When I talk with clients, they highlight a wide range of challenges that confront us in creating, developing and maintaining a focus on the other in our worlds of work. These challenges may encompass the negative “viral” implications of a self-focused team, how we can replicate the magic in our day to day interactions; the “difficulties” of maintaining awareness and choice limitations; the role and drive of self-interest and thee discipline and commitment required to maintain the necessary self-awareness in a very self focused society.
I too, regardless of my own immense positivity and hope, often face similar struggles in both my personal and work lives. I ask, what is this about? Is there really as some now say…a crisis of connection? If there is, then what does that actually mean? Recently, I was struck by an amazing answer to these questions when reading Margaret Wheatley’s introduction to Brown and Issacs’ book ‘The World Café’, where she comments on what she sees of this crisis.
“From what I observe in many places, it appears that our memory of how to work together in healthy, productive ways has been nearly extinguished by the creeping complexity of group work, facilitation techniques, obscure analytic processes, and our own exhaustion. People are more polarized, more overwhelmed, more impatient, more easily disappointed in others, and more withdrawn than ever. We’re frustrated by the increasing number of problems that confront us and our impotence to resolve even the most simple ones. And no sane person wants to participate in yet another meeting or get involved in yet another problem solving process, because these things only increase our frustration and impotence. Perhaps the most pernicious consequence of this memory loss is our growing belief that humans are a difficult, self-serving species and that we cannot trust each other?”
Are these the very real and terrifying challenges that we, on our journeys of ‘other’ discovery must confront?