We are just a few weeks into a new decade and already we have witnessed unprecedented uncertainty, bushfires in Australia, flooding across the North of England, a novel Coronavirus has swept across the world at lightning speed triggering volatility in the financial markets, the supermarkets and our world lives. In the midst of all this, we are called upon to make decisions that can have long – term implications for our families and our businesses. We can be certain that a past we had just become familiar and comfortable with, is now gone.
Many of us may feel quite well, yet these events will have caused a disruption in our mind of a model of the world we were holding. We are in our own unique way living with anxiety inducing experiences – volatility, complexity and ambiguity.
Confronting the place of not knowing
Where once we were governed by stories that equate our value and worth to knowing, having the right answers and living outwardly with confidence, that story has now changed. For many, their vision of the future is clouded by fear. For some, questions are arising around where are we going and what do we do next. Whilst for others, letting go of attachments to outcomes is seen as the only answer. It is here, right now, where we are invited to confront the tension between knowing and not knowing.
Seeing with Systemic Awareness
The call to action is to find new ways of seeing. There is a broader, all encompassing vision that enables us to see and understand better how the world operates. When we start to see the world as a whole – a system governed by a set of unchanging principles that maintain order, cohesion and coherence – we enter a new level of understanding and awareness that has the potential to support and guide us more effectively. This way of ‘seeing’ calls to raising our Systemic Awareness, it requires us to recognise that each choice and decision has an effect on a scale that has implications for an ever-widening environment. Seeing with Systemic Awareness improves how well we can sense into the greater forces that influence and shape our world.
Having become used to outsourcing uncertainty to other people, we are now faced with what happens when the uncertainty comes back to us. Systemic awareness creates the opportunity for us to form a new relationship with uncertainty and formulate strategies that can more readily anticipate what is coming, rather than figure out how to react once change has arrived.
We become leaders in our own right whilst continuing to operate within the realm of forces beyond our immediate control. This dynamic may engage questions such as: Whose opinion matters most for a decision? Who is responsible for decisions? What values do these decisions take into account, for example, space, place, tradition, heart and time? How do we attend to what is happening now and emerging from the future, rather than staying stuck in the place of focusing on how we wish things to remain the same? How well do our decisions support our personal, family, workplace and wider ecology?
These kinds of questions are both challenging and resourceful. Yet they help us to engage in the uncertainty with a surer footing. And they acknowledge the truth that the past we once knew has gone.
Moving forward with clearer vision
When we step into the space of looking and understanding the world as a moving phenomenon, that constantly unfolds to reveal change in every moment, something different starts to happen, the fog, the fear and the resistance start to clear. We have the opportunity to see things differently. For whatever control we may have previously believed we held over life, when we become aware of our place within wider systems it reveals the upper hand does not belong to us. And so we can either choose to work and evolve in harmony with the wider field, as part of the whole, or we can continue to try to control, dominate, deny it and fight it. Whatever path we choose, the systems we live in will inevitably respond – whether we like it or not.
Life is asking us to expand our perception of reality, rattle our judgements and beliefs and look to the opportunities as they present in the way that we can evolve, learn and grow. We cannot control the circumstances of life, but we can change how we choose to see them. And the choice we make is our own unique responsibility.
Zita Tulyahikayo and James Pereira QC are coaches and co-founders of the Libra Partnership (firstname.lastname@example.org) offering coaching and other performance enhancing services to lawyers, barristers, law firms and chambers.