Thursday, June 14, 2018

Transformation and Innovation: Creating the conditions for love

Theirs will be the challenge to provide the environment that is...conducive to the spiritual empowerment of individuals, who will come to see themselves as active agents of their own learning, as protagonists of a constant effort to apply knowledge to effect individual and collective transformation. - Baha'i
This idea of transformation, both individual and collective, is something that has been garnering a great deal of attention in diverse circles. In healing and health, the idea of transformation is key to developing a new self, to freeing oneself from physical and emotional ailments. In education we strive for creating innovative learning environments where learners are transformed into creative critical thinkers. We look to transformation as an event, a climax, un fin! When in reality, it probably looks more circular in nature and is indicative of a process.

We don't like that word too much I don't think, process. It's been overused and sloganized. Life is a journey...Enjoy the process...One step at a time. And all of these are true, and yet it can some times leave you feeling like life has not rails or guard posts or markers or indicators that gently guide you forward. So rather than thinking about the process I've been reflecting on the conditions that inform this process.

How do we create the conditions that support the desired results?

Whether that result be innovation, critical thinking, transformation, etc. And does it matter what animates all of this?

This reminds me of African Desert Tortoises. My youngest daughter has an African Desert Tortoise and it is ready to be moved outside. As she contemplates this move she considers many factors, the most important being, how does she create the conditions for her turtle to thrive? She's been thinking of the environment and what kind of qualities would make this an optimal environment for a desert tortoise: Areas of shade as well as sun, edible plants, a water source, fencing that is safe, etc. And what animates all of these decisions? Love. The love she has for her tortoise and its well-being.

So how do we create the conditions for love?

Love is a natural force that springs from the heart. I wonder, however, if like any force, it requires focused attention to nurture and guide it. Will this force be in service of others, to uplift others, or to enhance and aggrandize one's own accomplishments and ideas? How then do we create the conditions to nurture love?

Since love is a natural force, really the question lies in what are the conditions that will channel this force. When I think of transformation and innovation, the conditions become clearer. If I want either of these processes to take root than I need to consider what qualities need to be present in order for transformation and innovation to develop.

Both transformation and innovation require risk-taking, reflection, humility, an open mind, detachment and a clear vision.

Risk-taking: If I want to create something new, which both of these lead to, than I have to be willing to take the risk of doing something different. This demands an environment that has a strong emotional quotient. Taking any risk requires great courage and to meet courage, I must walk through my fears. Walking through fear asks that I have faith, hope, that things might actually work out, that this new path may give fruit.

Reflection: I must be willing to reflect throughout the entire process - yes process - and ask, what am I learning? Do I have new information that is leading me to new territory (which in and of itself is innovation)? Am I getting confirmation that I am on the right track? Reflection is a powerful tool to use throughout any change or shift as it will inform you of where you are and where you might be going. Reflection can be done with a journal, in a group, verbally or in meditation.

Humility: Transformation and Innovation require humility. When you say you want anything to transform you are saying you want to discard one thing for another. It doesn't mean throw away the first thing, it may be useful in a different setting, than again it may not. Humility says, I don't have all the answers, I'm willing to learn more. Humility creates a humble posture of learning, which is a beautiful stance that leads to an open mind.

Open Mind: An open mind asks to learn, seeks to know, looks for answers and does not discriminate where these answers might come from. When you pair an open mind with a humble posture of learning, you recognize that learning can happen anywhere and anytime and from anyone. The open mind only wants to further understand and seek truth. Which of course, requires detachment.

Detachment: If we are to transform or innovate, we must detach from those things that once served us or maybe still do, but we know there might possibly be another way that could serve better. If we don't detach, we might still be in a horse and buggy. This is not a bad thing, a horse and buggy can still serve us. We do, however, realize the great advantages in having transportation that can move us more adequately from one space to another, like airplanes or subways. So to transform and innovate, we need to detach and release what once was, to what might be possible.

Clear vision: And this leads us to clarity of vision. If we do not have a clear vision for where it is we want to be, transformation can be haphazard and innovation might happen for the sake of innovation without any real clear purpose. Having a clear vision for where I want to go, what is it I might be trying to create, what kind of environment I want my students to thrive in, my own personal vision of my self and who I hope to become are all important questions to ask when on this path to transformation and innovation.

These qualities are not developed in isolation or even as a linear process. Each quality feeds and develops the other. And the order I use these qualities doesn't matter so much as that I use them. There are more qualities for sure to consider. Like information. Where do you gather information to guide your learning process? Action. It is important to put your ideas into action to see how they hold up and what other areas require further reflection and consolidation.

A big part of this learning process is my intention. If I intend to create the conditions where love can thrive, then my focus shifts and I begin to look for those qualities that will best support the environment for love to show up. And if I want love to show up looking like transformation and innovation, than I need to start thinking about the qualities that support transformation and innovation.

It all begins with love, from there I am free of all prejudices, biases, fears and doubts. Love embraces, brings joy, hope and possibility.

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