Looking in all the Right Places
To find inspiration and clarify my latest thinking on embracing complexity, I recently turned to popular, off-the-shelf publications and the latest business books.
Not only did I not find inspiration and clarity, I experienced confusion and loss of interest from the dogma I found there.So much of what I read was filled with jargon, buzz words, and claims of a silver bullets that I had a hard time sorting out the message.
The advice or suggestions I found simply did not resonate with me. The literature didn't create a shift in thinking or a spark any curiosity on my part. I was left feeling drained and insufficient.
It was not that this information did not have value and was not useful. I simply could not connect with the message in a meaningful way. Upon reflection, I believe these feelings resulted from how I was searching for the answer. I was looking for something that was outside myself and assuming that “the answer” was out there if only I could find it. In essence, I was looking to the "experts" and abdicating my responsibility as a human being to think and reflect on what was important to me. Unfortunately, this process—however often I must re-experience it—did not generate inspiration and creative ways of embracing complexity.
It did, however, cause me to look elsewhere for inspiration—to places that embrace values similar to mine including humanism, heart, and backbone; systems thinking and a focus on experiential learning. I looked to my colleagues—those who are seeking, like myself, to connect in meaningful and productive ways to create good things in the world.
In my search, I was inspired by Julie Auger's August 11th post "First Things First: Who Are We." The post describes a community intervention story where a group asked themselves the most difficult yet critically important question: Who are we? Using this simple yet challenging question gets to the core of finding inspiration and considering ways of creating meaning in the world.
To me, dealing with complexity is all about asking simple questions such as who are we?, what is our world view?, and what do we hold as important? These questions serve as a means of creating a path through our complex world while holding on to ourselves in the process.
Julie's description of her client's work and outcomes left me feeling inspired and creative. It reminded met that my core belief in "knowing self" is a solid foundation for starting any personal search for meaning. It also reminded me that searching outside myself for answers makes finding meaning or inspiration less likely. In a sense, one could say I ran back home; back to a comfort zone; back to "my tribe." And while I would accept this critique, I would also say it helped me to feel centered and inspired instead of overwhelmed and frantic. Perhaps this says that dealing with complexity is about the simple, not the simplistic. It starts by knowing yourself and being authentic.