Attracting Wealth – finding balance in volunteerism

 Those who teach on the subject of the law of attraction share the value of giving generously where we give not only of our excess but we give in the midst of our own struggle. Volunteerism assists us not only to manifest generosity but to generate creativity and life lest we fall into the prisons of stagnation and depression. In the periods between work contracts, volunteerism has often presented itself as a saving grace for me. True to the teaching, I have found in my own experience that opportunity regularly comes via a volunteering initiative.

Thus it follows that volunteerism is by no means a selfless act. While there is no financial reward and we sometimes have to invest money into the effort, conscious thinking will reveal a great many benefits to volunteerism. The few rewards mentioned here are but a sampling.

That said – there is also the reality of saturation. We reach a point that is not easily defined but clearly felt. On the physical level it shows up as disregard for self, over prioritising the needs of others and falling prey to manipulation and unfair demands. In the name of the cause, we surrender self care and forget the home fires which are smouldering to its death. Our inner martyr takes over and we are controlled to the point that we no longer negotiate our efforts wisely. The joy and wealth we initially experienced are replaced with resentment which brings with it an insidious toxin contaminating the relationship and the effort.

To find balance and ensure that our volunteerism is not toxic we must pay attention to that subtle point where the scales tip. That which we are giving and that which we are receiving must be in harmony. This harmony is only attainable when we practice conscious giving and that consciousness requires us to be authentic. We need to get beyond the romance and martyrdom of volunteerism. In authenticity,I embrace my confessed and unconfessed reasons for volunteering. As I let go of martyrdom, I afford myself the right to determine the terms of reference for my effort and in so doing, I make conscious choices that I can commit to and be responsible for. Conscious choices enable us to set healthy boundaries and release us from the guilt of saying no.

Change Management – fashion or evolution?

I have watched (with vested interest on many levels) the change management landscape particularly in Cape Town. My experiences have been fascinating to say the least …

In the late 1990’s, when I started in Change Management and Organisational Transformation, I worked mostly in the education sector. Correctional Service institutions were other beneficiaries of those brazen years of my career. At that time and in that environment, change management was less about adoption, benefit realisation (of somebody’s product or great plan) and more about the holistic development of the people in the organisation. Clients were less a guarantee for future business and more people to whom we wanted to add value. Clients were regarded highly by virtue of their humanity and not because of their potential to boost a sales figure. Obviously, this perspective was greatly influenced by the fact that in the NGO sector, the clients were almost never paying for a service. A funder in a distant land paid for that and asked only for reports of good service and sustainability indicators in return.

At the turn of the millennium (that makes a 45 yr old sound very old), my experiences changed drastically as I worked for non-funded organisations, private education institutions and of course, the corporate sector. My reporting took a sharp turn to include things like service level agreements, deliverables, adoption statistics, alignment of requirements, RAFs, ROMI, and business cases! (shocked whatsapp face) In all of these frameworks and templates, my pre-millennium-self definitely felt a shift and misalignment of sorts. I struggled tremendously with this focus on the ROI while I seldom observed the return on the individuals within the investment. Many years of experience as well as a strong intuitive wisdom enabled me to strike a balance so that I was able to make a more authentic contribution to all the stakeholders and their mission within these environments.

Change Management in my current experience is still a “fashionable” concept. Lewin, Kotter and their colleagues have finally managed to inject bits and pieces of their wisdom into the business world of Cape Town. During the interviews I attend for contracts as a change management consultant, I pick up that there is at least a business case for change management. That has taken us many years. When I participate in the online seminars for best practice, I realise that we have a long road ahead of us.

Also, recruitment agencies, the selection panel and the executives who will oversee the project have insufficient understanding of the change management role. To date, I have spent most of my time educating members of the recruitment panel about what change management is and what the life cycle looks like. In these sessions, I have to draw their attention away from the neat frameworks and unrealistic plans to the lessons from my applied change management experience. In many ways the neat little frameworks are – like the solution they are promoting – a “right” answer that simply won’t work as the Prosci Group explain in principle six. In the environments where the project team was open to possibility I have enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

While change management is still, in my opinion, a fashionable concept taking frail roots in businesses we can take courage that this “fashion” is actually part of our evolution as a society. Those pre-millennium years awakened my understanding of the extent to which people desire wholeness, freedom and authentic expression. Without any deadlines set by project planning and SOWs or ROI demands, I observed the incredible yearning of the human spirit to desire and move towards the opportunities change provides. This SENSE OF URGENCY Kotter so passionately speaks about is at the core of our being. It is like a seed that possesses an innate capacity to alter itself so that it may receive what it requires to photosynthesize. As human beings we have an even more complex, innate sense of knowing what it is we need to deliver on our talents and potential. Change management, in its purest form, is a vehicle through which this sense of knowing and intuitive urgency is supported and guided to reach its goal of growth and transformation.

We must be careful not to fool ourselves into thinking this innate desire can be persuaded to respond to our techniques, charms and strategies which are really aimed at market related matters. That kind of manipulation will yield no fruit whatsoever. The undisputed fact is simply that changes in our environment, relationships and even some executive or steerco’s vision does stimulate the desire to adapt. Not a desire to adopt the solution being sold but a desire to adapt and develop in a way that is aligned to the individuals growth path. The return on investment and return on the individual can strike a balance when both stand to benefit. Only when the ROI that is in fashion supports personal evolution will we see the true value of the change effort. Put simply, people simply cannot be manipulated.

In conclusion, the latest trend and fashion of change management has its feeble roots in the innate desire of human beings to evolve and adapt to an ever changing world. As such, it is sustainable and can contribute great value. We must though accept that matters of evolution are in the blueprint of our existence as species. As such, it will not surrender to and it will definitely outlive fashion trends that seek to manipulate it for the sake of greed and anything which threatens our existence. Change efforts that honour the individual’s evolution are able to partner with the individual for the success of all of the stakeholders. Anything else becomes to the individual’s evolution what GMO is to our health.

As is my practice for those of us in the maze finding new cheese , I leave you with this note:

GMO cheese is not authentic – be careful what you follow!

What’s trending – my heart!

I am celebrating a wonderful sense of freedom starting today I guess.  For the longest time I have felt shut up and constrained by my many thoughts about what matters.  My prison of constraint was self constructed I realise.  I paid an awful amount of attention to what I should do and how it should be done.  The well-meaning teachers of branding and marketing with their supposedly brilliant advertising models took me on a journey to far far away from my heart intelligence.  Even when my meticulous nature implemented their flop proof instruction I was haunted by a sense of uneasiness.  It just did not feel right.  I lost my flow. I lost my feel and felt less in touch with the life of me.  The demands of the business environment nearly had me strangled and my poor throat chakra was gasping for life.
In this competitive economic climate,  where everyone is scrambling to the imaginary “top” we call “success” there are many who claim to have the road map.  I believed them and for some silly reason I can’t quite recall I was somehow part of a race I had no desire to be part of anyway.  Everybody was doing it – or so it seemed.  I did not want to get left behind and I certainly did not want to lose out.  There I was, unconsciously part of something and satisfied by the notion of being part of it – whatever “it” was. I proudly plonked my Linked in addy to my signature feeling I was in the game.  I made sure I kept most of me off this profile.  I excluded all the things that would upset “them” – meaning the ones who decide.  I followed the rules of social media networking by fitting in!  My creativity and spirituality was beautifully whitewashed so that I would not upset, scare or confuse “them”.  I toddled off to create a blog space on this blog where I allowed myself somewhat more self-expression.
I did some personal work on values with the Barrat Values group a while back.  It was then I realised that leaving your values and passion in the car park (or on your blog) and morphing into something is simply not sustainable.  Perhaps I know why I started this madness.  My NGO/development and transformation/creative/humanitarian values based self did not think itself to be of value in the competitive business sector.  I thought I had to go undercover and fit into their world.  In the NGO sector I lived myself fully.  In the corporate world I had to take on a new persona so that I could bring my scarce and critical skills to this environment but maintain the status quo.  And sing it with me now – I was dying inside!!!

The business and economically driven environment is perfectly suited for many people.  I have worked with them and loved them.  The development sector types like myself can add tremendous value to the business world as have I.  This is not about right of wrong.  Both have their value in the grand scheme of things.

The freedom I am celebrating is a result of giving up the notion that an individual needs to become a certain way before they can add value.  Owning and expressing myself fully, taking back my values (and my profile) means that I will not follow the road map I was given.  I will instead follow my higher intelligence which is my heart.  I use the term heart intelligence deliberately.  To follow one,s heart is not about recklessness as our lesser evolved thinking led us to believe previously. Heart intelligence is a body of work which is an ever growing wisdom at this time in our evolution.

Following my heart is only possible now that I have given up the crazy fear that bullied me into thinking I had to do it their way in order to succeed at their game.  While I have done lots of self work to arrive here it is in a single moment that revelation occurs and my revelation went something like this “What am I doing in this crowd?  This is not even my goal and the little ego boosts I get here so short lived.”  And with that, I was out.

The most amazing thing is – since that moment the flow started again.  Calls from colleagues, people saying they need this and that skill and my name popped up, odd meetings with individuals I have never met but there is an uncanny synchronicity in our stories. In short, I find myself in lovely places.  Yes – altogether lovely – not a business term and who cares?  It is a term from my higher intelligence which is guiding me in unimaginable ways to these lovely places. I am not out of business sector.  Not by a long shot!  I am out of the illusion that I must conform.  To the degree that a business is evolved, I will have altogether lovely experiences with them.

Now let me give expression to my change manager self too and leave you with a note on the walls of this maze as is my custom friends

Be sure your heart is not left out of whatever it is you are trending!

Change Alchemy – What is coming up for change?

As an ENFJ on the Myers Briggs personality type indicator I find myself able to observe and analyse the deeper levels of change management quite easily. In process facilitation we speak of the primary and secondary fields. The primary field speaks of the everyday reality that most people are aware of and it is public knowledge. Whether they are at the office or out playing golf, everyone knows there is a merger or optimising or new service level agreement etc. Depending on how progressive the organisation is and how developed the culture of learning within the organisation, the change effort reaches varying levels of success. The secondary field refers to those matters that (often) everyone is aware of but its not out in the open. These are the conflicts, tensions, upsets, suspicions about the merger, optimising and new plans that are on the agenda for the corridor, the smokers’ corner and definitely the golf course. It has been referred to as the elephant in the room. There are many reasons the elephant lives in the room and we pretend it is not there and stuff it into the group closet. Raising it is risky and there are normally lots of power dynamics that prevent people from dealing with the issues.

In my experience as a change manager, I have noted that these two fields are quite overwhelming for people and can debilitate the organisation for lengthy periods of time. Lots of energy and resources are spent on trying to cope with the change that occupies the primary field while the underlying gremlins of the secondary field counter all these efforts. In other words, there is just no keeping the elephant in the closet.

As a Piscean, ENFJ with a life path of 8 (a combination that could make me pretty much psychic) I observe a tertiary field. The tertiary field is incredibly fascinating because this is not so much about what is happening in the room but what is happening for the individual. More accurately, what is coming up within the individual. Change produces all kinds of triggers in a person bringing unhealed hurts and unmet needs to the surface for our attention. Most people are completely unaware and need support to identify these issues that are coming up. At best they know they are stressed and upset. Some decide to leave and it may be the right decision. But many find the same things coming up in the next experience. A brief conversation with a colleague, mentor, coach can lead to invaluable insights. The environment needs to be safe before people allow themselves the vulnerability it demands. Seasoned change managers who observe and know how to navigate in the tertiary field can add tremendous value to the change process when they are able to provide this kind of support.

Change managers who support their clients through whatever comes up in the secondary field help the organisation to attain transformation. Change managers who support individuals or at the very least help them identify what is coming up in the tertiary field go much further. These are the change managers who inspire what I call the Alchemy of Change. They turn the upsets and stress into mind blowing growth opportunities. Their contribution adds much more than return on investments which can crash when the economy takes a dive. People may be trapped in destructive patterns for years without knowing it. If it comes up through a change process, is identified and the individual is supported to take different actions and interrupt their cycle, they gain tremendous freedom. A chapter gets completed in their lives. This is gold!

Change managers are not therapists although many of us moonlight as coaches and mentors. Scoping determines the boundaries of what we are allowed to do. Timesheets capture our movements so our clients know what they are paying for. It’s pretty tight and more so on a short term project.

But in the maze, on route to the new cheese, I encourage you to read this note I am leaving for you: