We bury our dreams, needs and desires under an endless list of reasons on why we can’t or should not embrace them. We have been conditioned to think that we are allowed to dream, desire or need only if we are capable to make a business case. We postpone the fulfilment of our wholeness to fit in the dreams of profit and performance of someone else. We learnt to turn our back on our longings and the one of others too if they do not match the dream of profit.
Our understanding of this world is somehow limited and stops at the surface rather than going deeper to its essence. An essence that is made up by apparent paradoxes and contradictions that don't make a “good” business case. Our habitual way to react to those paradoxes is steering the situation to one or the other side so that one side wins. We adopt a either/or approach that leads to competing for the “scarce” resources.
Opposites do not negate each other, they co-create reality. Parker Palmer said that: “when we think them apart we destroy the wholeness that they can bring to our lives”.
The Eagle and the Condor is an ancient prophecy of the Amazon that speaks of human societies splitting into two paths - that of the Eagle, and that of the Condor. The path of the Condor is the path of heart, of intuition, and of the feminine. The path of the Eagle is the path of the mind, of the industrial, and of the masculine. We have seen that both paths have their limitations. Only when they come together there is the possibility to restore balance to the planet.
How do we shift to the “primacy of the whole”?
We destroy the integrity of the whole when we think of taking apart the tension between the paradoxes of life instead of using it to create an harmonic sound; like when we stretch the string of a violin to have the right tension that produces an harmonious melody.
The Amazon tribes where the prophecy has been passed from generation to generation believe that, before we can see the eagle and the condor flying together, we need to be able to “dream a new future”.
At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable. - Christopher Reeve.
What if we start dreaming of integrity? A dream of integrity and appreciation for the inner and outer worlds we inhabit, the masculine and the feminine, intuition and logic thinking, light and shadow…for those polarities we constantly try to pull apart.
When we pull them apart to affirm the supremacy of one over the other, fragmentation, imbalances and inequalities build up. Our role as leaders is to build organisations that have in place structures that hold those paradoxes, that bring together the two poles. The question is then how do we build such structures?
It takes the courage to divorce manipulation and mere engineering in name of the creation (like artists do) of a systems where the connections are maintained: connection with self, connection with others, connection with the environment, connection with those ideas that hold a paradox. The challenge is expanding and manoeuvring towards the intersection in face of those obstacles and choose to entertain different point of views.
Integrity is what generates trust, what makes true collaboration and keeps those connections possible. It is the ability to pull everything together. What can you do today to create a system, an organisation, an experience that takes paradoxes, opposites, polarities into account? Do not think of engineering it, instead dream of yourself as an artist in the studio, what emerges? The complexity of modern systems cannot be understood by our old ways of separating, rearranging and doing.
In a complex system, highly inter and intra connected we need new ways of being: being both eagle and condor.