A memory popped up on face-book recently reminding me of a creative retreat I’d attended based on working with clay. I remember the day clearly. It was fun, deep (without being heavy), stimulating, fully absorbing, and left me wanting more. There was something wonderful about shaping clay with my hands and being shaped by it in the process, as if my hands were in conversation with the clay. I felt bodily ‘in” the creative process, listening intently, sensing and feeling what was needed to shape the jug I was making, and responding as required.

In many ways being a change maker, whether in our own life, or in a workplace, community or society, is like being a potter working with clay.

We have something to work with, which isn’t necessarily the shape we want it to be when it lands in our hands, and yet we are the creator. We can shape the clay (our life, workplaces, world) into a form of beauty that has both meaning and purpose. We must craft it carefully though with just the right touch at the right time. It is an art form, being a skilful creator and maker of change.

If we get ahead of ourselves, and rush and push what we have into an arrangement that it’s not yet ready for, we run the risk of the shape not holding. If we lag behind, and hold back and hesitate when decisive action is needed, we run the risk of the shape not becoming the full expression it could be. Between these two modes is the responsive middle way of aligned purposeful action. These considerations are as relevant to creating our futures as they are to creating a beautiful jug, vase, vessel of choice. If we do not carefully craft, the emerging form can collapse or become stunted.

Over the past few months I’ve seen the difficulty of staying with responsive purposeful action in my own life and work, and in the life and work of clients and others. Both rush and push, and hold back and hesitate, have shown up wanting their way.

Rush and push
Rush and push, even when forced to slow down by a global pandemic, can remain strong. It comes from a conditioning that has lodged inside of us and can drive our actions unless we pay attention. It says fast forward now, immediately, to somewhere, anywhere that isn’t here. Rush and push doesn’t like being present in the unknown. It wants certainty. If you carry rush and push inside, notice it so you can give yourself the chance to make new choices and stay present to what’s going on as you move forward. Think marathon not sprint.

As a potter, changemaker, shaper of the future, when you rush and push, you can expend a lot of energy in constant activity and end up scattered but often right back at square one, going nowhere. You often become exhausted, frustrated, confused, maybe even heading for burnout. Rather than keeping on doing what you’ve always done, pause instead and say “Hey, what’s happening here? Why do I feel like I’m going round in circles? Where’s the real progress? What am I learning? Can I slow down as I take this learning forward into the future?” If you really want to go for the transformational jugular, explore what’s at the root cause of the need to rush and push.

Hesitate and hold back
Hesitate and hold back is showing up strongly for many in the collective shift out of lockdown. Anxiety levels have gathered in the face of the unknown territory of COVID-19. Hesitate and hold back adjusted to lockdown quickly. It hunkered down in the cocoon space and relished the permission to not go anywhere or do anything. Like rush and push, it wants certainty. It gets it by keeping things as known and safe as possible. It doesn’t want to make a wrong choice. If you carry hesitate and hold back inside, acknowledge it and take baby steps to get moving again. Think what happens if I continue as I am?

As a potter, changemaker, shaper of the future, when you hesitate and hold back, your energy gets jammed and you get stuck. You often become despondent, frustrated, lethargic. For you, it’s a case of gee-ing up not reining in. Ask yourself what’s really going on. What’s stopping you taking action? Your transformational jugular is exploring what’s at the root cause of the need to hesitate and hold back.

The invitation and three simple actions
Right now the way we have lived and worked has been greatly disrupted. We are all being invited to transform reactive patterns so that we can be responsive changemakers of our future.

Three simple actions you can take to help yourself start getting into shape to embrace this invitation include:

  • Moving consciously as you go about your day to help you stay grounded and centred in your body.
  • Resting your mind for 10 minutes each day through meditation, daydreaming, or listening to music.
  • Noticing your feelings daily, naming them and learning to release them.

Over time these three simple actions will help you stay steady inside, more able to respond to what’s needed, and take your next purposeful step.

Step Into Your Future
The next group intake of participants for my 8 week online program Step Into Your Future begins on 10 August 2020.

Step Into Your Future is a two Part journey, in 8 themed modules. Over the 8 weeks you get an inner blue-print to navigate uncertainty, chart a new path, and make the change you want to see. It uses a range of transformation techniques to address all aspects of you, and provides practical tools which are easy to learn and apply after the program.

In response to request, as well as the full 8 weeks group program, it is now possible to do:

  • Parts 1 and 2 separately.
  • A 1:1 journey with flexible start dates.

Find out more about “Step Into Your Future: Navigate Uncertainty With Confidence And Chart A New Path” and book a call to discuss HERE.

Here’s a testimonial from a recent participant who joined the program as she was transitioning into a new role as Head Of Vendor Relationships at Silicon Valley Bank.

“…putting in the time to focus on the program has resulted in one of the best transitions to a new role I have ever had. I found a deep sense of confidence that I have been missing for some time. I feel energised and have some new tools to utilise and reflect on that will help me to stay in this incredibly positive place. I think it is a monumental achievement for Mandy to help me to get to that point during a global pandemic and unprecedented uncertainty in my life and the world around me.”

Please feel free to forward this article on to anyone you believe may benefit.

Image by marcelkessler from Pixabay