‘If I choose to hide you away, it is for a reason. I have brought you to this place. Drink in the silence. Seek solitude.’*
Digital analyst James McQuivey writes:
‘Before you can disrupt your product you have to disrupt your process.’**
When the product is the contribution we make with our lives, I take this to mean, if you want to look at what you want to do with your life, you have to look at the person you are and are becoming. I’m connecting this with Theory U‘s two questions: Who am I? and What is my work (contribution)?
I read these words from Roz and Ben Zander at the same time as reading McQuivey’s:
‘Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again.’^
This encouragement to take responsibility for our lives took me back nineteen years, to a moment of potential burnout which I needed to take responsibility for. At the time, I journaled how I would not blame others, nor the organisation I was part of, or the situations I’d been in. I think I found some kind of freedom: if I was free to take responsibility I was also free to take the next step.
I don’t think I would be doing what I do today without that moment of realisation.
Systems exist because of certain interdependencies and interactions; they can involve friends, families, businesses, societies, politics, the natural world, and they can also be interpersonal. System scientist Peter Senge points out how every system is made up of at least a reinforcing loop and a balancing loop. The reing=forcing loop concerns what’s happening on the surface, the balancing, for good or bad, is what is happening below the surface. If I connect this to Theory U intrapersonally then the reinforcing loop is What is my work? and the balancing loop is Who am I?
The latter is more neglected than the former:
‘Finding the time and space to question a cultural landscape that doesn’t encourage it, it challenging.’^^
We are the cultural landscape so how do we go about asking the deeper questions of yourself?
“I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”*^
‘To whit, your story tells you its meaning, you do not dictate meaning to the story.’^*
It is this thought which lies behind what I refer to as dreamwhispering: the art we develop throughout our lives that is about listening to what our lives are saying, especially in three ways – our passions or hopes, our talents, and our experiences.
We need to down when everything demands we keep going fast. It is about asking questions when all we want is answers.
‘As Carl Jung said, wellness is found through integration of the unconscious life into consciousness.’⁺
When I look more closely at my balancing loop, I see how I can be struggling with pride, greed, and foolishness. The things that mess up most relationships. I may not use these words and it may look like me wanting to be recognised for something I’ve done, or justifying some purchase I feel I need to make, or believing I can shortcut some issue by avoiding thinking about it.
As I reflect on these things I’m reading Bernadette Jiwa’s passage on signs and signals in which she offers this illustration:
‘As a novice, every firefighter learns to read the four attributes of smoke: volume, velocity, density and colour.’⁺⁺
It feels as though the smoke is the stuff happening unnoticed in our balancing loops, the things I’ve mentioned above. When I notice what’s happening then I can bring some humility to my pride, some gratitude to my greed, and some faithfulness to my foolishness. When I do II hope I become “productive in the things that really matter: love, kindness, gifting and suchlike.
(*Frances Roberts, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From James McQuivey’s Digital Disruption.)
(^From Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility.)
(^^From Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)
(*^Parker Palmer, quoted in Henri Nouwen’s Discernment.)
(^*From Robert McKee’s blog.)
(+From Philip Newell’s The Rebirthing of God.)
(++From Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)