do organisations have emotions?

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We were contemplating this today.

As human beings so much of what we do is driven by a felt sense, gut, emotion. We combine this with cognitive thinking; adding reason, logic, judgement. Together these ‘brains’ afford us sense making, a motivation, value, direction.

Organisations are good at the cognitive often. The logical behind the vision, the strategy, the goals, the measurement, the success. By and large, organisations try to connect with employees cognitively. They are often not so good at connecting with the individual’s emotions. They talk about engagement or about hearts and minds, but attempt to influence, inspire and manage these cognitively with data, plans, employee surveys, roll-outs.

And what of the organisation itself? Does it have a system brain over and above the collective brains of the component people? And does it have its own emotions?

Systemic Constellations theory might suggest it does. The system behaves according to its own needs, maintaining the integrity and balance of the system itself. So, if that’s true and if it’s working well, is the system pleased, happy, excited? If the system is struggling to maintain itself, does it get upset, annoyed, disillusioned?

If organisations do have feelings, how do we engage with those and what are the implications for the workplace?

…the guilt of growth

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I wrote yesterday about the innocence of belonging. The compelling sense of loyalty to the tribal rules, thereby securing our belonging.

Yet growth and personal development draw us to move to new systems of belonging – school, university, new organisations, new teams and maybe to create our own family system. As we grow and develop, we risk belonging to earlier ‘clans’ by electing to behave in different ways in new tribes. Behaving and acting in the fashion of the new clan customs ensures our belonging in the new group, but risks our belonging in earlier groups on our life journey.

This tension between growth and belonging, guilt and innocence is described in Systemic Constellations theory as ‘Personal conscience’. Sometimes particular ‘rules of belonging’ to older clans can entangle us later in life. Holding us back, like a rubber bungee, making freedom and growth hard.

When you feel stuck, look over your shoulder and ask yourself, “to whom or what am I being loyal in staying stuck like this?”

What you find there may surprise you.

Acknowledge what is.

 

the innocence of belonging…

guilt innocence personal conscience

As a child you may well have travelled to your grandparents with your family.

Perhaps at one set of grandparents, you were allowed to spread your toys out on the floor and generally make a mess? Perhaps at the other grandparentjs you had to wait to get down from the table after tea, and keep your elbows off the table? Maybe your family visits were to aunts, uncles, cousins?

Whatever your personal experiences as a child at your relatives, you somehow knew the rules. The actions and ways of being and behaving that were the family customs in that house; that clan, that ‘tribe’. By complying with those actions and customs, you cemented your belonging.

We do this following our sports team. We wear the uniform, travel in groups, sing the songs, tell stories of the history. We do this in organisations too, we call it the culture around here, and we (often) unconsciously comply in order to create belonging and connection.

This search for belonging starts in our family of birth. We learn the ways of being and the customs and actions that are the norm in the family. The clan culture. By being loyal to those customs and ways of being, we ensure we belong. We are accepted into the tribe by remaining ‘innocent’ to those tribal rules. This is a crucial learning for one so young.

Our sense of need to be loyal to the customs of belonging, particularly to our birth family system, is strong. Very strong. This need to belong, to remain ‘innocent’, is compelling. When we stray from it, in a sense, we experience ‘guilt’ – guilt that we are risking our belonging.

This ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’ form part of the theory of personal conscience, from Systemic Constellation practice. More tomorrow…

 

when we would do well to be the beach

What is is

When you go to the beach, you walk on the pebbles. You see some pebbles are rounded, polished, worn smooth in the rub of nature. You see some are sharp, jagged, fractured in the storm of collision. Some pebbles carry history in fossilised form. Some are small. Some large. Some brown. Some grey. Some multicoloured. And you observe this and you allow it.

When you go to the beach, you see the sea. Water crashes in foam, surging for freedom. Water retreats in liquid fellowship. Foams, retreats, foams, retreats, foams, retreats in enduring rhythm. And you see this and you understand. And you accept the way that it is.

And in all of this, you don’t get emotional about it. You appreciate the beach. The pebbles. The sea.

What is, is.

But when you meet other human beings, you lose all that.
You say “he’s too this” and “I’m too that”.
You say “if only she wasn’t…” and “I should be…”.
You say “They are different” and “I am not enough”.

Judgement comes in.

Maybe we should see people as the sea and the pebbles, and appreciate them as they are.

What is, is.

Inspired by Ram Dass

 

the direction of love and hate

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I was reminded yesterday of a this quote…

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him

GK Chesterton

It was offered in the context of the recent Paris attacks, but it reminded me of the truth in this for us all, not just for the soldier, the man on the battlefield, the terrorist. We all have a bond, a love of what shaped us, what gives us belonging, those ‘like us’ who give us a place. We feel strong ties to our formative experiences; strong connections to our family of birth; a place where we learned the unspoken rules of belonging. Where we experienced love. We all have strong attachment to familiarity, to the system we operate in, to its customs and culture and to the way of working we have become aligned to. It too gives us a sense of place, a sense of belonging.

Perhaps this in part explains why change can be hard? We have to let go of connections, friends, customs, behaviours, ways of being which have given us a security.

Maybe we don’t hate the change we face, but rather we resist it from a place of love for what has gone before? What is, or will be, behind us?

#prayforParis