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24.07.20

Dancing on the pivot point

 

Sarah-Jane Marriott

“I feel I need to learn how to be mindful, accepting of ‘what is’, while at the same time looking ahead creatively, positioning ourselves strategically for what comes next”. Achieving those two things simultaneously seemed an impossible balancing act.  

Coping well with the uncertainty we are now all living with is a balancing act. As one of my clients, the head of a UN country office in West Africa, mused this week – “I feel I need to learn how to be mindful, accepting of ‘what is’, while at the same time looking ahead creatively, positioning ourselves strategically for what comes next”. Achieving those two things simultaneously seemed an impossible balancing act.  

The Systemic approach can be helpful here. Two of the key principles of Systems Thinking are Acknowledgement and Place. Before ever trying to move to solutions – the “one step towards better” - there is huge value in just acknowledging what is. Until we fully explore, understand and accept the current reality, we are not going to be able to see clearly a way forward.  

 

And then there’s Place. In all systems, there are hidden organising forces, much like those that influence the weather system, existing to sustain a dynamic balance in the system. 

These forces of Time, Place and Exchange are invisible and often outside of our consciousness, but they inevitably influence the systems within which we exist. Understanding them can help us begin to work with, rather than against them, to achieve more harmony and ultimately positive change in the direction we wish to move (Systemic Coaching and Constellations by John Whittington).  

The organising force of Place states that everyone, and every thing, has a right to a different but unique and respected place in a system. So while our hypothetical plans and visions for the future are left ‘floating’, they can upset our system and fuel our sense of unease. It can be helpful to find a Place for them. Write them down on bits of paper and put them in a jar where you can see them; capture them in a journal; or write a blog. Knowing you have captured them and found a safe place to keep them until the horizon is clearer, provides the clarity of thought necessary to accept the not knowing while the waters are still so choppy. 

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