All relationships experience a loss of energy from time to time. This is true of any relationship, whether it be with another person, a team, an organization, a community or society. It can also apply to your relationship with a project, field of work, industry, or to a change initiative.
What relationship of yours could use a little boost of energy? It’s not just your personal life. Maybe the energy in the relationship with the organization you work with has become stale, or your business has lost forward momentum. Perhaps the relationship with that novel you’ve been wanting to write for the last seventeen years could use a little nudge.
There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
• Nelson Mandela
Whatever the relationship, if the shine has worn off and you notice a lack of energy, enthusiasm and efficacy, it’s time to reconnect with what originally inspired you. Whether the relationship involves a person, a project or a change, it is possible to reignite the purpose, spirit and potential that first sparked your interest.
It is important to understand that a relationship is about more than just the individual entities involved in it. As a relationship forms, the connection itself creates a palpable spirit or energy. CRR Global calls this element The Third Entity.
In other words, a relationship between the two of us actually has three parts – me, you and ‘it’ – the spirit or entity that is created when we come together. Getting unstuck and finding new inspiration involves reconnecting with the third entity, the relationship in its best possible form.
Reconnect with the highest truth and ignite the divine spark in you.
• Amit Ray
One way to tap into this deeper meaning within the relationship is through metaphor.
Take a moment to think about the relationship which has stalled. What metaphor represents the best aspect of this relationship, the essence at its heart that most inspires you?
Daniel Hayes shares metaphors that couples use to describe the third entity of their relationship, such as a bridge, a pillow fight, or an investment.
Which relationship in your life would you choose to reignite? What metaphor would you use to describe the Third Entity you associate with it?
For me, the relationship that could use a little boost is the one I have with my business, Novalda. Over the last few years I’ve had an influx of wonderful work as an internal coach and an associate. I’ve noticed that my relationship with Novalda has been neglected as a result.
I see Novalda as an innovative new world in which people can transform themselves. Novalda is actually a coined word which joins ‘nova’ (meaning new or novel) with ‘alda’ (meaning age or world).
The metaphor for the relationship between myself and my business Novalda at its best is luminescence. Imagine the spontaneous emission of light that is created when there is movement in a bioluminescent lagoon, and you have a visual image of this metaphor.
Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.
• Nelson Mandela
Reflecting on my metaphor for my relationship with Novalda, I note that although our relationship is still good, there has been little movement. The luminescence has dimmed.
I haven’t invited as many people to join me in playing in the water, and when I have, I have neglected to observe the impact of our dance in the water. Although the bioluminescent creatures were there, they have remained dormant.
What metaphor surfaces when you think about the third entity for your own relationship? What illumination or insight does this metaphor give you?
Does your relationship align with any of these common metaphorical representations? If so, does the metaphor clarify anything about your underlying assumptions about your relationship and where you might be stuck?
Relationship as machine – involving parts that need to be assembled or coordinated through the expenditure of time and energy. A relationship, like a machine, can break down and need ongoing maintenance and repair work.
Relationship as an investment – the notion that parties invest in the ‘bank account’ of their relationship in order to reap mutual benefits. If there is no longer a return on the investment, individuals may abandon the relationship.
Relationship as living organism – invoking a natural progression from infancy to maturity. They are born, they grow, they mature, they require nurturing, and they can wither and die. Relationships can be vibrant and healthy, or they can be sick.
Relationship as container – implying a stability or permanence of form. Containers can function to protect their contents from outside forces, and also to limit or box in those contents.
Relationship as a journey – this voyage documents a process of ongoing change and discovery along the way. It is possible to lose sight of the destination, or to have it change as a result of where the journey goes.
Relationship as a thing – this idea depicts a separate entity whose characteristics supercede the individuals who belong to it. Relationship entities take on a life of their own, often making those who are involved feel as if they are responding to a physical force beyond their control.
Returning to my relationship with Novalda, the concept of luminescence aligns with the metaphor of Relationship as thing. Where do I resonate with where we may sometimes get stuck? While this year I’ve been surprised by what others want from me and from Novalda, what’s emerging – the luminescence – is amazing. Indeed, it does feel bigger than just me or the company. So, the Third Entity must flex and respond as required by the environment and the climate we are in.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
• Marianne Williamson
With this perspective, my tension subsides along with my fear. I am more comfortable with the lack of control I can feel about what might be demanded of us. I do not need to put on a light show. Instead, I can continue to dance and play with the light, and invite others to do the same. Together, we will see what emerges,
If you have a relationship that is stalled, try returning to the roots of what first inspired it. Using metaphor as a tool for exploration can help you to reconnect and reignite with the energy that brought you together.
Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., leads change for a world of change, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As principal of Novalda, Kerry develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems.