One of my favourite things about the end of Summer is the new tradition 6heads have been building of taking to the skies for an evening of outdoor experiential learning, exploring liminal space and flying trapeze. A time to examine the rationality of our individual and organisational fear when it comes to embracing the unknown – and to use these lessons in our personal and professional lives to build resilience to change.
Liminal space is defined as the space between – and it is through this space we must navigate if we are to achieve any kind of change – whether it is our own behaviour, society, business strategy or, for many of us our impact, on the environment . In short we must let go of something familiar to take up something new and the transition is often through unchartered territory.
This morning’s blog by Felicia Jackson is a post flying reflection on the subject of bravery; which is particularly wonderful to read when you know Felicia’s first reaction to the evening was “It’s alright, apart from all the fear!”.
Trust underlies the potential for sustainability
I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in Six Heads second experiential exploration on the flying trapeze. The event was intended to help us explore how we address change, both organisationally and personally.
What made this exploration so exciting to me is the use of physical experience to highlight habits, thoughts and processes. In many ways it is arguable that nothing could be further from the intellectual than to climb up a fifty foot ladder (it may have been shorter, I’m very scared of heights..) and fling oneself off a platform holding on to a metal bar and swinging out into the evening air.
That may well be the truth. For me it certainly was, as the instant my feet left the platform my head was filled with white noise and my body felt a mixture of terror, adrenaline and joy. But it’s the joy that sticks with you. The joy that comes of asking your body to do something that your brain thinks is a bad idea, and it does it anyway. The feeling of relief and excitement at managing to do something that every part of you doesn’t want to do can be transformational. And taking that feeling back in to your intellectual life can drive a serious change in perspective.
Part of the process is about learning to trust. There are guide ropes and safety nets but if trapeze can teach you anything it’s that if you can’t trust, you won’t act. What it did for me however, was make me think about bravery. I left a comfortable job in my twenties to start my first business, and people kept telling me how brave I was. I would smile self-deprecatingly and move on, not really able to understand. I never felt brave, just sure that I was doing what I wanted to do, certain that I had a great idea, and was working with great people and was bound to succeed. It didn’t work out, but that’s another story.
It’s my physical failings that have taught me the meaning of bravery. I wasn’t brave striking out on my own because I wasn’t scared. I was brave climbing up that damn ladder because I really didn’t want to do it –not there was actually a way for me to hurt myself, but fear isn’t exactly rational. I can be physically brave, even if physically useless, because I don’t want to be beaten by my fear.
And, while I used to be brave in business, as I’ve grown older, and begun to understand just how challenging change can be, I need to remember that bravery as I strike out again on a series of new adventures. As I stood at the bottom of the ladder, people supporting and reassuring me despite having been total strangers an hour earlier, I felt that conviction from my twenties once again – if we can build trust and work together, we can change anything.
Felicia is Editor at Large at Cleantech Magazine
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