Narratives guide. They are the stories that hold the bigger context. They create maps that clarify purpose and steps of action, correction, contribution, and surrender.
Some narratives are of purpose, of mission — they compel and coordinate. Some are of values, of principles — they create the central shared touch point.
One of the most helpful and compelling narratives I know comes through my friend Toke in Denmark. I’ve heard him speak it many times, mostly as transparency of his chosen way of being. “To add just a little more kindness, a little more consciousness, and to be in flow.”
Kindness — love, appreciation, acceptance, wonder, support…
Consciousness — awareness, thoughtfulness, deliberateness, integrated instinct, less numbed…
Flow — welcoming serendipity, shared direction, natural movement, partnered with emergence and surprise, in relationship with life living us…
There is no doubt more that can go with each of these. Words matter, but they aren’t perfect. Me, I seek the feeling. I find that being in deliberate relationship with each of these changes who I am, moving me more in that direction. Not a thing. It’s a practice.
Kindness, Consciousness, Flow — It’s all a simple narrative aided in day to day practice by a few simple questions.
Does what I’m doing (or not doing), and does what I’m thinking (or not thinking) contribute a bit more kindness with this circumstance, with this group, and within my own heart?
Does what I’m doing (or not doing), and does what I’m thinking (or not thinking) contribute a bit more consciousness with this circumstance, with this group, and within my own heart?
Does what I’m doing (or not doing), and does what I’m thinking (or not thinking) contribute a bit more flow to this circumstance, with this group, and within my own heart?
Narratives create patterns. I find that people are seeking patterns. I see this everywhere in my work with teams and groups. I’m one who believes that there are harmful patterns that need interruption — the ones creating more meanness, more numbedess, and more rigid fear. I’m one who believes it essential to return human beings in all levels of collaboration back to more loving ways. In organizations. In communities. In teams. In families. In personal ways of developing.
Patterns create understanding. Patterns guide and simplify interaction. Patterns cohere sense-making. I believe these days we need narratives that welcome more of the best of us.