Month: December 2014

What Makes your Heart Sing? – Random Questions for the Soul

unlock-your-potential1Randomly one morning I discovered a contact request in Skype. It was from a young woman called Lauren who upon my further inquiry, explained:

i got ure name from the directory here on skype cuz i was bored and lookin for new people to talk to. lol”…

I’m pretty strict with my contacts and my time… yet, in that moment I found myself with several questions coming to mind, so I took a moment to capture them.

I sent them to Lauren, and until now at least have not had a reply!

I realised on reflection that these questions were as relevant to me as they may well be to Lauren.

I thought that rather than just leave them to a singular thread of conversation with a stranger I’ll likely never meet, that I would post them.

Perhaps they somehow speak to you too.

In Joy!

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Dear Lauren,

What makes your heart sing?

What is it that you long for and that your soul yearns to be addressed before you leave this life?

How is it that after all of these years of life on this extraordinary planet, you find yourself in a situation where you would randomly reach out to someone you’ve never met and with no explanation invite that they connect with you? I have no value judgement on this… I’m just curious!

Why are you here? What meaning do you ascribe to your existence and in light of this, how do you wish to show up to life? In what ways and to what ends?

If every one of us has a unique gift to offer to the world (at least one) then what is yours and how do you intend to go about sharing it, and by when, and with whom, or with what?

Where is your community and to whom do you turn to in those moments when you find yourself longing for connection, consolation, the compassionate embrace of another as you seek to embrace the diversity of life’s experience, bombarding your consciousness on a daily basis?

How do you experience yourself in those moments when you find yourself most alone? Are you your own best friend and do you love yourself enough to consider questions like these that I ask?

If there is one thing that you would do today, that most demonstrated the fact that in essence you are a child of Love’s expression, and through the conduct of your action, the world would discover the same, then what would that be? And how might your experience be different today and for every other day that you’re alive, if you were to ask yourself this question regularly and then act in harmonious resonance with your answer?

How will you most nourish the child in you that cries?

How will you most celebrate your joy?

and…

What would love do now?

Sociocracy – Discovering the Gifts in Objection

Separating observation from evaluationObjections-wisdom-circle-of-flowers

Have you ever noticed how in human communication, considerable time and energy can be consumed when arguing for supremacy of a subjective interpretation, rather than investing in inquiry to clarify the meaning another sought to convey?

Considering the complete unreasonableness of such behavior it’s surprising to see how regularly these disconnected transmissions occur, and how easily a flow of a communication can break down.

Understandably people sometimes feel vulnerable to speak up, especially if they are less than comfortable about what they or another has to say. Yet throwing the baby with the bath water is most unfortunate as often concealed within tensions arising in interactions, new insight and wisdom awaits discovery.

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Language, whilst easily charged by subjectivity, is essentially a medium to convey meaning. By practicing basic communication skills such as reflecting, paraphrasing and asking clarifying questions, a listener can quickly fathom with reasonable confidence, an intended message.

Beneath the surface of someone’s expression may lay several layers of meaning, including points of view that even they have overlooked! Reflecting back to the other that which we imagined we heard them say, can help everyone to get clearer.

Applying filters to unveil the positive essence contained within dialogue, alters one’s world view in ways that fosters greater compassion and insight. Establishing understanding and acknowledging needs, supports potential for qualitative connection, regardless of how charged or disconnected an initial communication may be.

Deliberately seeking objection

Besides masterly communication skills, including a finely tuned capacity to read between lines, what practices can be applied in decision making to empower others, whilst navigating complexity and making decisions effectively? How can we make power explicit and ensure it is applied in ways where everyone is accountable for their actions – or inaction?

In Consensus decision making a proposal forming can grind to a halt when people get into arguing for a “best idea”. Exploring all options can be arduous, the more vocal tend to dominate and often times the process could be accurately defined as decision making by endurance!

What possible solution could ensure equivalence whilst maintaining effectiveness you may ask?

In sociocracy, the transformational ingredient for more effective decision making is the act of deliberately seeking objections. Objections are seen as gifts!

The word objection was chosen as a translation from Dutch and is intended to mean “strong felt sense in the body”. Whilst sometimes obvious, an objection may at first glance be difficult to define.  By remaining vigilant to tensions and taking time to acknowledge and explore them, groups can discover together whether some previously overlooked information is seeking emergence… or not!

