Love: A Participation Essay

In a recent visit with a dear friend, I shared my desire to offer something extra to those I’ve coached through the years. My friend asked me why I was considering this. After a few moments of stumbling around logical answers, I heard myself saying, I love them.

Because of the love I have for the individuals I coach, I want to continue to be available for them along their journey deeper into, and with, Trueness. The deep context of this work I do has driven me further into my own Trueness. Or is it better said that going deeper into my own Trueness has driven me further with this work? Whichever, I am recognizing a need to share, more often and ever more deeply, the abundance available through becoming aware of one’s rhythm; a life-giving cadence given since the beginning. 

This I know from my experience, if an individual acts from Trueness−living her or his own rhythm−then this person is acting from a unique brand of love. I teach rhythm to the individuals I coach as a way to teach love−love for your work and love in your work−and how such love is profitable, not a business strategy but a way of living Trueness, embracing the rhythm of you.

The True Self
Jim is both a technical expert in his field and a caring and present leader for those he leads, influences, and serves. People depend on him for clarity as they work together in creating a steady approach to accomplish common goals and tell a common story. As he leads them, here’s what they know for certain; he is committed to each one of them, attending to need and strengthening each person as she/he gives to and serves others in the work done.

Trueness is a word I use to encapsulate all I do within this work which has called me out. Trueness is also a way to summarize the expression, who you really are. What is the true self?  Sorry, but I’m not writing this to answer the question. As opposed to answering, it may be that we have to live this question individually. And living the question may be a life-long task.

Jim is driven by a commitment to process in a way that is both efficient and effective: efficient being about the work, and effective being about the people. In the present with his own unique experiences, how they’ve shaped him, and how he knows experience shapes others, he told me that happiness is something he understands better now. Yes, this reflects a level of maturity, but it also displays a depth of connection with his Trueness.

I write these essays not as an expert who has it all figured out. Quite the contrary. I write to actually attempt to grasp things; not grasp and hold on, but to hold things for a bit so I can then let go into the flow of reality. I turned sixty-four on my last birthday. I thought I’d have all this thoroughly figured out by now. I was wrong.

Only those who are totally secure in their love
can live thus fully the present moment.
Thomas H. Green

Love Itself
I am neither qualified nor ready to write about this topic. Yet, I write about love consistently these days. But love itself, what does this mean? I want to become love itself. But what does this look like? At some inevitable juncture it has to look like who I really am. If we are made from love, then we are made of love. So why don’t we act like this is so all the time?

As I was thinking on how to describe what love itself might look like, Jim came to mind. In a recent conversation, I shared a basic principle about leadership and one’s growth and development as a leader. I had not thought about this principle in a long time: Whatever you desire to do for others, you must be able to do for yourself. Jim was referred to me because his boss understands this principle and wanted to give Jim the time and space to give to himself, selflessly. The time Jim is giving to himself, for his growth and development, is energy given for those he leads, influences, and serves. The strength of Jim’s voice is that of presence with another. And his time for himself is not selfish, but again, selfless; making himself better for others.

I met Jim when I was facilitating a leadership experience at his organization. During the lunch break he and I had some time one-on-one. I personally experienced his ability to be present with another. So when his boss mentioned he would like to consider Jim for my coaching program, I pushed forward at the chance to work with this individual and his brand of love.

To love, in all one says and does, is a privilege. It is a privilege because of what it brings to the one who loves. Allow me to make this personal, going from one to I. I love, do love, can love, only because I was first loved; from the beginning. There is great benefit and wonderful blessing in growing older; as long as I do not just get older but actually do grow older−grow in love, always!

The Flow Constant 

Love in the work,
work in the love,
and love works on me.

A quiet morning
and warm Spring rain
reminding of the obligation
to encourage true self,
allowing peace and quiet
at the center;
calmly pushing away
each unnecessary judgment.

This is love.
Quiet. Solid.
Steady and grounded in this Trueness,
it is a sure stand and steady walk;
it is this grace
given by love
of which we are part.

To place into words,
to define my Trueness,
what words might suffice?
Likely done already, this task
of defining self true,
work done in the very work
that called me out.

