Victimhood, Survivorship – Two Sides of the Same Hook

Me In My Meditation Tree

This morning, on my run, I had a revelation.  I wasn’t particularly looking for a revelation – it just showed up.  The power of it could have knocked me over – except it fully formed when I was sitting in my meditation tree in my back yard after my run – and it definitely brought tears flowing as I felt release from a long held story.  The revelation? The story of survivorship is inextricably tethered to the story of victimhood.

I haven’t thought much about being a survivor over the last year as I have mostly felt joy in this new phase of my life.  On my run, I was feeling joy and inspiration, alive and vibrant, connecting to nature in the unseen ways that nature is also alive and vibrant.  Feeling really good.  Reflecting on events of the last week and a half that had me off my ground and my centre and then the three conversations/events that brought me back to my centre and a feeling of being myself.

One of my friends offered me, very bluntly, an acknowledgement of the victim threads buried in the story I wrote to her.  It highlighted it so brilliantly at first I was startled and then I laughed to see the truth of it.  And seeing the truth of it released it.

As I reflected on this experience this morning I realized I have lived into a story of survivorship probably most of my life, even before I was old enough to be consciously aware that that’s what I did.  I survived the story of my birth (a story for another time), growing up in a small town (only half a joke), two divorces, an ectopic pregnancy, job loss under crazy and difficult circumstances, starting a company, merging businesses, separating businesses, difficult and challenging personal and work relationships.   After all, the other choice was to be a victim.  And God forbid that I would ever be a victim.  I will always rise up and overcome whatever challenge shows up on my path.  I am a survivor.  I am strong.  I am resilient.  And this is all good.

Except, of course, for my little revelation this morning.  In order for the survivor story to be alive and well in me, the victim story is also alive and well but buried deep.  Victim and survivor are contrasting sides the same story – two sides of the same hook.  If it is only a choice between these two things, then of course, I want to be a survivor.  But if the survivor story is alive and well in me, even if I have lost conscious awareness of it, then in order to be a survivor, I must attract circumstances and challenges to myself so I can continue to live into the story of being a survivor.

The core of the revelation: without those challenges I am neither victim or survivor.  There are not just two choices.  There are a myriad of choices.  I can live into my life, path and purpose with freedom, joy, love, eagerness and enthusiasm.  I can still attract growth and contrast to my life, but they don’t need to be challenges.  They can be offerings from which I can choose the path that path serves the joyful, delightful core that is calling me.  I can accept, allow, receive.  How much more powerful is that than choosing only between victim and survivor but to release that hook and choose a completely different story and unfolding of my life as this new phase is just getting started.

Deeply grateful to friends, to nudges along the path and the beautiful shifting shape of my life, relationships and work that has only just begun.  Hungry for more.  Ready for more.

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Leadership Means Crossing a Threshold

The Indo-European root of the word lead and leadership (leith) means to go forth, to cross the threshold or to die.

The challenges we face in the world right now – the big world or our own smaller worlds – are pressuring us to see differently, to sharpen and deepen our attention and to cultivate  our capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate – the place of presencing in Otto Scharmer’s U Theory.

So, why is it that so many of us – leaders in our organizations and our communities – protest the investment of a few days completely away to engage in stillness or reflective practices that enable and build the capacity to see and then cross the inner threshold that shifts the shape of individuals, organizations and communities? And, why are those of us who see the need and know the benefit reluctant to specifically request or recommend this to other leaders we know?

Have we fallen into the trap of limiting beliefs – believing it is not possible to invest this time, that people won’t make the investment or commit the time or that it truly is impossible for leaders to turn off the electronics and their accessibility even for a few days?

Is this a blind spot we need to illuminate?  Is this a reflection of the inner landscape that needs to shift in order to be available to the future that is wanting to happen?

Our awareness and our consciousness determines the qualities of our actions and results.  In Theory U,  Scharmer asks: How can we renew our culture so that every human being is considered a carrier of a sacred project: the journey of becoming one’s authentic self?

As long as we aren’t ready to face and confront the inner abyss, we will stay stuck in the patterns of thinking, behaviour and action that have generated our current results, results that many agree do not support the sustainability of the earth or our current lifestyle – on an individual and collective basis.

If we could truly see the value of shifting the shape of our inner world, knowing it would allow us to cross the threshold into a more integrated way of being with a more responsive capacity to work successfully with the institutional and systemic crises we are faced with, wouldn’t even a significant amount of time – not just days but weeks or months, on an annual basis – become a worthwhile investment?

What is the renewal of hope and inspiration needed to compel us into this pursuit of the sacred project – the journey of becoming one’s authentic self – to understand that as our inner self shifts  we build the capacity, individually and collectively, to tune into, more frequently and in greater numbers, the future that wants to live through us, more becomes possible and maybe our very future depends on it.