Each of the managers in this peer group seemed committed to believing they could ultimately achieve security, if they worked hard and were smart enough. They each seemed dedicated to this illusion.
Picture for a minute, two stick figures joined with one rubber band around their waists. The movement of one will always affect the other, causing tension. However, if both remain inside the slack rubber band the tension disappears allowing both to stay within their comfort zone.
Tension is all around us. We create it because we cannot remain static, yet we long to free ourselves from its effects. And here lies the key.
Over identification with the concept of security allows the lack of it to become a problem we try to control. In other words, when security becomes a driving force in our life fixing it forces us to leave reality. Thinking we can ever achieve security is chasing an illusion. Closely observe the behaviors of a 90-year-old person for several days and tell me what you see. No one ever achieves security!
The distance between where we are and where we want to be remains with us to the end of our days. However, we find real joy in the journey. We are built to grow, change, accomplish AND to struggle. Remaining static for long robs the human spirit of life. There is tension in remaining static too!
One manager offered that she struggles with consistently asserting her expectations with her staff and she wanted to change. Once again, imagine the stick figures. By not asserting expectations, she stays in the circumference of the slack rubber band, whereas asserting her expectations creates tension by taking her and her staff beyond their comfort zone.
Embracing the tension sponsors growth.
In this scenario, tension exists in both places: by not asserting her leadership expectations, the experience of tolerating unproductive behaviors creates tension. It also happens if she asserts her expectations.
In the words of Dr. David Benner, “The unknown is our closest companion in the human journey. We may try to deny its presence in an arrogant pretense of being in control of our lives, but in reality, it is with us at every step.”
If, as Dr. Warren Bennis says, “Leadership is the wise use of power and power is the ability to translate intentions into reality and sustain it.”, then being accountable for your leadership means developing the wisdom to create and sustain tension in order to sponsor change.
So let’s get practical. If you are a normal human being, the minute your behavior creates tension for others, you feel it in your body and bio reactions set in as fight, flight, and freeze or appease. The “wise use of power” will remain elusive unless you are in touch with this.
Attempting to replace insecurity with security will lead to atrophy. However, embracing tension opens a gate to “a peace that passes all understanding.” Being in a peer group can help you with this.
I would love to know your thoughts! Jim@peer-place.com