Yes, but maybe this work
only opens the door of consciousness.
So then, what does it look like
walking through, now enjoying
the deeper quiet, peace,
and love?

Maybe this walk is faith,
and maybe hope, leading
to the flow constant
of love.

Trueness is Love
That dear friend of mine called to check on me (his love in action). We talked about where I am with offering any kind of extended program to my coaching clients. I told him how my expression of love for those I’ve coached had moved my thoughts away from predetermined outcomes and distracting expectation and toward honest expression of the heart. I decided I wasn’t building a new program, I was simply acknowledging love and allowing it to guide me ever more clearly. Confirming my messaging moved me away from generic scripting toward individualized messages of love, a fresh commitment of my love in action.

When I approach things from my own Trueness, keeping my commitment to do what is good and right for me to do (and letting that go to do its thing), and doing this from a personal voice of Love and Encouragement, good things happen. I find myself worrying less about the outcomes, because the outcomes do take care of themselves. Letting go is not about a lack of caring, but simply about not having the need to grasp at things, in a manner where holding on is damaging to self and others. Letting go, we open the space for the true self and its love from the beginning.

When you finally commit to lead, influence, and serve from the rhythm of your Trueness, you can grasp the reality that there is no priority higher than that of your love. So maybe love itself begins within. Through such love, we become the love we’ve always been. This is Trueness. This is the true self.

Letting Go

Wisdom, she smiles.
Maybe even smirks.
The things we grasp,
so not worth the energy.

Let go.
Stop reaching out
to grab onto.
Let it all flow by,
with love, push it all
into the cloud of forgetting.

Notes:

Green, Thomas H.. When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings. Notre Dame: Ava Maria Press, 1998.

 

 

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The Call into the Rhythm of Contemplation & Flow

Trueness will call at you until you pay attention. Trueness is not a persistent partner calling out for you to dance. Trueness is the dance, where you are wholly alive in reality.

The Reality of the Flow

Trueness demanded I step into the flow and pay attention. And attention captured, rhythm was delivered into continually deeper, truer passion and participation. Participation requires courage, and the courage you need to wade into the flow is encoded within your Trueness. Without such original courage you are completely open to the lies of expectation, a set of false standards determined to move you well beyond the reach of your Trueness and its rhythm.

The rhythm of my own Trueness has called me into a work with varying expressions, each spoken from the voice given me since the beginning. It is through these expressions, and maybe because of them, that my rhythm was washed into the open.

In my work, I focus on individual leaders. Consequent of this focus, my writing continually takes me into the stories of these individuals, where each is learning to wade in the awareness of the true self.

Contemplation, Poetry, and Love: Flow, Encounter, and Oneness: All words seemingly esoteric and spiritual. But esoteric and spiritual doesn’t mean that they are not real. Quite the contrary, to only believe in one side of the river over another is unreal, allowing lies that keep you from knowing the reality of the flow.

I talk, and write, about applying the true self in work, and practicing from this original source, because it is what I know. Working full time one spends around two thirds of the waking life in this thing called work. So, as best as one can, why not make it as good as it can possibly be? Why not free both desire and intent into the middle of the flow of Trueness?

With the strength of voice given since the beginning, and the freedom found by stepping into the middle of the flow, hold the pearl of great price, your Trueness.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wonder: Part IIID

Love & Oneness
To allow the strength of one’s voice uninhibited flow.

See the Unfolding

There is work, and there is work one is called to do. Or, is it; there is work, and we are called to be who we are? It is, maybe, both/and. No matter what, under most circumstances, we are free to bring our Trueness to the doing of our work.

In the rhythm of life & living, and the balance of Wade, Walk, Wonder, if we do not allow Trueness application in the doing of a work, then the grace given to us will not flow through that work to another. To lead from original passion is to hold the tension in the eddy of enthusiasm and suffering−the reality of the passion paradox.

I was excited to arrive in California and work with Jamie and her leadership team. A recent survey in the larger organization had delivered some concerning results around how much individuals felt engaged (lack of engagement is a form of suffering in our journey with work). While this engagement concern was not the main reason for bringing her team together, it was not far from Jamie’s thinking. She had been newly promoted from the peer ranks of those attending this session, and she wanted a powerful beginning of their work together, and a new, more energized focus than had previously existed.

