Leadership, resilience and kindness in troubled times
Leadership, resilience and kindness in troubled times.
How skillful, systemic NLP tools and approaches can help us.
Like many people in the UK I’m still in shock and disbelief at the results of our referendum, the collapse of our economy and political system, and the rise of racism and hate crimes on our streets.
PPD Learning has always been an international training company with many students, clients, friends and colleagues from all over the world and especially in Europe. We value diversity and community. Our vision and mission relate to social change, peace and justice in the world.
On Friday 24th June I wrote this on facebook.
‘To all our dearest friends and colleagues in and from Europe and the world outside the UK - we love you, you are welcome here, we stand with you, we are here for you, in international community and love.’
Now, a few days later, I want to remind us how we might help each other and ourselves in a situation of such uncertainty and fear. Challenges and crashes on this scale require skills on the ground of effective communication, emotional intelligence and systemic problem solving.
This is an opportunity for practitioners of NLP to make a positive contribution in our communities. Here are some simple guidelines and suggestions drawn from basic NLP tools and principles.
‘The map is not the territory’ – NLP Presupposition
The ‘maps’ we make of the causes and meanings of this crisis will determine the kinds of choices we make when it comes to creating a liveable future together.
It’s useful to have the mental agility to truly sense and to see the unformed potential in this and in every moment. We can train ourselves to become aware of our inbuilt, cultural and personal biases and to reconnect to the spaciousness and openness of the here and now. Multiple descriptions of our situation in history, politics, economics, psychology etc. are also helpful. There is no one true map and version of events.
Nothing is decided. We create the future out of the ‘maps’, thoughts and actions of today. Let’s be willing to stay open to possibility and committed to bringing out the best in ourselves and in others.
May the ‘maps’ we make of this situation support us to become more resilient, wise and compassionate in the face of fear, violence and despair.
What do we want to make happen? What sort of world do we want? When things are changing so rapidly it’s helpful to strengthen our vision of a better world for all, one that people want to belong to.
We can align the smaller everyday goals with this. How can this particular goal, action, project etc. express these values, intentions and vision?
You cannot not communicate, you are always influencing
How do I want to influence and help in this situation? What types of personal energy and behaviors do I want to embody and model? How do I want to be and how do I want to act? What sort of responses and feelings in others do I want to elicit?
There’s feedback and learning in all situations
When things go wrong it’s what happens next that matters, and that includes what we can do personally to make things happen differently. Although there are ‘failures’ and ‘dead ends’ they are forms of feedback that hold useful information about what might work better for the future.
There’s trial and error in many changes we make. Stay open to the learning and resourceful enough to keep going.
‘State’, staying grounded, emotional intelligence, basic sanity
Our tools, approaches and practices in this area will be tested! Staying centred and grounded and able to communicate effectively will be key to our individual and collective recovery and well-being. What is happening is like a national ‘CRASH’ state and it’s easy to be pulled into it.
It’s when we are more aware and centred in ourselves that we can generate the new kinds of thinking that we need to solve our problems. It’s how we are able to bring out more potential and capacity to reach into the unknown. It’s how we can most truly support others and appreciate their perspectives and contributions.
When I want to blame, negatively judge and experience myself as a victim in a situation I know I am not in an optimal state to make wise choices. It’s OK of course, its human, it’s ‘letting off steam’. It’s not a useful default mode though if others around me are also fearful and angry. Emotions are contagious, judgments frame perception, a crowd becomes a mob.
- Breathe. Be present. Go for walks, laugh, love, eat wisely, sleep.
- Stay awake to the possibilities and engage with making something positive happen. Stay intelligently informed.
- When you can, be kind.
‘Positive intentions’, motivating values, ‘2nd position’, rapport
Can I imagine myself in someone else’s situation and see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they are feeling? Can I sense what is motivating them, what’s important to them, what values are driving their actions?
Having empathy and finding the fellow feeling and point of connection with people you disagree with and fear is a huge life skill. Maybe the ‘others’ in this situation share your values like ‘survival’ ‘belonging’ ‘agency’ ‘visibility’ ‘humanity’ ‘prosperity’ ‘safety’ ‘thriving’?
There seems to be evidence that at least some of the communities who voted to leave and who are most angry did so from a feeling (and a reality) of being neglected and abandoned. Many of these come from the poorest parts of the country. Their vote was a message. The idea of ‘taking back control’ is important. For others who wanted to remain, ‘safety’ and ‘stability’ seem to have been key. Taking back control is perhaps a way of expressing what might need to happen for some people to feel safe and stable.
To understand and connect with people at the level of their values is not the same as endorsing or condoning their behavior. Violent and racist behavior is always unacceptable.
Identifying and appreciating each other’s values and experience is the basis for being able to connect, heal, negotiate and generatively collaborate to find acceptable and transformational solutions in this crisis.
Leadership and NLP
In these extreme times of challenge and change we are confronted with old patterns in ourselves and in our societies that no longer seem to work. We can get stuck and contract into a survival mode. It’s hard to see what’s possible. It’s hard to create the new and transformational modes of thought and relationship.
In NLP we say the people have all the resources they need. What this means is that we are wired to adapt and learn. We have unused potential and abilities which with the right kind of support and framing can be awakened. Can we somehow expand and grow in this situation? Can we both perceive and create the opportunities and make new, better, kinder ways of living together possible?
The word ‘democracy’ in the NLP Meta Model is a ‘nominalisation’,
a noun that is the label for an ongoing living process. In other words democracy is something we do, an active engagement with our society. It’s about how we want to organize ourselves and live meaningful lives together.
Like many people in London I voted, not uncritically, to remain in the EU. I value ideas and institutions that build bridges and encourage people to get to know each other and work together for the good of all. My own take on this situation focuses more on the flaws in advanced global capitalism and the politics of austerity.
In every crisis there is opportunity. We don’t yet know what’s possible. NLP tools offer a framework for community leadership and positive contribution. I hope you find these notes useful. You are welcome here. You belong. We value your uniqueness and gifts. We see you.
Judith Lowe, London
28 June 2016