“We can see the clouds move, but we cannot see the wind.
We can see the tides come and go,
but we do not feel the moon’s gravity that moves them.”
• Arnold Mindell
At any moment, multiple potential futures are possible.
When you think about your personal future, you imagine the many possible futures that could unfold. When you engage our family, team, organization, community, or world in a big opportunity for change, you lead them in imagining a new vision for the future.
You engage them in an act of collective imagination. Uncertainty is a part of the process, and with that uncertainty comes a myriad of potential futures.
Yet not all potential futures are desirable. Some potential futures are dreamlike, while others feel more like nightmares. Invisible forces are associated with imagined futures. These forces have the power to create our reality.
Social change specialist Arnold Mindell recognized the power of these invisible forces in shaping reality.
In the same way that invisible forces of the wind and moon affect the earth, our dreams, hopes, fears and expectations create our reality.
Some forces push us towards creating the dream, while others pull us into a nightmare. The potential futures that we collectively imagine impact our ability to inspire change, influence transition, and emerge transformation.
Ultimately, these invisible forces influence whether a change initiative will fail or succeed.
Experienced change leaders make the invisible visible. They are aware of and intentionally work with the winds of change, both in themselves and in others. They create a safe and courageous space to hear and work with both hopes and fears associated with change. Throughout the change initiative, they continue to check in on what’s happening below the surface.
It can be easy for those leading change to fall into the trap of suppressing fear, out of concern that it will unbalance those around them.
However, just because fear is unspoken or hidden does not mean it has no impact.
Bottled-up fear grows more under pressure, leaking out or eventually exploding to create the nightmare.
Being an effective change leader requires speaking to fear with as much courageous vulnerability as hope. Modelling change leadership brings the invisible to the fore for our teams and gives others permission to do the same.
Only once all fears and hopes are out in the open can they be explored for validity and addressed. Only then can a change leader influence those around them to move towards a vision of hope. In this way, leaders can truly influence the winds of change.
Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., leads change for a world of change, She coaches pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As Principal of Novalda, she develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems.