I am now on the 4 hour ferry portion of our trip back home to Sweden and I am beginning to reflect on the week I have just had. There is still much swirling around, much that has not yet landed. However, here are a few thoughts I have managed to harvest. Here is a link to the Mission-U page. This was the very first of these, call it a prototype, so what I describe here is what I experienced and therefore my definition of what it is. A slice of the full story, a piece of the puzzle of the entire picture.
My despcription of what Mission-U is would read something like this “Mission-U is a call put out as a challenge to work with Berlin-based companies and organisations on various tasks. Mission-U is an experiment. An experiment which looks at many aspects of the social landscape – doing this practically – it draws the magnifying glass onto group dynamics also the self in the group, it looks at processess (both internal and external – because often the external reflects the internal), it is a process in itself which maps out the interesting practice called Theory-U which was developed by the man with a welcoming, friendly aura, his name is Otto Sharmer. Mission-U is on the pulse of something new which is silently and slowly awakening and in turn emerging, one of many new forms of meeting each other and ourselves, a new form of gathering, sharing and working. It is something that can be taken anywhere, with the trust that what is needed will crop up from the unique group participating. Mission-U, I imagine, would look different in different parts of the world. “
That is my attempt at explaning what it is.
I approached Mission-U with the full intention of being open, with the intention of being fully involved, my understanding of “fully involved” being to attend each minute of the program and to participate and contribute to all that was offered.
Whilst taking part it soon became apparent that I was in no shape to plunge in as I had initially intended. A learning that has repeatedly appeared at my door re-surfaced and knocked again, that, in order for me to do and give my best, I need to be my best, and this is an extention of a realisation I came to regarding the sustainability of my work. How to give myself what I need in order to better give of my gifts.
I soon realised that I was cynical about group processes and simply not keen to try, this was my final attempt at it before a long sabbatical (or so I thought).
The group I worked with exceeded my expectations of how it would play out, they were phenomenal, we were in flow, something I remember consciously tapping into on a catalyst course offered by Lucca Leadership where I began my training to become a coach.
What was also fascinating was what I automatically expected my role to be in the group, but that role was no longer valid and relevant, it was not fitting in this setting; what this realisation felt like was at first a feeling I would liken to getting the carpet pulled from under my feet, what was happening? What’s my role now? Who AM I? Yes, the feeling of panic was that dramatic! As soon as I let go of my expectations of what this was and who I was in it, something new was allowed in. Something that had not yet been.
During the challenge a lot of really heavy realities (mainly about going back to South Africa) surfaced, my old way of being was also coming back in little snapshots. Again, I panicked, I had forgotten this person. Who was she? Where had she hibernated to all this time? Why was she back? A lot of sadness gripped me, suffocated me and paralysed me, to a point that I couldn’t physically make myself present for a portion of our mission. Which, upon reflection, was best – I wouldn’t have been present in other ways anyway.
I also noticed in myself the “pressure to perfrom”, the pressure was coming from many sources but mainly myself. This caused me to re-evaluate my view on what “contributing” meant. That it is not only limited to the act of doing what is expected, it is also doing what is not expected also. For instance when 30 people don’t show up for a portion of the experience, I see it as an indication of something that needs to be acknowledged. Could be anything from the heat should have asked us to move outside all the way through to the need of more regular breaks. Still, it is pointing to a certain something that exists in the group.
Our challenge was working with an organisation called Sinnewerk who’s main principle is to acknowlege the people in society who are often alienated, so in their 2 cafes (Cafe Tasso and Morgenstern Cafe Und Antiquariat) they sell donated books for 1 Euro each and they employ the “unemployable”, in this case mentally or physically handicapped people from all walks of life.They also have DELICIOUS organic meals on offer for a reasonable price, especially considering the quality. We were asked to assist in helping them sell more books in the new store (Morgenstern), to help with ideas for the opening of the cafe section of Morgenstern and then also to assist in making the marriage between the bookstore and the cafe work better.
So in our challenge one of my brilliant team members – Christianne – came up with the idea of using all the books that they can not use to create items for the store. The ball was rolling and we were revved up! We were dreaming, even as far as building houses using the abandoned books! In that moment nothing was impossible, we allowed eachother the beauty of “outrageous” creative imagination. It was beautiful. We found some pallets and pieces of wood in the streets and used that also. I believe that the ends and the means are the same and so this made my heart overjoyed – we were making use of the same heart as one of their main principles to co-create something new.
In the end our clients were smiling from ear to ear and extremely inspired and open to a new way of working.
I suppose the biggest learning for me is that there is a new way of meeting, working, dreaming, giving birth to ideas, creating. This new way involves and includes all the intelligence present in that moment. It calls for our gifts, our individual gifts to build onto the center in order to build something new. Hierachical leadership and old and current structures are wanting to transform into something else, something new which is currently being developed and worked on. Something new that wants to be born.
In short – EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST (this wording and idea was introduced to me by Mel – check out her blog over here)
There is a collective intelligence that wants to build together for each other in a new way.
MissionU is an example of this “Something New” that wants to come into being.
The images used in this blog were taken by The Incredible Pieter Ploeg, Katie Dobb, my great team-mate Christianne Sinoo, Karen Schmidt, Antoinette Klatzky and the flickr images were taken by Guido Crolla (Here is a link to the images he took).