Webs of Belonging
Many of you will know that I have recently moved to Sweden. I am in the process of making a home here with the man I love, hence the move. I know, that like a spider I carry with me a thread; a thread of resources, abilities and identity - a narrative that I have developed through my 52 years of life. However now, I need firm structures here, loadstones, to attach the weight bearing strands of my narrative thread to, so that I can start to weave a sense of belonging here. The more loadstones I identify, the wider and more intricate my web can be.
This thought led me to think of identity and sense of self and how we develop these throughout our lives. As children, our sense of self predominantly comes through our parents. Some parents are firm and positive foundations, giving us a narrative that is positive and enabling, some are firm and negative, providing a consistent negative narrative that can be disabling and other parents are weak and broken and struggle to provide us with anything other than fragments of narratives. As you grow, if you are lucky, school, relatives, friends, provide other structures and threads that can enhance your web of self and identity into something that you will enjoy weaving for the rest of your life and something that you can take ownership of. Those who have been in the care system, can find this difficult. Many have been moved through different 'settings,' or families and therefore struggle to start to weave a full sense of themselves. Too often their webs have been crumpled and broken on the wind of change and movement and they are left, as adults, with hardly any thread on their backs to weave a web of belonging . I know that in the UK Care System many children are now given 'My Story' Journals that help them try and make a self-narrative within so much change.
I then believe this concept also impacts on organisations and leadership, if the 'Leader' only has threads coming to them, it would be like the spokes of a wheel without the rim to hold everything in place. We need 'sideways' movement in order to build complexity and strength. We also need a range of foundation supports within our organisations, not just one. I believe that our core-values should be the loadstones for our organisations, allowing people to easily identify and connect with them. The leader may be the central point, the hub, ensuring connections are made, but the Leader should never be the loadstone, this does not create a strong web, it creates a warped web that will not stand change.
Remembering our core values, remembering what is important to us as individuals, what keeps us going, what renews us and makes us feel good is as essential in our work as it is outside of work. When I ask Leaders to identify what their core values our, I hear; 'kindness,' 'authenticity,' 'truthfulness.' How can these be separate to your work if they inform your identity? Yet how often do we as Leaders make space for them within our organisations, create spaces and rituals to celebrate them? I truly believe it is only when we create spaces that give people permission to fully 'be' who they are that we will have organisations that drive forward with strength and meaning for all. For me these 'spaces' involve story and play, visioning and 'trying things out' with the no sense of there being a wrong or right way - only a sense of 'lets see what happens.'
True change does not come through systems, statistics, and analytics, true change comes from those who create the systems, statistics and analytics, from the people within and connecting to what is within them.