In the political campaigns leading up to the 2014 general elections here in the United States, a record 3.7 billion dollars was spent to broadcast complaints about the “other side.” Virtually no money was spent talking about a vision for our country, about who we are as a nation and our role in the global community, or about the opportunities available to us through our challenges. For the most part, those topics were missing from the campaigns.
I could write about the myriad number of different ways we might have spent that money, yet that will do us no good now. What’s done is done. Time to move on.
How we move on, however, needs to be different. We cannot afford more of the same – not for another day. Too much is at stake for humanity and the environment. While there are many individuals and organizations who are doing incredible transformational work in the world, our government here in the United States is dysfunctional at best. Money buys legislation and policy. Economic interests trump human well-being and environmental stewardship every day. This is not sustainable. And it certainly is not a formula for a world that works.
The root of the verb “heal” means “to make whole.” The United States and, indeed, the world, is crying out for healing and transformation. Many systems are broken beyond repair. We can’t fix them, yet we can transform them into something new. It will be an enormous task. There is no shortcut or quick fix. It may take fifty or a hundred years or longer. It will mean working in service of something much bigger than ourselves, our communities, even our countries. It will mean working towards visions and goals that we may not see completed in our lifetimes. It’s a new paradigm for our time.
Transformation is not something you make happen. Instead, our job is to create the best possible conditions for a greater potential to unfold. Nobody knows how to do it. There is no formula or ten-step process. The only thing we can do is to start. Many already have. Many more are needed. Together, we can discover and create the path forward, one step at a time.
So here are four ways each of us can start creating those conditions today within our own families and communities.
First, stop talking about what is not working and start talking about where we can go. Complaining about what is not working is not helpful. Furthermore, it drains precious energy that is needed for creating something new. When conversations devolve into criticism and complaints, turn them around. Shift the focus to engagement, possibility, potential, and new directions. Be curious and invite others to a bigger vision where things are working. Shift the conversation.
Second, focus on learning forward. Most of us have been taught to learn backward. When a new piece of information comes along, we unconsciously check to see how it fits into our current knowledge bank, beliefs, or understanding. If it doesn’t fit with what we already know or believe, we discard it. Sometimes we even denounce it. Unfortunately, the tendency in our culture is not toward learning, growth, discovery, and new creation. The tendency is toward comfort, convenience, and maintaining the status quo.
Learning forward, on the other hand, means letting new information and experiences show themselves to us on their own terms. Learning forward means letting go of assumptions and preconceived notions of what things are, what they mean, and how they work. It means opening our hearts and minds and seeing what new discovery is waiting to unfold. Learning forward means scanning our current and past knowledge and experience not to see how the new information fits, but rather to see which parts of our past understanding are still relevant and which parts it is now time to let go. In short, learning forward means being willing to let go of beliefs, patterns, practices, and approaches when they no longer fit, so that we can discover a new present and future.
Third, enhance and expand your perceptual skills. Starting today, practice listening more deeply to your inner wisdom, to others, and to the world around you. Listen intuitively. Listen not just to people’s words – listen to their hearts. Expand your abilities to perceive what is happening within people and situations. In Transformational Presence work, we call this “Enlightened Dialogue” – having an intuitive dialogue with ideas, projects, circumstances, situations, feelings, and emotions. There is so much more available to us than what we can perceive with our five outer senses. Start today to pay more attention to your intuitive senses.
Fourth, approach every circumstance, challenge, and opportunity with these three questions, asking them in this order:
- What wants to happen?
- Who is that asking me to be?
- What is that asking me to do?
I’ve written about these three questions many times. The key is to ask these questions from your intuitive mind, from your heart intelligence. The intuitive mind includes the intellect, yet stretches far beyond it, accessing much more information than is available to us through the intellect alone. As we uncover the greater potential waiting to unfold, we can then ask what that potential needs from us. How is it asking us to show up so that we can create the best possible conditions for it to manifest? And then, what is it asking us to do? What action is it asking us to take?
To “be” is a verb. A verb is an action word. When you are grounded in your “being” and commit to serving a greater potential, the next action step becomes clear. An alignment happens within us that creates a natural impulse toward action. There is a natural desire to make a difference. In fact, to not take action becomes uncomfortable. To not take action feels out of integrity.
“What wants to happen?” is a big-picture question. The more expanded our awareness, the bigger the potential we are able to perceive. While the manifestation of that greater potential may take ten, fifty, or even a hundred years or longer, the first step towards that big vision begins right now. If we pay attention, it will show us the way forward, step by step. Our job is to keep the long view in our awareness as we take each next step.
Time is of the essence. We can no longer afford to give energy to what is not working. The old timers would say, “Cut your losses and move on.” It’s time for transformation and healing. It’s time to focus on long-term visions for a greater good, and to devote our attention and energy to creating the best possible conditions for those visions to unfold. It’s time to create a world that works.
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