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

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

Everything Belongs

At first, my thinking faltered and paused at great length as I tried to mentally grasp the true meaning of everything belongs. To say that everything belongs is not to say that “everything” is okay. That is clearly not a truth. Evil is still a contradiction to good, and hate is still a contradiction to love; and true contradictions are part of reality just as paradoxes−two seemingly opposing sides of one truth−are part of reality.

Many years ago, while still in the corporate world, I sat down to compose, for the first time, a life mission statement. While there is more to it than this, the short version is, To Love, Serve, and Understand. It is not to understand first. There is for me an order and a rhythm.

Stephen Covey wrote about seeking first to understand before being understood. I agree, and for me this occurs in love. But when I move understand to the first note, by a controlling need, I break the rhythm, and understanding is no longer an outcome of my intent. I will no longer be drawn toward my purpose, and as such I become distracted from the beautiful movement of expectation to graceful anticipation.

My inherent need to understand is not in itself bad, for it is a gift. When this need gets in the way it is because I allow the gift to be misplaced in the rhythm, thus converting it from gift to a want of control. Attaching mind and/or heart to any false expectation begins to distort the possibilities available within a present, graceful attentiveness. False expectations give way to unnecessary judgment and assessment that distracts attention away from our steps.

It has taken me quite a long time to open my thinking and understand the damage dualistic thinking can inflict, and it’s been a journey to reduce the times I think and act from such a divisive way of seeing anything. To acknowledge and accept the totality of experience, including one’s own shadow, and to learn to hold it all without the need to judge, is to know the spirit of everything belongs. Everything belongs on your path, in the context where learning and experience combine to make us better at our art.

Seeing Clearly

Remaining in the flow connected by your own rhythm is how you sustain the influence of your impact. Your impact is the story of your reach into the world, your art.

I have written about Priya before. She is a person who is energized by external focus, drawn to do then be in the action, validated by her results-oriented intent. As is so easy to do, she gets locked into the mode of a key strength, like getting things done, overusing the strength and therefore opening herself up to the lie of limitation that opposes the strength.

She was capitulating to the lie when she stated that she was not creative. In listening to such, she could not see the art given her, deep within, since the beginning. So from what I know of her Trueness, and hearing the truth in her words, I assembled definitions for her.

Priya’s creativity, in her own words: “I’m looking for people who are thinking about the strategy of it, creating collaboration, and then executing.”

Priya’s art is opening the path to Fullness (from her voice of Integrity) – slowing down, looking at the colors on the palette available in the moment, then influencing others to both see and paint with what they have, while also creating the confidence to go after what is yet needed to complete the picture.

Spoken or unspoken, you’ve been given a voice, with its own unique expression. This voice calls you out and pulls you forward as you walk your path. Your voice is rhythmically freed in the mission you’ve been given for both personal purpose and impact in this world.

A danger found within the lie of expectation is when we create the need to know the full course of the path. The danger is real and present in the knowing. As David Whyte puts it, if you see such a path laid out clearly before you, it’s probably someone else’s. We deform true experience along the way by judging, assessing, separating, or trying to control anything (or anyone). All are dualistic distractions created by expectation.

You may have heard it said, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. But as the ready student, how often is the teacher appearing from within? More often than we realize, the teacher we need resides within and is one in the same as our true, creative, artistic self.

Encouraged first from inside or first from outside, in the balance of both we have courage to walk into the beauty of everything−all that is reality. To continue a steady walk takes internal focus and external validation, not one or the other, but both. Those energized first by internal focus are driven to be and then do what is good and right and aligned, or validated, by their desire. Those energized first by external focus are drawn to do then be in the action in a way that is good and right and aligned, or validated, by their intent.

We know by experience the power of our own Trueness, and we know through experience the Trueness of another; but only as we know both, present since the beginning.

The View from Here

It is what it is,
a reality, that can only be

And in the forgiving
one is delivered,
invariably graced,
into one’s own walk.

A desire inherent, deep within,
seeded with purpose
in the ground of Trueness,
must be encouraged
toward its intention, steadily.

And in the steadiness
of encouragement,
internally and externally,
one can hold, together
what is good, what is right,
and release voice
into the experience
of everything.

Now, one knows
by experience.
Now, one sees
through experience.

