ana muenzner

Welcome! Quando o tema é a vida, o trabalho, o humano… ——– Bem-vinda(o)! When it is about life, work and humanity…


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Sobre o tempo e a liberdade

O celular começou a bipar as 8:30 da manhã.  Era um pedido para mudarmos uma reunião que mexeria com a agenda de outras 6 pessoas, incluindo outro fuso horário. Meu coração disparou – não sei se de desespero ao pensar em como conciliar agendas de pessoas cada vez mais ocupadas ou se foi por pensar no tempo que eu iria investir para conseguir fazer esta mudança.

As 9:10 eu ainda estava ocupada com mudança de agenda, pois tinha vindo mais pedidos de alteração. Estes eventos, por mais simples que pareçam, me provocaram a repensar meu próprio modelo, ou talvez, a minha síndrome de mulher “super-flexível-adaptável-do-mundo-moderno”. Eu estava ciente de que não só as pessoas que me pediam para mudar a agenda sofrem desta síndrome, mas eu também.

Lembrei então de um post que o Kiu Coates escreveu no Facebook logo após eu ter ligado para ele pedindo para mudar um compromisso que tínhamos agendado:

 “O número de horas que gasto em agendar encontros e agendar de novo encontros por conta de mudanças na agenda do outro está demais!!!! A super valorização da flexibilidade e liberdade está silenciosamente matando a responsabilidade, comprometimento e eficácia de realizar qualquer proposito. O que começou como grande aula de saber ser mais flexível de estar mais respondendo ao presente, de valorizar o prazer instantâneo está virando uma opressão a manifestação de mudança. Mudanças significativas precisam de ritmo consistência e comprometimento.”

Enviei este texto para as pessoas que tinham pedido para mudar agenda comigo, buscando provocar também nelas esta reflexão. Algumas respostas expressaram a pressão e a frustração escondidas por trás deste modelo.

 “Sim eu tb concordo com isso … Minha sensação interna é essa … Não vou conseguir abraçar o mundo com as pernas … Vou correr o risco de não conseguir participar da reunião e lidar com isso… 😢 Internamente queria muito estar com vcs pra essa conversa porque todos os assuntos que discutiremos são bastante relevantes pra mim mas estou nessa “dívida do lado pessoal” por conta da minha correria e está difícil tb negar o pedido de outras pessoas… 😱”

A outra pessoa:

 “Eu também gasto muito tempo com isso!! Muito mesmo!! Agora estarei em Salvador e terei que vir para São Paulo. Enfim eu peço desculpas e luto também para não ter que viajar tanto… . Podemos tentar segunda que vem, entre 10-12. Grata”

No meu meio de convivência tenho visto cada vez mais pessoas com uma sobrecarga imensa de atividades e fazendo um grande malabarismo para conciliar vida familiar e profissional. Me pergunto: Por que estamos sempre nessa correria, as vezes indo ao nosso limite físico e mental? Por que é tão difícil desacelerar? Como responder a esta necessidade de equilibrar vida pessoal, profissional, tempo de descanso…? 🤔

Sinto também que estou sobrecarregada. Meu checklist não para de crescer. Mas, de repente, quase que num impulso incontrolável e mais urgente do que tudo, deixo de lado todo o trabalho “urgente” que eu tinha planejado para o dia e decido… entrar no Facebook!

Alguns especialistas chamam isso da síndrome da procrastinação. Passamos horas desviando a atenção do que é realmente importante, atendendo a qualquer bip de whats up no celular, sem foco. Isso pode acontece quanto você não sabe o que fazer, talvez por não saber o que é, ou não saber o que quer, ou porque você tem muita coisa ficando no seu caminho. Vou preferir chamar a minha distração com Facebook de um momento de pausa criativa, pois rendeu esta postagem, que espero que renda reflexões valiosas para você. Além disso, rendeu uma ideia para um evento de Democracia Profunda como uma metodologia que pode nos ajudar a encarar este conflito e encontrar soluções pela raiz do problema. (Veja convite no final)

Os posts que me saltaram aos olhos no Facebook me ajudaram a fazer sentido desta experiência de hoje sobre tempo e liberdade:

“…os jovens [eu incluiria os jovens adultos também] já não têm tempo… de ter tempo. Nunca a aceleração quase mecânica das rotinas vitais tem sido tão forte como hoje. E é preciso ter tempo para buscar tempo. E outra coisa: não há que ter medo do silêncio. O medo das crianças ao silêncio me dá medo. Apenas o silêncio nos ensina a encontrar o essencial em nós.”

(Entrevista de George Steiner, filósofo inglês)

Logo depois, aparece a postagem de um grande amigo consultor que um dia me contou sobre sua experiência com rituais de culturas aborígenes australianas: “De repente perdi toda minha ansiedade de ter que realizar, fazer algo… Perdi o medo. Estou sem pressa”. Eu não lembro bem as palavras, mas lembro de como ele fez eu me sentir ao falar sobre isso. Transmitiu tranquilidade, leveza, confiança e uma conexão forte com o que havia de essencial naquele momento. Esta rápida conversa aconteceu num evento de lançamento do livro dele que muito recomendo: Novas Organizações para uma Nova Economia

Vale encerrar com o post do Mauricio, uma passagem de Rumi:

“Quando eu corro atrás do que eu acho que eu quero, meus dias são um forno de estresse e ansiedade. Se eu me situo em meu lugar de paciência, o que eu preciso flui para mim, e sem dor. A partir disso eu entendo que o que eu quero também me quer, está olhando para mim e me atraindo. Há um grande segredo aqui para qualquer um que conseguir compreendê-lo. “

(Rumi)

Rumi

E sigo na minha busca interna para aprender a lidar com flexibilidade e liberdade colocando meu tempo e energia no que é essencial para mim.

Se este assunto também te inquieta, faremos uma manhã de encontro e conversa profunda e verdadeira sobre o que nos interessa pessoalmente no tema:

“Ocupe-se ou morra!”

Trazendo pela primeira vez ao Rio a metodologia de Democracia Profunda (Lewis Method) como uma forma de acessar o que está abaixo da superfície de um problema, um conflito, uma tensão, seja em nível individual ou coletivo.

Sábado, 13/08/2016, 9:00 – 12:00 | Rio, Local a ser confirmado.

Mais detalhes sobre o evento no Facebook, clique na imagem ou escreva para mim:

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Serendipindade – Não saber é permitido. E pode ser até melhor…

“O que você faz profissionalmente?”

Mais uma vez esta pergunta que tem me acompanhando repetidamente! Rescentemente ela apareceu em uma conversa quando conheci o Luiz Fernando e Luiz Thomas, dois consultores independentes que trabalham em Curitiba[1].

Eu me perguntei: Se não tivéssemos criado rótulos profissionais (engenheiro, advogado…), como seriam nossas small talks? Como iríamos nos apresentar nesse tipo de encontro?

Algumas pessoas que me encontram perguntam de imediato “você já encontrou um emprego”? Alguns membros da família já se preocupam com isso, ligando à falta de emprego a algo insuportável. A maioria das pessoas se surpreende quando eu menciono que minha formação é de engenharia civil e planejamento regional, mas eu estou passando por uma mudança profissional e ainda em processo de redefinição de perfil.

Aqui, uma reação comum: “engenharia civil? Esse é o momento perfeito para retornar ao Brasil! O mercado carece de engenheiros e você vai encontrar facilmente um emprego.”

As vezes eu explico que não estou exatamente procurando um emprego, mas sim uma atividade profissional que, claro, proporcione meu sustento, mas, acima de tudo, traga satisfação e um senso de realização de propósito.

As vezes, atrevo-me a explicar que estou procurando por algo onde eu possa “ser” o meu trabalho. Eu quero usar o máximo de meu potencial e fazer a diferença na vida das pessoas. Eu quero deixar o meu legado e contribuir para tornar o mundo um lugar melhor de se viver. Claro que isso também é possível trabalhando com engenharia, mas minha experiência nesta área de trabalho me fez perceber que eu poderia estar usando meus recursos de forma muito melhor em um campo de trabalho onde desenvolvo meus talentos e tendências naturais, unidos a minhas paixões. Este movimento profissional era necessário para eu poder chegar lá. Caso contrário, eu teria aceitado ser uma engenheira frustrada, incapaz de usar o máximo de minhas capacidades – ao contrário, eu provavelmente estaria contribuindo para as estatísticas: “48% das pessoas estão infelizes no trabalho” (Jornal Hoje , edição de 11 / 07 / 2011)[2].

Naquele mesmo dia em que conheci Luiz Fernando e Luiz Thomas, pessoas que também ousaram uma mudança de carreira, percebi que tínhamos perguntas semelhantes:

“Como faço para dar o primeiro passo?

Como faço para chegar a uma idéia criativa que responda de verdade às exigências do mercado?

Será que eu vou conseguir ganhar a vida com isso?

E SE eu falhar?

TALVEZ eu deva esperar até que as crianças terminam a escola para sair do emprego… e depois começo a mudança de carreira.

QUANDO eu terminar o meu MBA, vou estar mais preparado… ENTÃO começo a transição de carreira”

Essa é o jogo do QUANDO/ENTÃO/TALVEZ. Talvez, talvez , talvez … e… Basta! Luiz e Luiz decidiram dizer BASTA e assumir o risco de começar a colocar suas idéias em prática. Eles se tornaram conscientes de que essas desculpas foram apenas adiando uma mudança de carreira. Eles estavam evitando assumir o risco de tentar algo novo. É difícil sair da zona de conforto, embora, intuitivamente, todos nós sabemos que podemos ir muito mais longe e fazer algo além de nossas possibilidades, se tivermos a coragem de assumir o risco. É tudo uma questão de cruzar uma barreira, lidar com o próprio medo, aceitar que as pessoas vão dizer: “você deve estar louco…”, e seguir fazendo a mudança mesmo assim.

Eu acho que o momento mais difícil é a fase da transição em si. Você acabou de dar o primeiro passo, começou o movimento e se jogou no campo do desconhecido e imprevisível. Dias nebulosos virão, talvez a segurança financeira será ameaçada e você terá que desenvolver resiliência para resistir aos altos e baixos e não desistir. Este é o momento em que você pode se pegar dizendo:

“Será que estou no caminho certo?

Meu Deus! Eu deveria ter aceitado aquele cargo de engenheiro…

Se eu tivesse aproveitado aquela oportunidada segura…

Se eu tivesse feito aquele concurso para ser funcionária pública… agora minha vida estaria garantida…”

Tenho observado que a maioria das pessoas que sobreviveu a essa fase e continuou acreditando que tudo daria certo, como os dois Luizes, tam algo em comum: serendipidade! Foi o Luiz Thomas quem me apresentou a este conceito. E eu não tinha a menor idéia do que ele estava falando…

Mais tarde eu encontrei uma palestra interessante do Corey Ford no TEDx. Ele é CEO da Matter Ventures, uma incubadora de US$2,5 milhões e aceleradora de start-ups. Foi muito inspirador e um alívio compreender através do Luiz e do Corey Ford o que realmente está acontecendo comigo nesta fase de vida. Estou experimentando com novas idéias e mergulhando num espaço desconhecido – o espaço do “não saber”. Ao mesmo tempo, eu percebo um forte campo de possibilidades e vou navegando através delas, até que uma estoure como pipoca e que poderá ser descrita como o meu “Trabalho”. Apesar de eu ainda não saber exatamente como descrever este trabalho, tenho uma idéia clara sobre o propósito dele. Percebo minha capacidade de sentir o potencial de diferentes estruturas e sistemas humanos que podem ser transformados e elevados a um nível muito superior ao que estão hoje. O que esses sistemas têm em comum é o potencial criativo e inovador de transformação e minha crença de que eu posso ajudá-los a subirem de patamar. Como eu vou conseguir fazer isso? Ainda não sei ao certo. Mas, por enquanto, tudo bem. Pela primeira vez na minha vida, não saber o que fazer é permitido.

Corey Ford chama isso de “A caminhada do bêbado” que um empreendedor tem que fazer. Ele defende a teoria (e a prática) que esta abordagem baseasa na prototipagem pode funcionar, como ele explica neste vídeo:

Como ele diz, a verdadeira inovação não acontece por meio de planejamento impecável, mas ela vem através da testagem de hipóteses, de pequenos passos experimentais, do ciclo de ir aprendendo e ajustando, aprendendo e ajustando, aprendendo e ajustando… e assim você acaba chegando a um lugar onde nunca poderia ter previsto ou planejado. Este lugar é, em geral, muito mais viável, executável e desejável do que qualquer coisa que você poderia ter alcançado se tivesse sentado na sua escrivaniha por dias a fio tentando chegar no plano perfeito.

Inovação tem tudo a ver com serendipidade.Você não pode planejá-la, mas você pode aumentar as chances de que ela aconteça.

O que eu descobri ao longo desta caminhada é que, uma vez tomada a decisão de me dar uma chance de experimentar o que realmente me realiza e tem significado para mim e para os outros, eu encontrei uma força poderosa que transcende a mim e minha vontade, uma força que me ajuda durante esta transição, alimentando minha busca.

Eu acho que essa jornada será um grande teste para o meu compromisso com a direção que eu decidi tomar na vida. É uma jornada que oferece oportunidades para experimentar, acertar e falhar. Acredito que os elementos básicos que tornam possível esta jornada estão relacionados ao impulso de aprender e servir uma causa maior, à necessidade de conhecer a minha verdadeira natureza e ao prazer de fazer algo que eu amo – We become what we behold (Dean Brown).


[1] Luiz Fernando de Azeredo Costa é consultor em gestão de mudanças organizacionais e de processos, coach e oferece treinamentos e educação corporativa alinhados com a real necessidade do cliente. www.azeredocosta.com | Luiz Thomaz é consultor de planejamento estratégico, financeiro e tributário e atua como coach na área empresarial, para sócios, diretores, gestores e líderes de rede; bem como, para profissionais que buscam aumento de performance, mudança e melhoria na qualidade de vida. www.thzdesenvolvimento.com.br


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Serendipity – It is ok not to know! It can be actually better…

“What do you do professionally?”

Again this question that has been following me again and again! This was when I first met Luiz Fernando e Luiz Thomas, two consultants who work independently in Curitiba[1].

I wondered: If we had not created professional labels, what else would we talk about in our small talks or when introducing ourselves?

Some people ask straight away “have you already found a job?” Family members even worry about that. Most people get surprised when I mention that my background is civil engineering and regional planning but I am going through a professional change and still in the process of redefining my profile.

Here the common reaction: “Civil engineering? That is the perfect time to come to Brazil! The market is lacking engineers and you will find a job very easily.”

Then I usually explain that I am not exactly looking for a job, but for a professional activity that, yes, provides my income, but, even more, it provides fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

Sometimes I dare to explain that I am searching for something where I can “be” my Work. I want to use my highest potential in the work I do and that it makes a difference in people’s lives. I want to leave my legacy and contribute to make the world a better place to live. Of course this is also possible working as an engineer, but my experience in the field thought me that I could be of much better use in another field where my natural talents, tendencies and passions come together. This professional move was necessary for me to get there. Otherwise I would have accepted being a frustrated engineer and would probably not be using my highest capacity – in opposite, I would probably be contributing to the statistics: “48% of the people are unhappy with their work” (Jornal Hoje, Edition from 11/07/2011)[2].

That same day I met Luiz Fernando and Luiz Thomas, who also dared a career move like me, I learned that we all had similar questions:

“How do I take the first step?

How do I come up with a creative idea that responds to real market (and society) demands?

Will I ever be able to make a living from this?

What if I fail?

Maybe I SHOULD wait until the children finish school to step away from my job… and THEN I will make a career change.

WHEN I finish my MBA, I will feel more prepared… THEN I will do it.”

That is the WHEN/THEN/SHOULD game. Maybe, maybe, maybe and… Basta! Luiz and Luiz decided to take the risk and just start to put their ideas in practice. They became aware that those excuses were just delaying a career change. They were avoiding taking the risk and trying something new. It is hard to leave the comfort zone although intuitively we all know that we can go much further and do something beyond our possibilities if we just take the risk. It is all about crossing the threshold, dealing with your fear, accepting that people will say “you must be crazy”, and do it anyway.

I think that the toughest time is the transition. You’ve gave the first step, you’ve started the move and now everything is unknown and unpredictable. You will have to resist dark times, maybe the financial security will be threaten and you will have to develop resilience to resist the ups and downs and not give up. You may catch yourself saying:

“Am I on the right path?

Gosh! Maybe I should have taken that position as an engineer…

If I just had taken that safe opportunity…

If I had done that concurso to be a civil servant… now my life would be guaranteed…”

I have observed that most of the people who survived this phase and continued believing that everything would be all right, like Luiz and Luiz, have something in common: intentional serendipity! Luiz Thomas was the first person who introduced me to this concept and I had no idea of what he was talking about….

Later on I found an interesting TEDx talk from Corey Ford, CEO of Matter Ventures, a $2.5 million incubator and start-up accelerator. It was very inspiring and relieving to hear from Luiz and Corey what is actually happening with me in this phase of life. I am experimenting with new ideas and diving into the space of not knowing. I feel a strong sense of possibilities arising and I am navigating through them until one pops and can be described as my “Work”. I don’t know yet how to describe my Work, but I have a clear idea about the purpose of it. What I am sure about is that I can see the potential of different situations and systems to be transformed and elevated to a different level. What these situations and systems have in common is the creative and innovative potential for transformation and my belief that I can help them to go to the next level. How am I going to do it? That is not clear yet. But this is ok for now. For the first time in my life, it is ok not to know what to do.

Corey Ford calls it “The drunk walk” of an entrepreneur. He defends the theory (and the practice) that this prototype-driven approach can work, as he speaks in this video:

As he says, real innovation happens not through perfect plans, but it comes through making some hypothesis, taking little experimental steps, learning and adjusting, learning and adjusting, learning and adjusting… so that you end up in a place you never ever could have predicted, but it is much more feasible, viable and desirable than anything you could have come up with if you were just sitting down trying to come up with the perfect plan.

Innovation is all about how you increase intentional serendipity. You cannot plan for it but you can increase the chances to make it happen.

What I have discovered along the way is that, once I decided to give a try to what I truly care about and to accomplish things that really matter to me and to others, I found a powerful force beyond myself and my conscious will, a force that helps me during this transition, nurturing my quest.

I guess this journey is going to be a test for my commitment to the direction I have taken. It will offer opportunities to trying, experimenting and failing. The drive to learn and serve a bigger cause, the need to know my fundamental nature, and the joy of doing something I love are the basic elements that will make this journey possible – We become what we behold (Dean Brown).


[1] Luiz Fernando de Azeredo Costa é consultor em gestão de mudanças organizacionais e de processos, coach e oferece treinamentos e educação corporativa alinhados com a real necessidade do cliente. www.azeredocosta.com | Luiz Thomaz é consultor de planejamento estratégico, financeiro e tributário e atua como coach na área empresarial, para sócios, diretores, gestores e líderes de rede; bem como, para profissionais que buscam aumento de performance, mudança e melhoria na qualidade de vida. www.thzdesenvolvimento.com.br


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Syncronicity – Event 3: The encounter with a photographer, a great artist who taught me a lesson of creativity.

My last posts were about a day full of synchronicity: a series of “magical” events coming together in an almost unbelievable way. This one is about an event that happened in that same day and had great impact on me.

After meeting Celia and her two daughters (see Syncronicity – Event 2). I had an encounter with a photograph that served as a kind of proof to what I have been learning regarding facilitation of change processes and transformation in social systems. Especially the quote bellow started making more sense:

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” (Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover insurance).

What is this “inner condition” about?

That day I left home feeling really at ease. That has not been the rule lately. In times of change, moving between countries, facing unknown situations and creating a new base of life, I would expect me to be very tense. This is why I have been trying to keep up some practices like meditation, breathing techniques, Qi-gong and yoga which really help me to restore alignment, balance and be relaxed in turbulent times.

That morning I had a very profound meditation practice and was feeling an uncommon lightness and at peace. While walking on the streets, looking for a place where I could take passport photos, I was wondering about what made me feel like that. There was a sense of tranquility and wholeness – very hard to find the right words here. As I walked, I kept observing my inner and outer world, I was awake yet relaxed. What could have caused that sensation in times when stress is a global trend? I observed other pedestrians and most of them seemed to be in a hurry. What makes possible for a person to maintain a sense of peace and relaxation in big cities, under pressure, in transitional phases and when facing uncertainty (also a global trend)? I had no answer, but that didn’t bother me.

I was happy to see a little sign indicating “Passport photos here”. I needed it urgently for a bureaucratic procedure. Bureaucracy has been consuming a lot of time since my return to Brazil. I couldn’t be happier as I read in the papers recently that Brazil was elevated to the rank 118ª (2013, it was 116ª in 2012) amongst 189 countries in terms of bureaucracy according to the World Bank.

Eventually I took the photos I urgently needed and had to wait to pick them up. The photographer, working at the computer, suddenly looked at me and asked: “What do you do professionaly”?

In my mind I was wondering: “This question has been all around since I returned to Brazil. I have the impression that every single person asks me that. Now… even in the photo shop!? What is going on?”

It’s been hard for me to explain with simple words what my work looks like. It is easier when I know something more about the context of the person who is asking and can give concrete examples. But in that context I could not figure out how to explain it in a single sentence without using jargons such as innovation processes, dealing with complexity, uncertainty, awareness based change, etc.

I answered politely: “I studied civil engineering, but what I am doing currently has basically nothing to do with this.”

She said: “I thought you did something related to arts”.

“What makes you think that?” I asked curiously.

“I don’t know. Maybe because you irradiate something light, tranquil and relaxed.” She replied.

I thought: Oh my God! That is amazing. Some minutes ago I was just wondering why I was feeling in such a state of ease and now someone gives me the same feedback from outside? I was now really getting interested and continued asking:

“But what exactly makes you perceive that?”

She said that she has developed a feeling for people; she looks at them through her lenses – good metaphor for a photographer! – She continued: “Some people are very heavy… do you know what I mean?” She had difficulties to find words to describe it and gave an example to what she meant:

“I used to paint and do a lot with arts. Then I stopped doing it for a while. I don’t know if it was also because I was going through a tough time, but I started feeling very heavy; I felt stressed and tense.”

She told me how she started working with photography by watching a professional photographer: “I opened this shop, and ended up working with photography on my own, learning by doing. Things started happening without much planning. Then I combined photography with the renting-clothes business – which was in the adjoining room – because I saw at weddings and parties that people needed that.” She pointed out to a dress that was hanging there and said: “Look at that dress – I stitched it myself. And I never took courses or classes; I just try and do it. My hands create the pattern in the moment. With photography it was the same. I just started doing it. This is the same with drawing and painting. Now I decided to take arts more seriously and I am studying at Belas Artes[1]. And I feel very light again.”

The photographer Rosaline Corazza and her drawings (crayon)

The photographer Rosaline Corazza and her drawings (crayon)

Rosaline was her name. She showed me the drawings she was currently working on for her art’s studies. They mirrored some images I had from my experience of living in Zambia and traveling around Africa which were still fresh in my mind. That somehow touched me.

I guess Rosaline had the personal qualities and sensitivity that enables her to observe the current state of people’s inner reality. It is the ability to see oneself’s and the world of others as it really is. I guess that is the gift of an artist. Betty Edwards in her book “Drawing with the left side of the brain” mentions that drawing is not a difficult task. The difficulty lies in “seeing”. Everyone who sees the things in that especial way that artists are able to see is capable to drawing. Many artists have mentioned the fact that they see things differently when they are drawing or painting and normally they are put in another perceptual and conscious level which is different from their common operation level. In this subjective state, even the perception of time is altered, actually, it almost disappears. They feel aware and awake yet relaxed and liberated from anxiety. They experience a pleasant and maybe even mystic mental activity.

Maybe that was what I was experiencing that morning. Maybe that was the artist in me! Anyway, I just thought that whoever develops this kind of perception is much more creative and capable of bringing about new things and solutions in the world. Rosaline taught me that through her examples of how she started her new business from the scratch.

Rosaline’s photo studio is at Rua das Flores in Curitiba. If you need photos for documents, weddings, parties, books, etc, I recommend you to go there: https://www.facebook.com/EstudioJC.Ctba

She also writes a blog and you can find some great stories there: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09851047826945391047

By the way, have you ever met “a stranger” who appeared to be so familiar to you that you ended up having very interesting and meaningful conversations, creating an unexplainable connection? Please share your stories in the comment box.


[1] Belas Artes is a famous art’s school in Curitiba. For students to pass the exam they have to prove their talent for arts and undergo very demanding tests.


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Sincronicidade – Evento 3: O encontro com uma fotógrafa, uma grande artista que me deu uma lição de criatividade

Meus últimos posts foram relatos de um dia cheio de sincronicidades: uma série de eventos “mágicos” que acontecem de forma quase inacreditável. Este é sobre um evento que aconteceu no mesmo dia e teve um grande impacto sobre mim.

Depois de conhecer Celia e suas duas filhas (ver post sobre sincronicidade – Evento 2). Eu tive um encontro com uma fotografia que me serviu de comprovação para algo que venho aprendendo na facilitação de processos de mudança e transformação de sistemas sociais. Especialmente a citação abaixo começou a fazer mais sentido:

“O sucesso de uma intervenção depende da condição interior da pessoa que está intervindo.” (Bill O’Brien, ex-CEO da Hanover Insurance ).

O que é esta tal de “condição interna”?

Naquele dia eu saí de casa me sentindo muito leve. Isso não tem sido a regra ultimamente. Em tempos de mudança , mudando de um país para o outro, diante de situações desconhecidas e criando uma nova base da vida, eu tinha a expectativa de conviver com a tensão. Por isso tenho Procurado manter algumas práticas como meditação, técnicas de respiração, Qi -gong e ioga que realmente me ajudar a restaurar o alinhamento, o equilíbrio e me maneter relaxada em tempos turbulentos.

Naquela manhã eu experienciei a prática de meditação de uma maneria mais profunda e comecei a sentir uma leveza incomum, uma sensação de paz. Enquanto caminhava pelas ruas a procura de um lugar onde eu poderia tirar fotos de passaporte, eu ia pensando sobre o que poderia ter causado aquela sensação. Havia uma tranquilidade, uma plenitude – muito difícil encontrar palavras para descrever isso aqui. Enquanto eu caminhava, eu ia observando meus mundos interior e exterior, eu andava alerta, mas completamente relaxada. O que poderia ter causado essa sensação em tempos onde o estresse é a tendência global? Observei outros pedestres e a maioria deles parecia estar com pressa. O que torna possível para uma pessoa manter a sensação de paz e relaxamento dentro de grandes cidades, sob pressão, em fases de transição e diante da incerteza (também uma tendência global)? Eu não conseguia encontrar respostas, mas isso não me incomodou.

Fiquei feliz em ver um pequeno sinal indicando “fotos de passaporte aqui”. Eu precisava urgentemente resolver um processo burocrático e precisava das fotos. Burocracia vem consumindo boa parte do meu tempo desde que retornei ao Brasil . Eu não poderia ficar mais feliz ao ler recentemente no jornal que o Brasil foi elevado à posição 118ª (em 2013, era 116 ª em 2012), entre 189 países em termos de burocracia, segundo o Banco Mundial.

Finalmente eu consegui tirar as fotos tão necessárias. Só precisava esperar um pouco para recebê-las . A fotógrafa, trabalhando em seu computador, vira-se de repente para mim e pergunta: ” O que você faz profissionalmente?”
Em minha mente comecei a pensar: “Esta pergunta está em todo lugar desde que voltei para o Brasil. Tenho a impressão de que todo mundo que me encontra pela primeira vez, ou depois de muito tempo, faz esta pergunta. Agora … até mesmo no estúdio fotográfico? O que está acontecendo?”

Tem sido difícil para mim explicar o meu trabalho atual em simples palavras. Fica mais fácil quando sei um pouco mais sobre o contexto da pessoa que está fazendo a pergunta, pois assim posso facilmente dar exemplos concretos. Mas, nesse contexto, eu não conseguia encontrar uma única frase que explicasse o meu trabalho sem usar jargões do tipo “processos de inovação, lidar com a complexidade e a incerteza, mudança baseada na consciência, etc”.

Eu respondi educadamente : “Eu estudei engenharia civil, mas o que eu estou fazendo atualmente tem pouco a ver com isso.”

Ela disse: “Eu pensei que você fizezse algo relacionado a artes”.

“O que faz você pensar isso?” Perguntei curiosa.

“Eu não sei. Talvez por você irradiar algo leve, tranquilo e relaxado”. Ela respondeu.

Eu pensei: Oh, meu Deus! Isso é incrível. Alguns minutos atrás, eu estava me perguntando por que eu estava me sentindo em tal estado de relaxamento e tranquilidade e agora alguém me dá o mesmo feedback me olhando de fora? Agora eu estava realmente interessada na conversa e continuei perguntando:

” Mas o que exatamente faz você perceber isso?”

Ela disse que, ao longo dos anos, começou a desenvolver um senso para pessoas. Ela olha para elas através de suas lentes – boa metáfora para uma fotógrafa! – Ela continuou:

“Algumas pessoas são muito pesadas… entende o que quero dizer?” Ela tinha dificuldades para encontrar palavras para descrever o que queria dizer e deu um exemplo:

“Eu costumava pintar e trabalhar muito com arte. Mas parei de fazer isso por um tempo. Não sei se também tinha a ver com o momento difícil pelo qual eu estava passando, mas eu comecei a me sentir muito pesada. Me sentia estressada, tensa…”

Ela me contou como começou a trabalhar com fotografia ao assistir uma fotógrafa profissional: “Abri esta loja, e comecei a trabalhar com fotografia por conta própria, aprendendo a fazer na prática. As coisas começaram a acontecer e a dar certo sem muito planejamento. Então eu combinei fotografia com o negócio de aluguel de roupa – que estava na sala ao lado – porque eu vi em casamentos e festas que as pessoas precisavam disso também”. Ela apontou para um vestido que estava pendurado lá e disse: “Olhe para aquele vestido – Eu mesma bordei. E eu nunca fiz cursos ou aulas, só experimento e faço. Minhas mãos criam o padrão no momento. Com a fotografia foi o mesmo. Eu só comecei! E assim foi também com o desenho e a pintura. Agora eu deci

di levar as artes mais a sério e eu estou estudando na Belas Artes. E eu me sinto muito leve novamente.”

The photographer Rosaline Corazza and her drawings (crayon)

The photographer Rosaline Corazza and her drawings (crayon)

Rosaline era seu nome. Ela me mostrou os desenhos que estavam em execução, parte dos trabalhos que precisava entregar na Belas Artes. Eles refletiram imagens que tinham tudo a ver com a minha experiência vivendo na Zâmbia e viajando pela África, algo que ainda estava muito vivo na minha memória. Isso, de alguma forma, me tocou.

Eu acredito que a Rosaline tinha as qualidades pessoais e a sensibilidade que lhe permitiam observar o real estado interior das pessoas. É a capacidade de ver a si mesmo e ao outro como realmente são. Eu acho que é este o dom de um artista. Betty Edwards em seu livro “Desenhando com o lado esquerdo do cérebro” menciona que o desenho não é uma tarefa difícil. A dificuldade está em “ver”. Todo mundo que vê as coisas desta maneira especial que os artistas são capazes de ver, são também capazes de desenhar. Muitos artistas têm mencionado o fato de que eles vêem as coisas de forma diferente quando estão desenhando ou pintando e, normalmente, são colocados em um outro nível de percepção consciente que é diferente do seu nível comum de consciência. Neste estado subjectivo, até a percepção do tempo é alterada – na verdade, ela quase desaparece. Eles se sentem alertas, acordados, mas relaxados e livres de ansiedade. Experimentam uma atividade mental agradável e talvez até mesmo mística.
Talvez isso definisse o que experienciei naquela manhã. Era este o artista dentro de mim?! De qualquer forma, pensei que este tipo de percepção faz a pessoa ficar muito mais criativa e capaz de trazer ao mundo novas coisas e soluções. Esta foi a lição que Rosaline me deu através de seu exemplo e de como começou seu novo negócio do zero.

O estúdio fotográfico de Rosaline é na Rua das Flores em Curitiba. Se precisar de fotos para documentos, casamentos, festas, books, etc, dê uma passadinha por lá: https://www.facebook.com/EstudioJC.Ctba

Ela também escreve um blog e você pode encontrar ótimas histórias por lá: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09851047826945391047

A propósito, você já teve um encontro com uma pessoa aparentemente desconhecida que parecia ser tão familiar, que acabou tendo conversas muito interessantes e significativas, criando uma conexão inexplicável? Compartilhe suas histórias na caixa de comentários!


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Syncronicity – Event 2: What a meaningful coincidence! This is the piece of information I was looking for!

Continuing with what happened before I met Kitty and the others who I mentioned in my last post: I went to town to certify a document from the university that I would need for a certain bureaucratic process. I thought I had brought from Germany all documents I would need here in Brazil but, specifically that one, I forgot. I called Steffen, my husband, who was by that time still in Germany, to ask him to scan it and send to me via email, what he immediately did. When I wanted to print it, I opened my email box to find the document and found myself suddenly talking on the phone while deleting a row of emails using “shift-del” and… oh no! Too late… In the same row I clicked unintended in the email with the document I most needed in that morning. It was irrevocably deleted. (This is the opposite of presence! – See previous post about presence and synchronicity). I called Steffen but he was not at home anymore and therefore unable to send the document to me again before noon. I went ahead with my plans for the day. Maybe I could go on with the process and hand over only that missing document later. But nothing turned out the way I wanted. At least nothing related to that bureaucratic process.

When things do not work out as I expect, I have a tendency to be upset. But this was not the case in that day.

