This article was originally published on LinkedIn, on June 9th 2015
My first post here on LinkedIn. Business as usual? Nah! Let’s get straight to the point.
I’d like your feedback on something I really care about.
There’s a perspective on my work I had not noticed yet. In the last few months I’ve begun to observe that at the end of the day my work is mostly about delivering a stream of “don’t be afraid” adjustments. In fact, it turns out that what I help understanding, accepting and implementing within each organisation is basically a reframing of fear.
Don’t be afraid of engaging your people.
Don’t be afraid of sharing your information.
Don’t be afraid of sharing your ignorance.
Don’t be afraid of trying.
Don’t be afraid of failing.
Don’t be afraid of responsibility.
Don’t be afraid of accountability.
Don’t be afraid of success.
Don’t be afraid of making things happen.
Don’t be afraid of letting things happen.
The list could run for long.
I deal with health and performance of organisations, with improvement in the way people collaborate, converse and cocreate. I’m not a therapist. And still this is what I actually help people improve in their day-by-day work life. Both for top managers (or even business owners) and operational teams. No difference here.
Stuck in fear means stuck in the status-quo, even the worst one. And not even able to make the most of it. Let alone evolve. Being afraid of change is deadly close to being afraid of life itself.
I’m not going to lecture anybody on fear. It’s crystal clear to all of us how it permeates our emotional life, spreading across what we are all the way from our amygdala to our social self-awareness. It is not a bad thing per-se (in fact, the opposite). And yet its degeneration is the main topic of today’s era of Transition.
What’s wrong with us? Time to leave fear behind. Definitely. But how?
Fast backward. Western society in the last centuries has taken quite a few missteps that are now leaving us so deeply permeated with fear. Let’s just name a few. We’ve slipped into a religious ethos more based on the fear for sin and for the related punishment than on the unconditional love and brotherhood that were originally “hardwired” in any major religion. We’ve put capital in the very centre of our society, rooting any social dynamic in the ownership of more money and distorting core concepts such as success or support. We’ve chosen a command-and-control attitude to organisation and performance, borrowing the way we manage business from how we used to make war and putting people and relationships way below plans and processes.
Each of these choices has tricked our faith and focus more and more into scarce factors that lessen each time they are shared. Share control, and you lose some. Share wealth, and you lose some. Share power, and you lose some. Share any positional privilege, and you lose it. And by nature we’re afraid of losing what we have come to believe being important. It’s our survival instinct.
It is so obvious to anybody that complexity can’t be controlled, and that we do not even know up-front which small “boundary” factors will make huge differences in propagation. Yet, we stick to gantt-planning and budgeting, and then command our people to do whatever it takes to achieve what we’ve planned, to do their best to have reality follow our plan. And we even judge them for how well they manage to achieve this. We keep using the wrong tools in the wrong way, because we’re afraid of losing control, power, money, privilege.
In a word, agreeing with so many thinkers ranging from Peter Drucker to Thich Nhat Hanh or David Bohm, I believe that our core problem goes under the name of egotism. The illusion that we exist in separate individual parts as the foundation for our whole culture, is the deep origin for all of our fears, both on the existential and on the social side. Ego and fear are two faces of the same illusion.
If there’s one thing I believe I’ve learnt so far, it’s that love is the substance through which we perceive interbeing and wholeness. And its opposite is not hatred. It is separation. It is fear.
So back to my work, in the little range of my influence this is what I deal with every day. Actually it is also the main reason why I’m fond of my job. When we bring our customers new tools for learning how to better collaborate, converse and cocreate, the important part of it is just the “co”. All the rest simply follows.
This is an exciting time for all of us, indeed.
We might end-up with mankind extinction. Yep.
But for the first time in recorded history we also have the chance of deeply understanding and implementing interbeing. Science, religion, technology, sociology, management, are all coming together into the chance of truly moving from ego-systems to eco-systems. Of focusing less on ourselves and more on the broad ensemble we inhabit and are part of along our paths. Of understanding how little anything matters if it doesn’t multiply when shared.
Rethinking our world according to this perspective is a new step we’re almost ready to take together.
So rock’n roll. Let’s make it happen!
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Stelio is a curious and active contributor to the global community evolving the concept and practice of work in this decade. If you’d like to know more about him, start here.