As I've been reflecting on what I do and how I help people, this phrase has come to my mind again and again.
We all want change - anything we want is a change, in one way or another. Some of us work to create change. But how many of us are willing to be changed in the process? We hear too often, underneath one another's words, "Let there be peace on earth, but let it begin with that guy!" You can make change that way, but you may not be pleased with the consequences.
The quality of presence that so inspires me, enough that I named my business after it, is fundamentally a willingness to receive life as it is, to be moved, perhaps even to be changed. When I am present to you, you can have an effect on me. When I am present to myself, I can have an effect on me. When I am also present to the forces that ground me - forces like purpose, principles, or a strong sense of self - and I welcome their steadying effect on me, I may be moved like a tree in the wind, but I will not be uprooted.
When we try to create change without presence, we are imposing our vision on a reality outside of ourselves. When we try to create change with presence, our vision of change enters into dialog with reality as it is, and we are the hosts of that dialog. That's the kind of change that I love facilitating and empowering others to facilitate. I also believe that kind of change lasts longer, with more benefit to all involved and fewer hidden costs or externalities.
What does that look like? The leader who wants to change their organizational culture, and knows that culture flows from the top, so she starts by examining her own habits and reactivity. The coach whose embodied readiness to learn from each client, provides space for the client to discover new enlivening possibilities. The activists or advocate who draws loving attention to what his culture has ignored, without hiding his heart behind anger or blame. In each case, the change-maker is inviting a new, better, more enlivening reality to emerge, and putting their own ego on the table as part of the stakes of the game. That's what I call "being the place where change happens." That's what I'm here to help people do.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.