Yesterday, we looked at how deep change starts with self-change.  To be a leader is to accept we must continually adapt and evolve.  

The spirit of which is captured by this quote from R. Buckminster Fuller which I love: “I am not a thing, a noun.  I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.

Meaningful change happens when we awake to the infinite potential that is inside us, writes Robert E. Quinn in his terrific book The Deep Change Field Guide.

We create the future rather than accept it.  In this moment, we embrace our deepest values.  We are no longer afraid.  Choosing to move toward a better future, we become more virtuous.  

We not only see more virtue in others, we also attract people toward greater virtue.  

Robert calls this move to a better and more complex self the “Fundamental State of Leadership,” which he contrasts with the normal state of being.

As we move to the Fundamental State of Leadership, we become:

1: More purpose-centered (and less comfort-centered).  We ask: “What result do I want to create?” The answer to this question moves us out of our comfort zone into a journey towards learning, growth, and commitment.  When we pursue purpose in the face of uncertainty, we gain a sense of meaning, hope and energy. 

2: More values-directed (and less externally directed).  Doing so closes the gap between the best version of ourselves and where we are today.  This transformation gives us a greater sense of integrity, security, and confidence.

3: More other-focused (and less self-focused).  When we move beyond the preservation of self as our primary driver, our relationships increase in trust, meaning, and care.

4: More externally open (and less internally closed).  As we meet our needs for increased achievement and integrity, we gain confidence we can “learn our way forward” in an uncertain world.  We are genuinely open to all types of feedback so that we can further grow in awareness, competence, and vision.

Robert shares Jeremy’s story: 

“I have little doubt that I will face many more perspective changes in the time left to me in this life.  Although I can’t honestly say that I look forward to the paralysis and fear of “walking naked into uncertainty” that precedes my own shifts in paradigm, I have come to realize the great value of moving though in order to embrace my own emerging deep change reality.  I recently found an executive coach skilled in appreciative inquiry to help me face my moments of illusion, panic, exhaustion, and stagnation – moments of slow death and failure to stay in the transformative cycle.” 

Most people are not like Jeremy, observes Robert.  

“When I ask them to tell me the great moments in their life, they often respond in a recognizable pattern,” writes Robert.  “First they tell me they faced a very difficult challenge.  Then they tell me a story of courage, persistence and triumph.  They describe how much they learned, even from unwanted experiences.  They speak of the event as a peak experience.  

“Then they say, ‘but I would never want to do that again.’

“This is a telling refrain that illustrates the high cost of growth, and our natural tendency to scamper back into our comfort zone,” Robert writes.


Reflection:  When in the past have I experienced what Robert calls “the fundamental state of leadership?  Where, when, and how did this experience come about?  

Action:  Consider leaning toward “walking naked into uncertainty.”

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