In preparing for this session, I was impressed with, and encouraged by, Jamie’s passion. Her immediate boss had provided me with a synopsis of strengths Jamie had exhibited in her role prior to the promotion. She had diligently focused on execution and tactics, but he was unsure of her ability at the strategic level of purpose, setting the stage for more meaningful application and execution.

Jamie had pulled her team together for the purpose of creating oneness around the story they desire to tell, individually and together, with the intention of bringing more meaning to application and execution. To kick off this section of the session, I asked Jamie to share her vision of the future state, in any form she wished. She opened her portfolio to her prepared comments and spoke them from her heart.

Seeing in the Clarity of Love

Jamie’s love for her work, and those she is privileged to love in doing the work, came through in both message and action. After sharing her vision of the future state of the territory for which she and her team had accountability, she left the room and asked me to facilitate a dialogue of response. After about two minutes of fumbling with what they thought they were supposed to do, they looked at me and said, “We are good with what Jamie said.” I loved it! I got up and went to fetch her.

Jamie is taking accountability born within her passion to create an atmosphere supportive of life-giving-sharing autonomy. From her engaging vision, the team pulled together around the story they collectively desire to tell and created clear strategies for acting on individual and shared passion. Time will tell. The story will unfold.

To see the unfolding we must pay attention. We must pay attention in the clarity of love. We are not focused on some distant outcome as much as we are paying attention to how we behave, individually and together, in the present moment−in the unfolding.

In my work, and in the life of my work, I pray I’ve brought my true self into play. For the most part, I believe I have. I have tried to find meaning in, and bring meaning to, the work I’ve been given through the years. In some instances, it may have been close to survival, but it has mostly been an approach of meaning. This is built into my wiring, deeply ingrained in my established value system.

Jamie’s voice was clearly engaged as she shared her vision. The strength of her voice was leveraged in her presence with her team. Trueness was in play. She was in the flow of her passion, purpose, and presence.

Now is the Time

Do not be distracted
from the peace,
from the presence
that is yours to hold,
that is yours to let go
into your life
into your living,
into a world
grasping for peace
misunderstanding presence.

For to know presence is to know God.
For to know God is to know presence.

We can only love
in the now.
Now is the time
to love.

It is love that saves us,
always has been,
always will be.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wonder: Part IIIC

Love & Oneness
To allow the strength of one’s voice uninhibited flow.

Allowing Uninhibited Flow

Like Amy, Jack, Kevin, and so many others with whom I’m blessed to work, your voice−identified and consciously engaged−is your brand of love. Behind that voice, in the foundation of your Trueness, is strength. When voice is resonant and flowing, the strength behind your voice engages; it is that something you cannot help but do.

Just one week before writing this, I boarded a plane for Los Angeles to work with a client and her leadership team. Being a long flight from Ohio to California, I decided to treat myself to first class accommodations. I took my assigned seat and had barely spoken to the man next to me when he asked if I would change with his buddy a few rows forward. I agreed and moved.

No sooner than I settled into the new seat, for some reason, the man who asked me to move got bumped from his seat. I’m thinking what a waste of effort, until Brian greets me.

While your voice, however you identify or label it, is your brand of love, I actually identify my own voice as love itself. The strength of my voice is encouragement. When in the presence of another, with my voice in the freedom of flow, I simply cannot help but find some moment of encouragement for the other within what I’m hearing.

As part of his greeting, Brian asked me what I do. Upon telling him that I build confident leaders, he began telling me about his destination in New Mexico and the purpose of his travel. Brian currently works with a large company in the aircraft industry. He supports the sales force as a subject matter expert around a particular product−a product he invented and patented. After creating his innovative and very needed product, he began his own company selling directly to the end user. His frustrations with having to be too deeply involved with his sales force led him to the current position. Now, the frustrations within a large, complex organization−where his product is one of 14,000−were forcing him to consider going back to where he began.

