PRESENCE, PASSION AND PURPOSE
AS FOUNDATIONS FOR RELATIONAL WORK
Sally Denham-Vaughan & Marie-Anne Chidiac
At our Gathering in London this autumn, we will be exploring the issues of Presence, Passion and Purpose as they apply to our lives and work.
These '3Ps' are especially dear to our hearts as they provide a description of the foundational energy that created Relational Change. Neither of us were wholly happy with where we found ourselves at work (not fully present), we shared a vision of what we would like to create and the impact we hoped to have in the world (passion), and we believed this vision, of relational gestalt principles being far more widely accessible, was shared by many colleagues in our local and global community. Our shared purpose therefore in establishing Relational Change was to connect and collaborate with colleagues to bring this vision to dynamic fruition.
In practice, we initially worked a lot with the notion of 'Presence', a process we had written about in 2007 and that, for us, describes a state where energy (physical, intellectual, emotional and values based/ethical), is readily available and able to flow fluidly as a response to environmental calls. We spent considerable time, individually and together, noticing how our sense of presence waxed and waned in response to particular environments: what truly gave us a sense of aliveness and nourishment? What turned us on and enabled us to access our passion?
We started with this inquiry as we both see presence lying at the heart of the gestalt approach and have therefore located the concept at the centre of the Relational Change 'SOS' framework. For us, presence describes a state of being fully embodied, resonant with others and the current context and ready to creatively respond. In this state we bring all of our future potential, and previous experience, into the present moment to innovate and co-emerge with the situation. (continued below SOS concept illustration)
It is our experience that when we align ourselves in this way there is a specific aesthetic of contact that inspires a sense of passion and purpose; both for ourselves and in others. We often feel a sense of being interconnected and expansive, able to sense options and opportunities that were previously out of awareness and find resources in others and ourselves that were hitherto unidentified. These are the moments when we feel called to be at our best, have the greatest range and the most heart-felt connections. In this way, we also believe that we access our ethics and values, and find the commitment to create conditions where they can be expressed. Our experience is that this engenders a sense of purpose in our lives and in our work, and that, we hope, is now manifested in the Relational Change community and projects.
We believe, therefore, that this process of sensing and aligning (presence), resourcing (passion), integrating and acting (manifesting purpose), is a potent vehicle for individual, group and organisational change and is inherent in our style of Relational Organisational Gestalt (ROG). A recent graduate from our programme is the British Gestalt Student Essay prizewinner, Maggie Marriott. She has this to say about her experience of connecting with the 3Ps across the two year ROG programme:
"My quest is over and my journey continues….
Wow, what a wonderful transformation 2 years training with Relational Change on the ROG programme has made for my work and me.
My 25-year quest to find a humane approach to organisational transformation is at an end. I have a language and amazing theoretical texts to help me explain the what, why and how of my work. I have an amazing support network of talented and generous people. The employee engagement scores of organisations I work with continue to rise even through periods of major transformational change. And putting all of this together as an entry to the British Gestalt Journal student essay prize 2015 has led me to be selected as the winning author.
In my own quiet way my presence, purpose and passion are growing and glowing ever stronger. I've found my tribe and it feels great."
At the Gathering, we will outline a number of ideas around emergence and presence as well as discuss the links between our version of Relational Organisational Gestalt and Otto Scharmer’s 'Theory U', which rests on the concept of 'presencing' and is similarly designed to shift people to a state of future possibility that they feel 'wants to emerge' (purpose).
We hope you will join us in London on October 19th to experience more, and to meet and/or reconnect with members of the Relational Change community and network.