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Remembering from where to Lead…

April 19, 2018


This guest blog from Paul Pivcevic has emerged from an on-going inquiry between Giles Hutchins and the leadership and organisational specialist Paul Pivcevic at Still Moving. Here Paul explores how the insights from consciousness, wellbeing and adult developmental theory might be grounded in our practice as leaders of change.


If you’re battling to make sense of your sustainability strategy; if your team is pulling in a more radical direction than the business will take; if you’re simply overwhelmed with competing demands to be both radical and make a watertight business case with KPI’s; if you notice the seduction of new thinking, a new model that contains a new kernel of truth but also creates a new mountain to climb, and in all this activity you are yearning for meaning, to reconnect with why you’ve chosen this path….


We know that all models and frameworks are abstractions of something important, even vital. Yet somehow we may have found ourselves serving the model, losing touch with our core intention. How have we ended up doing that –all the time knowing that each answer is provisional, contingent, that meaning is continually emerging and deepening and that we need to make it together…In fact that the very process of making it together makes it meaningful. If we could only stay suspended in that space longer, how much more purposeful might be our choices. How much more meaning we could make for our customers, our suppliers…


But how does this fit with delivering functional responsibilities, pushing colleagues for the data I need to complete a presentation to the Board, and meeting the targets set a year ago in a different ‘time’, a different context?


What if I could allow myself space to reconnect once more to what I know in some way to be true: the wisdom – as we know was and is held by indigenous cultures – that mind and body and nature are fatefully interwoven and always on the move in their relationship with each other, that our efforts to impose a purely cognitive frame on the world has led to many wrong turnings? That inherently even as we journey and explore, we do not know.


Even though the pressure is exactly for the reverse. But in staying with ‘not-knowing’ at the edge of all the wisdom, all the thinking, the theories, the insights, that’s where something else lies. Something I’m reaching for. Like an estuary, a thriving liminal place or what permaculture also calls ‘edges’, the interface between ecosystems like between forest and grassland, often the most diverse and thriving places in a system.


Can I take a little time – perhaps outside – to allow myself to stay in wonder at the not-knowing, to see out of the not-knowing what might emerge? To awaken the parasympathetic nervous system with its wondrous capacity to support us to connect to ourselves and to each other, to open us to compassion…even love?


Could we perhaps start with compassion for ourselves? To accept my experience of myself and my life, my working context as inherently contradictory and paradoxical, dynamic and emerging? To sit with judgement, including self-judgement, with the thoughts that expand me, those that reduce me, with the pressure to ‘know’, and to notice the moment-by-moment shifts in the nature and quality of my experience. Indeed to reach towards very awareness itself, that vast and spacious allowing and accepting mirror, as I allow my life’s unfolding to be just….’this’


And as I embrace this whole as I look around me I see any ‘differences’ in you simply as a reflection of something also in me, just ‘being’ with you in this unfolding moment without clinging to any expectation of what it should or shouldn’t be, or where it should be going…


In this slightly different state of mind, could we open up space for us together to re-frame questions we hold about ourselves, about our work, and about the world we are together in this moment co-creating with the very nature of how we are. What is the next level of meaning that may reveal itself as we gently unfold the crumples, abrasions and tensions of our inner worlds to each other? What insights or epiphanies may gently wash into awareness or come bursting to the surface? And as we process this, what can I mindfully and sensitively take back to offer to my colleagues?

And if our vision is somehow to create the conditions for change, to help awaken the system to its own capacity for change, it’s worth saying something also about leadership. What are the helpful insights around which we can build a practice? What is useful research we can lean into to support us along the path, and deepen our inquiry?


Research across the world and across a large range of organisations led by Deborah Rowland at Still Moving published a year ago, demonstrates that successful change does indeed need leadership that is aware, conscious, and present. Being does come before doing.


In fact fundamental, transforming change can only start in new ways of being. Leaders need to think in ‘wholes’. And that’s wholes at the level of me, myself (connecting mind, heart and body, bringing my rational and intuitive capacities together, my past together with how it manifests in my present); at the level of the organisation (acknowledging the difficulties, past and present and also coming down the line, and holding them up to scrutiny) and at the level of the whole ‘system’ too.

Which might include continuing the inquiry into the system conditions that support our societies and our planet to self regulate and flourish together.


From this place of wholeness we know there is no separation between our being and the value our organisations create in the world, no separation between what we observe and what we are, in fact no separation at all. For our inner spiritual warrior it’s the fiercest path, and the most wondrous of all surrenderings.


Paul Pivcevic, Still Moving

Paul has joined many journeys of change over 18 years of consulting. He feels grateful to be able to serving the unfolding of our potential, challenged by the self-discipline this requires, and inspired by the reconnections and joy the work can bring.

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