Making Time for Understanding…
I was chatting with a friend this week, the former co-lead with me of the Impact Circle we ran together for many years. We were reflecting on one of the final sessions we led for the group, some content I’m considering rolling out on a wider basis, and I wanted to get her feedback on what had stayed with her and what she might change, looking back.
She was telling me how she’d loved that we’d looked in a different direction to some of the incredible presentations that we’d facilitated over the years,
It’s very cool when we bring people in to talk about what they’re doing, but nothing changes inside us unless we understand why and how.
I know this, of course, which is why most of my work is focused on deepening understanding rather than sharing knowledge.
Even so, it’s so easy to be seduced by cool solutions; passionate people doing interesting things — who doesn’t love that?! And to want to emulate what they do, especially in times like these when we reach for experts to tell us the best things to do, and not do.
Those shiny projects are captivating, exciting, I know that; but fashions are fickle, though, and suddenly what we were doing for a good reason has become a tired habit that no longer serves us.
What if we looked instead to understanding? Not the kind of understanding driven by information, but understanding that comes from deep inside ourselves; from a way of thinking, and holding lightly, rather than attaching too quickly to the ‘right’ solution.
That’s the leadership challenge that’s on offer right now.
The less tightly we hold to what we do — whether a product, a model, or a method — the easier it is to refresh and regroup; to think for ourselves and to listen to our own wisdom. It’s a way of looking at things that brings us closer to understanding why change happens, and not simply taking someone else’s solution because it looks cool and it seemed to work for them.
Ability to Pivot…
This is so obvious right now as I see some businesses pivoting in what looks like a millisecond — the local craft beer shop that is running online tasting with their ‘ciderologist’ (who knew that was a thing?), and the lovely neighbourhood deli that has switched to box-meals and wickedly gorgeous sourdough bread. My cheap and cheerful gym, instantly putting membership on hold and holding daily classes on Instagram. They weren’t prepared for this, no-one was, but, in another way, they were perfectly prepared.
Create Understanding, not Attachment…
The older I get the more curious I get about understanding, and the less I feel attached to any one ‘thing’ or way of doing something. It’s all made-up at the end of the day isn’t it? (well mostly ;-)).
When it doesn’t look as if there’s a ‘right’ way to get somewhere, or even no right place to get to, then we can never be wrong, and we can always take a side-step or a change of direction.
It’s easy to miss that we’re often attached to a solution for some reason other than what its function. We seek knowledge rather than understanding, we value expertise rather than wisdom, we like the flavour of something, rather than being able to question whether it’s fit for purpose.
Not a problem of course, unless our expectation is of a destination rather than an experience of enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with admiring my neighbour’s car because I like the colour but if I neglect to take the key when I borrow it to go to town, I won’t get very far.
Mostly, this is fine, life goes on. A few bumps here and there don’t matter at all because there is nowhere to get to, no destination on this journey of life.
But sometimes, in a crisis, a time of uncertainty, when we want to adapt rather than dig in, it helps to reflect, to go deeper, to ask good questions, use why and how, rather than what, to question the mechanisms of change, rather than sticking to our models or theories.
A different perspective will take us further — or at least becomes foundational to getting us to adapt and evolve, rather than simply admiring the beautiful paint-job on the vehicle of life.
Originally published at https://cathypresland.com on April 28, 2020.