Over the past few days I had the pleasure of joining a small group of remarkable people. The group included a South African living in Australia, an American living in London, a Hungarian also living near London, and several Americans. This group was brought together by our all having a common friend; a woman whose work helps others create. At a beautiful retreat facility on a mountain ridge, we all came to be. No agenda, no plans other than to enjoy the beauty of the place, and explore the emergent possible.
Change comes from difference. We respond to cold with a change of clothing. Business responds to declining sales with special ads, or perhaps a “new and improved” product. To truly be in an unchanging environment, is to stop evolving, to stop changing.
I went to the retreat up on the ridge to be. To be alone with the challenges and opportunities in my life. To be together with people both known and unknown, and engage in the dance of the emergent possible. Who am I? What do I know, that might be helpful to others? What can we learn and do together, as we share our narratives and questions?
In one person, I found a life of deep inquiry and learning, combined with incredible personal courage. In another, a life in pursuit of deep and ancient wisdom. Each of the others has a rich life, filled with work, travel, and the satisfaction of achievement. But I am not in that place just now. I am up on the ridge to become something not yet fully known, and not yet fully formed. I know what I have been, and what I might be. What will I learn in this place, with these people?
One fellow traveller journeyed along the ridge, and found a place of great energy for him. I shared a story of a time I found such a place in a very unlikely environment. Another companion shared a story of a deeply flawed father. A third spoke with great candor about a failed marriage, and the bold actions that followed.
As an extraverting intuitive person, I usually derive great energy from talking with others. My perceiving/connecting logic mind thinks through talking. But up on the ridge, the Difference Engine was working within. Looking out at a mountain fully 25 miles away, at the blaze of autumn colors, and the slow-circling hawks overhead, I pondered a question often asked by one of my fellow travellers: “can you tell me more?”
What more can I think about complexity in organizations? What more can I do to help others understand, and make better inquiry together? What more can I do to give others a way to better respond to the dynamic mix of technical/complicated, and complex/adaptive challenges that they face? I journeyed a few steps farther, along the ridge.
Thank you, fellow travellers. Thank you friend, for bringing me into this group, and to this place. Thank you for letting us find our way along the ridge.