Work: A Participation Essay

In the 5th grade I wrote an essay entitled, The Therapy of Work. I suppose the commitment to do my part in influencing our places of work to be more animated with love, abundance, and freedom goes back a few years. Many years later my Mom gave me a box packed with artwork I had done through my growing years. In the box was the composition.

As I set out to write an essay on Love, I had every intention of letting the words find me, lead me actually, and guide me deep into self where I know love began for me. And that the words did. Surprisingly however, I found myself back again reflecting from the experience of this work I do, and in full truth, from the varying forms of work I’ve known for more years than I care to state. That 5th grade essay on work as therapy was either some form of youthful wisdom, or a cultural voice preparing me for life to come. It is most likely both.

Curse or Course?

I remember a time, when my journey with occupational activity was not going so well, when I developed a theology about work based on Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. I determined, in relation to Adam, that work was the curse cast upon me; that this was the way it was supposed to be, and would remain so.

I certainly did not start out with this mindset, as when I was around 13 years of age I sold toys in the days before Christmas at the store my grandmother managed, or when at that age I ran my own lawn care service in my hometown. I don’t remember when I began to come out of the curse mindset, but I’m sure my evolving belief was driven by the survival instinct of soul. Why would anyone live under a curse when there was an option for freedom? Was it a choice between pessimism and optimism? Or was it a decision to act consciously and live within my own Trueness?

Thankfully yes, it was a choice in the forward course of optimism. And while unconscious and unaware at first, it was an outward decision to live within Trueness. But when composing an essay on Love, why did I write about work?

As a child I was very introverted, a combination of personality traits and chronic asthma limiting my exposure in the larger world. I spent a large quantity of time alone entertaining myself. Later offering my services of yard maintenance to neighbors began to teach me disciplined interaction with others as I built those working relationships. Then working at my grandmother’s store, selling to those shopping for children, opened me to a different form of relational transaction. It seems that maybe that essay in the 5th grade was not done with me.

And then there’s the challenge with love; the one that tells us how easy it is to love those who love us, who are easy to love. And that love is at its truest when we also love those who do not necessarily return love, or who at first, biased look don’t seem lovable. So maybe in my youth, work was a more open space for learning in this challenging course of love broadened.

Purpose and Work
Work is not just about a job; a set of responsibilities for which one is compensated from monetary resources. If one allows, it is a classroom of university proportions, providing the environment for learning and the field for application and tangible practice.

Later in my journey with work, as my accountabilities began to include direct leadership of others, I developed a theology to drive my methodology with which I would offer and provide an environment of optimism and forward progress. I would tell my people that, considering a normal full-time workweek in the U.S., and at least a bit of commute, we spend nearly two-thirds of our waking life at this thing called work. And because of this, I would ensure an environment supportive of individual fulfillment in the work and expect each one to take advantage of the consequent, personal opportunities.

Besides the fact that not everyone may feel it, I believe everyone needs to know purpose in the work. From my experience working with individuals to shed conscious light on core values, I’ve seen two basic camps when it comes to the value of purpose. There are those who when clear on vision and/or direction bring a natural propensity of purpose to the process of work before them. Then there are those who have an innate drive to more fully understand purpose as the motivation for any action. I warm at the fire of the latter.

The modern world, with its prodigious growth of complexity, weighs incomparably more heavily upon the shoulders of our generation than did the ancient world upon the shoulders of our forebears. Have you never felt that this added load needs to be compensated for by an added passion, a new sense of purpose? To my mind, this is what is “providentially” arising to sustain our courage−the hope, the belief that some immense fulfillment lies ahead of us. −Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Work: A Laboratory for Love
In the essay on Love I talked about the message I was about to send some of the individuals I’ve been privileged to work with through the last 17 years. I’m well into that process and hearing back from some of them as I write this essay. In each message I shared my hope of impact, that each one with whom I’ve worked has felt the power of desire and intent, their own desire and intent as a leader and what I have desired and intended for them from the beginning: that each one embrace the power of who they are as they lovingly lead others to their own authentic confidence, while acting on their own Trueness. And I certainly want to believe that my mission, to work with leaders like them for the sake of more love and abundance in the workplace, has helped them to make their impact.

Here is part of a response from one of the message recipients:

When I put [him] in charge of his team, he asked me what he needed to succeed. I told him to work hard, to be disciplined and to bring passion to his work. I also told him to respect his people and to love his people. If he did that, I told him, your people will walk through fire for you. As I look back over my career and my life, I see that inherent truth with blinding clarity. −Steve

Through the years, my evolved belief about work, and love for a work and love in the work, may be my own personal brand of optimism; a protective position pulling me out of the dark valleys and grounding me at the peaks, keeping me safe from the cliff edge of hubris. This I know; developing love in a work, seeing purpose in the energy expended, and learning what it looks like to love those with whom I’ve worked, has sustained and held me for many years.

