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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Monthly Archives: October 2010

As the participants poured in and took their places, the streaming light from the large windows flooded the room, making it seem more spacious than it was. Each had their own expectations. Their own dreams. Yet for these two days, their roles as social entrepreneurs got them together. This was a leadership retreat and they had come here to learn about negotiation, delegation, time management and engaging stakeholders. At least, that is what they had planned for their training needs.

The two facilitators had a plan for the training, as well. The projector in the middle of the room was part of the plan. So was the power point they had prepared. They were confident. They had done this before. Two hours of presentation and two hours of engagement. It was a safe bet. For them, and for the participants. With the structure in place, what could go wrong?

Apart from the participants and the two facilitators, there was something else in the room. An unseen alive force. Something vibrant, yet still. It was the spirit of that room. Created out of the unconscious intermingling of the deepest desires, fears and beliefs of all those present. It was witnessing the gathering unfold. It had a life and a plan of its own.

The ‘training’ began with a question. A question each, that a member wanted to explore. That question led to more questions. Questions of all kinds. Probing, searching, looking in the deepest corners of the person. Like, a slithery snake made of questions let loose inside, looking for what was hidden, unacknowledged and unappreciated. Some questions were evaded, some were answered. It did not matter the snake had access to what was inside. It knew. Now the task was to bring the hidden to light, the results of the first exploration.

What emerged was a child and an engineer. The child was rebellious. The engineer analytical. Neither were listening or reflecting. The child wanted and the engineer rationalized. How could learning happen? It didn’t. Yet the framework was rattled. Was shaken. Learning would happen. The process had begun. The seed was sown. It would grow in its own time.

The sharing moved the spirit of the room. Other participants wanted to find the people hidden inside them. The hidden stories waiting to be told. Very soon, the projector was swept aside unused and the power-point forgotten. What really mattered now was to explore and share the unconscious spirit. Drink from the well of the unknown. A bitter portion that illuminated life.

As we explored the room was filled with more participants. Characters from within. Unseen yet very much alive in each participant.

We came across a small girl that wanted to play in the rain. Yet was afraid of getting wet.

We found a guerrilla warrior ready for the next battle. Yet not strategising enough to win the war.

We discovered another small girl that was now grown up. Yet finding it difficult to say goodbye to her old self.

We found a grass-root leader who had found his roots at a young age. Yet to develop the capacity to have difficult conversations.

And each character had a story to tell. An untold story. We narrated its story and set it free.

At the end, the participants felt lighter. The facilitators felt fulfilled. There was meaning in discovering and sharing stories. It was not part of the training plan. It was not part of the skill-list the participants had posted. Yet it was real. Healing. Self generative. Like a dip in the icy cold Ganges waters at Rishikesh. It pricks you all over. Yet invigorates your soul.

The ‘training’ that was planned for four hours extended to two days. The spirit of the room had staked its claim.

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I just read in the Sunday paper of a celebrity pop star having the words  ‘anuugacchati pravahtattooed on her right arm. Anuugacchati pravah is the Sanskrit version of ‘go with the flow’. Having just started our blog, I was looking for an interesting topic to initiate the blog-voyage. This seemed like an interesting topic to flow with. Even though I have no clue what I would be writing, I stayed true to the spirit of the words and decided to go with the flow.

The idea of Flow germinated precisely a year back on 25th October 2009. Today Flow Consulting celebrates its first birthday. Incidentally, it happens to be my birthday too. Birthdays are a good day to reminisce on the year gone by and visualize what the future will be.

Starting your own venture is a cocktail of emotions. Heady excitement, fidgety nervousness, daring audacity, crippling fear, resurrecting hope – I have experienced all of these, in some measure or the other, this past year. I think the first year of being an entrepreneur is the toughest, yet the most memorable. Perhaps it is similar to becoming a parent for the first time. The first year creates the maximum churn. It is a shift from seeing yourself as being responsible for your-self to becoming responsible for another. An integral extension of you. It makes you reflect, change, grow all at once.

Apart from emotions, it affects your vision. The way you see things. Having been brought up with the conditioned belief of ‘study hard – get a degree – have a job – live happily ever after’ syndrome, I never saw life beyond my corporate cubicle. Now I do. Varieties of systems make up the world. The education system, the corporate system, the social system, the economic system, the political system, the entertainment system, the sports system, the religious system, the spiritual system, the community system, the family system…. All these systems engage within themselves and with each other to create the life experience. We belong to certain systems. They shape who we are and what we believe. If you belong to the majority system good for you, if not too bad, you have to contend with the more powerful systems.

Being on my own has made me reflect on my beliefs. Particularly around faith. When things are bleak one prays to the God of your choice or one consults an astrologer, in the hope that that there is a remedy for a bright hopeful future. After a while, I got tired of playing this game. If the situation was tough – accept it. Take responsibility for managing it and yourself. Look for support if need be. Move on. Finding metaphysical reasons of the divine forces, configuration of the planets and rituals to appease those forces, to remedy the situation, to me is the minds way of managing the fear it cannot deal with. Perhaps it has its own place. I much rather feel the emotion and learn from it. Perhaps it is the first step towards having faith in self and the inherent goodness of human beings.

It has instilled a passion for learning. Since the time I am doing what I love doing, I just cannot get enough time to read. I wish there was a machine that could download book content into the human brain in a few minutes. The way Rajnikanth does it in Robot. I realise that discovering a genuine passion for the subject is an integral part of education. Learning does not happen if it is not backed with feeling for the subject and an opportunity to apply that knowledge. I do not equate simply acquiring more information with education. We have google to do that now.

What do I see in the future for Flow?

Like a proud parent, I am extremely optimistic of a bright flowing future. Life requires two kinds of Vitamin M. Meaning & Money. They are like parallel lines, if your pursue one line you have to often let go of the other. Flow Consulting has given me meaning. Abundance will follow.

Until then ‘anuugacchati pravah’ – Go with the flow.

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