Deliberately seeking objection is a concept that might take a little getting used to, especially if coming from a background of experience where objection equaled obstruction, and was symptomatic of explicit or underlying battles for power.

However, once over this hurdle, it makes sense to acknowledge potential objections, after all, why would anyone wish to do anything that may harm their aims? This is why in sociocracy, potential objections are owned by the whole group.

Holding a group to ransom without reason is avoided because an objection must (at some point) be clarified by an argument that clearly explains why a particular proposal could harm the aim of the group, or stand in the way of someone’s ability to fulfill a role contributing to that aim.

Many people have negative associations with the word argument – memories of conflict – violent interactions – obstruction etc. From a scientific point of view however, an argument can be understood to mean a conclusive statement, proving or disproving a hypothesis. In decision making we’re forever testing hypothesis.

“Good enough for now” and “Safe enough to try”

The degree of time spent on clarifying objections can be balanced against actual time available for the process. Sometimes we need to act and asking if a proposal is safe enough to try helps to determine the validity of objections. There is often a tension between equivalence and effectiveness.

In sociocracy the focus shifts from seeking a “best idea” towards establishing a proposal that is “good enough for now”. As in natural processes where nature is constantly refining itself, transforming that which is no longer effective, so in sociocracy, processes can be tested, changed and developed over time, as objections to their current form arise.

Seeking objection is a deliberate invitation for emergent wisdom to reveal itself to a group.

Whilst some may take issue with encouraging objection and argument, such points of view are built upon a mistaken premise that doing so bypasses positive inquiry. By applying the lens of a solution orientated focus, the value of raising objections becomes obvious, as they serve as a springboard from which our creativity can arise.

Deliberately inviting objections helps to illicit conversations that otherwise may be avoided.  Those who feel most vulnerable to contribute feel safer to raise their voice, and those who are well practiced at speaking out, are compelled to present with clarity the reasoning behind their arguments.

Of course, the world is full of people who on occasion get into battles on the basis of false premise– including my good self! There are those who may regularly identify with being obstructive, arguing, judging – including you perhaps! Often those most vocal, and those least, have both experienced situations in life that have been somehow abusive, violent, disrespectful.

Bifocal vision – building trust and rapport

Regardless the degree of respect, compassion or lack thereof that someone demonstrates in their communication, focusing inquiry towards seeking the wisdom concealed within what’s being expressed, improves potential for deepening connection and mutual understanding, even if the wisdom revealed indicates that the founding premise upon which the argument was constructed is false.

When we remain open to consider another’s point of view, and take time to reflect on the possible reasons for their objection, our meeting becomes more tangible. We offer one another the experience of being taken seriously, of having needs acknowledged and unique points of view respected.

If we walk our talk, own our feelings, separate our observations from our evaluations, communicate needs clearly, and remain open to the fact that our opinion is but one of many, then by example we model to others how they might do the same.

Encouraging effective ways of sharing what’s alive within, regardless the quality of presentation or actual validity of an argument, demonstrates our interest in one another as human beings and helps to foster trust and rapport.

Seeking the positive essence in another’s communication may sometimes require some discipline, yet the rewards are numerous. Engagement, inquiry and clarification increase groups potential for effective decision making and for collaborative innovation. The benefits of such practice can far exceed any personal effort required in taking a breath, trusting the process and applying the filter of reasonableness as a foundational guide.

Sociocracy – Freeing Potential, Harvesting Value

Love is the Essence of Life 02I spent earlier moments in life perplexed at how relationships that began in so much love could so easily deteriorate towards separation and disconnection. This phenomenon seemed to contradict the perspective of my younger self, a growing cognitive dissonance between longings for love, joy, peace and a world I began to discover, emerging from my cocoon of innocence, where fear, violence and separation also thrived.

Alongside a thousand discoveries I’m so grateful for since these earlier times of self-perpetuated suffering, one that I particularly treasure is the realisation that to meet another in disagreement can be deeply intimate and enriching for our relationships – PROVIDED that I can stay in contact with the other and conscious of the fact that the behaviour is not the whole person but rather, just an expression, in a moment, and from a particular point of view.

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As one who spent childhood in an environment where anger was a crime, the discovery that it concealed a deeper need was lost on me until much later. It’s been a long journey, requiring considerable inner re-parenting and self-reassurance to arrive at a point where I feel comfortable to connect with this expression of vital life force and to welcome it in the other too.