So when writing the essay on Love, why did my words gravitate to the work experience? I’ve experienced great love throughout my personal life, knowing unconditional love from so many wonderful spirits. I entered the realm of work knowing the grace of what it means to be loved, and the enthusiasm from within that feeds on such graceful love. From early on then, I wanted to learn my place in the work world; learning to stand confidently in the bright blend of purpose and love. Through a purposeful, and then passionate, approach to work, I knew others simply needed my love.

Notes:

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre.. The Future of Man. New York: Image Books-Doubleday, 1964.

 

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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.

Passion

To follow one’s passion is to embrace, along the journey, both invested love and experiential loss.

Passion, from original definition, is a word of true paradox. To live and act from passion is to hold the tension in the eddy of enthusiasm and suffering. We suffer when, in the lack of fullness, we allow the pressure to divide and separate to invade our thinking and behavior.

Freedom is in the middle, standing firm in each true paradox. With this confident stance we forgive each act of division, and without apology hold the pieces together for the sake of informing more fully our own Trueness.

The Passion Paradox

Before we effectively
encounter
outside of self,
we must affectively
encounter
inside of self.

A proper encounter
love of self
self-compassion
employed,
usually settles a matter.

And in the disposition,
necessary it is
self to forgive,
fusing within one’s passion
enthusiasm and suffering.

All that remains then
to do, externally,
is to forgive,
to hold in love
the paradoxical self
of another.

–J. Brunson

In the Resonant Middle – Your Desire & Intent

Suffering it may seem
and so suffering it is;
but impairing it is not. .

−verse 2 of Transforming Trueness (Repose)

Passion evokes passion.

We define passion by typically thinking of enthusiasm. However, the original definition of passion included suffering (the cost along the journey).

I was 25 years old, we had been married a bit over 3 years, and our daughter was 6 months old. I had just completed a very successful year as a life insurance agent, achieving the ‘rookie-of-the-year’ award, and other accolades in the territory of which I was a part. It was also the year my parents divorced after 30 years of marriage.

As if this was all not enough for one young man, I believed I was being “called” into the ministry. I made a decision that was to change everything. I applied to a theological seminary and was accepted. We sold our first house; I quit my selling job, we packed up, gathered our baby daughter, and headed toward that seminary.

In the process of all this, I had a disturbing realization that this was not the right time for this decision. We made it as far as my hometown, about three hours northeast of the seminary destination. I quickly became confused to the point of despair. We rented a place and decided to stay a while so I could figure out this confusing matter.

I can still feel the pain of my confusion all these years later. More than anything at the time, it seems I had gotten caught up in the reaction of others to my original thoughts of ministry. It felt good to have others be so ‘proud’ of me. Their communication of this pride, and my connection to what was being said, served ego more than my authenticity, I suppose. When I realized (or sensed) this, the agony was great.

Since consciously launching into this work that has chosen me, I’ve often looked back on that time. From what I see, I continue to be deeply grateful that we did not make it to the seminary campus. For you see, I firmly believe that I would not have been where this work could find me had I followed through on that decision.

The ensuing years, with a treasure of experience, prepared me for now; the release into the flow of who I am in what it is I really do.

Acting on my own Trueness brought me the privilege of the spirits I’m blessed to give to, and from whom I receive so much. Like me, your unique Desire & Intent is a tangible objective important to the balance called for and called out by your own words.

I’m loving what I do now because I know what I bring to the table, confident in my strengths and my authenticity. –Robert, loving leader

Feel, Hear, See

Your Desire:
You must test feel against desire–what you know as real.

Your Voice:
You must be present and open to hear–as you stand in the confident middle.

Your Intent:
You must hold intent next to what you see–both reality and possibility.

A poem for your work: Words

"Walking in Peace" by Dan Roller

“Walking in Peace” by Dan Roller

The Mystery of Meaning

In our first coaching session, he stated, “I’m not sure I’m passionate anymore.”

Unhelpful guidance, profusely proffered without permission, contains anything but meaning. So difficult it can be to let go of expectations, not letting go of any optimism for good, but the false assumptions we find clinging to us like soot from a toxic fire.

