Affective transformation

Sometimes owning our pain and bearing witness to struggle means getting angry. When we deny ourselves the right to be angry, we deny our pain.*
(Brené Brown)

sadness helps access joining, fear helps open perceiving, anger helps open knowing, and joy leads the way to drawing**

Sometimes, the thing that makes us angry or brings us pain is the thing that provides us with a trajectory for our lives. It is not where we stay but where we travel from:

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances but only by lack of meaning and purpose.^

(*From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)
(**From Kelvy Bird’s Generative Scribing.)
(^Erich Fromm, quoted in Dan Ariely’s Payoff.)

Mercy included

Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life.*
(Carl Jung)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.**
(Jesus of Nazerath)

I can never imagine arriving at a day when I will not require mercy – kindness, compassion and favour.

Everyone needs mercy, even those who show mercy a lot. No-one’s perfect and I’m not sure we ever want to become perfect:

Against the claim of perfection we can assert our own individuality, which gives distinctive character to the work we do.^

There’s something about our imperfection that seems to shape who we are and what we do. We become paradoxes, incapable of being categorised or boxed. Perhaps there’s also something about this paradoxical nature that moves us towards making better choices:

Yes, the cards are unfairly stacked against so many people. Yes, there are too many barriers and not enough support. But no, your ability to contribute isn’t determined at birth. It’s a choice.^^

A choice towards doing something amazing.

(*Carl Jung, quoted in Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)
(**Matthew 5:7)
(^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?)


it is essential to put yourself into the unconditional service of the future possibility that is wanting to emerge. Viewed rom this angle, presenting is about a dialogue with the future possibility that wants to emerge*
(Otto Scharmer)

the religious task of man is to to think right, but to act right**
(Erich Fromm)

When it comes to the future, it is not only “this or that” but the possibility of many things yet to be imagined.

The scriptural term righteousness is simply a description of what happens when we do the right thing and the right thing often is seldom “this or that”. See this from Peter Carroll:

When you push a “fitting in” culture you miss the opportunity to help people find their personal drive – what comes from their hearts. leading for true belonging is about creating a culture that celebrates uniqueness. What serves leaders best is understanding your players’ best efforts. My job as a leader is to identify their unique gift or contribution. A strong leader pulls players towards a strong belief in themselves.^

When reading these words this morning, I found myself thinking about a recent conversation with someone who described their work environment as being marked by a lack of communication and staff not being valued for their work.

The odds are, we are more likely to stay with “this” when presented with a “this or that” choice. Even if “that” is chosen it covers up all the unimagined possibilities:

The Western habit of argument and dialectic is defective because it leaves out the generative and creative. Critical thinking is fine for reacting to what is put before you, but does nothing to produce proposals.^^

Between “this and that,” we find imaginative and creative righteousness: the right thing to do, often derived by people coming together to create something none had imagined when coming together.

How expensive would it be for an organisation or company to value and communicate with its workforce so they are all able to turn up to work with their alacrity flourishing?

Probably not a lot.

(*From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)
(*From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving
(^Pete Carroll, quote in Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)

(^^From Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.)

I have it all and I have it now

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.*
(Jesus of Nazerath)

I must know that I am, at least in part, the very thing I am seeking.**
(Richard Rohr)

Meekness allows us to understand how just privileged we are.

As far as we know, no creature quite like us in our galaxy, in terms of consciousness, to be curious, to explore, to understand, to create:

The purpose of life is to see.^

If only we could see this for one another, if only we could see it for our planet on in which thirty species disappear every day, often because of our need to possess, but only those who know they can never possess this kind of richness are able to inherit it.

Here’s an adjacent blog out of reflecting the nature of meekness:

I recently received an email asking, if I wouldn’t be make a particular date for providing a dreamwhispering session for a group of law students, whether I knew of anyone else who could lead this. I’m trying to think of someone else but basically this is what I have shaped and offer.

Meekness is not an emptiness but the producer of great nuance and variation, and when we recognise this in ourselves (and in others) and turn our attention towards its development, we bring something original into being:

We become original through practise.^^

(*Matthew 5:5)
(**From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(^Jack Turner, quoted in Terry Tempest Williams’ The Hour of Land.)
(^From Seth Godin’s blog: Two kinds of practice.)

Becoming is where I live

Protopia is hard to see because it is becoming. It is a process that is constantly changing how other things change, and, changing itself, is mutating and growing. It is difficult to cheer for a soft process that is shape-shifting. But it is important to see it.*
(Kevin Kelly)

Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.**
(Brené Brown)

Protopia, as a state of becoming, is we are all born and reside. It is a state made up of character and personality. Character is who we are becoming over the long haul, personality our ways of connecting our characters with those of others and our world.

I was reflecting once again on this conversation between May Angelou and Bill Moyers:

MOYERS: Do you belong anywhere”
ANGELOU: I haven’t yet.
MOYERS: Do you belong to anyone?
ANGELOU: More and more. I mean, I belong to myself. I’m very proud of that. I am very concerned about how I look at Maya I like Maya very much. I like the humour and the courage very much. And when I find myself acting in a way that isn’t … that doesn’t please me – then I have to deal with that.**

Angelou is using character words rather than personality words. She is describing how she is both, in Brené Brown’s terms, braving the wilderness towards becoming the wilderness.

I love working with people on their talents and strengths, the elements of personality, but I know these must work with our characters. It’s not one or the other. It’s both.

For this reason, we can never say this is who I am, only this is who I am becoming.

(*From Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable.)
(**From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)

An unfair advantage?

(Seth Godin)

Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.**
(Brené Brown)

I try to carry within me the five elemental truths:^ Life is hard; I am not as special as I think; My life is not about me; I am not in control, and, I am going to die.

They help me towards a true perspective of myself and others: a source, then for humility:

We see leaders who are driven by hubris and narcissism often forget about who came before.^^

We all benefit today from those who have gone before. None of us have started from scratch in that sense. And somewhere in each of our personal and systems histories there’ll be people of humility who’ve shaped our better future.

Anything other than humility – meaning, a true rather than a false sense of who we are and who others are – is a shortcut, and a dangerous one.

As Brené Brown’s opening words remind me, humility doesn’t have to be boring. Far from it. We get to shape a different future.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: The unfair advantage.)
(**From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s Adam’ Return.)
(^^From gapingvoid’s blog: Memories are meaning.)

With modem

Connection is the energy that is created between people when they give and receive without judgement.*
(Brené Brown)

Listen to the silence.
It will teach you. It will build strength
Let others share it with you.
It is little to be found elsewhere.**
(Frances Roberts)

For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been developing the most sophisticated of all modems, making possible connection with one another and our environments, with ourselves and perhaps a god, too.

We have always improved the modem’s receptivity by practising openness over judgement, compassion over cynicism, courage over fear.

(*From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(**Frances Roberts, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)

Knowing and No-ing

A good conversation is a constant stream of unexpected responses.*
(Tim Harford)

Conversations like this can bring out what we know but haven’t had a chance to use as yet.

They are the conversations out of which amazing things emerge.

The problem is, we can be so worn out by what we need to know to just get through the complexity of the modern day that we say no to knowing more than what is necessary.

When the opportunity arrives for one of those amazing conversations, it never happens, it fizzles out, we have nothing much to share.

Saying know to no is about accumulating knowledge that we won’t use today but we will one day in the future.

(*From Tim Harford’s Messy.)