And at the pinnacle
of what is,
the view,


Creative Tension – Part 6B of 7

Illuminating Purpose

In his previous post, Jeff asked the question, “What opens your portal to focus?” And again, the irony sets in. There seems to be a never-ending road of “things to do” that are constantly calling for my attention. About the time I get one thing completed, there are five more to fill the space. While many of these “things” are simply the stuff of life, others are bigger, more impactful, sometimes emergency-level. About the time I’m able to identify what I need to focus on, it changes. Without going into detail, let’s just say my family has demanded a LOT of unplanned attention lately. So finding the focus to write this has been rather difficult to say the least. So I thought it was a good time to take a step back and think.

Something I always look for to inspire what I write is a compelling story. The story may be something I’ve read, from a friend, or most often, involving my family. And while there have been some pretty compelling stories in the recent weeks, the inspiration didn’t come. I considered focusing on several different stories that would certainly be appropriate for leaders and the Work of Trueness, such as when I made my teenage daughter read How Full Is Your Bucket after she said something particularly nasty to her younger sister. (She actually enjoyed the book and sisters are back to loving each other again…most of the time!)

Even as I considered this, I kept getting pulled back to a familiar topic, and one I’ve been exploring a lot lately – Purpose. Then I thought that maybe it was a good time to share some of my story.

Change is something that has almost always been “forced” on me. While I had many choices, the need to make a choice was often out of necessity, not a personal desire. My first major transition was joining the U.S. Navy out of college. Then after 10 ½ years, I left the Navy and found myself working in “corporate America”. In 2013, after nearly 13 years, I was one of many impacted from a “reduction in force” (RIF). I was blessed to find my way to my most recent position where I met some great new friends, built strong network connections, and added value in many ways. Then last Fall I was again one of many impacted by a RIF.

“Only through our Trueness do we find congruency with our purpose and the outcomes of our focus.” ~ Jeff Brunson

Purpose. Focus. Trueness. Three very strong components of my current state eloquently brought together in one sentence. In the recent months, as a result of my current situation, I have taken a deeper, more intentional look at identifying and understanding my purpose. Along the way I was reminded that of the 3 Ps of the Work of Trueness – Passion, Presence, Purpose – the one that resonates with me most is Purpose. Through purpose I find passion and can be present with those I engage. However, without a clearly defined purpose, my focus has been a bit … out of focus.

As Jeff said, “Growth is a journey.” Along that journey we GATHER resources to help us navigate. Occasionally we GIVE these resources to others to help them on their journey. And in the giving we help others, and ourselves, GROW.

The resource I share today is one that was shared by Ric Gonzalez. Imperative is an organization “empowering purpose-oriented workers and the organizations that embrace them.” Being the “assessment junkie” that I am, I jumped right in and discovered that my Purpose Type is The Luminary. I provide the tools and resources that help people thrive with the goal of creating a more humane, just and inclusive society. This purpose is the embodiment of my strenghts. This is my imperative. My imperative IS the Work of Trueness!

So with this in mind, I leave you with this….Jennifer 6B

As leaders, we may not always know what, or who, is around the next bend along our journey. And we may not know why certain things happen that may rock our boat. But when we know our strengths and get curious about what the Universe is saying, then take the time to truly listen, the answer will be revealed. Like an optical illusion, this is where we encounter creative tension. Sometimes we need to NOT FOCUS in order to SEE the picture.

In the spirit of providing a bit of illumination on our journey, I share this…

  • GATHER – Take a few minutes to explore what your purpose type is by taking the Imperative assessment.
  • GIVE – Pay it forward. Share with others what you’ve learned and encourage them to do the same.
  • GROW – Embrace your purpose – TRUST yourself!

As a good friend recently reminded me, I am where I am right now for a reason. In that I will discover my purpose. It may be that I need to be present right now as both of my daughters are in the midst of significant transition. And in helping them grow, so will I. After all, I am The Luminary.

“My most meaningful moments take place when my in-depth expertise or latest discovery has a direct impact on an individual’s life.”

ESPECIALLY those I care about and love!


Jennifer Rainey  "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Creative Tension – Part 6A of 7

Growth is a Journey

In some earlier writing, I ask a question: What opens your portal to focus? I asked this after stating the answer; authenticity. And, your authenticity–your own good process for focus in the moment–is your cycle of strengths applied to lead others, to influence others, to serve others.

To more steadily walk in the art of focus, you must allow yourself to be held by your Trueness.

The word, and act, of focus is thrown about quite a bit in the work world. Unfortunately, we have placed too much energy in a direction that has our actual action, a multitasking craziness we call focus, more aligned with the antonym of focus versus the true meaning of centering and aiming attention. To focus means to aim attention on a purpose greater than any single success.