I suppose finding and knowing meaning depends on where one looks for it. Even more debilitating is if one no longer believes meaning is possible. It is a major shift when you finally grasp that meaning is created within the flow of it all, abundance available in the movement of internal to external and your Trueness active in the world.

The mystery is, in part, found in our own journey.

Less important is seeking any specific explanation of mystery and more important is opening to what is; experiencing the present so as to receive the meaning already there for you (the true you.)

In the first part of life experience, meaning comes to us through others. Fortunate I was to learn about deep friendship and unconditional love early on by knowing my grandmother as my closest friend. The simplicity of being in her presence, and her presence with me, schooled me in what I would need to know in the subsequent acts of life & living, opening me to mystery and my own journey with meaning.

With mystery and meaning it’s less about understanding and more about accepting what is already true within you. Trueness asks you to live and work in alignment with the source of who you are. At such source is a new confidence, a way of being in your unique brand of love, creating unconditional presence held firmly by flowing voice.

I am privileged to work with individuals who want to lead from such love, being, and presence. Letting go into desire’s drive and intent’s draw, I get to see these individuals open to the middle of meaning; a resonance unique to who they are.

The release, and resonance, of voice may flow through passion, presence, or purpose, but remember that your voice is gifted within and from your Trueness.

Meaning is the inhale/exhale of Trueness. Meaning is right in the middle of a living, breathing paradox. We find in the making of who we are that it takes experiences of all sorts; an unfolding of all things, working together, basically schooling us in the reality of everything belongs.

Mystic Memory

It was August, mile four,
one of my long walks.
Quiet, peaceful, simple,
thoughts fired into memories.

Feeling, from all those years ago,
the shade of grandparent trees,
porch time with Sallie and Henry.

The memories thick as fireflies
on such a Mississippi evening.

The red and white kitchen table,
the window behind the bench at that table.

The cupcakes,
oh my, the cupcakes!

I was safe, then,
so safe.

Still, there’s safety in the present,
but no one else must hold the pearl.

Yes, that was a tender time,
open and wide.

I was safe, because?
Because of love,
because of love, unconditional.

In such safety,
unconditionally,
every little thing
had meaning.

The source of meaning was from without,
graciously held by those showing me
the pearl of great price,
the Trueness within.

And from within,
now meaning flows.
Then, every little thing had meaning.
Now, up to me it is
to know meaning in
everything belongs.

–J. Brunson

Version 2

 

The Rhythm of Journey – Part 5 of 7

The Path (Being/Doing)

Now I know the path unfolds before me. Indeed it is not always clearly laid out. It is in being that I have the privilege of seeing, and in balanced doing I expend directed energy to clear the undergrowth.

Sometimes (actually often) I need the collegial love of another to remain both clear and energized to steadily walk the path. This is why I work at maintaining a community of colleagues. We support each other’s balance–our individual holding of creative tension.

Recent conversation in this community caused me to again pause and think about the place to which this work has led me.

The Creative Tension (Being/Doing)

Ric Gonzalez and I are enjoying creating our Podcasts. As we talked about the next one, my mind was on the next person we might engage in a conversation. Ric suggested we hold off scheduling the next third-party engagement and record some more together. The question however was where to take the conversation in the next Podcast.

In between the email exchange with Ric and the talk we had scheduled, I spoke with Mayra Porrata. Mayra is a colleague in this blessed community. As she and I talked–always deep, clear, and beautiful conversation–we got around to the place to which our respective work has led.

In Mayra’s view, my work has led me to the 3Ps on which Ric and I have been focused (Passion – Purpose – Presence). She is not wrong. Subsequently however, it occurred to me that the 3Ps are a How, not the What–to what this work has led. These conversations created the brilliant reminder of the What, the place–Trueness!

It’s that simple.

And the Why behind this What of Trueness is Encouragement. It is this what and why where our Podcasts must continue to focus for The Work of Trueness. How we will do this will come to us–it arrives through the energy committed to what & why.

“There you go.”
Settled.
Something I say
when I know
Being
has informed
Doing

Maybe along with “settled” should be “connected.” This is where being and doing work side-by-side, hand-in-hand, and we find ourselves in the ensuing flow of our best.

Acting on your own Trueness strengthens you in the space of Creative Tension; the balance of internal passion and external purpose. Passion drives us. Purpose draws us. The result is the creative tension of presence–balanced being/doing.

Locked into being only we blindly serve unbalanced emotion. Doing only is to be enslaved by too much thinking. We must hold the two and walk a creative path as we see genuine passion, purpose, and presence that free us for leading.

A Poem at WadingtheStream.com: It Comes Together

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