Has 2020 been tough, manageable or has it presented new opportunity and growth? Are you processing the year that is passing and orientating towards the one ahead? Or is it a case of holding on in this lockdown state until we know more, so that we can do more?
When will we convene with our human imaginations to cast forward to a future that we need?
Working with leaders and managers before the global pandemic, and over the course of this lockdown journey, has led me to notice more:
- powerlessness – not in relation to power over others but for autonomy’s sake, feeling powerless in the face of making decisions and exercising your freedom
- breathlessness – being less exposed to novelty, as one leader put it ‘we are breathing in the same cabin air all the time’, and ‘we are now sleeping at the office’
- feeling starved of human connection and interaction – prolonged, entirely remote interaction is making us ‘remote’, humans crave casual, relaxed and also deeper and more significant human connection (digital platforms are smart enablers but there is still little habituation to the idea of tech as a permanent and total replacement for in- person interaction – there is something about looking others in the eye and bumping into random people and their ideas at coffee stations that matters to us)
- appetite for seeing a way through – exploring, broad knowing that there is potential and possibility ahead and needing to navigate together to make sense and make reality, as well as to leave what no longer serves behind.
These insights are a real mixed bag. In fact the old rhetoric the future is impossible to predict is so starkly real. We are certain that some events may happen in the future, but we lack specifics of when and how, which in a world of efficient just-in-time approaches (over just-in-case, not seen as efficient) is turning out to be a sticky situation.
Just because we cannot predict the future does not mean we are left helpless. What we could be tuning into, as so beautifully put by Margaret Heffernan, is our collective, deeply human imagination to chart and map ways forward. The trick for leaders and pioneers who aim to make a generative contribution, (rather than just extract), is not to lay in wait for when we ‘know more’. Preparation is paramount. And that preparation requires convening and discovering, inventing what the world demands of us all.
Based on multiple sources of feedback and in a rather bold move, I’m testing out comfort levels with a fully Covid19 compliant, in-person gathering at a natural, out-of-town venue with plenty of open space. Why would we convene such an event? And what would we cover?
My sense is that we need to gather the elements that have served us well over the year that is passing, and apply more of our collective, human imagination to orientate to the one that is in wait. Decompressing may assist us to cast forward to a future of choice. A decompression zone for leaders may be structured and informal, with a spirit that is pioneering, respectful, discursive, experiential and generative.
“The sheer creativity of human interaction has never been more critical” – Margaret Heffernan
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