In Sociocracy we say to separate the person from a role that they fulfil, and to evaluate people for their actions in fulfilling that role. To share appreciations as well as to offer improvement suggestions (a feedback sandwich). This is one of the many parallels I see between adopting a Sociocratic point of view and practicing non-violent ways of communication (NVC). To separate a person from the behaviour that they are momentarily identified with, to invite a conscious enquiry into this behaviour in order to establish the deeper reasons for acting this out and to understand the need that is being served.

When I look upon these behaviours as being roles that I act out to take care of a deeper need, I discover a positive side to the intention behind the action. If this is not honoured then likely the identification with this way of being deepens, rather than relaxes – or I collapse under the burden of self-criticism.

Sometimes in Sociocracy we discover that a person is carrying out a role exactly as the role description suggests but that their actions do not serve the need. In such a situation there is value in amending a role description to guide the person to practice a different set of actions. On a personal level, it’s sometimes the case that behaviours don’t serve a need, but that an individual is simply following a policy created by those who came before. Other times it can be that for some reason a person discovers that they have misinterpreted a role, that the essential expression of the role is just fine and with some amendments they are able to realign behaviours in a way that is far more fitting the situation. Whichever, fundamental to both is that there is an openness to explore what is actually happening, to look at all sides and to embrace the moment of review as an opportunity to improve, to grow and to learn.

Sociocracy is inviting a both/and perspective. There is an opportunity to hear all sides and to draw out the wisdom that is seeking emergence from every point of view – whilst remaining effective!

To practice separating the stories that temporarily fuel my sense of righteousness from the conclusions I make about the other, and to reach instead beneath the belief system that charges my outrage… I discover the vulnerable child within me and find that all of these behaviours are simply a repeat of those strategies I adopted at an earlier time. My best effort in those moments to stay safe, loved, alive and in the absence of being conscious of any more suitable alternative.

I smile sometimes, if not crying with the pain of it, to discover how those strategies adopted as a child, that in some way once helped me to avoid experiencing more pain, separation, discomfort, become the very behaviours that now lead to me manifesting these things that I so wanted to avoid.

I discover that at the essence of what I judge are those parts of myself that I most need to re-embrace in order to realise a more whole expression of my potential. That judgement is a symptom of coming into contact with a part of myself that I disowned because I was somehow judged for expressing this myself at some point, and by the people who I wanted to be in connection with, safe at least, and who I wanted to accept me. I mean a part of me, naturally arising, that they judged because of some previous experience that instilled in them the idea that such a way of expressing was fundamentally “wrong”!

It’s an inheritance, a perpetuation of the Ancestral mythology, only the story was incomplete and the fear that goes with not believing it as real contains within it the accumulation of every moment of vulnerability that those who followed were somehow unable to embrace. It’s quite some inheritance this ancestral deficit of unfelt feeling and unrealised needs.

I’ve been amazed and relieved to discover that at the essence of every behaviour and perspective that I have learned to judge another for (and sometimes felt so righteous about), lies a positive essence that is vital for my greater wellbeing. Also, that the degree to which I invite a distorted expression of these opposites into my life through the vehicle of another is a mathematically precise indicator of the degree to which I’ve disowned it in myself.

Key identifications that I’ve awakened to in my journey have included imperatives that I must:

  • please others, thereby disowning connection to the part of me that could please itself
  • take care of and give to others, yet disowning the part of me that can be held by another and can receive as well as give
  • be perfect, disowning the part of me that flourishes in a world of infinite possibilities
  • know everything, thereby separating myself from the potentiality that lies in not knowing – the student, the one who wonders at the miracle of life’s vast expression, the one who is open to learn more through the realisation of how little he knows
  • work so hard and always be doing something, disowning the part that is simply be-ing… and so on.

Whilst Sociocracy offers tools to make decisions effectively together, harvest collective intelligence, improve effectiveness and give everyone a voice in the decisions that affect them (and includes mechanisms to scale across complex organisational systems without losing soul)  on a deeper level it’s also inviting us to step into a place of accountability for ourselves, our choices and actions. We have the opportunity to take ownership of our potential as creators and to become more responsible (response-able) to meet each moment and to navigate the complexity of changing environments and shifting needs.

Sociocratic practice facilitates a transformational process, not only within groups and organisations that utilise it, but also within each of us. It serves as a stepping stone into a way of perceiving life that lies beyond the forever polarised ideology of “right” and “wrong” doing. To embrace instead a more triune world view where we discover that every perceived problem, challenge, difficulty, conceals life’s wisdom seeking emergence into conscious.

On Trust

trustPeople often suggest to me that an important element in a healthy organisation is that people trust each other. Whilst it’s obvious that an environment of trust-full-ness will support greater effectiveness and more harmonious organisation, I’m inclined to look upon the principle of trust itself as being a process that ebbs & flows in our relationships to others and to life and the various situations we find ourselves within. Depending upon how vulnerable one feels, or how confident, to a large degree then influences how much one is uncertain or reassured. ​

There’s a big difference in my not trusting someone on the basis that they may behave in a way that’s hurtful for me and my trusting that a person is doing their best, yet may behave in ways I find painful. In most cases there is one thing that can be almost guaranteed, and that is that at some point in any sustained relationship there will be moments when we’ll behave in a way that is painful for the other.

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In my exploration of relationship over the past several years, I’ve been particularly drawn to explore ways for decision making & relating within myself and with others that transcend the whole notion of right and wrong doing. My focus has shifted from a world of rules to follow, towards guidelines & tools for communication, decision making & collaboration, that in & of themselves, support those using them to engage & respond to life with increasing integrity & accountability.

I’ve evolved a significant trust in the integrity of the tools I use & am also confident of my own humanity & potential to make mistakes. One of the many transformational discoveries I’ve made during my lifetime has been my humility & developing the capacity for acceptance and forgiveness; such a relief; as too has been the discovery of reliable tools that time & again prove to nurture trust & connection between myself & the people around me.

It’s these gems that others have so kindly thought about, developed with such a commitment & generously offered into the world, that I now spend my days sharing with anyone interested enough to listen.”

Beyond Duality and Towards Integrity

beyond dualityFor longer than you or I, humanity has danced en-mass in a dualistic domain of light and dark, good and bad. Groups have congregated together and polarised with their brothers and sisters. Standing opposed one another on the basis of differing opinion and ideology. We’ve been imprisoned in a nightmare of our own separation. Longing for completion whilst severing ourselves.

Look out upon the landscape, the result of a thousands year war. A war, not just around us, but within the very depths of our being. Divided inside, and that which was blessed us, that we may be whole, cast out, aside, and on to the other, demonised and distorted, whilst we seek to express our fullness with only half our resource.

How could this have been, this great separation? That from the moment of birthing into this world, we’ve sought alignment with what seemingly serves, whilst severing that which we believe serves us not. Influenced and cagouled by those who came before and by the same measure. Feeding one, unto the other, the delusion of a separate self; a fundamental right and wrong.

The measure of our okay-ness being the reaction of those who surround us. The determining factor of unfolding, the approval or rejection of those who also have rejected themselves.

All courage lost, to a beast of disapproval, we fool ourselves with the belief that we know – truth. That those who stand with us, our allies, and those opposed, misguided, mistaken…

A matrix surrounds us, a manifestation of our collective division. Disconnection from body, disconnection from earth. Divided and polarised, our creative life force, spent in the effort to resist our wholeness, and that little that remains, invested in seeking allies and imagining, repelling, an imagined enemy!

We are a family divided. We have committed the greatest of errors, the mistaken projection of ourselves to beyond.

It’s time for a transformation. A moment for discovery that the notion of duality as absolute, is itself but an infantile stage in the perception of ourselves. A remembering, that we transcend all division, exceed our furthest expectations. We have defined ourselves by what we believe we are not, rather than face the epic task of realising ourselves as all.

Wake up, sisters, brothers, for I am but you, come to remind yourself the way home. And you, I, the same.

That niggling subtle sense, of something not quite right, a final hurdle on a crossing from darkness into light, fueling the candle flame of consciousness. Realisation, that there is no wrong but that which arises as a consequence of this most misguided amputation. That that which is projected outwards is placed upon another to live on our behalf. And that no man was made to live more that his wholeness, no woman to express more than all she may be.

We limit ourselves in fear of an anticipated hell, a misery that exists, only because we fear it is so. A projection of godhead outwards and the delusion that there is an ultimate truth, contrasted by that which then must be false.

We miss that we are both the creators and creation of our own perception and that it is the illusion of self that imprisons us in this perpetual hell.

Yes, realise duality’s gifts, whilst please,  awaken to its addictive charms. We may enjoy all things by contrast to that which appears other, but to reject one for another is perhaps our greatest folly, with costs too high to afford.