The normalizing of my work away from moments of awakening as the root of success has meant that I have had to change my relationship to my work, I have had to change myself. This was really obvious to me recently when I ran a two day training for a long standing client.
About eight years ago this client had said to me “does it always have to be this emotional?”. It stuck with me. Seven years on I got to work with their core team again. It was fascinating. The almost evangelical way I had brought the work at the outset had meant that people had begun to build a dogma of right and wrong about how to do it. Change leadership, a practice that is built around adaptability to a constantly changing reality had become rigid and inflexible! It was quite simply, too sacred, too precious.
I thought back then participation was the answer. If only everybody did Art of Hosting all the time the worlds problems would be sorted! I also thought that if we got all the exciting cool people together we would launch an unstoppable avalanche of awesomeness that would overtake the dominant systems that I felt had so oppressed me growing up.
I no longer believe either of these things. My craft has been honed, nuanced and made more sophisticated at the rock face of getting change done. I never imagined my work would be with the very people and institutions I had intermittently tried to ignore, sought to bring down or just plain yelled at allot, as a young man. But this is where my hunger for learning and peace inside have lead me.
I learn the most in the most difficult places. The places where I have held the most judgememt, where the range of opinions and experiences makes it feel impossible to move, where the pace and scale of change feel outrageously beyond our control. That is what I love.
I find the more that learning just becomes normal, the more learning I am able to do. It is less stressful. I am able to work on multiple complex projects at once, moving between them and finding the threads that connect them. The less a big epiphany this work is, the more of it I am able to do without getting stressed out and burned out.
Learning is happening all the time along the way - there is no big moment - just an ongoing practice of adapting and re-inventing. When I lived in Japan people were happier when there were lots of little earthquakes going on - a long silence meant that a big one was on its way and that could have disastrous results. I feel like that about my learning in this work.
Awakening is normal. Every moment. Which makes me happier, faster to respond and more effective in my actions. From a poem I wrote more recently:
“Life is happening
Why question it
When I could rest in it
Why question it
When I could rest.”
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