Bootcamp is Over

Bootcamp is over. Those are the words that came to me last month when I was working  in Phoenix with people from the St. Luke’s Health Initiatives.  My trip to Phoenix came right after I returned from almost a month in southern Africa.  What I heard and saw in Phoenix fit into the same pattern as my experiences in Africa.

My sense is that I, and many others, have been in deep training for this past decade.  We’ve been learning how to see our world, our selves, our relationships and our work in new ways.  The learning didn’t start ten years ago, and it won’t stop now, but I’m feeling like this is the time when we need to move on.

On a phone call yesterday my friend Chris Corrigan used three phrases which really caught my attention.  He said we are not yet a community that practices and we are not yet a system that influences.  He went on to speak about the work that needs doing now is practical decolonization.

  • A community that practices… My friend Robert Theobald used to always talk about how we needed to listen to the music, not the words.  We’ve heard and used many words in the last decade.  And they are powerful:  presencing, hosting, healing, zero-waste, appreciation, feeding ourselves sustainably.  The list goes on and on.  Many of us have learned how to dance with words like power and love, warrior and midwife.  The dance is good.  But it is time now to practice, practice and practice.  It is time to hear the music with our bodies.  It is time to embody these practices.  It is time to practice together as if our lives depend on it.  They probably do.  No, I don’t know exactly what this means.  But I sense it means now is not the time to feel satisfied and complete in what we’ve done and learned so far.  Now is the time to push our edges more than ever before.
  • A system that influences… Together we have a chance to create a new era, a step beyond the era which is disintegrating all around us.  Many of us have been pioneers, engaging in promising experiments with new forms, processes and ventures which carry the DNA of the era we might create.  Much of this work has been powerful, rewarding and exciting.  And, it is not enough.  We must find ways which allow this work to easily and naturally spread.  I’m not talking about going to scale, I am talking about creating systems of influence.  Systems of influence require the creation of eco-systems which are larger than our individual work and which connect that work so it can GROW.  Communities of practice can create systems of infulence, indicators can create systems of influence, scenarios can create systems of influence.  In South Africa I saw a reality TV show create a system of influence.  What else?  How do we help this work grow.
  • Practical decolonization… I love the phrase, simply because it hasn’t yet been overused!  Decolonizing is the process of shrugging off the shackles of domination that have controlled our lives.  We’ve all been colonized.  Certainly the colonization and extermination of indigenous peoples all over the world has been the most obvious and most brutal.  Many of us have been victims and perpetrators of practices of power over which has separated us individually and collectively from our selves, each other and all other life on this planet of ours.  Now is the time for us to step out of our roles as colonized and colonizers — practically, clearly, irrevocably.

We know how to do this!  That’s the good news from our work of the last decade.  No, we don’t have a road map.  Hell, we don’t even really know the destination.  But we do know enough to continue, to deepen, to go to a next level.  But we have to move.  Part of this is, I am sure, learning how to be comfortable working with the Alchemy of Opposites.  All of it, I know is done collectively in community, not individually in isolation.

A lot of my own thinking about this over the last couple of months has been influenced both by Adam Kahane’s new book Power and Love and an essay from Barry Oshrey that grew out of a conversation he and Adam had, also called  Power and Love.  I’m personally a little leery of both these terms — power and love — but they have been an important doorway into my current learning.  Oshrey speaks of the need to develop robust systems which combine power and love and I think he’s got it right.  I think that I’ve spent much of the last ten years working on relationships and harmony and listening.  I think the focus of the next ten needs to be more on getting real work done.

Many blessings as we end the era of the “oughts” (aught 1, aught 2, …) and come into the era of the “tens” (inTENtion)  <grin>

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Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more with everything you have said and especially about the promise of this new decade that we have been preparing for all through the last decade. And, while we do not know the precise destination perhaps, I think we do have a sense of it – finding our way back to healthy, connected communities living in harmony with the … See Moreearth and its beings (including humans) in a way that will support life beyond current predictions – embracing healing and wholeness in ways most people have yet to dream possible but what some of us already know is possible.

  2. Write on, Kathy!

    I experience it like you said — we have yet to dream it as possible, but in our genes we know it is possible. So the invitation to dream — and in the way the Pachamama dream. I love one of the stories from these people of Ecuador who dream their future — but know that they must then work hard to realize what they have dreamed.

    I know that if I look out at the world around me and try to figure out how to fix the mess we’re in, I just get overwhelmed and depressed. If I can be part of a community of intentional practioners and follow Anne Dosher’s advice and look for the elegant, next, minimum step, I can keep my ground. So, perhaps the dream is the field of intention, which will be realized and made possible only when we take each next step….

    Many blessings (and Happy Birthday!)

  3. I am eternally optimistic about what is possible and never more so than now. More and more often I am “bumping” into people who understand this journey and the energetic/magic necessary component but aren’t yet sure exactly what to do with it. This is the next step – amplifying this and bringing together those that are just beginning to wake up.

    Blessings back and thanks for the birthday greetings.

  4. Dan Leahy says:

    Hey Bob,

    I share your call to action, which you eloquently described. And your comment on your “Alchemy” post highlighting the Zen perspective has me wondering how I/we discern what is the “right” action, the action evoked by the moment, to take. How do I determine what is called for rather than what I want? My sense of urgency about things often has me anxious to take SOME action, which I fear is more often than not tainted by my need to relieve my anxiety than a clear sense that it is what is called for.

    Maybe that’s my work for the new year. :)

    Be Well, My Friend.

  5. That is, I’m sure, all of our work for the new year. I’ll continue to stick with my Landmarks for Leaders matrix — the six key points of  Enspirited Leadership

    I think the times invite us to work from a place of calling, with a clear spiritual practice which helps us be centered.  We need to do this in the close company of others so we’re less likely to get lost in ego.  We need to continue to invite more and more diversity in. We have to remember all of our important work is experimental and we need to pause, reflect and learn.  And we have to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.

    At least this is where I start (and where I need much more work!)

  6. Hi Bob,
    Got from Japan to here… :)

    It’s funny I was reading Adam’s book after I’ve got it in Copenhagen last December and reflecting how much in my engineering grad-school I was ‘graded’ by my Power achievements and later in many communities of practice it seemed that people were ‘graded’ by their Love. I remember a particular moment were this tension was very strong in me – I’m not a big fan of ‘grading’ :) .

    Very interesting the Alchemy of Opposites! Practical decolonization looks interesting and reminds me of Manish’s work. A question that came to my mind… what would be the next step of ‘holding tension’ or even ‘acknowledge tension’? What are we practicing here?

    And about practice… I came across this quote the other day and looks very connected:

    “Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations – we fall to the level of our training”
    – Bruce Lee

  7. Hi Augusto,

    I think that’s a key question of our time — next steps to acknowledging and holding these tensions which are, of course, just distractions from standing in our wholeness. We need the agility to reach and use all of this. Thanks for stopping by!

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