As I listened, and offered some tactical considerations, I was waiting for the deeper issue to surface. As Brian talked about going back to where it all began, it seems his current state was a lack of passion, unlike the original desire that began it all. This can too often be the case for freelance types; he/she begins with a unique focus and purpose, only to be devastatingly distracted into the minutiae of so-called growth and success.

As Brian seemed determined to recreate a connected and passionate sales force, my encouragement took a tactical and specific approach. I shared with him the concept of interviewing for behaviors, using the power of prompting stories from the interviewee. As this captured his attention, and seemed to encourage him, I told him I would send him something on the topic when I landed. I did.

The Quiet Flow of Passion

My time with Brian was on the shorter of the two flights on the way to California. He shared quite a bit of information with me before I got to the narrowly focused encouragement. In the hopes of maybe getting a chance to be more thorough in encouraging him, I gave him my business card. Time will tell. And as I have his contact information, it’s highly likely, from what I experience in this work I love, that I will think of him and send something more.

Often when meeting someone new and engaging in deep conversation, the other person acknowledges the passion in my speaking. This makes me happy, because I love what I do and it pleases me when it shows. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi postulates from his research and studies, while I might not be necessarily conscious of happiness while working, being in flow with what it is that I do results in my being happy. Having worked with many individuals like those about whom I tell stories, I’ve been blessed with the hours and experiences that have built my expertise, allowing me uninhibited flow and joyful presence in the quiet of my passion.

Whatever your deepest passion may be, it originates at the core of your voice; and within that core is the strength of voice that makes it resonant in a needy world. From this quiet core a voice is born and grows in desire to find its impact in the world. The impact you intend is also born in this original passion. Leading from passion, the leader compels others to action within the larger flow−a story honoring oneness.

It is difficult to see the unfolding if we haven’t learned to see in the unfolding story. To develop such sight, we must engage and connect to the larger story. We must step into the flow, individually and together. It was such story-building that had called me to California.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wonder: Part IIIA

Love & Oneness

Our unique brand of love is complete freedom, allowing us to hold opposing truths we find in life & living. These truths become more clear to us as we listen deeply. To hold is no longer about control. As we hold with the freedom love provides, we feel with wholeness, hear more succinctly, and see more clearly.

To be in the free and whole space that love provides is to learn to be in the creatively tense middle. The middle space is tense because it forces the meeting of solitude and otherness.

An Encounter with Voice

He was a bit older than most when he began his assignment guarding the prisoners. My guess is that Jack was more mature than most his age. He had not allowed life’s realities to harden him into stone. He lived from his heart, broken open by reality, not scattered into pieces, as had sadly happened in the story of one particular prisoner.

In the ward where prisoners were placed on suicide watch, there was a particular individual who was teaching himself English by listening and searching for the right word for what he desired to translate from his native tongue. He was searching for someone to listen. Jack had walked this length of cells often and checked in on this person as the translations were being developed.

One particularly beautiful evening, the prisoner called Jack over to the cell door. He looked at Jack and pointed to a word he had written, saying, “This is my word for you.” The word was tolerance.

The prisoner shared his story with Jack that evening. I will not share that story here. What I do share, I share because I met Jack and heard the prisoner’s full story from him. The story gave insight into the teller’s tragic reality, while also speaking clearly about Jack’s Trueness as experienced by this prisoner.

Even before Jack and I had a chance to talk together, I was intrigued by watching Jack with his peers, his supportive eye contact and an engaging smile; a way of being with each person in his presence. In our one-on-one time together, I shared with Jack what I heard as he told the story of this encounter. I heard Jack’s voice of love coming through, not only in the telling, but also in the very fact that such an encounter could only occur because the man in the cell chose Jack to receive his sad story.

That night, with the open door allowing the night air through, his prisoner offered a gift in exchange for being allowed to leave his story with Jack. He gave Jack the gift of awareness, letting him know the impact of his voice, and the strength of that voice, tolerance.

The Door to Oneness

Upon learning more about my journey, and in the process more about what both drives and draws me, my friend Judy said, “You live a true life.” From this conversation, the term Trueness was given visible life in my work. My Rhythm of Trueness in this work begins as I gather from desire what is needed to grow intent, and rhythm finds its full cadence as I give in the creative, tense middle space. This rhythm, authentic and true, keeps me in the flow.

