Change

We live with only the illusion of real connectedness. One of the painful paradoxes of our time, is that digitalisation has facilitated unprecedented global connectivity, yet most of the social ills we experience have their roots in feelings of disconnectedness. One telling study in the journal, Science, showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. So eat your greens and exercise, but don’t forget to connect!

The language we use in corporate life is often too impoverished for the purpose we expect it to fulfil. We cannot assume that technical language will engage, inspire and transform, yet I believe that too little consideration is given to more a ‘poetic’ lexicon that has more potential to reach into people’s hearts and minds. Yet ‘poetic’ language does not mean floweriness! I have been experimenting with film as a more ‘poetic’ transformational medium, and am convinced of its contribution to culture change, leadership development, and the enactment of strategy.

As her colleagues guarded turf in a complex discussion over resource allocation, the Chief Executive quietly left the stuffy room. Actually, ‘stuffy’ is an understatement – I was facilitating in a ‘greenhouse’ – a windowless, south-facing, glass-and-chrome building in which the air conditioning had failed on the hottest afternoon of the Summer. Patience was wearing thin and tempers were as high as the temperature. This meeting was pivotal – funding to secure the future of shared services in this region was being brokered between the CEOs of the different Public Sector agencies present.

I’ve increasingly been making films and using the process of film-making as an integral part of my coaching and OD practice. For those who are interested, one example of an early experiment is here… It’s been a fascinating development and contrary to my expectations, including a camera in a coaching conversation has brought an element of what is trendy to call ‘mindfulness’ to the conversation, for both myself and those clients who are up for it.

I have come to see that those moments that most challenge my sense of ‘self’ often hold the most potential for change and growth. Such moments take me out of my comfort zone, and so face me with a contradiction – of my excitement at discovering a new edge of my personal development and opening to vulnerable-making new experiences; alongside a countervailing impulse to protect my identity at all costs and retreat to familiar behaviours and patterns of engaging with the world…

I’d been jostled out of boarding the tube once that morning and I wasn’t going to let it happen again… so when the doors swung apart and the crush of morning bodies surged forwards for the second time, I elbowed my way impatiently in front of the dad with his small son and left them stranded on the platform, looking exasperated. My aggression dissipated into guilt.

I have begun work with some new clients and predictably, one of the first things they encounter on the journey of personal and leadership transformation is their Inner Critic. Learning how to transform our relationship with our Inner Critic is essential to the success of any of our personal development efforts.

Last week, in a quiet café, I witnessed two intelligent people shouting at each other over a latte. Neither seemed once to listen to the other, in their twenty-minute heated exchange. I speculated that if I had interrupted them and asked each what the other had just said, they would have been unable to say… I was reminded of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, when the bard cautions us not to let life become a tale ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.