Note: Once upon a time, this post was referred to as “the three rules.” But that was the wrong language entirely. In the course of raising our children, I’ve been challenged on my word choices, and my learning has resulted in this re-authoring of the content. Note to self: The student MUST become the teacher; the teacher MUST become the student. That is where learning takes place.
Clients/participants often ask what our expectations are of them when they come to work with CTLabs. Over many years, we have come to encapsulate our suggestions to participants within “The Three Hopes” – how we hope they will choose to engage.
The Three Hopes are the basis for working effectively in our line of work – they guide everything that we do. (Frankly, I believe they are a decent way to approach life in general, but I digress…)
The Three Hopes are:
- Pay Attention.
- Do Your Best.
- Have Fun.
Far more than simply “please be present” in the space, physical or virtual, we ask you to pay attention to all that you see, to all that you hear, and to approach the work, whatever it is, with an open curiosity. The challenges we address with our clients are usually situations that have been highly fraught for years or decades – sometimes even centuries. There’s no silver bullet, there’s no one answer, and there’s no simple path forward.
There is tremendous wisdom available when a diverse collective of engaged, caring stakeholders focus on a single issue deeply enough, for long enough. If the answer were already known, a project manager would be putting the plans into operation. If you’re working with us, it’s because the answer isn’t known, the path isn’t obvious, and there’s the need to knit a far more coherent web of understanding in order for a path to emerge. The extent to which you (all of you) pay attention, with open curiosity around learning new things and having your own biases redirected, is the extent to which the room will be able to discern a path forward.
Do Your Best
Do your best.
Doing ‘your best’ in our world is NOT giving 110%, each time, all the time. Your best today may only be 50% of your best tomorrow – and that’s okay. Give what you have available to give. Take care of yourself, and take care of others. Be kind in your engagement. Be caring and inquisitive in your interpretation of the words of others.
When we assemble a community of interest to work on a highly fraught situation, the one thing that everyone in the room has in common is that they have a shared wish for greater systemic health around the guiding question that the room has assembled to answer. Remember that all of your peers care deeply, even if they are coming from a position that appears diametrically opposed to your own.
Do your best. Bring all of the resources that you have available, in this moment, to this moment, then you will sleep peacefully. Or far more peacefully than if you had not. Don’t have any regrets.
Do your best.
Have fun. Be playful. Playful sincerity is far more elegant and helpful than a dour, expressionless or “weight of the world” sensibility. And the openness of play brings with it a creativity that allows for far greater emergence of ideas, and of possible paths forward.
It can be challenging to balance the heaviness of the situational challenges we face with a lightness in doing the work. The CTLabs team will do our best to create spaces that are open, that are creative, and that allow for serious play – the deep, whole-body engagement required to do the work, and to find the paths forward that have eluded past efforts to make change happen. Trust us, trust yourself and trust your peers in the room – having fun will lead to healthier, more resilient, more useable change possibilities than any other path.
We hold three hopes for the people who work with us in complexity. We hope that you pay attention, do your best, and have fun. Balance having fun with paying attention and doing your best. All three are equally important. First, pay attention – this gives you the greatest possible range of responses to the world around you. Then, do your best – endeavouring with integrity and compassion to be of greatest service to the challenge space and the community assembled around you. And last, but never least, you must act in a spirit of play – you must have fun. Play brings an elegance and invokes an openness and a curiosity in others that will result in sympathetic activity. The second-order change effects, and the possibilities for emergent paths, are far more beneficial when your actions are carried out in a spirit of play.