Meg Wheatley’s words of wisdom for uncertain times
I recently read a book by Margaret Wheatley, called Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time. If this isn’t an uncertain time, I don’t know what is, so I thought I would share some of MW’s thoughts. If these resonate with you, I recommend the book in its entirety. She shares many wonderful (and faintly Buddhist-flavoured) insights into hope, surrender, and the beauty of shared human endeavour.
The New Story is Ours to Tell
For a long time, possibly inspired by Isaac Newton, we have had an image of human society as a machine, and we have mostly focused on creating better-functioning machines.
“And we give this image such hegemony over our lives because it seems our only hope for combating life’s cyclical nature, our one hope of escape from life’s incessant demands for creation and destruction. When we created this story of complete dominion over matter, we also brought in control’s unwelcome partner, fear. Once we are intent on controlling something, we feel afraid when we meet with resistance. Since nothing is as controllable as we hope, we soon become entangled in a cycle of exerting control, failing to control, exerting harsher control, failing again, panicking… I would like to characterise the new story as a tale of life. Setting aside our machine glasses, we can observe a world that exhibits life’s ebullient creativity and life’s great need for other life. We observe a world where creative self-expression and embracing systems of relationships are the organising energies, where there is no such thing as an independent individual, and no need for a leader to take on as much responsibility for us as we’ve demanded in the past…”
So MW is endorsing a way where we let go of our white-knuckled death-grip on fate, and relax into the trust that life is not out to get us. In all honesty, our ability to control life is limited (as COVID has reminded us) and we can either fight that reality, or accept it with grace and work with it.
MW endorses self-organising systems, analogous to what we see all around us in nature. Nature has no CEO determining its strategy, nor deciding what species gets “promoted” and which is “fired”. It is a beautifully messy, chaotic, but ultimately intelligent system that…