Being is Connecting
We often find ourselves walking many paths at the same time.
For me, these have included founding social design agency thinkpublic at the age of 23, creating new health services for a global business, co-founding a cinema, becoming a Mum, and more recently to launching a holistic wellbeing practice. It can be hard to reconcile all of these identities sometimes.
I have generally kept quiet about many of my wider interests in my work life until recently. Yet I’m learning that it is necessary to connect more with our whole selves to help us solve many of the complex challenges we face today.
So now is the right time for me to embrace this way of being, and I see many others slowly doing the same, starting by reconnecting with ourselves, with others, and with the planet.
1. How can we better connect with ourselves?
It’s time to move on from the ‘to do list’ to the ‘to be list’ instead. All change, no matter how big or small, starts within.
We are bombarded by information and distractions that pulls our attention and thinking in an array of different directions. We have around 60,000 thoughts per day, and the average person checks their phone 28 times a day.
With all that noise, sometimes it’s hard to determine what we actually think and feel about ourselves in relation to the world. It can sometimes feel like we are jumping from thought to thought, without truly going deeper into anything. How can we break through the noise to deeply listen to ourselves and figure out who we are, what we enjoy, and what we believe in?
The rise of meditation and mindfulness have been at the forefront of helping people to access our inner quiet places. I have also been exploring and training in breath work, sound healing, cacao ceremonies and forest bathing as a few other forms of re-connecting with ourselves and the wider wisdom of nature. Yet, how can we further develop this inner knowledge as leaders working in complex systems, without necessarily retreating into a forest?
One example comes from the International Futures Forum (IFF) who have developed a leadership programme around rediscovering 21st Century Competencies which have become suppressed such as trusting our intuition, such as being totally present and open to not knowing the answers. After experiencing their leadership programme last year, I have started to bring this way of being into design, co-production and wellbeing projects, as a way of helping teams building inner trust and confidence to navigate and lead within complexity.
2. How can we better connect with each other?
We all need to become better listeners. Not just at the level of reconfirming what we already think or feel, but in opening our minds to new ideas, ways of being and understanding. Celeste Headlee was trained as both a journalist and musician – both professions that require excellent listening skills - and shares lots of practical insights about how to become better listeners and have more meaningful conversations in this TED Talk.
But I’m also particularly interested in ways we can reconnect with others beyond just having a traditional conversation. So, to explore this further I’ve set up a partnership experiment called The Collective Consciousness. We are interested in exploring ways to strengthen our collective ability to access and draw on the collective unconscious and bring it into our collective awareness.
Sharing a worldview that everything and everyone is connected. Yet conscious awareness, perception and sensation of this invisible network have barely been explored, and could hold potential as an extremely powerful tool in transforming behaviour and actions. We’re running an enquiry group soon, so it this sounds like something you’d like to explore please get in touch and join in.
3. How can we better connect with our natural world?
Lastly, we have become increasingly disconnected from nature, even though we know intuitively that it’s good for us.
By 2050, according to the United Nations Population Division, three quarters of the world’s people will live in cities. Even now, the average American spends 93 percent of the time indoors, and some ten hours a day on social media—more than they spend asleep. And this recent government survey claims that 75% of children spend more time indoors than prisoners, which is an alarming statistic!
I believe that we urgently need to re-connect with nature for transformation and re-discovery of our true selves. The Scandinavia concept of Forest School, provides outdoor education experiences for students to explore natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills has been organically growing in popularity and maybe should be something we can learn from.
In summary, we have forgotten to give respect to the unseen connections all around us – within ourselves, within each other, and within nature. I’m excited about what might be possible if we start to reconnect in this way.
To conclude inspired by the words of Otto Scharmer, now is the time to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility.