conscious business

The Midweek Rambler, Think Differently

Valuing life differently

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Sarah and I have been looking at the growth of the business together, acknowledging where we’ve come from and seeing what will support the next stage of development. When Sarah asked me, as her co-founder what success looks like, I replied: “People would see that there’s a different way of valuing life.

The words touched my heart. They felt alive with a feeling of our purpose, and in tune with the inner journey I’ve undertaken personally as we’ve looked at our contribution, impact and the theme of value itself. Quite an inner workout, as I’ll share further on!

Our body of work is based on the principle of serving life. We consciously pay attention to all aspects of human wholeness and wellbeing, in order to create the healthy conditions and foundations required for sustainability, equitable wealth-creation and creative innovation. Many of the skills of awareness and capacities that we help to develop in Generative leaders are not traditionally valued in organisational life, or they are only now being considered as integral to doing business.

We challenge norms by sharing a blueprint for wholeness and balance. We include such leadership capacities as nurture, holding loving space, radical inclusion, deep pauses, attuning to natural cycles and working with invisible patterns. These abilities have a more traditional place in psychological and spiritual work. But operating without them has led to organisational cultures of imbalance and harm, and to an absence of gentleness, which blocks our full expression, intelligence and creativity.

There is huge value in re-including the richness of the inner life of the individual and organisation. That is, working with the power of images and symbol, as well as patterns of intricate beauty that are ordinarily invisible – i.e. the hidden dynamics of behaviour and impacts from past events affecting what’s happening now. We can be guided not by a mind-led perception of reality, but by the innate intelligence of the person or system with their own DNA, which encodes and reveals their particular uniqueness and purpose.

In our work, we seek to engage with and unite traditional opposites – like the material and the spiritual, the outer and the inner, the being and the doing. Rather than letting them be the usual sources of conflict, we see what each has to bring to the table. By allowing elements their integrity and their difference, they can become highly creative pairings within a healthy psyche and a conscious culture.  

Returning to the inner workout that I mentioned earlier… I can trace the origins of this commitment to a different way of valuing life to childhood. Like so many people, I experienced moments of exclusion due to my gender, and for having been born into a minority religion, a non-Christian. Through comments and behaviours, I saw and felt where I was and wasn’t fully valued in a given context. I learnt how the world was set up structurally to serve particular forms of privilege and rights. Part of me acquiesced, as she bought into the dominant values, trying her best to please, pacify, flatter or out-perform others according to their rules. A different part of me rebelled and broke lots of cultural and societal rules. If I’m honest, that part stayed angry and defiant in a self-justifying way and by drawing energy from being ‘against’ the system.

The internal confrontation between inherited values and my own inner compass first surfaced in a meaningful way and as a choice, whilst I was working at Microsoft. I knew that I was following a path based on expectations and conditioning, in a role that didn’t ignite my passion, in a company whose culture & values at that time didn’t allow me to thrive. So I left the relative security of an employed role and symbolically I stepped off the career path too. In many ways, I left in anger, negatively judging the culture of Microsoft with a big ‘No!’ to get myself out. It took much more learning, life trials and growth to discover a big ‘Yes!’ and the quiet courage to set about creating something different.

 What struck me in the answer to Sarah’s question today was the element of time. How the transformation of values takes place over a much deeper, longer span of time than we often account for. 

Leaving Microsoft, I may have taken an external step in resonance with my truth, but internally I hadn’t let go. At an egoic level, I remained bonded to society’s view of success and money. Despite doing fulfilling creative consciousness work and declining another high-earning marketing role, I still berated myself for being hopelessly naïve and idealistic. And sometimes I felt clever for not falling into the ‘wealth trap’! That is, without realising that I was still unconsciously biased and rejecting a thing, rather than creating from a peaceful place in harmony with my heart’s values.

So here we are, 20 years later. I’m looking again at my own inner attitudes to wealth and value. It’s happening now because Sarah and I are seeking investment and external support to grow the business. In order to support that outer growth, I’m catching up to where Sarah is and busily engaged in my own internal house-keeping! Clearing out old cupboards that contain unresolved value conflicts and out-of-date values that no longer serve. 

Just as we help others to connect to a sense of their own innate value as an intrinsic feeling of worth in their being, I’m doing it too. In order to create the inclusive, equitable future based on the values blueprint we’ve discovered can serve life, I deeply acknowledge that I have more work to do within myself. It is proving to be very helpful to see the internal values shift that has taken place in the last two decades, and also to know there’s more road ahead still to travel.

Think Differently

Pivoting our reality

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I find myself, like so many others, challenged by the apparent scale of the task to help transform business practice and bring a healthy, caring and inclusive value system into being. My mind takes up the task of course. It calculates probabilities and strategies, seeks evidence for its arguments, begins to form imagined alliances, and then sometimes it can’t see enough and it grinds to a halt… and stares up at the implacable mountain face of ‘BUSINESS’ as it is, governed by rationales of self-interest, endless growth and profit at any cost. I know this place. I also know that change doesn’t happen by knowledge and by will alone.

In fact, if I am approaching change from a place of personal will, I know that I am still part of the problem. I’ve become identified with a role (again) as hero, or rescuer, or fixer. Naturally, the role helps me to feel useful and valuable, and it helps keep creeping doubt at bay. After all, it’s not easy or comfortable to feel powerless and admit the limits of my individual knowledge, or the true degree of my mind and heart’s conditioning.

Yet the recognition of my limits can, and does, act as a wake up. It acts as a doorway, from unknowing to fuller awareness. So I stop, take a breath, gather myself and reconnect to the sources of life and our deeper creativity.  I remember to pivot right there in that moment. Not as a one-time action, but as a choice made over and over again. My task is to keep pivoting and practice moving out of ‘conditioned me’ into an expanded ‘connected me’ who is able to use all the intelligences and tools of consciousness.

I pivot as soon as I recognise that I’m operating in far too limited an awareness. (It’s beautiful hubris to think I have the ‘right answer’ but it’s simply not the truth). When I let go of an opinion, a desired outcome, or a belief, then I’m open again to the largest field of potential and I’m receptive to new possibilities, as yet uncreated.

Pivoting the self is an immediate, here-and-now practice. It allows me to return to states of generative flow and to stop struggling, willing or forcing things. Growth is not a driven act of will, or a destination. It’s a continual movement back and forth across a dynamic threshold, as we learn to inhabit new dimensions of reality and increase our capacity to move between the concrete everyday and the boundless.

I practice pivoting by challenging everything that blocks the full creative potential of every moment and by allowing blindspots and beliefs to be illuminated. In this way, there are countless small shifts of awareness that re-pattern my inner and outer perception. Like stepping-stones, each one creates and expands potential, leading to a more unified and coherent reality.

Some discoveries are ground shaking in nature, and they collapse large pieces of my self-image (normally unconscious). Together, all of these shifts in perception and understanding, large and small, create a deeper pivot in identity. Inner transformation leads to outer change. Our world is reshaped as we turn insights into reality through choices and embodied actions.

Knowing through direct experience that I live in an interconnected universe that is endlessly intelligent makes all the difference. I don’t have to operate in a narrow band of conditioned awareness. I can actively and consciously participate, helping to surface hidden and unexpected data. Helping to shape life by generating solutions that are based on this understanding. I am, and you are deeply a part of this evolutionary movement and our conscious agency is a purposeful gift.

I don’t need to challenge the current paradigm of business and leadership. It has already revealed its own limits. There is no mountain face to tackle, because business leadership and culture is pivoting too, and ultimately we all stand on the same ground.

There is nothing here to force or to will. I’m not limited to the lenses of personal reality. Instead, there is the joy and blessing of being here at this threshold moment in human history – with a vibrant values framework for intentional and conscious positive impact, and lived experience offered in service of others choosing to pivot too.

Take Part

Next OpenDialogue – 28 Nov

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For the next OpenDialogue, we find ourself confronting the nature of reality and our ability to act and shape it. Moving beyond an old definition of separate subjective and objective realms, we touch the ‘intersubjective’ dimension of reality. This place of collective experience is where we build stories and make shared meaning. It’s where we may engage with and influence the unfoldment of evolutionary changes happening in ourselves and in work. Perhaps we’ll touch on some live themes in client work – Shifts in Perception, Different Ways of Knowing, Self-Authorisation and Restoring Trust amongst others – as we shed light on the central question for the dialogue…

If Reality is a construct, what can I trust?

Please join us in a generative conversation on this theme on Wednesday 28 November, 12pm-1pm (GMT). Register interest and we’ll send the video call link.

About OpenDialogues  In moving towards more conscious ways of working, we enter a meaningful and mysterious realm of exploration. We’re confronted with life-changing ideas about our intelligent universe – as redefined by scientific developments – and also about our place as human beings with a specific evolutionary purpose. In this series of lunchtime video calls, we are going to go into the heart of some key questions about human potential and our role in facing the tumultuous changes and evolutionary challenges posed in business and society.