Last week I had the great privilege of hanging out with uncompromise (aka Cameron Burgess). We did some work together with the School for Social Entrepreneurs around organisational architecture, or how to design your organisation to achieve maximum impact.
I love Cameron’s passion and drive in the world – his energy is really contagious. We were talking about our different approaches to change-work and he shared an analogy of ‘change by sword’ versus ‘change by hug’. This is grossly simplifying what was actually a beautiful wisdom story of a monk, which I can’t seem to recall right now.
We talked about how Cameron often takes the role of the sword, and uses his intellect and sharp tongue to cut right through issues and get straight to the heart of what is happening for people. His experience with hypnotism has taught him that sometimes it is critical to be sharp like this to break through people’s resistances. In our chats this seemed to contrast with my more soft (or feminine perhaps) style of operating. I loved the conversation because the way he spoke really triggered some things in me and showed me aspects of myself which I was challenged by.
When we got around to running our workshop on the Tuesday however, things seemed to flip. In our workshop we seemed to play this dance where we were able to tap into both the sword and the hug approach. Funnily, he started off with this soft meditation and then ‘threw’ to me. Despite my tendency toward the soft approach, here I was being quite direct and to the point. I love the balancing that we were working with.
Fast forward a week to today, where I had a conversation this afternoon with katemural (aka Kate Ettinger, of the Mural Institute). Kate is an ethicist and we were unpacking social media ethics over skype – me in Sydney, Kate in Berlin. I shared the analogy above with her to see what she thought. Kate had recently experienced an ethical dilemma which required pulling her sword out. I asked her which approach she saw as more effective or preferable. Kate said that the best way is to “use the sword in the context of a hug”.
I thought this was a beautiful little addition to our analogy. To Kate, the master swordwoman (or man) is able to powerfully cut through layers of confusion and limiting thinking, without cutting the person. This is the context of the hug, and together they come together in a kind of dance. The hug allows us to hold people in a place where they are safe and nurtured, so that the sword can come in weave its magic to cut through these layers. The change agent is the sword-dancer, masterfully holding and nurturing people while cutting through to a place of greater wisdom and clarity.
Thanks Kate and Cameron for sharing this wisdom with me.