I was restless last night. After work, I went to an OD (organizational development) network meeting. The topic was Organizational Constellations, which is a way of looking at a human system. The speaker/facilitator was brilliant in his skills, and is one of the human beings I have been fortunate to meet who is spiritual and grounded and brave. The work he does could feel a bit ‘woo woo’ in traditional organizations, at least that’s what my fear tells me. I’m digressing.
The approach he took was to tell us what the process looks like, and then to do the process with us, using a challenge one of us is currently working on. Turns out the one of us was me. And, I learned, AGAIN, something about myself that made me a little sad. I love to help. And, sometimes, in my desire to heal, I enable. And sometimes, I get in the way of what needs to happen. And sometimes I know when I’m doing it and can get out of the way. Other times, I don’t see it until I’m so weighed down in/by/with the situation that I feel ready to crumble. And I’m not helpful. The situation we used in the demo last night was one of those situations. It is not my problem to solve. And I love the people involved. And it is not my problem to solve. In the activity, this became crystal clear to me. And after the meeting, the speaker/facilitator/expert said to me, “ I expect this is not a new behavior for you. You might want to give it up”. When I said I have tried, he responded, “it’s not that hard, just stop”.
As an OD practitioner, I have learned about the importance of ‘use of self’. In coaching we call it ‘self management’. I’ve learned to observe a human system and to intervene to facilitate change. I know, in my head and my heart and my gut that I need to monitor for my impact on the system, and I have been told about a bazillion times that, as an internal practitioner, it is very important that I have support outside the system to keep me objective. As a coach, I can hold this space very well. When I coach, I am with my client for an hour. In my organizational work, and in my life, way more than an hour of self-management is required.
I went home feeling a bit like a failure. I love my work. I love my family and friends. And I still have an automatic response that causes me to throw my body in the middle of things I have no business being in the middle of. I didn’t sleep well, and I woke up sad.
This morning I read an article someone posted on Facebook called Why be Jewish? by Sarah Shulkind, ED.D. I read that from a Jewish point of view, the world is founded on three things: study, work, and acts of loving-kindness. The author says that “Judaism is a practice rooted in, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks puts it, the ethics of responsibility” And what resonated with me deeply was our responsibility to engage in tikkun olam, the repair of the world.
Maybe I’m looking to rationalize my behavior. Perhaps I just want to make myself feel better. And there is something that keeps coming up for me – over and over again. I am, I believe, compelled to engage in tikkan olam. Before I knew those words, I used words in my personal mission statement like ‘heal the world’. I believe we need to do this work everywhere – in any organization where people gather. This includes business.
So, sometimes, I throw my head and heart and body and soul places it shouldn’t be. I am not a perfect practitioner. I am not a perfect leader. Or wife, or mother, or sister or friend. Eventually I figure it out (or I’m asked to step away), and leave the healing to happen, as it will, and must, without me. I send love and walk away.
And I think tonight I will sleep better. And the situation we used in the meeting last night … not my problem to solve.
What lesson(s) do you learn over and over?
And where is your ‘not perfect’ perfect?