Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIC

Poetry & Encounter
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

The Path

“They’re just living their lives.” A wise colleague said this in response to a frustration. Unfortunately, I was the holder of that frustration. Along with the Achilles’ heel of needing to understand things at a too often intense level, there is yet another one; I also hate to be ignored. Let me walk into a restaurant, be ignored, and I’ll walk out never to return. Sorry, it is what it is. During the challenging year in which my colleague spoke this, I was feeling ignored. It was frustration built up from unnecessary expectations I had set for others.

Her comment got my attention, brought me to ground. I was embarrassed by the intensity with which I had succumbed to false expectations; scripts written that had nothing to do with reality. I had strayed from rhythm, the cadence of my own way of being in this work I do. Somehow in my journey, three strengths have evolved and joined together to give me, not only a rhythm in the work, but a model for doing the work: Gather-Give-Grow.

Study has served my life and work. In study, I gather information on the one hand. On the other hand is the need to grow something with what has been gathered. When the hand of gather joins the hand of grow, I then know how to truly give. And giving is done in a steady walk, on the path with purpose.

At the core of life & living is what it means to walk. To participate is to step from life into living. Life is observation. Living is participation. Life is the energy of internal focus. Living is the energy of external focus. Life is the birth of new ideas and creative, intuitive ways of being. Living is the freeing of such energy into a needy world, as we do what is right for us to do along our own path.

The Rhythm of Paradox

There is this,
There is that,
And the two together
I hold.
A tension of life,
A blessing for living.

As I sat in the quiet of an early Wednesday morning, the blessings of life & living were swirling about me. I pray I have had the impact upon others that is spoken in my own statement of Desire & Intent:

That you lovingly lead others to their own authentic confidence; as you embrace the power of who you are, and act on this Trueness.

This is a good and noble thing for me, because the collision of desire and intent were given to me; implanted from the beginning. As such, this is life, given for living. This statement doesn’t define me, it was given for the defining, reality brought to my life & living.

I use the term life & living as a reference to one’s path and to express the flow of internal to external, and open awareness to the path−the middle tension created by the paradox of life and living. For some, energy given to the doing helps develop awareness of being. For some, energy given to being helps develop more conscious application in the doing. It doesn’t matter where one must begin, based on her or his makeup; it only matters when both are held in the blessing of creative tension, rhythm, and flow.

I speak about flow and rhythm as if they are the same thing. They are, and they are not. I speak of flow in the larger sense, that of which we are all a part. I speak of rhythm in a personal manner, that cadence within, given since the beginning, and key to knowing how we join the flow.

Encouraged by the Fitting Together

In my work with individual leaders, I have for years engaged in dialogue about strengths. I include this focus on each person’s strengths because of an external concentration in our work society leveraging varying instruments to show people their strengths. In our corporeal work around leadership development, we assume a focus on strengths is telling the individual something of deep, internal truth about who they are. Rather, we are only pointing to an example of how they show up in the world, not why they show up.

This work in the external can go only so far in being of assistance to true impact. If one only lives actively from external sources, there is no flow, and there is no rhythm. Flow and rhythm are not propositions of either/or, but the holding together of both/and. The fitting together of it all, part of the energy of everything belongs, is part of a reality that is in our midst in this 21st Century.

Personally, if I try to understand this fitting together, I ultimately limit my seeing. But if I simply allow it to encourage me, I stand a much better chance at seeing how it comes together. I must not allow any need to understand, or any other Achilles’ heel, to prevent me from knowing this belonging.

After many years holding the need to understand (a private version of control), I’m learning to release into what it means to contemplate and participate in the unfolding flow; taking a long, loving look at reality. Critical to this learning is remaining connected in the flow with my own rhythm.

The encouragement we need comes from within, as our desire becomes fueled by our voice and joins intention, creating the energy needed for impact.

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Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIB

Poetry & Encounter
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

Graceful Attentiveness

Reality, too, is conflict neutral. You may have heard it said, in response to some situation or another; “It is what it is.” This is often said in resignation, a throwing up of the spiritual hands as one gives up totally, or it can be a simple acceptance of what is, in the moment. A peaceful center can accept reality. It is not giving up or giving in. Rather, it is one’s attention magnified by grace.

In conversation with a friend, Ericka was sharing about our work together, and about what she was learning about herself. Her friend made a statement about a particular personality profile, sharing her type and stating that she and Ericka were just alike. The truth is, Ericka’s profile and her friend’s profile are completely different.

Her friend is more on the introverted side of things, gives great energy to process and detail, and tends more toward perfectionism, doing things in the right way. Ericka is more extraverted, direct, decisive, and clear, driven to get the right things done. The friend sees Ericka similar to herself because of grace; Ericka’s energy focused on this core relationship and loving her friend as she centers the best of who she is.

