back cover... "inviting leadership skewers convincingly our trust in business analysis, servant leadership, problem-solving, and best practices and makes a good solid case for appreciation, invitation, connection and personal practice. aaaahhhhh..." -- jack welch
this bit of writing raises another important question for us: are we telling the story of our journey to discover these things, or to tell the conclusions we've arrived at and then justify them and wave around the sweet treats of just believing our math. as scientists and practitioners of invitation,i think we need to be bringing our data, not our deductions. yah? this piece above looks very different told those two ways. and if we're bringing the process, the chrono telling of the story fits the process of discovering much better than wiki-izing the thing.
consider this: facilitating is the opposite of inviting. trying to make things easy for others. securing, assuring, moderating, protecting, defending everyone's right to speak, and imposing everyone else's duty to listen to everyone. yeesh.
analyzing, facilitating, problem-solving, and best practices. how many buddhas can we kill in one story?
We have been refining our thinking and language for open space leadership. We have it down to these four inter-informing and inter-supporting practices: Appreciating, Inviting, Supporting and Making Good.
While the practices themselves are each quite whole and robust, tolerant of description but not of disecting, that's not actually how it is when we try to practice them as bodies. Incarnation is more discrete. On and off, in or out, dead or alive. More or less. Appreciating, Inviting, Supporting and Making Good. So it occurs to me that naming their opposites, daring to notice the dual nature, one might say... could be helpful.
To that end, for the opposite of appreciate, depreciate might be the obvious first call. Devalue, dismiss and neglect would not be far off either. But perhaps, it is discounting that says it best -- and captures what we feel as the inner action of not appreciating. For myself, I find it's rather a more familiar shape of mind than "appreciating."
For the others, I might suggest dividing or segmenting as the opposite of inviting. Notice that segmenting lies at the core of modern marketing, the latter being none too inviting for most of us, most of the time. That, I suppose is it's intent, but when it crept into the strategic planning language of my church, I thought we were really off track. Church is supposed to bring people together, for some kind of peace, inner and outer. Segmenting divides, and everybody knows dividing is the able assistant of conquer. So the active opposite of inviting might be defending. How often the argument against an open invitation comes back to some belief that something bad would happen? It wouldn't be safe, wouldn't be prudent, wouldn't be in control.
Moving along, controlling might be the obvious choice to oppose supporting. However, control can be hard to sense in ourselves when we're taking it, in part because a measure of control can sometimes be helpful. It's tempting to propose dictating, the act of imposing control, but that seems more dramatic than is useful in everyday affairs and relations. Imposing or taking are tempting, but also lend themselves to negative connations that really aren't necessary. Like discounting and defending, I think most of us have some felt sense of when we are imposing on others. More subtle sensations might be grabbing or grasping. Inside of it all, the truest opposite of supporting must be fixing.
Finally, the opposite of making could easily be breaking, but again too dramatic, and a bit off the mark. Recall, the practice is really making good. It's opposite is not as easy as "making bad", but is obvious enough when we come back to the sensation of practicing and not. The opposite of making good (on promise and promises) must be wasting. We hear this and see it all the time. As discounting, defending, and imposing are so common in organization, is it any wonder that we are so often bemoaning wasted time, wasted resources, and wasted opportunity. Wasted life.
My guess is that as we watch for the sensations of discounting, defending, imposing and waste -- and turn them around, we will automatically find ourselves wasting less and making good on more of what we still and already have. This, I suppose, is the heart of the experiment that we want to suggest. That we can use conscious practice and physical sensations as the means for leading the world in the direction of good.
Please notice that this is not the sort of experiment that one runs with mice or with plants, the sort of thing that is mosty passive, waiting to see if the mice die or the plants bloom. We are the mice and the plants in this study. We do the practice. We see and change the habits, deep habits of mind and body. It is easy to discount, familiar to make a mind or practice like great walls, to divide and defend, to take control of life and work -- and to wonder if we are wasting our lives.
So often we sense the truth but can't see any other way to live. We can see the negative effects of how we are working but can't sense how it could be different. So we keep going, we intend more strongly, and work harder. More coffee, longer hours, more and more and more. This book will invite you to do less -- which need not be passive or weak. The opposite of , it can be focused and sharp like a spear, but that requires that we be aiming for something. Thinking about so many great battle stories, the one at the front with the biggest, strongest, sharpest sword is always yelling and screaming, inviting everyone else forward.
If we would lead anywhere, improve anything, or evolve in any way, a department, a neighborhood, or a life, we'd best know where we are going. If the good news is we get to wield big swords, then the bad news must be that we must use them to conquer ourselves first, to defeat our own deepest habits and assumptions about leadership. Here what we know of this land. Here is where we are going, and how we are moving. Here is what good we can offer, so far.