As I was forced to change my plans for the day, I had more time until the meeting with Kitty and the others, and decided to look for a restaurant that would be new for me to try. I took my mobile phone and typed “vegetarian Curitiba”. Mobile internet is something that still impresses me. I am looking forward to the time my children will ask me “How was life possible before internet?” I found a list of restaurants nearby and decided to have a look at the “Super Vegetariano” which was just some blocks away. Something was strange about that place and I did not stay. I looked for another one. I decided to pick the next one on the list which was almost exactly where I was standing when I decided to go to the first restaurant. If I just had looked around more carefully, I would have noticed that I was already standing in front of the restaurant I was looking for! I went back there and the place convinced me immediately. What is this invisible manifestation of a place that makes it inviting or uninviting? What made me feel better in one place and not in the other? In the ladies room I suddenly met Celia, a good friend of my mom, who was there having lunch with her two daughters. We meet “by chance” looking at the mirror in the ladies room. We looked surprised at each other and she asked: “Ana? Are you already living in Curitiba? – Please come and meet my daughters.” We started chatting and eventually had lunch together. In that fantastic one hour we spent together I felt like being in a conversation that was planned for me to be in. The girls, hopefully new friends I have gained now, provided me with some pieces of information that I really needed and did not know where to find yet. That was exactly what I was looking for. What a meaningful coincidence! Is this how synchronicity plays out? I learned later that it was a very rare event to meet the mother and the two daughters together, since one of them lives in São Paulo and was just visiting her mom and the other one is usually very busy.

If things had worked out as I had planned, I would probably not have met Celia and had that incredible lunch time together with her daughters! Lesson learnt: If things have not worked out as you planned, there might be better plans for you!

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Não sou vegetariana, mas recomendo um prato vegetariano!


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Short note about synchronicity

Today I met a person who said:

“If you have been experiencing events of synchronicity, take them seriously and believe that this is the right path to go.”

I will be sharing more stories around this subject with you the following days/ weeks. I hope to be able to figure out soon what she was saying…

If you have any insights, please share them here. Welcome!

Syncronicity – Event 1: Meeting old and new friends

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It has been a while since I started observing a series of “magical” events coming together in an almost unbelievable way. A series of events I could not predict, neither control, happened as if I was being guided along my path. Some things went beyond the probability of chance for that to happen. I am extremely intrigued by them and thought it would be worth writing and sharing them on this platform. I invite you to take this journey with me in the attempt to search for answers about how they occurred.

I will start going back to 2005 when I did my master studies in Karlsruhe, a beautiful university town in the South of Germany. A friend of mine introduced me to Rainer, a consultant who works with environmental questions, communication and social marketing[1]. I went to a presentation of his work in a Brazilian-German cooperation program. He greeted me shortly in Portuguese and we had a small talk just before the presentation started. The presentation was in German and I was very impressed by his fluent German. At the end I asked him “Where did you learn to speak German so well?” It turned out that he was German and only a Brazil-lover, but it was actually Portuguese that he learned so well. I never met Rainer again until today, 8 years later – “by chance”.

The way I met him was remarkable. I am back to Brazil. It is been almost 9 years living abroad. A friend of mine from Germany, Jule, came to visit Brazil. It had been only one week since my return and I was happy that she somehow found out that I was living here again. We met quickly in Curitiba and she introduced me to a friend of her, Christoph, who contributes passionately to a nature project which reintroduces extinct bird species in a wonderful stretch of the Mata Atlântica in Guaratuba, close to Curitiba. I did not know Christoph but we immediately found many things in common, including…. Rainer. He suggested introducing me to Rainer, who lives in Curitiba. What a magic surprise! “Do you know him too? Is he in Curitiba?”

Today was the second time I was introduced to Rainer. And his German is still great!

In our conversation we started talking about things we do personally and professionally and discovered suddenly that we work in fields that are totally different in content but are attuned with one another. I believe that we have a lot to contribute to each other. But I guess what really connected us was the sense of being engaged in something that is deeply meaningful to each one of us. I came out of that conversation very energized and was wondering about the difference between coincidence (this is a random series of events) and synchronicity (nothing in the universe happens by chance – there is a reason and a deeper meaning behind everything – see some definitions of synchronicity below[2]).

I may not forget to mention another brilliant person who was also in that meeting. Christoph brought his lovely life partner and great artist Kitty who impressed me by her presence and integrity. I don’t know exactly how to describe when you meet a person who has these qualities, but something exceptional happened. Some words that I relate to that moment are: connection, authenticity and something very powerful. Maybe this is what artists are naturally capable to develop and project to the outer world. By the way, just by checking out her work you may feel inspired and understand through her work expression what I mean: http://www.kharvillarte.com.br/.

When I say that “a person as presence”, what immediately comes to your mind? How would your definition for presence be? Have you ever met a person with “presence”? What was different and special about Kitty that made me feel this kind of presence I am talking about? What is this invisible manifestation from within that permeates on the other person (or maybe animal or any other being) before we even talk or listen to each other? – This is an appeal to my readers to share their thoughts.

In talking with a great facilitator for leadership processes whose quality of presence is also remarkable, I concluded that presence, in an holistic way, is the ability of deep listening, of being open beyond one’s perception, of being consciously participating in a larger context for change to happen and of serving the evolution of life.

In that particular meeting I felt this sense of presence and I had a feeling that the time had stopped for a moment. The Café staff announced that they were about to close and we had to leave, otherwise we might have chatted even longer. We said goodbye to each other and I felt as if this was the beginning of a good friendship. The sunset view that was waiting for me outside I took as a gift and a celebration of the sky to that unforgettable moment.

Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba – reflection of sunset on the “eye” of the museum

Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba – reflection of sunset on the “eye” of the museum

Sky above, Earth bellow – sunset somewhere

Sky above, Earth bellow – sunset somewhere

Thank you Christoph, Kitty and Rainer! Thank you Jule who, maybe unconsciously, made that meeting possible!

Note: If you are interested in learning more about the concept of presence according to Joseph Jaworski, Adam Kahane and Otto Scharmer based on extensive research and years of experience with collective change, check out this workbook:

The Presence Workbook

The Presence Workbook


[1] If you want to learn more about one of Rainer’s  work, here a sample: http://www.solobioma.ufpr.br/

[2] Some definitions of the concept of synchronicity:

* Synchronicity is the capacity we have to sense and actualize emerging futures and to shape the future instead of simply responding to the forces at large. It is the source of capacity to access the knowledge for action we need in the moment. (Joseph Jaworski, fellow and board member for the MIT Center for Organizational Learning, and cofounder of the Society for Organizational Learning. He is also author of Synchronicity and co-author of Presence)

*There is an underlying intelligence within the universe that is capable of guiding and preparing us for the future we must create. (Peter Senge, American scientist and director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management)

* Synchronicities are more likely to increase during transitional times (Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology).

