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.

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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) – 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.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wade: Part I

Simplicity, Reality, and Love

I just want to step in
and Wade.

I only want to be steady
and quiet
in my Walk.

I want to hear and know
Oneness as I allow into my life
Wonder–at the smallest,
simplest, and so very important things
of an everyday life.

Moving back to Ohio after twenty years is one of the most significant transitions we’ve experienced. It has been a beautifully demanding transition, calling our minds and hearts into the atmosphere of present being.

It was the middle of October, waiting for the color, and I was in my new favorite coffee shop thinking on this next series of writing. I began to soak in a joy I felt, while resisting any temptation to stray away from the depth I sensed in the stream of joy.

I had just released my fourth book; a book of selected verse encouraged out of me by my beautiful friend, editor, and publisher. Do I have yet another book in me? I think so, maybe more than just one. Parker J. Palmer talks of being one of those writers who only has one book in him, but he continues writing about the topic in varying expressions. I feel this as well. And like Palmer, I don’t seem to mind.

I’m a simple person I suppose. It could seem I do not like challenge, not writing multiple books on varying topics, but it is very challenging to write about the one topic providentially placed in my very soul. This topic doesn’t define me, rather it is a wonderful energy force in my soul–this thing I know as Trueness.

Wade–Walk–Wonder

So, why this alliteration? As my soul-sister Pam said, it has a flow inherent. And as she knows from her encouragement of me, I am captivated by flow, and the rhythm it washes into the open.

It begins in the Wade. I step into life and living freed from the lie of any single expectation. Forgiving everything, gently placing all in the flow, allows me to step out and Walk in the beauty of it all–all that is reality. In the steadiness of such walking, I am deeply encouraged by how it all fits together (how it can all work together for good, if I only allow it to do so). Then, at some point I begin to actually see an unfolding; and this is the Wonder.

In this day and time, I find it sad when we allow ourselves to not be filled with wonder. We believe we are well-informed, that we see and understand so much. All that, to me, gets in the way of real Wonder.

I hope you will stay with me as writing within this rhythm unfolds; for your own Wading, Walking, Wondering.

In the Resonant Middle – Your Loving Presence

Surprising it may seem
and so surprising it is;
but deceitful it cannot be.

−verse 5 of Transforming Trueness (Repose)

Trust has to begin within.

Sitting down to write, I often find myself in the sludge of thoughts, wanting to write, but not knowing where to start. The one thing that always seems to calm the whirling thinking and open me to the pen and page is one particular song, which I select on my phone and play through the ear buds, often over and over as the words start to come: Love is the Answer, by Todd Rundgren.

With love being my voice, the lyrics and music open me to trust the flow, and the moment with what needs to be written. It is almost always a wonderful surprise.

A Story
My desire to write goes back quite far, at least to the time when I wrote the essay on work when in elementary school. I didn’t know why I wanted to write. Once I was in high school, there were more assignments requiring one to write.

I remember high school English, getting many writing assignments, and seeing the less than average score on most of them when the teacher handed them back, always in an impersonal fashion. I didn’t know if I just couldn’t write, she just didn’t like my writing, or some combination thereof. Consequently, when I got to college, found myself in American Literature, I dreaded the first writing assignment.

The time, of course, came. Sandra Boyd was her name. I shall never forget her, my teacher. She graded that first assignment and the time came to hand them back to us. She went to the first seat in each row and handed the graded essays to the first person to pass back, except on my row.

She brought my paper to me directly, placed it in front of me (I saw the A at the top), and said, “I can’t wait to read what you write next.”

It was many more years before I made the commitment to not only write regularly, but to become diligent in the process to become better at the craft. To help in the matter, I was blessed to find Pam and Susan and we formed our own writing group for practice.

One day, several years into our time together, we were doing our normal thing; writing a piece from an impromptu assignment and then reading to each other what had been written. They shared something with me that became a gift of energy leading me to find focus in my writing.

I had just read my piece, where I had shared a story. They said, “We like it when you tell us a story. Write more stories for us.”

I hope I’ve done a good job since then to keep my commitment to Pam and Susan to write more stories.

A poem for your work: Encouragement is Love

The Mystery of Authenticity

As I write this, it was 15 years ago and we were preparing to leave the corporate life. We traveled to the region where we now live and purchased a house. I was leaving an organization where I had a good run, with 23 assignments in three states. Many good relationships were built that still nourish my work today.

We moved in December of that year. In January the company brought me back for my final day, and for a surprise going-away party. Being the reason for the party I decided to hang with it until the last person left. I had no idea that would be 1:00 a.m.  After he had too much truth serum, one of the few late attendees seemed upset and decided he needed to tell me something.

His telling was about what an executive had said to him, and how it had obviously disturbed him greatly. I write this as the 2016 presidential campaign season is days from being over. What he had heard was in no way as disgusting as what we have heard in this campaign, but to him it was nonetheless very upsetting. I’ll leave it at that as I’m simply trying to set up my story.

I will call the executive Carl. The division’s Christmas party was being planned, and the name of a recently departed executive came up as someone to put on the invite list. That’s when Carl made his reactive statement. Even though he only said it to the one person, it seems that one person couldn’t help but talk about it to others.

The next morning I traveled back to my new home. I was leaving the company with a signed contract to complete culture work that had been started by my team while employed there, and another contract waiting for approval to begin the leadership coaching part of my practice with nine individuals.

In the following days I could not get that story about Carl off my mind. I respected him enough to confront his reactivity. I called his administrative assistant and set up an appointment. On the day of the call, I found myself pacing in the yard outside my office asking myself how I was going to handle this.

When I got Carl on the phone, I said, I’m going to tell you a story, at any point if I get anything wrong, stop me. I told the story, and he never stopped me. He said that how I told it was how it had unfolded. He then said, “I was just being myself.”

I reminded him of the wonderful things he had led and done in the culture of that organization over the last few years. His presence and work had been part of setting up a needed transformation. I told him I was making this call because I didn’t want to see a simple comment take it all down. I then said to him, “You have a thousand people under your care now, you’ve lost the right to just be yourself.”

Therein lies the mystery of Authenticity. We confuse blatant honesty driven by emotion with real authentic presence. Whatever Carl’s feelings were about the departed executive had nothing to do with the person who had stood before him.

I’ve told this story many times to leader clients whom I felt needed to hear it, but writing it down is causing me to reflect on my own behavior as authentic, or not. It’s rather humbling when that spot is flicked on.

Leadership is about behavior.

It is only about behavior. We influence through behavior. Our behavior can stand in the way of powerful results or our behavior can encourage and empower others toward powerful outcomes.

An organization’s culture does not determine our behavior as a leader, but our behavior as leaders determines our culture. Frankly, I no longer care very much for conversations about culture. I much prefer to keep my energy focus on a body of work that builds confidence.

Realize that it is not how you feel that determines how you act; rather it is how you act that determines how you feel.

−William James (1842-1910)

At the end of the conversation Carl directly asked my advice about what he should do. I told him that he knew the one person that was present that he needed to talk to, and that he must go to him and ask for his forgiveness. Then, ask him who else he should talk to, and then go to each of them and do the same.

In the brightness of the authentic self (what I call Trueness) we clearly see our actions and can observe them factually, before any judgment. There is a narrow space in which such seeing occurs, and we must respond quickly leveling in on what drives us from the deepest place in our being.

Yes, as a leader in the 21st Century, Carl has grown beyond the emotional right to say whatever. However, he is completely free by his Trueness to speak from and with his authentic voice.

Bright Unknowing

Superfluous opinion, you’re not.
Yet trigger pulled, sending brightly
such divisive thinking into the air.

An opinion, only narcissism serves.
Egocentricity, and shallowness lightly,
simply wasting the burst of a flare.

Devastating challenge it was,
when such I realized,
of opinions, I must let go.

Wonderfully freeing it was,
truthful wound cauterized,
of presence, I can now know.

Inauthentic only, an opinion can be,
outwardly lashing,
misrepresentation externally told.

Authenticity, non-dualistic and free,
inwardly flashing,
oneness internally we can hold.

–J. Brunson

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Your Rhythm in Leading – Part 5 of 7

Voice of the Other

Hear the Middle Melody

Through the years of consciously supporting the growth and development of others, I have consequently learned much about personality preferences. We learn about these individual preferences through instruments that type our personality.

I don’t care much for the term “personality type.” I much prefer to reference one’s preferences, for that’s all the varying personality scales are supposedly measuring, a first order of go to in one’s regular activities and interactions. The natural reflex of such preferences can also find us automatically holding a clouded filter through which to feel, hear, and see.

This level of knowledge with preferences has, through experience, taught me much about voice. There seems to be a rather consistent (although somewhat generic) correlation of voice preference with behavioral preference. Instead of a false confidence with such knowledge, I feel a growing accountability to better understand what I know about individual voice, the correlation of voice to Trueness, and the unifying influence of voice consciousness in a needy, 21st Century world.

Fortunate I am to have individuals with whom I regularly learn as we talk, with mutual intentionality, about voice in life and work. Dan Roller is one such person. He willingly holds the creative tension of leading in the 21st Century. Dan’s voice is Centeredness. His work, and purpose, is about showing others the value in what they do through who they are.

You Lead Who You Are

In a podcast conversation with Dan, he talked about being present to others by being present to self. As part of a contemplative practice as a leader, he asks himself in the moments with others, “Who am I being?”

Dan says that to be in relationship with others, and really pay attention to what makes them come alive and contribute in work that they value, we must employ generous listening that actually helps the other know his or her own value. That is when the individual can feel, hear, and see that what they do indeed makes a real difference.

In the work he does, Dan has become a facilitator of conversations intended to draw out the voice of the other. Who he is being in such work is most effective when he is operating from his Trueness. A determining factor of what and how you hear, when with others, is the influence of who you are being when you listen, or when you think you’re listening.

What You Choose

We all have filters clouded by unconscious wearing. Dan believes we can consciously choose to see differently, and therefore to see much more. In the process of choice, you can open to other ways to see situations, and other ways to see the other person.

When in the presence of another, Dan pays attention to who he is being and to what he is choosing to do. As he encourages us, this takes discipline to practice. Filters find their way over our way of feeling, hearing, and seeing very easily.

Dan tells a story of a young man who stood at the microphone at a meeting being conducted about a code of conduct being instated by a school district where Dan consults. He admits to a filter he was wearing as the young man talked; viewing through his get-to-the-point filter (one of those preferences I mentioned), Dan felt the speaker was rambling. He caught himself, removed the filter, and opened his listening (letting go of the filter’s clouded script), and began to hear the voice of the other. He chose to listen for the voice of this young man in what was being said. In the process, Dan found the meeting to be a much more meaningful experience.

Learning to listen to self allows you to become a more generous listener to the voice of the other. Learning to consistently practice present listening to another makes you better able to hear your own voice.

Being able to see yourself, and how you are being with a certain situation, can open your practice of presence. Dan told me that presence, or being present, must become more than something you turn on and off. It is a way of being, a way of being with the other. It is a choice, a choice to feel, hear, and see the reality spoken through the voice of another.

“A moment of Trueness exists when passion, purpose, and presence have aligned and I’m being true to both self and the other in the moment of presence I’ve been given with them.”

When you are truly driven by desire and drawn by intent, then from the middle melody of Trueness you are able to expand into other dimensions of preference and behavior. Successful expansion occurs as you apply your own voice and practice hearing the voice of the other. Together our voices find flow and confident resonance.

Thank you Dan for being a leader willing to be in the conversation with us, and for choosing to feel, hear, and see with us.

A Leadership Poem: Earning the Return

Dan Roller 2Dan Roller has dedicated his energy to helping leaders and organizations build the capabilities they need to execute on what matters most to them. Dan founded Acris Consulting to bring the expertise of those who have a passion for execution to the field of education where he first began his career as a secondary and post-secondary teacher.

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