To be in integrity we must have polarity. Holding space in diversity and conflict, in leadership and love.

Everyone loves bubbles, even the most hardened of us…to be surrounded by bubbles being blown awakens some primitive childlike delight.

Bubbles hold their shape. Until they pop. Their life cycle is generally measured in seconds. In those seconds they evoke beauty, wonder, delight, joy…

For a bubble to hold its shape there is a minimum requirement of a positive and negative charge. For a cell membrane to hold its shape, to neither collapse into a messy heap, or blow apart, there is a requirement of a positive and negative charge.

Take a bar magnet and hold it up over some iron filings. From the mess of the filings you suddenly get order, and that order adopts a circular pattern. The magnet demonstrates a positive and negative charge.

To hold its shape in Universe…or to either not collapse into that messy heap, or blow apart… polarity is critical. Polarity is what enables anything to hold its shape. Anything will include you and I as our flesh encapsulated beingness, it will include the relationship between you and I, it will include the bubble, the birth of a project…the birth of a product…the maintenance of a nation…the building of a team, the design of a building…polarity is essential to existence.

To be in integrity, we must have polarity, for to be in integrity means to hold shape.

Why then do we have a word that so abhors polarity? That works, under then hands of humans, from dawn till dusk trying to have everything move towards sameness …to be all positive…or all negative?

What does this mean in practical application?

(1) It means that we would design in diversity of thinking, world view, perspective, cultural identity. And while we are doing that, we would design the framing ability for this diversity to co-exist without one view or another taking conquest over the whole.

In other words, a world where the power belongs to white males with misogynistic backgrounds with a world view hell bent on extraction of any and all assets at any cost, as a singular polarity, will FAIL. Design science will not allow this model to exist for long. Even if the rest of us did nothing, this ‘delusion of power’ group will, in the end, kill each other.

But by doing things actively, we can accelerate their demise. Like a nest of hornets, as long as we stay away from the crazed frenzy of stinging, we need to relentlessly stir the nest, until they bite each other to death, or phase shift to a new order of being.

(2) It means as individuals each of us explore our own polarity. Our shadow and light. That we recognise that our weaknesses enable our strengths. That when we judge another, we provide a field of grace for the whole person. Their light and dark. No one person is all light, or all dark. We all have both. Stop beating ourselves to shreds over our own shadow, stop being angry at others when their shadow leads, and stop putting anyone on a pedestal as if their shit don’t stink.

(3) It means we design systems with a built in tension/compression mechanism. Architects already know how to do this. Our monetary, economic, finance and value systems must have the polarity built in.

(4) It means leaders and stewards become fluent in holding polarity. They neither collapse into a heap when they are attacked, nor turn into an enraged monster. They hold their centre. They learn the art of holding as they move their enterprise or project forward. They tune into the time line of what is being created, and understand the point of action, the point of observation, the point of destruction and the point of holding.
Each place requires a very different response. They adapt their response and their holding to the appropriate conditions.

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In the larger scheme of the emergence of the current world we are right now, as a collective, at a place where we have been seeking to eliminate polarity in the system. We have been striving for sameness.

What we need, as an imperative, is to embrace the diversity. To invite it in. To design ways we can navigate its often difficult waters. To build opportunity for robust debate, for heat, for disagreement. For cold and distance. For considered anger. To learn how to stand whole in conflict, emotional intensity, and reptilian response.

I suggest we begin with an embrace of our own diversity, our own light and dark, our own weaknesses and strengths, our own capacity to stay present and grounded when those around us are losing their tether. To observe our response and reactions when working with others.

From this reference point we then move to explore the polarities in our own relationships, our businesses, our community.

The more we approach sameness and safety the more unstable the system becomes. It is counter intuitive.

Nature loves the dance of emergence, and the dance of emergence flies on the wings of polarity. Invite it in.

4 Comments on “To be in integrity we must have polarity. Holding space in diversity and conflict, in leadership and love.”

  1. Aaaah… Ms Christine — what a pleasure to have such easy access to your reflective mind and your cumulative wisdom. I also checked out and very much enjoyed your coffee shop video podcast hosted by Mentor Revolution. I think it’s unfortunate that your delightful accent isn’t somehow reflected in your writing.

    I’m aligned with all of your thinking on polarities in this post. What I’ve found particularly pragmatic on this issue is both to give high priority to growing feedback practices — in personal, professional and systemic relationships. E.g., my old friend/colleague, Don Cherry, had the habit of always responding to any feedback with a ‘Thank you very much’ — and reasons why he appreciated the feedback. Appreciative feedback that acknowledges leaders as they deal with polarities in an embracing/inclusive way is always coin of the realm.

    Kegan and Leahy’s book, ‘An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization’ describes how potent it can be to institute such a culture in an organization.

    1. Hi Bill, thank you for your thoughtful response. I have not read An Everyone Culture, but I will now. I have read their other books.
      I have book marked your website and will be checking it out with interest.

      warmly

      Christine

      1. I’ve written a ton of stuff in an effort to get evolve ‘Organizing Meme 2.0’ as a 1st pass at a DNA-type structure for conscious, caring, self-evolving living systems. I’m excited by what I’m able to see at this point but am still challenged in communicating its depth to those still deeply immeshed in OM 1.0.

        I just put together a summary list of those parts of my two most relevant sites. If you like I can pass that along. It might contribute to your ‘checking out’ process.

        Love and blessings,

        Bill

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