Change Hardiness & Learning Agility: What the Aspen Know
It is not without reason that Aspen Trees are so universally loved and mythically woven into human history. Anyone who has ever walked within an Aspen Grove knows something of the silence and deep sense of presence that can be experienced there; and it was a crown woven of Aspen leaves that protected Hercules in his escape from the Underworld.
Now it turns out that the Aspen Grove, not the gigantic fungus we once thought, is the largest individual organism known on the planet. Renowned organizational consultant Margaret Wheatly lists, along with termite mounds and chemical reactions, the Aspen Grove as one of three images that changed her life, her worldview.
Margaret writes about Aspens as an image of self-organizing systems and what we can learn from them. And yet I believe, and I’m confident she would agree, she only begins to open the windows of perception as to what we might be capable of learning from Aspens.
Aspens, you see, have an enormous amount to teach us about not only self-organizing systems and about Presence, and about the Power of Arrival, but also about the very nature of what it is to be ‘a Self.’ Yes! About our Wholeness and what it means to be human, a Human Being, and even about what it is to thrive as a business—in a world of uncertainty.
These trees can teach us business and personal strategies for thriving through times of ecological disruption, about change hardiness and learning agility: two valuable traits for any business or person to cultivate in times such as ours. They can teach us such strategies precisely because they have already pioneered the way through times of environmental fragmentation and disintegration.
In Turing to One Another, Margaret writes of our human fragmentation:
Most cultural traditions have a story to explain why human life is so hard, why there is so much suffering on earth. The story is always the same-at some point early in our human origin, we forgot that we were all connected. We broke apart, we separated from each other. We even fragmented inside ourselves, disconnecting heart from head from spirit. These stories always teach that healing will only be found when we remember our initial unity and reconnect the fragments.
I suggest that thrive-ability, that business models integrating a vision of possibilities ‘beyond sustainability’, will also, as Margaret suggests, “only be found when we remember our initial unity and reconnect the fragments.” This is what the Aspen can help us re-member.
It is not that our management models have failed to keep pace with the emergent times, as Gary Hamil suggests in The Future of Management:
Yet unlike the laws of physics, the laws of management are neither foreordained nor eternal – and a good thing, too, for the equipment of Management is now groaning under the strain of a load it was never meant to carry. Whiplash change, fleeting advantages, technological disruptions, seditious competitors, fractured markets, omnipotent customers, rebellious shareholders – these 21 first century challenges are testing the design limits of organizations around the world and are exposing the limitations of a management model that has failed to keep pace with the times.
I suggest instead that our management and leadership and business and community models have simply failed to meet the world ‘as it is’. They are fundamentally incongruent with Our Ground of Being; and that is why we are self-destructing. We are still, predominately, operating out of models of reality that see humanity as the ‘center of the universe,’ and this is a circumstance not solved by technology’s ever and ever-greater efficiencies of production.
A different world awaits but our ‘dreaming,’ and the Aspens can point the way!
For additional information see the post on this blog: Forbidden Knowledge and the Aspen Body
The Renewal Group Sponsored Tele-Conference Note: Join me in a free lively, provocative, and inspirational conversation: Aspen Body Wisdom – Change Hardiness and Learning Agility.
Logistics: Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:00 to 1:00 PM EST
Conference call number 605-475-4333 Access #: 858616
No cost to participate. Long distance charges will be billed to your carrier.