You Are A Seed
Within us is a code for certain good works but also have the freedom to “self-organize” and break our own personal as well as cultural “scripts” — we can all become “transformational change agents.” “Transforming a human system usually requires that we transform ourselves, and this is the key to the process” (pp. 1-4). (And the human system has to respond to the change in us.)
What happens when we no longer judge someone as the problem? (p. 6).
Refer to Gandhi, the movie. “At this extraordinary moment, control makes a paradoxical shift from the physically dominant man (the policeman) of external authority to the physically wounded man (Ghandi) of internal authority..,,What we have in this scene are examples of two types of change. Incremental changes are those that happen within normal expectations. For the crowd to lose its courage in the face of the policeman’s brutality is an incremental change. It is a relatively small and predictable change. For the policeman to be suddenly frozen in his tracks by a wounded and seemingly powerless individual, however, is an instance of transformational change. It is outside our normal expectations. It is profound change” (pp. 8-9).
Normal Change Theory
Three general strategies for change in a normal situation (Chin and Benne 1969) — “telling (making logical arguments for change), forcing (using forms of leverage such as the threat of being fired or being ostracized), and participating (using open dialogue and pursuing win-win strategies)” (pp. 9-12).
Advanced Change Theory
ACT — “a set of action principles for more effectively introducing change to human systems….’Action from principle, the perception and performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything that was’….“In the face of principled behavior, the individual observer is constantly required to choose between preservation of the current self or the creation of the new self” (pp. 13-15).
“Thoreau’s statement about principle suggests that moral power plays a major role in the transformational process” (p. 17).
“To observe transformational capability, we cannot observe normal people doing normal things. We must observe people who are living by principle. To develop transformational capability, we cannot be normal people doing normal things. We must stand outside the norm. To that end we must ask who we are, what we stand for, and what impact we really want to have….The ideas I present here…suggest that the process of significant self-modification and change, of knowing and personifying core values, leads to a sense of empowerment. Empowerment leads to increased experimentation, creativity, learning, and impact. These results, in turn, lead to the development of unique characteristics and the capacity to transform human contexts” (p. 19).
Refer to Gandhi, the movie: the pastor and the thugs
Gandhi and King
“…Gandhi and King were both devoted students of Jesus…I then went to the New Testament and began a search for the philosophies and behaviors these three men shared. From there came the seed thoughts at the beginning of each chapter. From the unfolding of each chapter came the principles of ACT” (pp. 23-24)
Eight Seed Thoughts For Changing The World
- Envision Productive Community
- “Productive community is a synergistic community, made up of groups of people who are becoming more inner directed and other focused. In this community the common good and the individual good overlap. There is clear purpose and structure. There is high cohesion and responsiveness” (p. 119).
- “The three change agents see a system of relationships in which the members share a common purpose and each works for the benefit of all…[productive communities]. When people become members of productive communities they tend to become more inner directed and other focused. They tend to be motivated by a calling that they feel deep within . They make contributions that exceed narrow self-interest. People in productive communities also have another unusual characteristic. They want to be connected to reality. They want to know what is real, even if the news is bad” (p. 28).
- “…none of the change agents say anything about abolishing hierarchy” (p. 29).
- “…sacrifices led to increased commitment. The increased commitment resulted in new behavior, and the new behavior changed the vision. She could now see potential no one else could see” (p. 31).
- Note the differences between frozen bureaucracy, dynamic hierarchy, structured anarchy, and chaotic anarchy. Note that there are positive and negative forms of bureaucracy and adhocracy (p. 40).
- “Deep change is not incremental change; rather, it is radical or ‘out-of-the-box’ change. It usually requires letting go of control” (p. 41)
- “He was beginning to see that fear of punishment and sense of inadequacy had caused him to get stuck. He had lost his sense of meaning. He was not growing….The notion of growing is key to understanding a basic truth — that when we experience meaning, we are in the process of becoming” (p. 44).
- “I think by community Palmer means a collection of human beings who can effectively pursue a common purpose while also growing individuals” (p. 48).
- “In asking ‘What is the right thing to do?’ the transformational change agent is asking a second critical question: What result do I want? Such change agents are not asking How do I get what I want?…Transformational change agent is willing to go outside his or her defined position and violate expectations in order to originate productive community” (p. 53).
- Look Within
- “I would suggest that we do not find a purpose: a purpose finds us. The process does not begin with some kind of goal-setting process. It begins by making fundamental choices about our own life and what we stand for….” (p. 61).
- “Clarifying our purpose and committing to pursue the highest in us is transformational” (p. 64).
- “[We] need to look within for at least two reasons. The first has to do with purpose: making fundamental choices about who we are. The second involves realigning our behavior accordingly. By honoring and acting in alignment with our ideals, we grow within and increase what Gandhi called “soul force….The clearer we are about ourselves, the greater our capacity for change. Instead of responding in expected ways, we can step outside of our routines. Instead of reacting as expected, we choose our response to meet present circumstances” (p. 68).
- Embrace Hypocritical Self
- “With most change, it is a challenge to awaken the conscience….[The story of Jesus halting the stoning of the adulterous woman] illustrates the powerful impact that moral leadership can have in the transformational process” (p. 72).
- “Argyris..believes there is a universal pattern in professional life. He says that we tend to organize our lives around four basic values. We strive to (1) remain in control, (2) win, (3) suppress negative feelings, and (4) pursue rational objectives. In light of these values, any suggestion of failure is going to feel like a threat. We avoid negative feelings through ‘dissociation,’ that is, by separating ourselves from anything that might cast us in a less favorable light. Ironically, we shut down at the exact moment that we most need to be open to learning. In doing so, we begin the process of stagnation, or slow death” [Recall The Man Who Listens to Horses story]” (p. 73).
- “What is the bottom line? As painful as it might be for us to accept, the truth is that we are all hypocrites. And this is information that we either do not know or do not want to know. Why? Because we value control, winning, suppression of negative feelings, and the pursuit of rational objectives, we find ways to neutralize the slightest signal that we might be making a mistake or failing. We resist any evidence that we might be less than perfect. Our hypocrisy leads to dysfunctional behavior in our relationships with others….The channels of communication get distorted. The system does not grow. We keep exerting authority in order to preserve our positive self-image, at least in our own minds. However, the more we do this the more disconnected and ineffective we become….We project our dark feelings on others. Implicitly or explicitly we say, ‘You were responsible’” (p. 75).
- “Whenever I am in a change situation, I almost always ask the terrible question: How am I practicing hypocrisy in this situation?” (p. 84).
- Transcend Fear
- “When we learn the whole story [feeding the five thousand and departing to the mountain) we discover that he was committed to being internally and not externally driven. It was important to him that he remain very clear about who he was and what results he wanted….Like Jesus, Gandhi understood how external sanctions can shape our lives and divert us from our true purpose. He saw that to be internally driven one had to listen to one’s conscience….Like Gandhi, Dr. King understood that most of us, even though we might deny it, are driven by fears of what will happen to us if we fail to conform to the will of the system. He also understand that suppressing our fears only caused them to multiply. He argued that we need to bring those fears to the surface and face them head on” (p. 89).
- “What are the shackles that hold us? One of the most central is the need for social approval” (p. 90).
- “At the personal level, my frustrations over feeling powerless tend to turn into more serious problems. My self-image grows increasingly negative. I see myself as a person of little value. My behaviors reflect those feelings. I then attract people who also have a negative self-image and who need to feel superior. We form co-dependent and often abusive relationships” (pp. 92-93).
- “The individuals, groups, teams, and organizations will not change until they can identify and embrace their potential, that is, really grasp what they are capable of achieving. This will not happen until one person, somewhere, makes a fundamental choice and begins to demonstrate a new way of being” (p. 94).
- “Our social fears generally have to do with wanting to be perceived as competent and being accepted as a contributing member of the group. Within any organization upon which we are dependent for our well-being, we are naturally going to be concerned that the authority figure sees us as competent. In fact, one of our greatest fears is failing to meet up to the expectations of an important authority figure” (p. 94).
- “Notice that Dr. King does not tell us that we should be without fears….Transformational people have many fears and they are willing to admit to them” (p. 95).
- “The paradox is that if we hold onto the scripts that got us to our present level of wealth and status, we will lose wealth and status. Wealth and status are not the ends for which we are on the earth. We are here to seed the universe, to contribute to the emergence of the larger systems in which we exist. That requires that we transcend our old scripts…. It is only by letting go of our desires for wealth and power that we grow” (p. 104).
- “When we create, we claim the role we attribute to God. In most traditions, God is defined as the great creator, the original cause of the process from which we emerge. Now, as inner-directed and other-focused originators, we become one with the great source” (p. 105).
- “Practicing transcendence by progressively letting go of object reference is not easy task. For most of us, it is impossible until we find a unique mission….’Based on all the good and bad things that have happened in your life, what unique mission have you been prepared to serve that no one else can serve?….[Frankl] noted two points that are relevant here. First, that people are always free to choose [how they will respond]. Second, having a sense of purpose give us the strength and the capacity to transcend even very abusive and even life-threatening situations” (p. 106).
- “Our lives are no longer determined by the scripts assigned by the group. We become the authors of our own stories. In doing so, we violate the key assumptions of the social sciences and the key assumption of the people around us: We are transcending our own culture” (p. 113).
- Contrast: Where is God? Cf. The Kingdom Vision: Apprentices to Jesus
- “The madness of the world rages all around, yet in places and events influenced by the apprentice of Jesus, we see God’s heart made visible. When this becomes our goal, we dispel any thought that is just another form of self-actualization or personal development. Thankfully, the objective is more magnificent than that. Ultimately, we seek first the kingdom of God. This was the unifying vision that knit together everything Jesus said and did” (Upended, p. 23).
- We each have a kingdom to manage: when we “choose to align our influence with God’s will, the good that He intended for us from the beginning springs up” (Upended, p. 23).
- Contrast: Where is God? Cf. The Kingdom Vision: Apprentices to Jesus
- “Be The Change You Wish To See”
- “Why is it necessary to embody the common good? Becoming the personification of the vision inspires others. They are lifted to new behaviors by our behavior. In witnessing our courage, they take courage. As they engage in new patterns of behavior, a new community begins to arise” (p. 120).
- “There is a saying that perception is projection, meaning that the world we perceive is one that we have molded by projecting our beliefs onto it” (p. 121).
- “I believe everything I have learned about the problems of organizations can be stated in a single sentence: In organizations, individuals often choose personal good over the collective good” (p. 124).
- “When someone in the good chooses personal good over collective good, we sense that we are all being cheated….In an organization, when someone chooses personal good over collective good, trust begins to wither. Commitment and cohesion begin to disintegrate….The same deterioration occurs when the organizational good is chosen over the good of the larger society….People in the organization do not like how they must now see themselves. They practice denial. Everything becomes more transactional” (p. 125).
- (You Are Already) Disturbing The System
- “In organizations, transformational change agents do not seek to maintain equilibrium as managers are typically trained to do. Instead, they seek to understand the system deeply and the individuals who are such integral parts of it. Then they try to disrupt the system so that participants must step outside their scripts, pay attention to what is happening right now, and engage in new behaviors” (p. 162).
- “Resistance is not where transcendence ends or even where it stops off for a while, but where it begins….Think of resistance as a feedback loop in which the change agent and the resisting system are joined in creative tension. One is the acorn and one is the soil. As they interpenetrate, they gain the potential to move to still another level of complexity and integration. A self-organization system is in place. Those who know how to facilitate significant change no only don’t avoid resistance, they seek it, knowing how essential it is for the transformational process to be successful” (pp. 167-168).
- “So in the end, systems move to new levels of complexity because they are disturbed. Yet the basic irony about all this, since systems are designed to prevent disturbances, that is, to help each person within the system maintain a steady course. Even so, human collectives can never transform until someone cares enough, and dares enough, to deviate and disturb them” (p. 169).
- NOTE Ch 8, p. 171: “The sacred servants suggest that we should trust the emergent process. Jesus tells his disciples that their behavior will disturb the system and they will be brought to stand before authority figures. He then advises them to not worry but trust the process: ‘Take now thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak….[The] sacred servants tell us that if we change our state of being, we can transcend the shackles of fear, and in such a state we will enter the transformational reality and accomplish transformational deeds.”
- Surrender To The Emerging Reality
- “Now here’s a heretical thought. Leadership is not about results. It is about commitment….Most people want to be told how to get extraordinary results with minimum risk….Leadership means go forth and die. Normal people do not do it because they have nothing worth dying for. The transformational person will argue: ‘Until we have something worth dying for, we have nothing worth living for.’ Transactional people often life lives of ‘quiet desperation.’…The transformational person is focused on something bigger than self. One of the most incomprehensible aspects of the transformational perspective is that personal survival is not the first law of nature” (pp. 179, 183).
- Forget Power; Enhance With Moral Authority
- “I believe that perfection is a dynamic state that we enter whenever we are closing one of our integrity gaps, thus becoming more perfect. When we exercise the courage to close an integrity gap, we experience victory over the self and become connected to a deeper reality. We also gain increased moral power. People see and are attracted by our increased integrity” (p. 193).
- “[Looking] through other people’s eyes can mean that we have to change. We can’t simply assume that telling people to change is going to get the results we want” (p. 202)