I can only imagine how this friend looks forward with eagerness to being in Ericka’s graceful presence, their differences coming together and belonging.

The Lie of Expectation

It is quite embarrassing as I think about it, how often I allow some expectation to tell me a lie. I’m not referring to a presupposition imposed from some external source. I’ve become rather skilled at silencing those. More so, I point toward a self-inflicted conjecture that strays from reality.

To pay attention void of grace is to tell oneself a lie.

In the petri dish of falsity, internal violence can develop in the cultures of false expectation, judgment, and comparison. When left too long to culture, and then uncovered, the spoiled combination spreads infected messages that have nothing to do with who one is in reality.

When I launched out on my own in this work that called me, I entered with a piece of expectation-baggage; anyone in this line of work must publish a book, and quickly. So, as I thought authors do, I committed time early in the morning and began to write. This expectation, with its falsity tormenting my thinking, led me through two false starts in attempting to create a manuscript. Later, upon finding my voice and my own writing process, I looked back on what had been written during those mornings. It was useless to what I was then composing in-voice, but quite necessary in getting me to that point.

When I find a wonderful writer, I read a lot of what he or she writes. While I love studying style in these skilled writers, I know I’ve had to find my own way; my own rhythm with pen and page that allows my voice flow in composing. I consequently let go of the goal of being an author and embraced the diligent duty of being a writer.

The Truth of Grace

Recently in my personal journal, I found myself expressing a need to be validated as a writer. At first it was unclear as to the source of this expressed need. Then it was time to write about the lie of expectation. It then occurred to me that I was again allowing some expectation, or set of expectations, to pronounce a wholesale judgment on me as a writer.

Four books later, and this one in progress, my methodology is still evolving and teaching me in the process. It took much practice, pain, and persistence to clear my thinking and free the writer I am. My personal journaling assured me that I am the writer I’m intended to be, and the same practice, pain, and persistence will continue with only the objective of making me better at the craft. I begin most mornings with my journal. Quite often in that time I find myself simply sitting in gratitude. Is gratitude part of grace, or at least a mark of grace? I think so. And grace is much more free to flow the more I can stay on the path with my walk.

If we are not careful, not taking enough guard to refuse false expectation digresses from our path, we allow damaging interruption to the steadiness of our walk. To know everything belongs is to have come to a confident stand, and to know a more secure and steady walk on our own path. It becomes a way of being with reality, of being less distracted by any particular want of a reality other than the one we have. Wanting a reality other than the one in front of us can freeze us in a moment of real need and keep us from doing what is good and right to do in the reality of unique encounter.

Gratitude and grace are marks of a contemplative leader. This leader can confidently stand in the middle, see things without a need to separate and judge, and walk steadily with the staff of reality; blessed by the wonders expressed in the truth of poetry and the experience of encounter.

Grace and gratitude make you stronger. Freedom is nourished by the acknowledgement of specific blessings in your walk. A litany of gratitude helps you remain aware of life & living as good things gather and unfold−and this is grace. The confidence needed for traveling the path is increased by consciously consistent praise for every event and connection.

Unconjectured

Stepping from life into living,
from internal to external,
soul flowing toward others.

Stepping from life into living,
deeply encouraged
by the fitting together,
all things working together
for good, if but allowed.

From expectation to graceful anticipation,
Trueness navigating turn and toil.

Seeing past falsity
and into the soul,
courage grows in each encounter,
holding the paradox of being
human and divine.

Reality clears a path,
a way of being true.

Attention now given,
grace within relationship,
grace within the flow.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIA

Poetry & Encounter

I write poems. I try not to think too much about whether or not I’m good at doing so. To me, a poem is simply a response to an encounter, a rhythmic expression waiting for its encounter.

When writing, I quite often pause to wait for a story to tell, opening me further to my own voice in the composing. Sometimes the stories are from my own experience, but mostly they flow from my experience of another. The experience of another is an encounter with the human paradox, the counterintuitive realities that make life & living worth the attention.

An encounter is a confrontation only when one allows it to be.

The paradoxical quality of encounter is that, although unexpected, it is conflict neutral−an unconstrained, holding together of what we as humans have learned to judge as opposites.

Ericka is a caring, focused, intelligent executive. She is capable of quick, creative, and detailed analysis, and can consequently make decisions in short order. However, her voice of Trust is calling her into deeper presence with others for the sake of more meaningful interaction in a space of creative contribution. She desires for others the reward and fulfillment that come with thinking critically in the midst of our encounters with change and challenge. She leads others into a conflict neutral interval between analysis and action. This is Ericka’s due diligence as a leader, her voice flowing.

An encounter is a lesson in reality, and a true paradox. Consider a meeting of two individuals, obviously different from one another. While common cultural observation may have us trained to perceive our differences, failure to recognize differences may be precisely what keeps us from oneness.

I’ve worked with many people who have expressed the desire to collaborate at both deeper and broader levels. What I’ve learned, especially through my own flailing experience, is that we miss true collaboration and unity because we communicate too regularly from our own context; our own set of preferences both internally and externally. Failing to see the differences between myself and the other person keeps me from seeing past each variance and into the individual’s Trueness, and keeps me from bringing my own Trueness more vividly into the reality and beauty of the encounter.

Reality is infinite. Our thinking is too often finite.

Over the last several years my wife and I have been actively simplifying life & living: working from attic down to rid ourselves of things packed away or no longer needed, selling a property, leasing a down-sized space for two years, then buying a similar space closer to our daughter and son-in-law. Well enough into this process I now ask myself what this detachment is all about.

It began with simplification in mind; we have moved in great strides toward this goal. We have let go of many things, and we still have a bit to do to let go of the need for some other things. However, at this point, I am realizing the goal was less about simplification, or even detaching from things, and more about removing what is in the way of knowing Trueness, and knowing the reality of oneness.

Now that we have more freedom, we detach from things to actually learn to detach from any part of self not indicative of Trueness. These parts of us are not necessarily bad per se; they simply are no longer in control. The obstacles to Trueness are never outside of us. We become the barrier by attaching our worth, in any way, to things external to our true self, expecting these things to define us, or even help in marking out the fullness of our reality.

We are not complete as contemplative leaders unless our contemplation is shared. The answer to how it is shared and what sharing looks like is found in compassion, for oneself, and all, as one.

Ericka’s conscious attention is being applied to her encounters for reasons important to her and to those who depend on her. The more she works from her own Trueness the more she draws true contribution from others toward possibility and potential.

The love and care that others deserve, flows through us to them. If Ericka only communicated and acted from her own context, the world would miss out on the beautiful influence of her brand of love. Thankfully, she is giving her attention to her true self, thus freeing energy in leading others into more rewarding participation.

The contemplative leader’s love is real, because love is reality.

Poetry & Encounter:
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part II

Trueness Meets the World

To walk, in a world of paths,
along one’s own path,
a paradox in the making,
of focus and distraction,
choice and decision,
of what’s inside
meeting what’s outside.

Truth, no matter the origin,
pulls one inwardly
into the truth of self,
spirit true, since the beginning.

Truth, doing its work within,
pushes one out, a self
openly evolving, a path
providentially unfolding.

I know I’m privileged to work with many wonderful individuals, and I also know the value reaped from the observations and wisdom of these spirits. From these leaders I often hear about the belief that people, in general and for the most part, do not go into the workplace to do a bad job. Rather, each consciously or unconsciously wishes to operate from their true self, to add value from his/her own way of being, and to serve some larger transformative purpose. Such wise observation is an example of an individual leader’s grasp of Everything Belongs.

Kevin is one of those wonderful, wise individuals. There has been significant change in his organization, thrusting everyone into transition. In a conversation about change and organizational culture, Kevin pointed out that the components of an evolving culture are not linear; the actions to build and maintain a healthy culture must happen simultaneously, working together for good.

And so it is within the flow of Forgive Everything / Everything Belongs / See the Unfolding. It is not necessarily a linear flow. It is a very interactive relationship. However, like many things of both mind and heart, it helps to at least begin by seeing the linear flow, and to then allow it to move toward relationship.

Deep into the work Kevin and I were doing together, we reached the point in my methodology where we compose an objective to tangibly focus Trueness into conscious application and practice. In the session following the creation of his objective, and after time spent reflecting on its flow, Kevin acknowledged its resonance, stating that it represents his rhythm and his true self. As we reviewed the objective together, I pointed out the energy drawn from the three things he wanted from our work; 3 things he had wisely stated in our very first session.

Kevin knows that changes are part and parcel to each transition. He also knows that transitions build one upon another to support transformation, and that collective transformation can only happen when, as individuals, we participate together in a way of being true.

“Being transformative is a constant state, like being a leader.” −Kevin

Now more conscious of his own rhythm, Kevin is focusing his Trueness into the presence of others and their way of being. He has taken accountability to break down his own mental constructs and constraints, stepping into the middle of the flow without any need to separate and divide, further freeing his way of being as a transformational leader. The impact of Kevin’s Trueness, made real by his choices, decisions, and actions, depends on the attention he gives to his relationship with the flow−his own rhythm and the flow of a larger purpose.

We break from reality, and our own Trueness, when we step out of the middle, and the flow, not onto our own path and the walk, but to a divisive, separating position to one side or the other. Kevin may not claim so, but I see him as a contemplative leader. Contemplation and a non-divisive spirit, these make Kevin the transformational leader that he is.

Kevin’s voice of Honesty is his way of paying attention with love; it is his brand of leadership love. It is the energy for his walk and the opening to his poetry and encounter.