When we build structures for ourselves, whether physical or social, they will only do what we ask of them when the structure itself aligns with its purpose.
Last week, when I went back to hike the West Coast Trail on the western edge of Canada's Vancouver Island, I noticed key structures placed on the trail to assist our travel over difficult terrain. Ladders help hikers climb ascent and descend the valleys. Cable cars and bridges help hikers cross waterways. Boardwalks help hikers traverse boggy areas. Yet due to disrepair, the boardwalks have strayed from their original purpose:
This boardwalk, put in place to aid travel, is now a hazard. It is slippery and uneven. It is ready to harm the traveller, but what can we do we do structures like this?
I noticed five patterns in hikers' behaviour on the trail:
- Walk on it. Not noticing the danger, we risk harm and carry on. This can be conscious and unconscious.
- Walk on it carefully, making careful choices about how to use the structure to our benefit while minimizing risk of injury.
- Walk beside it, making a new and safer path. Sometimes this means trudging through the mud and meeting the real obstacle face-to-face.
- Throw it aside, removing the danger for self and other. It's pieces might also be useful serving other purposes.
Walk on it to destroy it to a point where there is no structure left - and no hazard. Simply aid in its slow destruction. The risk is injury along the way.
All five patterns have a role to play in our relationships with the structures we live with every day. Each is appropriate in its own way, in its own context.
As I reflect on this specific trail, and our rescue off the trail
two years ago after a boardwalk fall and broken leg, the first pattern was not our practice. And in the push to complete the hike we walked on boardwalks carefully and beside them - we did not throw any aside to make the path safer for others behind us. I have to admit we were caught in the momentum of the moment and our immediate task.
Everyday we are in relationship with structure. Structure can take the form of the protocols of family life, the policies in our workplaces, the design of our cities or the laws that govern our expectations of each other as we live increasingly together in cities.
In just the right balance, there is enough chaos to evoke collective wisdom, and enough order to discover wise action. Choosing the right amount of structure is a BIG decision that has everything to do with knowing purpose.
The Art of Hosting BIG Decisions
These are times of BIG decisions for our selves, with each other, and for the organizations and places we hold dear. We live and work with complexities that are both daunting with challenge and ripe with promise. We are facing and embracing new realities by learning to co-create places where there is just enough chaos to evoke collective wisdom, and just enough order to discover wise action.
On November 12-15, 2013 I am co-hosting a three-day participative learning experience
- The Art of Hosting BIG Decisions - in Edmonton, Canada that will help us ground ourselves in the artistry of circle to:
- Unveil and explore the choices and BIG decisions that you face in your life and work
- Learn hosting practices to engage self, others and places that lead to wise and intentional action
Advance or evolve to a new level of expertise in leadership and co-creation
- Strengthen your presence and clarify your purpose
Hugh Sanders, Katharine Weinmann, Margaret Sanders and I are designing an experience for you that will enhance your abilities to:
- Host yourself and others well
- Gather the right people at the right time
- Unleash the wisdom and power that lies within
- Ask the right questions
- Sense the emerging future and harvest its promise
- Discern and choose wise action
In crafting our invitation to you, we realized that what we'll learn together will apply at any scale - self, family, workplace, neighbourhood, city, nation, humanity. Confirmation that when we boldly grow the self, we make our families, organizations, workplaces, neighbourhoods and cities better places.
Registration is limited.
I have a hunch you are
one of the 44 people
meant to be in the room.