* Synchronicity is the act of the universe conspiring to help you create your own reality based on your thoughts, emotions and reactions. It is the act of unseen forces in the metaphysical – a collective unconscious – room that are acting in your life, that are working with you and that are reflecting reality back to you (Gabriel Morris)

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And it was a very long break. That was due to lots of movements that started happening in November, or maybe earlier, I can’t even say. I decided to say “yes” to the call to adventure a new professional field. I stepped away from my original technical career, moved from Zambia back to Brazil with my husband, packed the remaining things we still had in Germany and… here we are, facing an unknown situation, learning how it is to be out of our comfort zone for a while, with a feasible but not perfect plan, not really knowing where we are heading to, but with a good gut feeling that things are just all right.

I was tempted to change the language of my blog to Portuguese but, instead of doing that, I will just think of the language that is most present in the context I am writing. So you may experience a mix of Portuguese, English and maybe even German here. I will make an effort to be consequent and not mix all languages in one sentence and in many dialogues I use to have with my husband when we struggle to find the right words in one or the other language.

Here some themes that have been very present in my life lately. I had pieces of unfinished texts about my experiences in these subjects and decided to sit down to write them all. Here a sample of what will go online within the next days or weeks:

  • Synchronicity? – or just a series of random events and encounters with remarkable people?
  • Serendipity
  • Leaving the comfort zone – crossing the threshold
  • Dealing with fear

I hope you will enjoy the reading. Stay connected and feel free to send me your comments and share your experiences too. Thank you!

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Having some solo time at Chapada Diamantina, Bahia – A ritual do close a life cycle and get ready for the new one.

Having some solo time at Chapada Diamantina, Bahia – A ritual do close a life cycle and get ready for the new one. Photo 1: View from my tend; Photo 2: Back view and sunset


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Making sense of an experience with large system processes using the Social Technology of Presencing

How to enable systems and its people walk the journey of successful transformation to create new and better realities?

How can a system reform itself?

Some weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the dynamics of social change. Over 14 days I was part of the facilitation team to develop a process to coin the direction of the strategic plan of a development programme in the justice sector in Zambia. This phase of the process ended with a 5 days field study in a rural area of Zambia. I will describe in the following article what I found memorable in meeting so many people from different backgrounds and involving them in the process – from leaders in the government, civil society and community.

I was privileged to support the consultant Marc Steinlin from IPK[1] in designing a workshop programme which should help stakeholders to gain a shared understanding of the current state of the programme after being run for 6 years. The main goal was to maximize ownership and commitment among key parties for the new planning phase.

The justice system can be seen as a complex living system which behavior cannot be easily predicted. It was interesting to observe how difficult it was for participants, who held management and leadership positions in their organizations, to even formulate what their challenges were. Some spoke about absence of ownership; others emphasized on lack of political will or mentioned the hidden conflicts that have been carried on for years. As Adam Kahane[i] mentions in his book “Power and Love”, such challenges cannot be successfully addressed by experts or authorities, but only with the engagement of the actors themselves. Experiences of the past and “best practices” mostly do not provide the answers to solve such problems. Business as usual is not an option anymore. I read a quote from Albert Einstein once which says:  “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it “. The difficulty lies in finding new ways to go about it when things become so unfamiliar, undetermined and with a sense of “stuckness”. That is when innovative approaches like Theory U[ii] from Otto Scharmer become very appealing and worth a trial.

Accessing my own ignorance – The impact of learning journeys

Before the actual 5-days workshop, the organizational team went to a preparation field trip in order to sense the reality in a rural area of Zambia and learn from relevant actors of the justice system on the spot.

We had the opportunity to interview stakeholders, hear their stories and learn from their experiences. Suspending judgment and acting based on genuine curiosity was not always easy but those were the key elements that allowed us to depict reality. Seeing the reality on the ground is very different from what we can see or hear when sitting behind the desk in the office. At those instances I realized with all my senses the complexity of the system we were dealing with. The more we spoke to people the more we identified new actors who seemed to have relevance. Although (or because?) I consider myself all but not knowledgeable in any subject related to justice and laws, it became clear very soon that the traditional justice system plays a crucial role when accessing justice in a rural area in Zambia. According to local authorities, estimated 80% of the people accessed the traditional justice system which follows traditional rules and costumes of a specific group. The programme at stake focused basically on the formal justice system. In order for the system to be well represented in the workshop, actors from the traditional justice system had to be brought into the room.

During our explorations, many people indicated that the presence of a particular traditional leader would be extremely relevant. I was given the mobile number of a chief who represented the entire Province in the House of Chiefs and would therefore be the best representative for the traditional system and all leaders in the area of study. We discussed amongst the organizational team about the importance of this player in the room and, purely instinctively, I asked my interlocutor for some hints about the behavioral code when approaching “His Royal Highness” and got prepared for the call. The chief answered the phone himself. I briefly explained the context of my call and first asked for apologies because we, from the organizational committee, have overseen an important guest in the invitation list. I kindly asked if he would join us in the workshop at such a short notice and he immediately said “yes”.

Only later I realized the positive side of being ignorant about certain codes of conduct in Zambia. It could have gone wrong, but in that case it was a great asset. Only when a colleague from the organizational team arrived from Lusaka in the workshop location, he informed me that they actually considered inviting a chief, but changed their minds because dealing with chiefs in a workshop is generally a pretty sensitive issue and can involve quite some costs. The assumption that chiefs would generally request allowances, never walk alone and therefore generate more costs made the organizational team drop the name of any traditional leader from the invitations. Chiefs would also influence the atmosphere in the workshop because people would behave differently in the presence of an authority. From this perspective, it was decided not to include them.

“Who invited a chief?” was the question of a member of the organizational committee who arrived later. After explaining my reasons to invite a traditional leader and discussing the way to deal with the unexpected situation, including “un-inviting” the guest, we agreed to leave the situation as it was and trust a collective “gut feeling” which was saying that we would know how to deal with the situation when matters arise.

For me, it was a memorable experience to see a traditional leader speaking in a workshop at the same eye level as any other participant, engaging in group discussions, accepting the rule “pocket your status” – no hierarchy while in the room – and giving enormous contributions to the dynamic of the group and outputs of the workshop.

Being aware of assumptions and how our perception can deceive us

After the first day in the phase of “initiating” and two days in “sensing”, we started the phase of “presencing”. The group seemed to have settled. I believe that a shift happened the previous day as people were watching a film about selective attention (research from Simons & Chabris, 1999)[iii] followed by a discussion about assumptions just before the learning journeys took place. The film shows a number of basket players passing the ball to each other. The audience is asked to count how many times the ball is passed. While concentrating the attention in that question, 26 out of the 30 participants present in the room missed the gorilla that passes in the middle of the circle of basket players. What seems obvious becomes invisible. The conclusion was: When you focus on only one thing or on things that you already know, you often miss other unexpected events or disconfirming data. As people returned from their journeys that day, they kept on talking about the gorilla they saw or may have missed. The analogy worked very well and made complex concepts about the way our mind works very simple and experiential.

