We are beginning to hear 2020 referred to as “The Great Pause.” I recognize that the pause is not a net positive in all sorts of ways and for many. Yet, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that with an enforced pause, caused by an invisible virus, we were shaken awake (again) — painfully, scarily, and shamefully — to the realities of systemic racism in America, the brutality and unboundaried-ness of policing, and the false promise of freedom and equality. Awareness is a funny business. Awareness requires space and time. It demands willingness. It also calls for effort and practice — beginning with ourselves so we can extend it out into the places we participate.
Would we have been able to see, feel, and think about — with an alternate lens — the events of the last several weeks with the same amount of depth and concern had it not been for the open space and time provided by the pandemic’s disruption to our norm of “busy-ness?” What can we take from that question and learn from the experience as a way of operating, working, leading, and living? How are we blinded or apathetic to truths when we’re on the gerbil wheel of “regular” life? How is it that we deny them because the effort is too great? How might we keep our eyes and hearts open as a matter of practice to serve people, teams, and our organizations in the day-to-day?
How do we proceed forward with learning to quiet the noise and lift our heads up, open our eyes so we can hear and see from a different level of awareness more consistently?
And from there, what do we choose to say and do in response? 2020 is here to teach us. What parts of our individual, shared, and organizational identities need to go — and can we see and step into the opportunity of growing new identities? Shedding can be frightening. Less density… More purity of spirit…More lightness of being… Shedding is freeing.
Awareness requires space and time. It demands willingness. And, it calls for effort and practice.
Let’s dominate the lessons by living squarely in the questions. Resist the rush to solve and any mistaken belief that questions as tender, deep, and meaningful as the ones we are facing can be solved easily or quickly — through any single lens or maxim. They are deserving of far more interrogation, conversation, and patience.
And within the disciplines of pause, resisting answering, and sitting uncomfortably in the questions, we may make some progress in our evolution as individuals and groups — in relationship to ourselves and to one another.
Here is a longer article I wrote in 2016 about Emptying that speaks to this moment in similar ways. I hope you enjoy it.
Kathryn is a Leader Advisor, Organization Design Consultant, and Systems Coach. She strategizes with organizations large and small to build capacity in designing organizations of the future, evolutionary leadership, prosperous teams, and coherent systems.