Chris Corrigan has posted a very stimulating set of reflections on what causes democracy to emerge which seems to relate closely to themes that preoccupy me – authenticity and engagement. It’s an excellent piece; perhaps my favourite insight is this:
By living within the lie – that is, conforming to the system’s demands – Havel says, “individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.” A “line of conflict” is then drawn through each person who is invited in the countless decisions of daily life to choose between living in truth and living in the lie. Living in truth – directly doing in your immediate surroundings, what you think needs doing, saying what you think is true and needs saying , acting the way you think people should act – is a form of protest, Havel admits, against living in the lie, and so those who try to live in truth are indeed an opposition. But that is neither all they are or the main thing they are. Before living in truth is a protest, it is an affirmation.
— Schell, p.196
If that doesn’t blow your socks off, check your pulse.
Chris also refers to this paper on the theme of empowerment: (pdf) Free to do our work It’s a very evocative piece, one that touched me and connected to my passion for facilitative work, and my fascination with its potential and pitfalls. Here are a few of the bits that most engaged me, but I urge you to read the whole thing if you can find the time.
Living in truth is an everyday act. Accessible to anyone.
As you know, Open Space Technology works with passion bounded by responsibility. Passion is captured in the question “What do you really want to do?” and responsibility by “Why don’t you take care of it?” The law that animates all of this is the law of two feet, which states “if you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning or contributing, go somewhere where you can.”
When I see others I think need empowering, I have to first ask myself if
I know what I’m looking at. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s just me thinking that someone should be different.
Whatever the case, starting with awareness of my attachment to the situation is
profoundly important, because if I am not aware of where I stand, I run the danger of committing the most profoundly disempowering act I can think of: trying to empower someone else…. I think invitation is the key. Hard to know what exactly the details of your situation are, but for me, invitation is the gentlest and most profound way to bring someone into a mutual journey of exploring possibilities.
I’m really struck my Chris’s advocacy of the power of invitation, since first hearing it from him, I’ve noticed myself approach challenges more in that spirit, and I like how it works.
And I’m thinking, this may provide some insights to Tony Goodson’s question about how to change a company culture.