Only through our Trueness do we find congruency with our purpose and the outcomes of our focus. In reality, you can only focus when you let go of other, not-so-important, things. Purpose will never be honored, or even found, in a long list infected with busyness.

Genuine growth is found on the path of purposeful focus.

Purpose is centered in, and flows from, your Trueness. In the concreteness of Trueness you know focus and play your part in an unfolding story. The growth you desire–consciously or unconsciously–is natural and enduring when your choices and decisions flow from the center of your authentic self. Focus then becomes how you aim your intention with the power of attention.

“Failing has been exceptionally empowering to me because it has highlighted for me those things on which I must focus my energy.”
–Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Growth is a journey.
It is an unfolding process that never ends.
For this, be grateful.

The Creative Tension of growth is found right in the middle between your desire and intent as a leader. It is at this living and active intersection where others experience both what you really do and who you really are. To have the impact you desire and intend, you learn to hold the tension of attachment and detachment. Holding as such releases purposeful and focused energy.

To see, hear, and feel the impact of energy released through your Trueness:

  • Gather in support of authentic purpose. Hear the questions of your journey without the immediate urge to answer.
  • Give from your purposeful focus. Be determined in catching what you need in order to properly give, then let go.
  • Grow in purpose by trusting yourself. Know your work is valuable and, when the rare opportunity presents itself, truly hear what is said by those you serve–what they see, hear, and feel because of your impact.

A Leadership Poem: Precipice of Being


The Rhythm of Journey – Part 7 of 7

The Trust View (Attachment/Detachment)

This part 7 is about the tension (tense holding) that is an opportunity to release some beautiful creativity into the flow of it all. This is about that space between attachment and detachment.

In the midst of this very composition, B.J. and I find ourselves in such an opportune space. For us this space isn’t only about selling a property and moving to a new place; it is about a significant step in how life & living will now look. It is a chance to catch a lot and a time that requires much hold & release.

The early birdsongs were saying it all works together for good, if we but let it. It all works out even if I don’t seem to let it (let go). But if I don’t let it, such becomes a refusal to participate and I miss out on seeing it all unfold. I do not want to miss that, ever!

The Creative Tension (Attachment/Detachment)

When our simplification transition began I realized a difficult tension. In our entire individual and partnered lives neither B.J. or I have lived in any one place as long as we’ve lived here. This is significant. We are not talking just a change, we are talking transition–Major!

This move more than any other from our past has me truly in a space between. I find my mind and heart in a middle, holding past and future. I suppose this middle is the present.

Work among all its abstracts, is actually intimacy, the place where self meets the world. –David Whyte, Consolations

Whyte says so much so briefly about why I write what I write and the way I write to you as a leader. In this 21st Century we need–must have–leaders who lead from the core of self: Trueness.

The need for leadership reminds me of the vision and desire that pulled me into starting this practice: I desire, through the leaders I coach and teach, to influence the space of work in becoming one of abundance and love.

I am attached to all that has gone on before to bring me to this stand, but I cannot hold it in a way keeping me from walking on. Yes, I am drawn forward into a future I cannot control. So I must detach from any expectation too specific to a predetermined outcome; this is always limiting.

To forgive everything is to live the beautiful poetry we each are. Knowing everything belongs is to be open to all that stirs our souls–to be one with it all. Then to see the unfolding becomes a nourished way of being and walking in this world.

Be aware, focused, and loving in your steady walk as a leader.

A Poem at There are Birds There Too


Presence – Pour Yourself

Constantly I am encouraged by the leaders with whom I am privileged to work. There is wisdom residing in them ahead of their experience.

I feel the call to fill them as they pour themselves into the world.

On the morning I began this I found myself meditating on the word pour. Upon visiting a thesaurus, I discovered the push and pull in the brief definition: be or make flowing.

I don’t know about you, but for me I am more attentive than ever to where I direct my energy, and in how I replenish. This is, I’m sure, because of my stage and place in life & living.

“What you focus on grows.” —Ted Senf

Consider the truth of this; consider both danger and power. Focus is dangerous when you give power to negativity and limitation. Focus is positively powerful when it flows forth from the connection of Passion to Purpose to Presence.

To live with and for Impact is to live the flow.

To focus is to allow the clarity of your intended impact to guide you in the present. And impact flows through simple focus. Focus as a noun is illusive; as a verb it is thoroughly frustrating—if we feel we have to chase it.

