
Your presence is my purpose.
Be safe and be watched over until we meet again in February.