The Ultimate Paradox

I have been reading Margaret Wheatley’s latest book “So Far From Home” and have found no end to the learning available through it’s pages.

In the introduction, she is clear about what this book can and cannot do:

[This book can restore your clarity, energy, and enthusiasm for your work if you take time with it and read it slowly.

This book cannot serve you if you skim, scan, scroll, or flip through its pages hunting for a few good ideas.

This book intends to provoke and disturb, to console and affirm you. These strong responses require time and reflection.

I not only chose to read on, I knew that I needed to read what she had to offer in these pages to hopefully understand what I am experiencing in both the day-to-day and the bigger picture context of my work and life.

As I continue to explore and reflect deeply on the information and perspectives she shares in this book, I will continue to express through this online space any insights I reach as well as any shifts I make in my work and life that are more informed and are what Meg Wheatley refers to as “wise action”. Through this I invite any input, thoughts, comments you may have.

In Chapter 6, Identity: The Logic of Change, Wheatley refers to the Ultimate Paradox.

“Life is changing constantly, but change is never random. There are always causes and conditions. The reason that living systems change is in order to survive….

And here is life’s ultimate paradox about change: the only reason a living being changes is so it won’t have to change. It will do whatever is necessary to preserve itself.” [pgs 40-41]

How does this paradox show up in our lives, work and organizations? If we are changing, but changing to preserve ourselves/teams/organizations, how much energy are we putting into meaningful change and how much energy are we putting into change that preserves the way things currently are (even if they are not working)?

We change our processes, sometimes beyond recognition, to preserve what we do.

We change the team, sometimes beyond recognition, to preserve the project.

We change our location, methods, data, to preserve our support systems.

When do we question WHAT we are doing as well as HOW we are doing it? How do we question in a way that looks at both the CAUSES and CONDITIONS that got us to a place that required change? How do we truly observe and accept where we are to gain the perspective needed to see what most needs doing?

I’m asking these questions as points for reflection and as an opportunity to assess if the change and the WAY you and/or your organization are going about change is truly the change that is most needed or if it is change done to preserve the system as a whole.

Without reflecting on that meaningfully and with a willingness to possibly hear and see things you may not want to, wise actions are much less likely to be chosen. The change will happen, it just may have an impact you did not anticipate and may have even hoped to avoid.

posted by margo in Uncategorized and has No Comments