In the previous post I explored Integrity one of the pillars of ReNEWBusiness and probably one of my dearest values. In this new post, part of a series of blog-posts, I am going to articulate more on inclusion. The second of the three pillars of RNEWB.
Peter Senge named one of the people who has had the greatest influence on business strategy by the Times, said: “ to those who have the heart to seek a new path…it is a path based on the primacy of the whole rather than the primacy of the parts.” I add to his thought, which I consider a powerful reminder of the role of business, that this path must start within ourselves. The “out there” is a myth. This illusion makes us think of ourselves as separated not only from the history of the society and business, but also as separated from the whole of ourselves.
We think we can carve out parts of ourselves and play smaller roles. Those facets we carve out in ourselves to seek power, money and success, are the same thing we tend to exclude in others. We do not do this because we are mean, we do it because we chase something bigger than us and that is at the foundation of our beings. We seek belonging, acceptance.
When we leave a part of us (i.e. creativity, desires, passions, the feminine, masculine…) out of the conversation, that same part in someone else is also not heard simply because we have stopped hearing it in ourselves. The loss of diversity isn't just happening out there in the boardrooms but, and for most, within ourselves.
When asked "who are you?", my answer is: “many and multitudes”. It is frightening how we imprison ourselves in little roles or in the image we have of self rather than focusing on who one actually is. “So many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them.” (John O’Donohue)
By not living our multitudes and not questioning the “single fragmented identity” we confine ourselves to smaller and smaller compartments. To celebrate the multitudes we all contain and to welcome the wonder that comes from discovering one another’s multitudes is an act of inclusion. We profess freedom, independence, liberation and actually we end up imprisoning ourselves in fragmented identities. The first roadblock to inclusion is that we do not preserve our uniqueness instead we attempt to look like anyone/somebody else flattening diversity. Look around...what do you see? What do you hear?
Since a young age we learn to dislike the unique blend that makes us diverse from each other. We want the same things our friends have, we try to blend in the group. If we do not blend in, we are immediately labeled and ashamed as “the different one”. How do we think of suddenly becoming inclusive, just because a company’s policy tell us to do so, after we spent years avoiding being called different? If we continue to use the word “different” as an insult forget about the miracles promised by any inclusion initiative. Start instead by teaching children to compliment each other for their differences rather than shaming each other as weird. Learn how to embrace your uniqueness and preserve it. Ask yourself what facets (what I call the multitudes) you have carved out in order to fit in. How can you start integrating them in your life and how the whole might lead to more inclusion?
It takes courage and vulnerability to be human. We are all custodians of our multitudes, to become an advocate of inclusion start advocating your own excluded multitudes. (Complement this thought with reading The Whisper https://lnkd.in/gcUmfay).
The whole business model is the mental construct, the manifestation of an idea or concept in the pursuit of the needs we have. How do we shift it towards what Peter Senge called the “primacy of the whole”? Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal we cannot work first only on the self or first on the world. We need to understand that we only exist in relationship to each other. We do not become inclusive if we do not become whole.
Life relies on diversity to give it the possibility of adapting to changing conditions. If a system becomes too homogenous, it becomes vulnerable to environmental shifts. If one form is dominant, and that form no longer works in the new environment, the entire system is at risk. For an organization to live true diversity and capitalise on its promises it needs to be inclusive. If, as leaders, we fail to encourage unique and diverse ways of being, we destroy the entire system's capacity to adapt. Is it possible to develop a sense of shared meaning without denying our diversity? Are there ways that organizations can develop a shared sense of what's significant without forcing people to accept someone else's viewpoint? There is a powerful paradox at work here, diversity as a way to unity.
We have become a society that labels people in greater and greater details. We know each other's personality types, leadership styles, syndromes. We are quick to assign people to a box and then dismiss them, as if we really knew who they were. We do it to ourselves too. However, if we are willing to listen to the stories behind the boxes, we discover that they originate from a unifying center: we all have a story. And we cannot hate someone whose story we know. You might argue that these days, we don't have time to get to know each others' stories, to be curious about who a person is, or why she or he is behaving in a particular way. I invite you to listen to your own stories and the one of your colleagues, their diverse interpretations, what they find meaningful in their work. The act of listening to each other always brings us closer. We may not like them or approve but if we listen, we move past the labels. We notice another human being who has a reason for certain actions, who is trying to make a contribution to our organization or community. The stereotypes that have divided us melt away. We realize that only by joining together we are able to create the change we all want to see in the world.
My personal motto is: there is no way to inclusion, inclusion is the way. And following this way it is going off the beaten path. It is a way to create and resolve the fears of being excluded, rejected, called names. It is in fact a path that requires us to become fully visible in our wholeness. This frighten us as we have instead learnt to fly under radar (even when we think we are leading!) to make sure no one (self included) finds us in the wholeness of our multitudes. Because, this way, however painful, is safer.
This is the second blog post of a series in which I will explain about the three pillars of ReNEWBusiness: Integrity, Inclusion and Innovation. You can read my post on how they are “my” recipe to innovate business on the HuffPost
The 3 I program developed on these 3 values is for those leaders who want to inspire transformation and build teams/organisations everyone wants to work for.
What is the 3 I program? It is a step-by-step approach for:
• knowing, expressing and integrating who you truly are in everything you do,
• creating inspiring, purpose-driven business cultures,
• improving overall energy and well-being.
It is based on the RNEWB Integral Leadership Framework, which guides participants through a structured approach. Get in contact with me to learn how to bring this approach to you and your organisation if you wan to:
1 Strengthen authentic personality, purpose & emotional intelligence
2 Develop leadership abilities for creating human-centered inspiring organisations
3 Learn how to re-new your organisation for higher accountability, responsibility, collaboration & engagement.
ReNEWBusiness’ mission is making business a human experience. It is about time we choose what experience we want to have and create through our businesses.