The close of a year can be a natural time of reflection, and I guess for leaders, managers, consultants concerned with transforming businesses, it may be even more so. This year I’d like to invite you to take a look back with me from a lens of “how”: How did we make our way through the year? What did we change, learn, do differently? Sometimes our shifts due to learning are not so obvious, not so tangible, and rather creeping compared to our achievements. But in transformational times like ours, learning, changing, and adapting has become a key capacity. So, I hope you’ll get inspired to join me by recapping your 2022 from a lens of “learning”:
1) What or who inspired (or provoked) you to change habits this year?
I guess my biggest learning this year was that: birthing something new is a messy thing – no matter how much you try to sort it out or plan for it. Taking on the Partnering Leadership Academy project having no clue about how to establish an online business - my perfectioned planning-mastery wasn’t helpful this time. So, I had to jump into the messiness and started by inviting a group of friends and colleagues to share how they thought to go about it. Looking back, this was probably the most unfamiliar and yet best thing I could do! Not to escape but rather raise this chaotic messiness, standing in the void of absent clarity resulted somehow magically in the right steps unfolding, one at a time.
To be honest, first it felt rather desperate than confident to let my mastery of planning, organizing and to-do lists behind. But then I realized how much creativity this process allowed to emerge, and finally it ended in a first set-up of what I call a minimum viable version of the Partnering Leadership Academy. Plus, it left me with a great circle of wonderful people who are passionate about supporting this mission going forward, which I am deeply grateful for. So, for 2023, I wish to build on this learning and get more confident in allowing the duality between planning and riding-the-flow to become an even smoother dance.
2) How did (or do) you stay creative and open?
This is a question for me :-). I actually LOVE new and other perspectives. And I cultivate them in two ways: reading, watching or listening – not the short noisy headlines, but the long content, which is not always easy to find in this immediate attention-grabbing world. And, by the way, this is actually one of my wishes for 2023 - that we come back to the beauty of greatly-produced long content, films, books, articles. It's only there where we can give different perspectives a space and learn from them. For example, I really loved the Netflix series “Playlist”, which made it an art form to show the richness of all different perspectives on one thing, and not valuing one perspective superior to another one. It taught us to refrain from judging others too quickly.
But even more than reading I love getting in touch with people from different cultures, ages, professions and backgrounds. For example, writing the book “Das Richtige Tun” together Günter, who has a totally different background than myself, enriched me enormously by helping me to understand how viewpoints are coined from these different histories, and it also helped me to understand my viewpoint better. In the same vein, I also loved to “refresh” my perspective this year by engaging in exchanges with my research fellows from Africa and USA, with a group of Iranian people, or by going to places where the local farmers from my hometown meet.
I realized more than ever that the true value of democracies unfolds if we can find richness in different viewpoints without the need to put one superior to another.
But I admit this is not always easy. Particularly if opinions are completely different from ours. How to deal with that? I try to follow, as much as I can, the advice from the psychologist Harlich Stavemann, who suggests to take controversial opinions as new information, like "Interesting, how one can see this world – I never saw it that way, tell me more!" I find it definitely helpful. Try it out and let me know!
3) What have you recently changed your mind about?
I remember two things, although I am sure there have certainly been many more.
Eight years ago, I was invited to hold a speech on “creating collaborative advantage in a networked world” at the Business School of Namibian University of Science and Technology. One person in the audience asked me whether I think that collaborative advantage is meant to be the paradigm - not only for the inside of an organization but as well for the outside, basically a new economic idea. At that time, I said no. This year I’d say yes. And it’s the social systems scientist Riane Eisler who inspired my courage to think that “Partnerism” has indeed the potential to become the next economic paradigm, and I am grateful that Lisa Garr, my mentor, introduced me to her work.
And secondly, actually YOU! I sent out a survey during the summer months about what people would like us to offer first in our Partnering Leadership Academy. And while I was thinking that most interest lies in how to lead in partnering ways, I learned that most people are interested in learning about how to create partnering organizations, how to initiate this and how to exchange with others on this topic. That’s why I changed my mind and why I’ll start out – differently than I had planned - with a community of practice next year on this topic. So again, to all involved - thanks for that!
Overall, I am very grateful for this incredible learning journey in 2022 – I realized that being allowed to learn – even in stumbling ways – is one of the greatest human gifts that life can bless us with. It provides us with a richness in a totally different currency: Liveliness. We are invited to set free our creativity and courage, which leads to an increase in transformability, trust and confidence facing the unknown.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season wherever you are, and some time to celebrate your learnings of 2022 as much as your achievements!