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Fire & Water — Some Special Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a friend, colleague, and participant of the upcoming Fire and Water Leadership Cohort. It was thoughtful. In the way that I so often like it, we were naming some of what was at the core of this program. It’s naming essence. And special sauce.

Here’s some of what we came up with, scribbled onto the back of a piece of paper:

Wander — I’m no stranger to advocating a sense of wander together. Neither is my friend. For some, wander has a negative connotation. Like, wander because of “being lost.” Or wander because “there isn’t purpose.” That’s a different wander. This wander is more like, be willing (and courageous) enough to go into the unknown. How about that — the ability to wander as core competency in leadership. The ability to help create conditions to encounter emergence.

Radical Honesty — I don’t think that many in today’s varied organizational contexts are blatantly lying. Although, lying can become a habit such that it’s not even recognizable. I’m talking about the lies of what we are up to. Of over imposing a narrow narrative. Of speaking as certainty of what is really inherently known. There’s stuff in the journey, for all of us, that I would suggest is inherently scary and unknowable. So much of contemporary society has taught us to “fake it till you make it.” Yah, good, um, er, except when it isn’t, which is often. What if, we dared to be radically honest together, growing that familiarity so as to give us just a bit more chance of getting to the transformational? Honest with self. Honest with other. Developing a literacy of awareness.

Wildness — I love this one. It was my friend that named it as a question, encouragement, and concern. Will this be wild enough? Will it not be tucked into something overly reductive, neat, and tidy? My friend’s question about wildness was also naming an inherent wildness in us. I would suggest that we humans, seek a wildness and aliveness and life vitality. Individually and with one another. Most of us seek a relationship with wildness, a “not just tamedness.” Being willing to get messy — that’s got something to do with leadership these days also..

Navigating Complexity — Yup. Most of us identify with rather complex lives. Most of us are patterned into numbing ourselves as primary mode for coping with all of that complexity. I know this in so many ways in myself. Yet, I’m the kind of human that believes we are at a time when we must transcend (which often comes from rather painful descent) who we are and how we are together as human beings. This means leaning further in to the complexity, not away. This means daring to break patterns of isolation so that me might lean in as community. You can see how this connects to each of the above, right — wander, radical honesty, and wildness. Oy!

Don’t Know Where We Are Headed — This too is woven into the above. When I’m a follower (let me be so simple for a moment), I can be OK with not knowing where we are headed. Often, that okness is soothed by an assumption that surely the leader knows, or that someone knows. Hmm…, hold that thought. When I’m a leader, or cohost, or consultant, or some other position of perceived knowing, to not know can be scary as hell. And shameful. You can see the edge of a new culture bumping into the tight holding of an old culture.

I’m grateful for what became alive with my friend in our conversations. That lead to such scribblings. That lead to such a palpable feeling of “now we are getting somewhere.”

Excited, and a bit scared, to do this soon with our Fire & Water cohort. Get to a transformed core. And hold it together. Some spaces available. Apply if you feel the shimmer of called. Special sauce.

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