The Pain and the Promise

One year it was Kate Rusby, another Luke Concannon and another Ed Sheeran. This year it was Joshua Hyslop and his album In Deepest Blue. Every year it has been music that has reconnected me to myself during our summer holiday.

Each time I remember things that I commit to never forgetting again. And yet each year I realize again that I forgot. Things really about the heart. About simple presence, vulnerability, feeling.

On holiday I realize how much I need to decompress. Decompress from the doingness, the digital and the drive. Things I am not aware of being compressed by when I’m in them, like the fish in water.

Things normally crack around day three. This year my insights were in particular around how much it asks of us to be in a bridging role in this Great Transition. Somehow I imagine it must be easier to either unconsciously be in the old system or to be opting fully for a radical alternative outside the current system.

I was realizing and feeling how much pain I hold in that bridging role, around all the compromises we consciously make as we attempt to straddle two worlds, finding a way to channel the energy and attention of a world that is dying into a world that is just being born. Walking round the supermarket I got depressed at humanity’s stupidity as we eat ourselves to an early and often painful death, destroying the ecologies of other species in the process. Sometimes I really wonder if all our efforts aren’t just vain attempts to make ourselves feel good.

I was reminded of the great compassion we need with each other as our shadows are triggered on the paths of our passion. We know we need to heal ourselves to create the healing in the world we so crave. I feel the pain of the world and yet park it in order to focus on building the future. Yet it’s important to take the space to connect regularly to that pain and let it flow through. Otherwise it builds up and becomes increasingly hard to access.

It’s so important to be kind to ourselves and our bodies, as well as to each other. Those of us who are in clear space need to help others who are temporarily out of balance to ground and reconnect. We all go through the cycles and need to learn to support each other as we can – and know that we all have ups and downs.

Fulfilling the promise and potential of our higher selves requires us to move through the pain we hold. The path is indeed the way. We never arrive. We just spiral on through plateaus of relative flow and uncomfortable rapids of transformation. If we can remember that of ourselves and others, we’ll have a greater chance of more gracefully birthing the world we’re working for.

Notes

  1. A few years ago I wrote a book called The Pain and the Promise which went into this process in detail. I never had the bandwidth to get it published but I do have a recent draft with comments from the potential publisher (Russ Volckmann actually who just passed away, which is a great loss), and would be happy to send it to anyone interested.
  2. I’m also really enjoying a great book by Penny Kelly called Getting Well Again, Naturally, which is a strong reminder of the the discipline we need to have in making the lifestyle choices we make – with some surprising but very resonant advice.

The role of pain and tension in evolutionary leadership

 

[This piece is written for Dutch book Bloei! on leadership and organisation. I was asked to write on “lijderschap” which in Dutch is a play on words. Leadership is normally “leiderschap”. “Lijden” means to suffer.]

 

Passion – pp. stem of patī suffer (Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology)

Practice

We are on retreat with the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands. It is the last morning and we have just completed a forty-five minute session of Quantum Light Breath. I am sitting in a circle of seventeen people who fill a role in the organisation I founded and lead. I have just announced that I have something to say. My voice trembling with the emotion of the realisation that I have just had, I open my mouth to speak. I share that it has just hit me really hard what an honour it is to be entrusted with the leadership of these amazing people I see sitting around me. I tell that I allowed myself to accept that I may be worthy of their trust, which is a huge thing. I say that I realise that I have not always been able to see them for the great souls they are and have not honoured them fully in my leadership. For that I apologise and commit to remembering. The room is still. Then our master of ritual tells me to stand in the middle of the room and has everyone put their hands on my shoulders. People call out qualities that they respect in me and my leadership. I am rooted to the spot and feel my self expand. The pain of the realisation has bonded us more closely and installed me more deeply in my leadership role. Natural order is honoured. Continue reading

A beautiful moment in time

I sit here my body shaking lightly, blurry eyed with tears that seem to contain both gratitude and sadness, both release and emergence, both pain and promise. The last week or so I have been feeling depressed, in the dark, not quite knowing what was happening but trusting that something was working its way through. Various events in my private and professional life showed up to reinforce the experience – thanks life!

We (Center for Human Emergence Netherlands Alignment Circle) just completed what should have been our holacratic operational call this morning. Of the nine souls in roles who should have showed up five cancelled last minute, one couldn’t get into the call, one had a poor connection and we decided to cancel it. I was left online with Leidje Witte, our Salons Co-ordinator. Just after we decided to end it, Lisette Schuitemaker, our Organisational Spaceholder, managed to get into the call. I ended up taking the opportunity of having these two wonderful women with me to unload my heart and tell them what I had been experiencing the last week. As I let it go, an insight began to emerge between us.

Leidje wanted to ask me about the salon coming Monday (16 April). I had forgotten about the theme, which was traumas and constellations (Hellinger-style), and had also forgotten that we would be marking the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands’ (CHE NL) seventh anniversary (formally on April 20). The very fact that it was our birthday had slipped to the back of my awareness in the depths of the last week. As all of this came back into my awareness, my whole body, heart and soul started to resonate. Funny how life organised our planned operational call to end up this way…

As the founder of the CHE NL, I have of course a certain energetic relationship to the system. In past transitions, I have also experienced the organisational transition in my own body. Now I realise that it is happening again. We and I are approaching our seventh birthday. Our physical body has completely renewed every cell after each seven years. The seven represents renewal as we enter the octave of the eighth that completes and heals the previous seven notes of existence to bring them into alignment and lay the foundations for the next step. So here we are.

No wonder that my experience this past week has been one of letting go of things that no longer fit with my vision of the next phase of my work, combined with energising glimpses of what it would be like for me to fully embody that work. Last Saturday, working with Dylan Newcomb, my new identity emerged: I am a writer, speaker and consultant who supports life-affirming leaders to understand and work with the energetic dimension of reality. Now I am being invited and challenged to fully step into that. Letting go, letting come, and the space in between – silly how one forgets that you actually have to go through it yourself… As I tweeted over Easter: you have to die to be re-born…  The universe tweeting to itself…

The CHE NL is also growing into a new purpose (what we are jointly becoming): “a sacred partnership in evolution”. Exactly how that shapes up is what we are currently leaning into and playing with. At the same time, we are solidifying our expertise from the past seven years into clear products and services that can act as stepping stones for others to find their way, through CHE Synnervate.

I now feel relaxed, a little tired and deeply grateful. My system feels calm. I guess it is happy to have been seen for what it is. I am very curious about what will happen at our salon on Monday, when we constellate what the CHE NL has to release from the last seven years to be able to move freely forward into the next phase. I guess there will be implications in that for me too…That’s the work.

Watch this space.

The Pain and the Promise – Recording and Transcript of Presentation

I am currently writing a new book called The Pain and the Promise.

Here is a recording of a recent presentation with questions and reflection that I gave for the Integral Leadership Collaborative, a great initiative with a vast array of Integrally informed folks (see http://www.integralleadershipcollaborative.com). It lays out the essence of where I am at now and what the book will be about. It is 2 hrs in total. My core presentation goes for c 35 mins from c 10 mins in. The questions and discussion also proved very rich.

Listen to The Pain and the Promise audio

Download The Pain and the Promise transcript