Art of learning from the emerging future

We live in a moment of profound possibility and disruption today. Where old paradigm can die and new can emerge. Shifting our consciousness from ego-system to eco-system awareness could be a fundamental shift and inevitable.

What we experience today is three pressing divides: ecological divide by unprecedented environmental destruction, social divide by extreme level of unfairness, polarities and fragmentation in society and spiritual divide by increasing level of burn-out and depression, losing our self to our higher future potentials.

All disruptive challenges require us to go further. They require us to slow down, stop and sense the bigger driving forces of change, let go of the past and let come the future that wants to emerge. No surprise that we are currently forced to slow down and stop.

When it comes to change, we overrate what is visible and underrate all the stuff that is invisible to the eye. The main and ultimate blind spot leadership fail to recognize is the inner place - the source – from which they operate, when they act, communicate, perceive and think. They can see what they do (results). They can see how they do it (process). But they usually are not aware of the who: the inner place from which they operate, because they are way too busy with the former ones.

Bill O’Brien, the long-time CEO of Hanover Insurance said: “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” – It is like the deep and fundamental relation between the artist and her art.

What inner place are you as a leader and change maker actually operating from? For example: What quality of listening, what quality of attention, you bring to a situation—and how does that quality change the course of action moment to moment?

There are three instruments of Inner Knowing to sharpen your inner condition:

  • Opening of the mind is the capacity to suspend old habits of judgement – to see with fresh eyes using curiosity
  • Opening of the heart is the capacity to empathise and to look at a situation through the eyes of somebody else using compassion
  • Opening of the will is the capacity to let go of the old and let come the new using courage

Leaders need to stop downloading old patterns from the past and shift their attention to the inner place from which they operate by activating a deeper level of knowing through three-step process:

1) Observe, observe, observe: connect to the places of most potential.

It can be achieved by for example intentional silence, or mindfulness, they allow you to let go of the noise and everything that is not essential, and to connect with the purpose and intention that you want to be in service of.

Or introducing specific observation practice into your daily routine. For example: end each day with four or so minutes of observation, as if you are looking at yourself from outside. Pay attention to how you interacted with others and what other people wanted you to do. Do this nonjudgmentally. Just observe.

2) Retreat and reflect: allow the inner knowing to emerge. Here it is important to create time and space, and journal your thoughts and experience. Focus on what you saw and felt. Dorie Clark mentioned before that you need to slow down, and create some distance in order to be able to devise the best strategy.

3) Prototype: act from what emerges in the now. A prototype is not a plan. It is something you do that generates feedback. A prototype is also not a pilot. A pilot has to be a success; by contrast, a prototype may fail. A prototype focuses on maximizing learning.

Today we are forced to slow down or stop. Now the silver lining here (since every cloud has a silver lining) is that no matter how painful it is, this is the very place (slowed down and stopped) where we can activate all our resources and senses to learn from the emerging future.

How could you use this time to connect more to your inner place or source where you operate from before making fundamental shifts in your organisation?

How could you approach this current situation with more curiosity, compassion and courage?

What new can emerge from this state of being?


Source: The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applications by C. Otto Scharmer

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