Individual Mindful Action in Group Work.
What if real collaborative work environments are dependable of individual mindful action? How does this possibility reflect on individual responsibility to support it?
I speak of individual mindful action while applying existent knowledge. Putting knowledge into practice, in collective context, and being able to surpass the common blindness on the fact that existent knowledge was acquired in different circumstances, and is conditioned to context and self-experience.
My proposal is to consider that this awareness help us to pay attention and see that within a group we may find shared concepts and words that are really vessels to different meanings. A these meanings hide valuable information.
To work at this level of participation requires much more than simply “know what and how to do”.
The invitation is to consider that valuable knowledge practice, capable of triggering change with positive impact, as to do with mindful action. Individual mindful action as the ability of paying attention in a present moment, accepting thoughts and feelings without judgment, and practice the awareness of having an impact and of being impacted.
Being fully present to create new knowledge from what we already know.
From my personal experience I’ve learned that practicing what I know in order to support something new to emerge requires me to be able to call and sense two selves: the “one who knows” and the “one who’s open to understand more”.
My journey starts around 2010/2011 when I started studying organisational constellations and system thinking. This idea of calling and sensing 2 selves was strengthen in IOCTI 2012, where I start working with Presencing and Theory U Journey, through the valuable and marvellous work of Arawana Hayashi. I became an enthusiastic student of the concept “embodied-mind”.
In order to call the “one who´s open to understand” I fell the need to work with further though languages/processes, behind “brain-remembering”. Nothing against “brain-remembering”. I’m implying integration. What I try to recall is that remembering lead us also to our mental maps. A fruitful field to personal “do’s and don’ts”, “right or wrong”, “good or bad”.
Working with further though languages, such as “I perceive”, “I sense” or “I value”, helps me to deal with that “less bright side of the brain” where the voices of judgement, cynicism and fear reside (Theory U beginning of left side of U journey).
Acting simultaneously with different though languages bring down those voices, and allow us to look at them and do some necessary updates. This is an essential part to practice what I already know while staying open, without “agenda”, and help create new knowledge instead of simply exchange the existent one.
The way we set our goals can be highly conditioned by individual and group thinking mental traps. We can easily be seduced by the idea of ‘what’s possible’, by ‘the way things always have been done’ or by the idea of something ‘not being adequate’, to mention a few examples.
We all have blind-spots. There’s few we can do about it and I believe we can not stop them from forming. Their roots grow on our automatic brain mechanism.
My non-expert opinion is that given the amount of stimulus our brain constantly receives he had to find a way to save some energy. So after building meaningful information our brain trust that info to be used by our ultraconscious mind, and it tends to use it to fill in any missing conscious information. (suggest reading: ‘The U Theory and the Ultraconscious’ by Andres Martinez)
The danger is that we tend to rely too much on this autopilot mechanism, without doing the necessary updates. Metaphorically, as we update our electronic devices we should also update our mental software. And sometimes system updates need to be made often. Bugs and other inconsistencies have to be corrected when we are dealing with big changes.
To be able to do these updates I strongly believe we need to pay attention to our mind, body and heart centres.
If our stomach burns we should acknowledge it, if an image rises we should observe, if we notice a particular movement followed by any emotion we should look at it. And when faced with any of these inputs we should ask open questions, like “ what does this tells about the situation, about me, and about me in the situation?”
By paying attention and allowing experiencing what our thoughts, body and emotions are speaking we create an inner safe space, to revise beliefs and assumptions.
For those who do not have any daily mindfulness practice it’s more difficult to experiment this approach in daily work interactions. I speak from my experience, since I started to experiment some awareness tips as self-management tool to deal with emotional tension, before adopting daily mindfulness practices. Practices as simple as focusing my breathing in my stomach when needing to deal with emotional tension. It help me a lot to transform negative emotion into creative tension. A kind of energy that opens me to new possibilities.
Why we should experiment more mindful action, particularly in group working context?
Because our mental world is made of “archives”. So if we do not establish any connection with the present moment nothing really new can gain shape.
Cause we tend to make decisions establishing cause and effect relations, ignoring that there are to many interconnected variables which are only turn visible in retrospective. Mindfulness helps to sense the presence of these other interconnected variables, even if we can make meanings of it.
It make us more familiar with uncertainty and allow us to become more anti-fragile, a concept used by Nassim Taleb that invite us to control and predict less, staying open to the unexpected.
Summing up, the suggestion I bring is that we should create conditions to experiment mindful action in-group work. Living learning labs where people may safely dress out their certainties, revise assumptions and gain ability to surf uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity.
By conditions to experiment mindful action I refer to periodically reserve space and time to look at collective challenges inviting individual wholeness. Encouraging people to experiment different languages thoughts and bring to light “invisible data” that transcends existent knowledge about a specific issue, opening space to the emergence of deeper and embracing solutions.
Easy? No. It demands practice and commitment.