To be in-focus is to know what it is you really do. The how of focus is in making choices and decisions that flow forth from your what.

In my brief meditation I considered how and where I pour myself. Along with that I considered the source that fills me again. To pour oneself is what it’s all about. This is fulfilling, if one pours from the integrity of Trueness. It takes a lot of work to learn presence and the art of being present with Trueness.

It fulfills me to watch a leader put passion into motion toward purpose, and then observe the transforming power of their presence as they learn to pay attention; pouring themselves into the flow.

A Poem for Your Pouring


The Work of Trueness – Focus

When leading from your authentic self you inspire others from balanced focus. After all these years in my work, I’m certain this is the only path to inspiring another.

What is focus?

I offer as an answer a balanced way of seeing through this portal. Internally, focus is the purpose through which your passion prepares to flow by your unique presence into the world. Externally, once flowing in the world, focus becomes an attraction to a common and collaborative center.

I’m writing this just days after returning from work at a client location. I was there to open a dialogue with John’s executive team around organizational transition and cultural transformation. While I had prepared an outline for the conversation, I knew that if I listened carefully enough, it would take on its own life. And indeed it did.

This team of leaders had been diligently working for the past year acting on specific behavioral commitments as a result of strategic dialogue focused on the story of the organization. John listened to his group of leaders. After this year of good work fueled by the clarity of a strategic story, he realized that each individual, through the cloud of busyness, had lost focus.

As is almost always the case−in the reality of the ‘J-Curve’ or the Dip−our movement toward the goal takes a turn down. This is when it is imperative to not lose focus on Why we are doing all we are doing.

It is only in the energy of why that we push through.

That’s when it happened; one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever heard painted by the words of a leader. John sat back in his chair. As his words came forth he leaned into the presence of each individual in the room: “A chance to do what we have the opportunity to do with this organization comes along once, maybe twice, in an entire career.”

The renewed energy for focus was in John’s confident and open presence, where he drew individual energy to a collaborative center.

I only hope each person present felt what I felt. The doors of possibility flew open in my mind. Collaborative energy burned red and hot.

Impact was broadened through such focus!


21st Century Skill Paradox – Part 6

The 21st Century highway of management is jammed with those speeding to solve as they exercise limiting judgment, fixes, and attempts to otherwise set another straight.

We manage process and we lead the individual. As a leader you are a facilitator. To Facilitate means “to make easy.” This doesn’t mean you ignore conflict or difficulty. Quite the opposite is true as you facilitate the necessary holding together of good process and desired outcomes.

“For peace and agitation are stitched together and, tugged on, they unravel a thread of Oneness.” −Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

I was very fortunate in my corporate career to have opportunity to take advantage of good learning experiences. Such learning was in the balance of classroom and application; practicing knowledge into a skill. The skill I treasure is that of Listening. This skill has served me well in my coaching, and molded me into a facilitator who can create and navigate dialogue.

Listening is the foundation of 21st Century Skill 6: Collective Facilitation.

In my corporate experience I was given much opportunity to practice as a facilitator. Early on I knew enough to be moderately effective and dangerous at the same time. Let me illustrate.

My customer service manager and his team approached me and asked that I facilitate a session to assist them in working through an important issue with their service work. We scheduled everything, gathered together, and got to work. So there I was standing in front of them facilitating. The team came together around the information needed and I dismissed them to go and collectively implement what they thought best.

A week passed and I had not heard any follow-up or follow-thru on their decision. I called Bill, the manager, to my office and asked what they had decided to do. His response, “We did what you told us to do.”

I was stunned. I asked Bill to tell me what he had heard from me. He did. And I was stunned even further−not by him or the team. I was slapped with the reality of the lack of neutral focus in my brand of facilitation. As I supposedly facilitated, I had unconsciously also participated: participation at a level that was easily perceived as an order or a request from their division leader.

I had unintentionally held their loyalty in a manner that diminished their full creative abilities and individual and collective contribution.

Skill 6If left apart, good process and desired outcomes pull against one another.

If focused upon one at a time, as is usually the case, they are left in conflict causing us to ignore one or the other.

To expertly be with the skill of Collective Facilitation, you must hold the two circles together where they merge in support of the depth of listening required.

You then facilitate in the power of a neutral focus.


Read about the shadow strength related to Focus; Shadow Strengths – Chapter Six (Focus)

BCL Blog 4