By Kathia Laszlo
This blog is a reflection inspired by the active dialogue between Kathia and Alan, as we co-design our retreat Unfolding Wisdom. Alan responded to this piece in his blog “Alienation, Authenticity and the Prophetic Voice.”
Learning, leadership and spirituality are three threads that run throughout my work and life. They are the three components of my “system of inquiry” that guide me and create the conditions for emergence, which translates in a life experience that I can characterize as flow. Don’t get me wrong: I’m neither perfect nor illuminated. Daily, I’m reminded of my humanity by anxiety, fear, insecurity or feelings of inadequacy. It is only in the precious and occasional moments of self-reflection, when I become an observer of my own experience, that I can see the coherence and “rightness” of everything unfolding in my life.
Learning has been my lifelong passion. Even in my schooled experiences as a child, learning was easy, natural, joyful. As a young adult, learning became a choice and the focus of my interest. However, I also experienced the frustration of being part of an academic program that felt rigid and unresponsive to my learning needs and desires. It was about jumping the hoops established by others who “knew better” what I needed to learn. This experience was so painful that set me on a path that began as the exploration on how to transform and redesign the educational system and continues today in my work as a designer and facilitator of meaningful, creative and experiential learning processes.
But learning for what purpose? My love for learning was never in the vacuum, never for the love of learning itself but rather connected to clarifying my purpose. Learning for transforming education was the beginning of an ever expanding inquiry that became learning for transforming organizations and institutions, learning for sustainability and social justice, learning for designing regenerative businesses, learning to evolve human consciousness, learning to reintegrate the sacred feminine into culture... learning as the journey to wholeness.
In other words, learning as a way to heal ourselves so that we can imagine, design, and sustain loving, peaceful, inclusive and collaborative ways of living, working, and learning too. Like Buckminster Fuller, I want to help create a world that works for all.
Much of my research and work for decades has been focused on evolutionary learning communities: the creation of those spaces where we can experience supportive, creative, collaborative learning that truly responds to the needs of the community and enables their capacity to shape their reality. Over the years, I noticed that the self-awareness and leadership capacity of the individuals who were part of learning communities mattered and made a difference in how close we could get to live the values and express the potential of the community. Authenticity, vulnerability, and capacity to engage in true dialogue with the willingness to see things differently and learn new things mattered when engaging in collaboration to create a different future. I explored the leadership mindset, skillset and heartset from an evolutionary leadership perspective and integrated developmental perspectives to connect the process of evolving as individuals to the process of evolving as collective cultures and institutions. Healthy cultures happen through the conscious leadership of safe and brave individuals.
And then the next layer of my work revealed itself: a layer that was always in the background but more as part of my personal and private experience: spirituality. For it didn’t matter how intelligent and self-aware individuals were: the complexity of transforming systems, from personal to planetary, require a kind of humility and surrender to something larger than our own will. Capacity to deal with uncertainty, ambiguity and unpredictability is the scientific way of describing what it takes to work with complexity. This capacity has its equivalent from a spiritual perspective. It is the capacity to quiet the “monkey mind” and listen to the subtle messages in nature and in synchronistic events — a kind of listening with the soul. It is the capacity to discern what is being asked of each one of us or what choice to make even with incomplete information. It is surrendering to a wisdom beyond our comprehension, stepping into the unknown while honoring the intuitive knowing of our heart. Living with awareness of our belonging to something much larger, mysterious, and benevolent — a loving presence that surrounds and guides us despite our self-doubt and fears.
As I try to not lose hope or get overwhelmed by the dire state of our world or by my own life challenges, I’m invited again and again to go inward and pay attention to my inner state, so that I may then contribute to the creation of a social field, an energetic container, where new possibilities can emerge. By new possibilities I don’t mean clever solutions to the problems that afflict us but rather a coherent experience of wholeness that invites new ways of thinking, feeling and being that inspire and support us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” Can experiences of unconditional acceptance, of radical safety, of awe and beauty create the conditions for breakthrough innovations? That’s what I’m out to explore. This is the new learning edge of my work and life.