With the percolating, disruptive undercurrent of the war in Ukraine, tensions are running high. As coaches and leaders, we recognize that conflict is both natural and necessary for emergence and transformation to occur. However, once conflict becomes toxic and poisonous, it can tip over into combat and ripple out to affect the larger system.
In this as in every other war, we see the extreme of what happens when toxic behaviour takes over … when we force our own perspectives, when we allow emotion to spark reaction, when we begin to think of differing voices as the “other” rather than as notes that are part of the whole song.
It is easy to lose sight of the larger system, and to despair. If you are noticing a creeping sense of powerlessness, hopelessness and helplessness beginning to seep into our collective spaces, remember that you can choose the energy you bring.
We are all creatures of light and shadow. Our personal energy bleeds into the collective.
We may fall into helplessness, powerlessness and hopelessness, and dwell there. While there we can invite exploration of all the places where we are at war with ourselves, with others and with our world.
This is the place where we can choose to, as Caroline Myss says, “… make peace everywhere in your own life.”
For while what’s out there can influence what’s in here, what’s in here influences what’s out there in return. This is our responsibility to practice.
“Expand your mind to understand we all must live in peace to earth
Extend your hand to help the plan of love to all mankind on earth
Expand your mind, expand your mind”
• Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
How then to bring conscious intention to your relationship with this or any other conflict? Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I feeling around this situation, and how do I want to be in relationship with those emotions?
- Where do I notice toxic behaviour within myself and how can I use that awareness to bring antidotes?
- What energy am I cultivating?
- What is the best possible outcome I can imagine emerging from this conflict?
- What is one small step I can take in support of that outcome?
Just like waves of water hitting rock, in time we can wear down a seemingly impenetrable surface. The words of a principled leader provide reassurance.
“Do your little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
• Desmond Tutu
As director of Novalda,Kerry Woodcockdevelops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations.