Halcyon days of stillness are approaching. At the time of the Winter Solstice, the halcyon, a mythical bird, was said by the ancient writers to charm the wind and waves to calm.
For thousands of years people have paused to celebrate the solstice, which literally means ‘sun is still’. In the northern hemisphere, the solstice is the turning point in late December where the days gradually begin to grow longer again.
As in any time of change, it is crucial for change leaders to be halcyon-like. To charm the wind and waves of change to calmness, and to create the space for stillness.
The word ‘calm’ is derived from ‘heat’ or ‘to burn,’ meaning ‘to rest in the heat of the day’. Where is your calm – your rest in the heat of the year? As one year comes to a close and another opens, where do you take the time for stillness?
Take time to be still enough to notice where you are becoming more of who you are. Still enough to celebrate the edges you have crossed.
Become still enough to sense into the longing. Still enough to pick up the signals that are clues to what wants to emerge.
It’s in the stillness that we inquire, let go, and let come. What are we longing for? What is our purpose? What are we wanting to create? What is calling to us? What is the systemic change we want to see in the world? In our communities? Our organizations? Our families?
Purpose is longing, and in longing there is tension. This creative tension exists between the challenge and the opportunity, the known and the unknown, worst fears and best hopes; the reactive mind and the creative mind.
In the space between, we are at an edge. On one side is the status quo and safety. On the other side is our purpose and vision. We are in creative tension between safety and purpose.
Which is calling to us the loudest? Which has the greater pull? Will we play it safe or be on purpose?
All too often we choose safety and comfort over purpose and the discomfort of VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous).
“What appears to be a choice for comfort and safety is actually a managed level of anxiety.”
• Bob Anderson, Mastering Leadership
Are we prepared to be uncomfortable as change leaders? Are we prepared to choose purpose over safety? If so, we must be prepared to look within and change ourselves at the same time as we change the systems of which we are a part.
Change leaders make the invisible forces of change visible. We are aware that we too can get in our own way, sabotaging the future we are committed to creating.
“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”
• Pablo Picasso
To shuffle, step, leap, or fly into the future we envision, we must first delve into and explore our worst fears and the limiting beliefs beneath them. It is only then, says Anderson, that we give ourselves the opportunity to see that our fears are not what we thought they were.
Or we can stay sitting in the illusion of safety and comfort, where the spark will fizzle and we will choke on a body of dense smoke.Conflict, whether internal or external, is a sign of life, a signal to new thoughts and beliefs that want to evolve.
Your old self is too small for the purpose and vision that is emerging, and there is a much larger self that is fully capable of creating the future to which you can aspire.
This is how we move towards the spark of our longing and allow it to ignite the flame of vision. What questions can you take into the stillness to ignite your vision for the year to come?
Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., leads change for a world of change, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As Principal of Novalda, Kerry develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems.
Question | Are you creating a place for stillness this season?
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