Since January, I’ve been engaged in a grand experiment. Dr. Jeffery Martin’s work on Fundamental Wellbeing has inspired me to approach wellbeing in a conscious and deliberate way. So, each month, I’ve taken on a new practice to explore. Last month, it was embracing the concept of “trust” – how much can I open myself to trust myself, another, the world?
This month, I am exploring “Love” as a preparatory tool in conflict. I’ve been in the conflict game long enough to know that only good comes from being in a better space when facing conflict. We can call that space love or inner peace or calm or Fundamental Wellbeing. No matter which word, it’s the feeling I’m getting at. We need to find our way back to that feeling time and again to be able to engage in difficult conversations well.
So I was delighted to discover recently that a dear friend of mine has been using love as her preparation tool for difficult conversations!
She and I have had a few wonderful conversations of late about how to approach any difficult conversation by, firstly, finding a place inside oneself that is “love.”
That state and process can a bit amorphous to explain, but the place to start is by noticing when you have any kind of “trigger” inside of you that feels like pain. That pain can be anger at another’s actions, sadness, heartbreak, confusion, anxiety.
Once you notice your “negative” emotion, then the work is to look inside to find a connection to love again before you approach the other person.
What does one mean by connecting with love inside oneself? There are so many ways and means.
The Heartmath Institute has a wonderful quick coherence tool I’ve written about before, where you think of someone you love for a minute or two (and put your hand on your heart) – and – bingo – you’ve got that loving feeling again! That’s a quick one.
A worthy exploration of love comes from the classic book: Love is Letting Go of Fear. Here is what the author Gerald Jampolsky teaches us about love:
“With Love as our only reality, health and wholeness can be viewed as inner peace, and healing can be seen as letting go of fear… Love, then, is letting go of fear.”
Jampolsky tells us love and fear cannot exist at the same time so that coming to love dissipates our fears. He advocates for inner peace. It’s been my experience if I, or my clients, have not found some place of inner calm, peace or love before starting a difficult conversation, the chances of it turning out well are vastly decreased.
So how does one arrive at inner peace and love?
Jampolsky tells us that “We cannot be free until we discipline and retrain our minds…In order to experience peace instead of conflict, it is necessary to shift our perception… Fear is really a call for help, and therefore a request for Love…If others do not change in accordance with our expectations, we are likely to regard them as guilty… Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others, but by simply accepting them as they are. True acceptance is always without demands and expectations.”
Yet where does this leave us when it comes to our own needs? Are we to become doormats or sacrificial lambs in the name of Love?
I believe not!
Love is our starting place, the doorway to enter into a difficult conversation and a re-negotiation of expectations. Love is a powerful mindset that can help a difficult conversation go well. I’ve seen this mindset work in the classroom, in the mediating room and as my friend engaged with me recently in a difficult conversation.
My friend actually teaches people how to come back to love within themselves. If you want to explore her method, check out Empowered Love.
Becoming Love is the starting place to making peace!
“If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.” … Albert Einstein
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with developmental psychologist, Dr. Robert Kegan. Being exposed to his ideas was a turning point for me, learning what he’s done to document adult levels of consciousness. Much like Piaget did for children, Kegan managed to identify various levels of consciousness in adult development.
Dr. Jeffery Martin, who I have been tracking all this year as part of my health and fundamental wellbeing challenge to myself, has built on Kegan’s work. He’s done so by suggesting how we can develop our levels of consciousness through tools such as gratitude, meditation and a trust in the unfolding mystery of life.
So, it was with pleasure that I found this article, which references the work of one of Kegan’s Phd students, Susanne Cook-Greuter. The unique contribution of this article is to take the work Kegan did and create a way to identify where one is in a leadership developmental continuum. Cook-Greuter shifts the framework from consciousness to leadership development.
The idea of developing our own levels of consciousness and moving along this leadership continuum dove-tail. The more we invest in leadership development as individuals, teams, organizations and communities, the more we can learn and grow and develop. In fact, the way we learn, grow and develop IS to grow our consciousness.
I’ve listed a short summary of the 7 types of developmental leadership below and here is your link to the more detailed list of the 7 types.
Here are the 7 types in brief:
- The Opportunist Leader – focuses on survival, lives in fear and mistrust. This type of leader consciousness operates through covert, non-direct and individually-focused ways.
- The Conformist Leader – sees the world as challenging but responds by “playing it safe.” This leader consciousness operates through giving their own power of choice to others and often complains in response.
- The Specialist Leader – focuses on standing out through getting their own work done correctly in a type of continuous improvement strategy.
- The Achiever Leader – focuses on the excellence of their work and focuses on the impact of their work on others, including creating feedback loops to learn.
