Something within me has shifted. I sit quietly today, grateful for the time I have to contemplate my future. I am living between two worlds, a yesterday filled with an established identity and a tomorrow filled with unknown possibilities. At times the tension between the two is maddening, but today, the mystery intrigues me.
Could it be that the world is offering me hope? I watch in amazement, profoundly moved by resolute citizens demanding change in the Middle East. They know what they want. They stand steadfast in their quest to transform a society. Their courage is unparalleled. Fear will not stop them.
My last entry conveyed the importance of holding the tension between our current reality and new possibilities for our future. Most of us realize what it is we’d like to change —meaningless work, unhealthy relationships, stressful days, lonely nights. We know what we don’t want–the unhappiness, the frustration, the discomfort, the fear–so we jump in head first, determined to replace the old with the new. We find a new job, get into a new relationship, take a vacation to wind us down or a new volunteer assignment to wind us up. Problem is, we often end up in the same old place, making superficial changes to the exterior of our lives, while our interior dimensions remain the same.
Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” It’s an amazing time in human history. Evolutionary change is happening right before our eyes. One man’s unwillingness to sell out to a corrupt regime set a nation on course to create a hopeful new vision. The tension we’ve witnessed in high-definition offers a profound example of how transformational change occurs. It happens not by replacing the old with the new, but instead, standing strong between the polarities of what has been and what we hope will be.
My life and my desire at this moment may seem inconsequential to the story playing out on the world stage. But my life is consequential, and my desire to transform it is very real to me. Robert Fritz, the author I mentioned in my previous blog entry, defines a framework for creating what he defines as structural tension. He writes,
“To change the structure there must be another structure in play, and this structure must take precedence over the old structure, so that the path of least resistance will change and the energy may move easily along that new path.”
The people of the Middle East have set a new structure in play–a vision of democracy fueled by civil resistance. They’re no longer willing to accept an old reality based on corruption, economic turmoil, and lack of free speech. The momentum they’ve created is unprecedented in their history. As creators of change, they’ve harnessed the tension between the two and engaged the forces at play.
I’m in awe of these people, for their courageous actions are unfathomable. Despite the odds against them, they are masterfully creating change as defined by Robert Fritz: 1) establishing a clear vision of their future, 2) confronting the truth of their current reality, 3) taking courageous action, assessing what works and what actions need modified in the present, 4) using the seeds of their movement to take root at a deeper level, and finally, 5) building on the momentum to strengthen a new structure.
The people of the Middle East are modeling the way to creative change, holding the tension between what is and what they hope will be. Between the two poles lies a sea of possibilities, but the only possibilities that make sense in pursuing, are those that align with their vision–a free society.
Determining the result we want is paramount. Before doing anything, we must first create a concrete picture in our mind. I’m pleased to report that my picture keeps getting clearer after experimenting and exploring several possibilities. I’ll tell you more in my next entry, when we focus solely on the first few steps of the creative process as defined by Fritz, conceptualizing and visioning.