Of late I’ve noticed that my perspective about working with individuals, groups and organizations has shifted. I think in large part it’s because our lives have become so complex that I’ve come to realize that there is no one way, no right way to help others reach their goals or make the changes they want to in their lives. I don’t think I can guarantee anyone what the actual outcome of their work will be. Why? Because there are so many intervening events that can’t be predicted each of which can change how they or I experience or make sense of a situation. There are new thoughts, conversations and unexpected events that will change how they and I might perceive the situation or what an outcome might look like. This is not a bad thing, and this is what our lives have become.
I’m constantly trying to predict the future so that I can feel that I have some control over my life but when I do and when things don’t turn out the way I imagined I can get frustrated. But I have to remind myself to step back and let go of my need for control and just be present to what arises when I put my intentions out into the universe. There’s actually a lot of magic that can happen when we I let go of my expectations.
There’s one leader that I work with that constantly amazes me. We’ve worked together for some time. He leads a very complex organization that’s always full of surprises. Heck, he’s always full of surprises. We’ve had so many conversations over time and sometimes I wonder why I don’t see what we’ve talked about being put into practice. I’m often tempted to nudge or direct him when he’s in the middle of a situation. After all, why can’t he see what I’m seeing? Well, he’s not seeing things like I do and he’s making sense of our conversations through his own lenses. What often happens and surprises me is that when he’s in the middle of a challenging situation he’ll talk about a conversation about we had a year ago or more and say hey, I get it now! He gets it because it made sense to him in this context at this time in his growth. If I had tried to direct him that learning moment may never have occurred.
My personal work in this context is to remember that I don’t control the universe, nor can I predict when something will click for someone else. I have to remind myself to stay out of the way of the way! The way being how things will emerge at just the right moment when they make the most sense. My job is to join them in making sense of their own experience and to partner with them in watching as new experiences and new perspectives unfold. This is exciting work. Being able to watch someone grow and develop their own vision and understanding of their work and their lives is very cool! This is creativity at its best.