When you finally commit to lead, influence, and serve from the rhythm of your Trueness, you can grasp the reality that there is no priority higher than that of your love.

In a follow up conversation with Jack, he talked about how important it is to purposefully recognize the difference between yourself and the other person in whose presence you’re blessed to be. He shared other stories of stepping into that space where he carefully held what he was feeling, hearing, and seeing. It became clear to Jack, and ever more clear to me, that our voice−our individually unique brand of love−is what opens the door, and allows our differences to swirl into Oneness.

Love & Oneness:
To allow the strength of one’s voice uninhibited flow.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wonder: Part III

A Heart of Wonder

Stillness,
how necessary
for our movement
in the world,
time to absorb
blessing, for the sake
of expanding.

To expand is to wonder.
To wonder is to expand.
Trueness pondered,
voice amplified,
expectations released
into the flow.

We spread, not to cover
nor overshadow.
But self to decrease
and Trueness to increase;
we then
feel the rhythm
hear the middle melody
see the impact,
and know oneness
in the experience.

Experience
places memory pins
on the track of my journey,
tying together
the privilege I’ve known
through the Spirits
encountered.

Oneness, a reality
difficult to grasp
without the strength
of Love.

But oneness, like it or not,
was ordained, at the beginning,
at the foundation,
at the source
of the flow.

The italicized excerpts are journaling done on a trip to the beach one year in early May, as subtropical storm Ana passed through:

All of nature−all-and-each-in nature−are thrilled with the sun and stillness: in the flow of life & living, even through the storm and especially now after!

It was tempting to be angry, feel a bit cheated of sorts, at the presence of subtropical storm Ana−this prior to our departure to South Carolina. But in what I hope was trust−and simple living−we decided to leave as planned. And now I sit and write this looking at the beauty of peaceful sky, a full day ahead of what was predicted.

It was pure blessing for us to shift our expectations to the unexpected.

To forgive everything is to release our desire into the flow, and our wade in its stream. To see the unfolding is to trust the impact we were called to have as we observe with Wonder, at the pinnacle of intent, the fitting together of it all. And right in between we walk confidently with the creative tension of everything belongs.

How necessary it is to forgive ourselves so we might love another the way they need to be loved. I am not free to love if I have not love moving freely within. Love takes over everything. That is the way it’s supposed to be−the way it was designed to be.

This we must believe−not in the meritocratic manner in which far too many of us have been brought up and steered about. That upbringing too I must forgive!

Watching one scene long enough you can see the world the way it was all made to be, how it is all intended to work together. Seeing, and loving the seeing, is living.

The contrast … leaving our place in the Appalachian chain to be in the strand along the Atlantic, both are wonders, alive with eternity.

I of course am very glad we came on as planned in spite of uncertainty with Ana−the stalled subtropical system. In some strange form of experiential joy I’m very glad this storm was present at our time. Therein was a contrast of experience, a natural joy we would have missed otherwise, but the experience of which is making the privilege of being here something to gently hold.

It is important to be purposefully peaceful as often as possible, daily, and even multiple times a day. A dedication to purposeful peace makes us more real, free in who we really are. Being purposefully peaceful does this by slowing us down in order to feel, hear, and see. Only in such vulnerable space can we hold reality while simultaneously releasing reality. This is where life and living come together and become life & living.

Life is to be honored. And there is life beautiful all around to be observed; to be presently appreciated. And in so doing, living happens−it happens to us, as we participate in what we see.

Blessed indeed I am. It is important now that I carry this knowing with me in every step onward. This knowing of blessedness enriches my steps and ensures kindness in how I see along the path.

An ocean apart …

I’m not currently sitting on the beach. But the thought above hit me. Looking into the seemingly eternal expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, I actually feel close to those on the other side−not separated, but joined somehow.

I suppose I know the somehow, right? Of course I do. It’s the precise same joining I know with these happy birds going about their morning.

So joined we are. What now?

 

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.