and why it’s vital for life
Sustaining Sacred Work
By its very nature, sacred work requires thought, care and dedication. It also requires a continuous flow of fresh thinking and action.
And yet, we’re only human. Stuff happens. We get drawn into dramas. Bogged down. Pulled off centre. Before we can stop it, we can find ourselves becoming stuck, stale or stagnant. Even when we’re engaged in sacred work.
When we’ve dedicated ourselves to work that we know truly matters, we may feel even worse when we drift off our A-game and highest versions of ourselves.
Feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness can swirl around us like flood waters. Soon we may feel even more stuck or stagnant.
“So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”
Stuck, Stagnant or Not Fully Engaged
Falling out of flow can sneak up on us. And it can sit with us undiagnosed. That’s because it saps energy and clarity. Here are some common symptoms that we’ve been beset by this subtle and debilitating problem:
- A lack of sustained and sustainable confidence, motivation or momentum
- Lack of clarity on: purpose, direction, agreements, expectations or outcomes
- Lack of effective engagement, communication or collaboration
- Analysis Paralysis (even trying to solve these issues can further embed those very issues)
- Inability or unwillingness to see, face or deal with the significant, most relevant truth
It’s also vital to acknowledge that these types of impact-killers can strike any team. To borrow a turn of phrase, even ‘bad’ flow can happen to ‘good’ people and teams. No matter how clever, compassionate or dedicated you are. Things happen. While we’re busy being focused, events and dynamics can play out in subtle ways that can catch us off guard.
Typical Attempts to Fix Flow
and why they so often fall flat
This is understandable but it’s like trying to run more smoothly whilst carrying an injury. Sure, our technique might be marginally improved but we’re still injured and liable to break down.
Away Days & Other Team Building Efforts
The next iteration in these attempts tends to be some form of team-building exercise. Once again, though, the history of these is patchy. Even when they feel like they ‘worked’, the positive effects rarely seem to last. And often, nobody can admit it, compounding the issues.
But straining further when we’re already out of flow is virtually guaranteed not to help.
Injecting or Imposing Vision, Creativity or Inspiration
To ‘get everyone back onside’, it’s tempting to meet the stuck situation with communication – in writing, in person or both. Large teams are especially likely to do this.
But this approach requires heavy repetition and even then, it has a patchy success rate. You often hear leaders asking (as they roll their eyes heavenwards) why this hasn’t worked, despite heavy emphasis.
But even (and especially) if you’re on the edge, you don’t want to be on edge. That leads to tensions, mistakes and lack of critical thinking skills for creative, sustainable solutions.
This is true whether you’re roped together in the middle of an alpine ascent or in the office… (In fact, experienced climbers aim for states of flow where they’re climbing free and where team collaboration and communications are so smooth they feel intuitive).
When Flow & Action Align
Often, it seems like we have to choose between feeling inspired and just getting on with it. And there are good reasons for that. Even sacred work requires rolling up our sleeves and producing tangible outcomes.
However, we’re also in danger of this being a false choice that carries high costs. Uninspired people and teams have a fatalism about them, where the default is mediocrity. That won’t cut it in the high stakes that you’re likely to be facing.
And nor will temporary ‘inspiration boosts’, which quickly fade into cynicism and ennui, so we’re back to uninspired slogging.
What we really want is inspired action that is the norm. So we can deliver sustainable outcomes.
Powered by regenerative capabilities, we enable ourselves to continue to evolve and meet our emerging challenges and opportunities with robust, creative solutions.