Power of presence

After the field visits and in the following days the conversations shifted from talking nice, polite and empty phrases into frank and reflective dialogues, touching on many key issues. Suddenly it became quite easy to have genuine attention and no distractions including answering mobile phones, what used to be a frequent reason of distraction before, even after having contracted to keep them on silence. The group was sitting in a circle as the facilitator explained the purpose of that phase, which was probably the turning point of the workshop. The use of the film “The legend of Bagger Vance” with analogies to the work context of the participants was very helpful to move their perceptions towards the essence of that phase. Participants heard attentively to the idea of “sensing the field” and finding the “perfect swing” in relation to achieving their goals. There was pure silence and attention in the room like never before.

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Circle of presence – Participants of the workshop (Photo: Ana Münzner, blurred for confidentiality reasons)

The facilitator asked the participants to go through their notes and the data they have collected over the past three days. After refreshing their minds on what they had learnt, observed and the ideas they had developed, they were invited to do some guided journaling to answer the following questions:

  1. When you look at yourself and your work, what are the biggest challenges that this justice programme presents to you?
  2. What is holding you back/ standing in the way of making progress in the programme at stake?
  3. What new aspects have you noticed over the last three days?
  4. If you consider these discoveries as seeds/ building blocks for the future, how could this look like in the justice system?
  5. If you look at this ideal future, what are the core tasks/ elements that we must tackle in order to bring that future into reality?
  6. Whenever we create something new, we have to get rid of something old that is like a burden, that we must let go off. What is that we have to give up so that we can move forwards and grow?
  7. You personally as… (some positions mentioned), what is your personal contribution, that YOU, as an individual, can give to make it successfully happen?

At this stage, 100% of the participants were actively participating and writing in their journals. That was never the case before.

After a break, where everybody was quiet and in which I observed many participants commenting on the activities and their experiences, we proceeded with the Bohm Dialogue[iv] – a big circle was formed.

The central question for discussion in the circle was: “How can we mobilize the system’s capacity to reform itself?”. This question was raised by a participant in the debriefing the evening before and it helped the group to move into very deep discussions. Participants addressed issues that really concerned them personally. They talked about what they heard, saw and experienced in their learning journeys and how they related it to reality. In that moment, the only participant who was still insisting in keeping his chair outside of the circle and letting himself be disturbed by external influences joined the circle. He grabbed the talking stick and I felt that he was speaking from the heart.

Power and love instead of power versus love

By the end of each workshop day Marc invited all participants for a volunteer debriefing about the day as a way to aggregate different views and perceptions. Some would prefer to call it a day, others would stay to give further feedback, suggestions and to raise concerns regarding the process. By this way it was possible to gather more data from the system which could not be easily observed during the day. The facilitator would attentively listen to all voices and identify reasons for fear, discomfort, confusion, inclusion or exclusion that should be addressed. As my friend and teacher Martin Kalungu-Banda says, “feelings are data”. They can give important information about what is really going on “under the iceberg”. If you ignore feelings, you are ignoring data and increasing the potential for conflicts. Marc would address it either through informal conversations or during the debriefings. This kind of dialogue uncovers what each of the actors is trying to achieve and realize. It uncovers certain relationships, which persons show resistance towards which topics, and implies that some people will have to be empowered while others will lose some privileges for the larger system to function.

In one of such debriefing conversations it became clear that one of the presently involved institution was about to become irrelevant to the future programme. When learning theory U I observed a tendency to focus strongly on love and compassion. There is a risk of losing sight of another important component of any social system which is power. Voices of power and voices of love became very evident during the debriefing conversations. The interaction between the different actors with their respective interests (funding, decision making, political influence, representation in civil society, etc.) was faster and much more direct than during the workshop. The power side would raise concerns about the distance between the discussions in the workshop and the actual piece of paper that had to be produced as a requirement for funding to be released. The love side would bring up statements such as the one of a participant who touched me and apparently the entire group: “Today we visited people in the local court and they asked if we were just one more of those organizations that come to interview people and find out about their challenges and nobody ever hears from them again. He continued asking: How can we make sure that we are not only one more of these organizations? How can we make sure that this is not going to be only one more strategic plan that will never get out of the paper but will really reach the target group?” – This person was requested to open the workshop the next day.

Marc helped me to change my understanding on how forces like power and love within a system can and have to walk together. It is necessary to balance both and not let them collide. That is the only way to change a system for the better even in the most complex, conflictual and challenging contexts as Adam Kahane mentions in his book. I was inspired by the way Marc gave space for both forces and managed to include all voices in the workshop, even when that meant letting go of his own agenda. Here, the capacity of attentive listening, “go with the flow”, authenticity and good questions combined with the willing to truly help the client were the elements that made a real difference.

Some final thoughts

To deliver meaningful and sustainable change, people must be part of the creation process. People support what they create. People are also willing to change their behavior when they truly believe that what they are doing is not working anymore. But in order for it to happen, people have to feel the problem close and strongly enough so that the pain of living with the problem becomes bigger than the pain of changing it.

It remains an open question, whether these efforts and form of dialogue have really inspired and strengthened the capacity of the participants to address their challenges in the justice system and to write a sustainable strategic plan. How can we identify if participants have really opened themselves to each other? What is essential for the system to get “unstuck”? If this process has really identified and touched the roots of the problems and unresolved conflicts remains for me the biggest question.

What works and what doesn’t can only be observed over time. Benefits from change are realized when a process is effectively designed, developed and delivered and that solution is embraced, adopted and used by concerned stakeholders. For sure there was a shift in the way the system thinks. Some sort of shared understanding has emerged. People stepped forward to engage in a collective experience in order to address the challenges of a system they saw themselves as part of. They saw themselves as part of an unhealthy and unwhole system that they were co-responsible to create and are co-responsible to repair. This could be observed by the feedback participants gave at the end when saying that this was not just one more workshop amongst many others, but an eye opener experience. If the final statement of an important stakeholder is true and valid for the entire group, all the work was worth: “This will not just be a strategic plan but our strategic plan.” But still some powerful stakeholders were too busy fixing problems outsideto have time to participate in such a process. I truly hope that whoever stayed in the room were the right people who will take ownership over the programme – what then maybe can be presented in a sequel of this article.


[1] IPK – IngeniousPeoplesKnowledge Consultants facilitate innovation and transformation processes that are driven by participants’ curiosity and motivation as well as their ingenuity, wisdom and resourcefulness. The methodologies applied originate from understanding the complexity of living systems and social processes, and enable synchronous learning amongst participants. IPK brings about a variety of holistic and innovative approaches to intervene sustainably in complex realities.


References

[i] Kahane, Adam. 2010. Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change. San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler

[ii] For more information about Theory U: http://www.presencing.com/

[iii] The invisible gorilla and other ways our intuition deceive us: http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html

[iv] For more information about Bohm dialogue: http://www.david-bohm.net/dialogue/