science describes accurately from outside, poetry describes accurately from inside, [and] both celebrate what they describe*
(Ursula Le Guin)
Any organization of more than two people has a structure, intentional or not.**
Back in 1955, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham created the Johari Window, with four “panes” describing different types of personal awareness: characteristics and awareness that we are aware of and are willing to tell others about; the things we know about ourselves and don’t tell others; the things we don’t know about ourselves but others can see about us; and, the things that are hidden to both ourselves and to others.^
It’s a really helpful and revealing way to understand there is both an inside and outside to each of us – the things we’re constantly exploring. Stretch that some more and we come to realise that none of us know all the truth about ourselves or about others, and about our world and our affects upon it.
Tom Rath wrote about “vital friends,” a necessary antidote to “friends lite,” the cheapening of friendship we find especially in so much social media. Emerging out of Gallup research into the workplace that uncovered how people are far more engaged in their work if they have someone they count as a friend, Rath took a closer look at the different kinds of friend we can be. There isn’t a friend, any more than we can feel supported in a rounded way by one person. He identifies eight different friend types: Builders (develop us), Champions (stand up for us), Collaborators (work with us), Companions (walk with us), Connectors (put us in touch with others), Energisers (encourage us), Mind-openers (help us to see new things), Navigators (pilot us from here to there). Rath suggests we’re two or three of these more strongly than others. I like to think they make it possible for us to extend ourselves in a friendship way towards people who may never be our friends.^^
This is something really necessary for figuring out a better future for one another, our planet and, so, ourselves. They provide us with ways of taking relationships deeper, and with these, opening greater possibilities for something Jennifer Shepherd sees being made possible in her visualising work with individuals and organisations, bringing out the invisible:
‘learn[ing] to surface the wisdom hiding with us and between us and connect it with what we already know’.*^
We are not just our role or job title, we are not simply a cache of data or understanding, we are inside-outside people, meeting with the inside-outside of each other, searching together for the future.
(*Ursula Le Guin, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Hymn to Time”.)
(^See Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler’s The Decision Book.)
(^^See Tom Rath’s Vital Friends.)
(*^Jennifer Shepherd, from Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.)