For me, this year promises to be a year of integration. Recently, a colleague told me that I am a weaver. We were working on the design of a leadership program for social innovators when she said, “And just as I thought that we were done, your brought in another thread and weaved it to make this idea even more complete, more beautiful.” Her reflection was a gift to me. It resonated with my experience of what I bring to groups.
It feels like for the last few years I have been preparing to create something that I cannot yet fully articulate. But in the last minutes of 2012 and the first minutes of 2013, I had a moment of quiet clarity in which I could hear the whisper of exciting possibilities on the way. This may be the year when some of the seeds that I have been planting will sprout and come to the surface.
I’m learning to listen in a new way and to come to that place of humility where I can finally accept that I am not in control. Although there are things I want to make happen, all I can do is to be in service rather than push my views of what could or should be. After so many years designing and planning possibilities from my intellectual understanding, I’m coming to realize that what I don’t know or understand is as important as what is already part of my awareness. Rather than working on ways to manifest my will, I’m learning to open up so that a will that is larger than myself can happen through me.
In a call with my students last semester for the “Dealing with Complexity” course, we were reflecting on the boundaries that define our work and our role as consultants and change agents. Who are we serving? On the one hand, we can limit our contributions to satisfy the expectations of our “clients” or those who request or pay for our work directly. On the other hand, we can put ourselves in service of something larger. And this is what came up for me. I told my students, “My client is the planet.” All I do is seeking to serve humanity and to honor past, present and future generations of all beings. That is my compass for deciding where to put my attention and energy.
But since I’m an insignificant human being, such a grandiose intention can only be possible if I belong to a community of diverse individuals who share the vision. Collaboration becomes essential: the main source of hope and the main strategy for action.
Integration is a different type of contribution since it may not involve creating something completely new or novel, but rather bring together elements that are already in existence. It involves giving attention to something that has been invisible, ignored, or dismissed: the primary value of connections and relationships. I have a vocation to connect the dots. I want to create relationships among people, projects, initiatives, and ideas that are already making a difference in the world but that are not yet part of one ecosystem. I want to foster synergies. I want to make visible the emotional and spiritual glue of authentic relationships that sustain and hold together systemic initiatives. I want to demonstrate the value of intentional collaborative learning and action.
My inquiry into integration involves
…connecting head, heart and hands;
…blending work, learning and play;
…combining intellect and creativity;
…bringing spirituality into business;
…balancing masculine and feminine energy;
…relating theory and practice;
…and creating containers where people can come together to explore these and other dimensions of integration.
I think it is time to integrate all the dimensions that make up the human experience. I don’t want to keep functioning from a fragmented place. I don’t want to have mental work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then struggle to find space in my life to connect with people I love, to create beauty, to dance, to do things that enhance my physical and emotional wellbeing. I want no distinctions between work and learning. I want everything I do to be meaningful and joyful because it is aligned with who I am; with my soul’s purpose. I want to engage with my whole brain all the time. I want to pay attention to my intuition and to the messages encoded in my felt emotional responses. I want to be able to follow my heart and to listen to the needs of my body rather than to override my personal needs with the artificial structure of our rushed society. I want to feel comfortable with not knowing so that I can allow for the future to reveal itself and design possibilities with humility and awe. I want us to remove the fear, the scarcity mental models, and the ego barriers that prevent us from coming together.
My intention for this year is to fully step into this role of integrator and weaver and to put my energy in service of the people and initiatives that are ready to come together and experience the magic of deep, heartfelt collaboration.