Voice and vulnerability

"When meaningful change happens, it doesn’t mean a change in position but a change in how we live together and how we treat each other." (James Shaheen)

Violence, needs unmet, ultimate acts of cynicism. Sri Lanka on an Easter Sunday. The chasms of our collective hurt. The tears of each child, parent, person. These wounds we harbor in the closed, isolated, lonely heart... They. Us. Me. No separation. 

How do we respond, we who want to value ethical business, a better world, fairness and justice? For me, I can't join the cynics, by turning away, the bitterness of justifying myself (again) in business as usual: I don't think it works that way. 

Perhaps we can up the game. Assert our voices for love. Take risks in seeing each other, the heart at peace, yet fierce and deeply perceptive. Know some will criticize our position. Do it anyway. The vulnerable conversation. Listening just a bit longer. The loner employee, the quiet CFO. My client trying so hard. 

Who are we? What do you long for? What breaks your heart? Putting my money behind this deep calm of candid care. We are not the wound. We can be the knowing of the wound, love anyways. Whole. 

photo: kristina-tripkovic | unsplash

photo: kristina-tripkovic | unsplash


Finding kindred spirits.

"Beyond your performance, who are you? Maybe you can find a tender, vulnerable, good-hearted person—also boundless and vast—who is ready to see and be seen, someone who is ready to smile." -Edward Brown

We can't do our wild-heart work alone. We need kindred spirits, kindness, friendship. Thing is, we need to be friends with ourselves. First. Once we love our own perfect imperfection magic happens. Our own selfworth is no longer at stake. Kindred spirits everywhere. The colleague you have felt rebellious against? (Yes, that one.) Behind their performance as well you may accidentally find a tenderness, a good heart, someone ready to see and be seen.

We ask, how to change our culture? Right here. Seeing. Being seen. Kindred, kindness: The words are related. Folks get it. At least the ones for you, your team. We are infused with the same longings. We all carry a secret, us high performers seeking impact. Driven to find something. But we cannot ever find enough of what we don't really need. Because we need recognition, respect, the heart's safety first. Scary soft stuff for hard-core business. I know. But in the long run? Magic happens when we show up, boundless, vast, and finally...fearless. Nothing at stake. Sparkle eventually ignites.

credit: linda xu | unsplash

credit: linda xu | unsplash

Fierce love

We get angry at times. Okay, for me, that would be an understatement. Trigger me on some things that are happening in this world and I seethe. Righteous anger. Confused anger. The anger of feeling powerless. Mostly, I become confused about the pain in my heart.

Thing is, pain happens to all hearts. It's natural. But we aren't powerless. Not at all. Hearts break. But hearts can break open. Wide open to love. It's beautiful.

Here is part of a poem by May Sarton (1912-1995):

"Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak for love."

Later she shifts the words. She ends her last line, "...act for love." Can I channel the energy of my anger into fierce and transformative love? Shall we train for this choice? 

photo credit: simson petrol | unsplash

photo credit: simson petrol | unsplash

Enough

When we measure success by what we don't really need, we will not ever feel successful. Basecamp's Jason Fried does "enough" instead. No long hours at work, big goals. A focus on six-week projects, enough to get anything substantial done. No big roadmap. "Goals and metrics are made up targets," he says in an interview with Shane Parrish. "If you don’t hit them, you’re bound to be disappointed. And then when you hit a goal, the excitement only lasts for a day, and then you move on to setting another one. It just results in a perpetual state of stress. How about not setting goals at all and just trying to do the best you can?”

The tiny heart of a hummingbird can reach up to 1,260 beats per minute. Just to keep its heart going, the hummingbird requires an enormous amount of calories. Its metabolism cannot keep up. The creature is in a near continuous state of starvation, on the brink of exhaustion, and never far removed from death. I was once at a retreat center in the New Mexico mountains. Its porch featured a feeding station for the area's hummingbirds. Well-intended. But the food consisted of concentrated sugar water, easy and addictive calories. The birds seemed perpetually frenzied, stressed, aggressive. They had no use for sugar water, yet craved it. Never enough.

The heart of a human being averages 60 to 100 heart beats per minute. We have the ability to slow it down (Especially during New Mexico retreats.). There is nothing more precious than knowing the truth of the beating heart, its dreams, its wisdom, its self-regulating powers. But one day, our heart will stop beating. We do not know when the last beat will occur. Death is certain. Was life enough or not enough?

Here is the thing: Collectively, we experience an exhaustion that is not so different from the starving hummingbird's. We are overwhelmed by our daily effort to measure and keep up. We feel a step behind the second we check our smartphones in the mornings. You feel the fear of missing out (FOMA) the minute you scan the papers or chat with friends. New gadgets, shoes, the hippest foods and destinations, the best parties. Starved, we keep on hunting for more and better, forgetting that our hearts beat to their own rhythms. Until hearts stop. 

credit: muhammadtaha-ibrahim | unsplash

credit: muhammadtaha-ibrahim | unsplash

Obscured in its clarity by our brain's default mode (which wants us to believe that we are still fighting for survival in some forlorn wilderness), our mind has us in a constant state of worry about deficiency. We live in fear of lack. From a toy gone missing when we were children to losing money in the stock exchange. From a school grade that is not an A to the terror of public speaking, we are afraid. It's never enough. Things can run out. Someone may steal. To compensate, we hoard and crave. We think that bigger profit, geekier apps, new love partners, new cars and re-envisioned futures will make us happy. They don't. Toto, we are not in the jungle anymore. We cannot ever get enough of that what we do not really need.

When we measure success by things we do not really need, we will not ever feel successful. The Basecamp approach is a rebel response. Sane. An invitation then: How about measuring success by curiosity, intentionality, a small committed step taken into the unknown, knowing you may fail, and knowing it was a creation for good? By evaluating and learning from that step, celebrating it (yes, laughter too!), and beginning again? How about measuring success by an inner sense of contentment? Alive, aware, enough. Connected.

The word 'enough' literally means "attained together," sufficient for the purpose. You can sense a containment andcontentment in this word. A wholeness. "Perhaps the most important sentence I've ever written is that one word 'Enough'," writes Palmer Parker, who has written ten books and hundreds of essays, "that word can safeguard the soul." To say 'enough,' is not risky. We won't starve. When we say enough, we can, in fact, be reckless with the heart. We'll have enough heartbeats, no regrets. That's abundance, perhaps.


Thank you as always for reading. Not subscribed? Just click the button below. And if you are a big Yes to exploring the abundance of enough - with relief and wildly beating heart - contact me for a deeper conversation. Thank you, Sophia.

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The weight of the world can crush us.

The weight of companies, us, you, me. Suffering. All that is wrong. Yet what is this weight but a laser pointing at our humanity? Author Michael Neill says, "When we stop seeing life as the thing that gets in the way of what we are up to and we start seeing it as the raw material of our creation, then it doesn't matter what happens next." Through this statement filters an unbearable lightness of being. Because what happens next can be terrible. But what if it is true? We can't undo life as it unfolds. We got to deal with it as is. Can we build on what is true and tender in us? What if we meet our humanity at level? Fearless love AND a fierce desire for transformation. That makes for powerful action. No weight. Just material. Lightness sparkles. The late Stephen Leacock defined humor as a sense within us that invites a kindly contemplation of the incongruities of life, paired to the expression of that sense through art. Life as art. This edgy paradox. No need to yield to the harsh weight of fixing all that is wrong. We have the response-ability in the moment to build on what is going right. Raw material. We'll continue to mess up. We'll love. Light filters in. This too.

credit 青 晨 |unsplash

credit 青 晨 |unsplash