Why Value, Voice and Vision?
I love stories so the following, short narrative account begins to show how I see people and why I developed a model that chooses love and empowerment – that draws out the self-worth (value), the self-affirming (voice) and the forward moving (vision) of individuals and small groups. It is a story of a mission worker who exemplifies the initiative, strength, and love that is needed in all places, not just the workplace. Through her story, she makes a loud statement about the positive ways to bring peace to a workplace. The story is told by David Whyte in “The Heart Aroused”.
Some years ago, I experienced a weekend in England among the Medical Missionary Sisters. The weekend was part of a six-week rest and recuperation for the sisters who had returned exhausted from their work in Peru, Indonesia, and India where they delivered babies, inoculated children, and cared for the old and sick. They had absolutely no way of replenishing themselves.
Down in the kitchen of the convent all the while, like Cinderella among the ashes, hidden away, was the woman who served our meals every day. I was amazed, not only by her youthfulness, but by the glowing spirit of calmness and serenity she had about her work. She seemed like a bright, shining light in the dim underground dining hall, and she never had a bad word for anything or anyone. It turned out that she had been a member of the Poor Clare order for over twenty years. The Poor Clares are a silent, prayerful order with an almost Zen-like approach to spirituality, spending much of their time in silent contemplation. She had entered the order at eighteen and spent more than two decades in contemplation; even the work of the convent was done by the sisters all working in mutual silence. Finally after years alone in her cell, she had heard an inner voice telling her to go out and work on the behalf of others.
The whole experience was something of a culture shock for her, but she had not a bad thing to say about her new order, though its whole approach was foreign to her training. Witnessing her profound spiritual presence, I couldn't help but think that here was a woman who would never burn out no matter how much she applied herself to the outer world. She had an inexhaustible inner light that would endure through the direst of circumstances. She had come to that light through the ability to say “no” to everything except that thing most precious to her, an inner focus based on her spirituality and the life to which she had given herself. Out of years of saying “no”, blossomed a magnificent “yes”—a “yes” that could be followed fully because after all those years gathering her psyche into a single body of faith, every part of her would be uttering it. “Yes!”
Though the other sisters were saving lives every day, the overwhelming feeling was that they were doing this work because there was something wrong with the world that needed to be put right, whereas this youthful hidden saint was doing it because everything was right about the world and she wanted others to experience it that way too. Her faith and her own “no” took her to the farthest end of aloneness and then led her back into a human community.
David Whyte told this story to illustrate his conclusion that the same internal imperatives found in this “religious” work are found in each of us no matter what our environment. Whyte thinks that our soul and our personal destiny are equally at stake whether we are articulating our life in the cloister or in the corporation. He sees that we have the choice to look at the pressures of life in a pathological sense, stressful without sense or sensibility, or we can see our environment as a crucible, where we are refined and where we can cultivate an inner life. Our voices are powerful reflections of our inner lives and strong indicators of how we value our current circumstances. In the workplace, we can experience the reality of a business operation that affirms, encourages, and builds people up to reach their full potential.
Max DePree, in his book on “Leading without Power”, introduced me to the term “realized potential”. This term became the key, the inspiration, for me in developing this coaching model. As I reflected and considered the richness of what Max had been saying over the years, I wrote my own personal mission statement saying that I will “with all possible integrity, justice, and love, invest in the lives of others, drawing them toward the fullness of their God-given potential.” My power tool – Limiting Beliefs vs Emerging Potential – grew out of Max’s term “realized potential” and helped me draw from deeper places. The final “cap” for the model came during my supervised coaching sessions with the International Coaching Academy, with Sunita Chhibar and Alexandra Barosa Pereira, and during Deep Coaching training with Leon VanderPol.
I am grateful to all who invested in me!