- The Catalyst Leader – moves into the personal growth zone where growing and evolving becomes the natural way of being. They feel their way forward in the world despite uncertainty to lead a more purposeful and fulfilling life based on conscious intention and committed action. They attune to leveraging strengths, fueling personal growth and collaborating with others to exercise mutual power to co-create the best possible outcomes for the whole community
- The Synergist Leader – has adopted the mantle of personal authentic power in the interests of serving the whole community. This represents a shift from “doing good” at Catalyst to “the greater good for all concerned” at Synergist.
- The Alchemist Leader – ignites and generates social evolution as well as transforms global structures. The Alchemist embodies their own intuitive guidance and employs mutually collaborative power to generate transformational shifts in the world. They are able to hold and embrace wonderful future possibilities while standing firmly in the present. They look at events symbolically and value both the shadow and the light. They’ve surrendered their personal will, desiring to be, and trusting in being, an instrument in the divine orchestra on earth.
“Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people’s capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersively sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day….Imagine finding yourself in a trustworthy environment, one that tolerates–even prefers–making your weaknesses public so that your colleagues can support you in the process of overcoming them…You’re imagining an organization that, through its culture, is an incubator or accelerator of people’s growth. In short, you’re imagining a deliberately developmental organization.” … Robert Kegan, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization
Last weekend, I watched the documentary Fantastic Fungi about mushrooms. It had a lot of interesting facts including mushrooms being the fruit of the mycelium, an underground network of rootlike fibers that connect tree roots in communication, and can stretch for miles underground.
That vision of mushrooms was mind-expanding enough, as I’d not really thought about the vast mycelium “wood-wide web” beneath my feet in any of my forest walks!
But, it was a passing comment in the documentary that captured my attention. I heard something like:
We are all originally related to mushrooms. That seemed far-fetched – even to me!
So, I did a bit of research. What did I come up with?
Firstly, mushroom expert Paul Stamets (featured in the film as well) asserts that almost 50% of our DNA is the same as mushrooms, and that we even get the same kind of viruses they do. Okay….
Then, I found an article in Discover magazine about Mitchell Sogin’s research. Sogin is an evolutionary microbiologist who’s used “advanced automated DNA technology and computing power to trace the molecular evolution of dozens of today’s oldest known species—jellyfish, sea anemones, sponges, mollusks, starfish—back to their common point of origin.”
Sogin was basically doing DNA testing, like we do to find our ancestors on 23andme, comparing our DNA to non-human forms. At first, Sogin traced our roots back to sponges, who he identified as the earliest, most primitive multi-celled animal. That is surprising enough, but after more investigating, what did he find?
Sogin uncovered something older in the animal line than sponges: fungi. As he says: “Animals and sponges share a common evolutionary history from fungi.”
Next time I’m in the forest, perhaps I might think: Mother Mushroom, as I walk over our underground resting home, thank you for life.
“I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks..” … Paul Stamets
Late last year, I came across Dr. Jeffery Martin’s work on fundamental wellbeing. He interviewed over 1,000 people who said they felt fundamental wellbeing most of the time, in order to study what they did and how they showed up in the world. His research is solid and important, as his programs are teaching people how to create a greater sense of peace in their worlds.
Since January, I have been on a quest to settle into a deeper sense of wellbeing and each month this year, I want to use this space to reflect on the experiment with you.
This month, I am most interested in Martin’s observation that those with fundamental wellbeing trust that things are unfolding exactly as they should, without the ego’s need to explain, categorize or understand. There’ s a sense of ease about this. As one of my teachers Marc Allen says, the approach to life is: “in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way, in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all.”
That is my take-away this month, to practice that mantra a few times a day. I want to practice remembering I don’t need to understand it all. I want to strengthen my belief that I can trust the unfolding mystery, so much of which I don’t understand, but may not need to. Perhaps my striving to understand creates inadvertent “dis-ease” with the path of trust yielding more.
A story I heard Oprah tell once illustrates my path this month. Oprah tells how she really wanted to play the part of Sofia in the movie The Color Purple. It really didn’t look like it was going to happen and she was upset. In her desperation, she prayed for help to let her dream go. A song came to her spontaneously and she started singing: “I surrender all… all to thee my blessed savior… I surrender all…”. She sang and prayed until she got to the point where she could let it go.
She truly surrendered all into trusting that which she didn’t understand.
And just as she let go into trust, the phone rang.
It was Steven Spielberg. She got the part.
“Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don’t have answers. So I let the mystery settle into my music. I don’t deny anything, I don’t advocate anything, I just live with it.” – Bruce Springsteen