He believes in love

— I believe in love

I believe in love

Spring is in the air. The days are getting longer and I can feel a different phase of the year emerging. The building work we’ve been having done is nearing completion and it’s time for some spring cleaning, but not just inside the house; I need to shake myself out too – get rid of the dust. When you’re familiar with what you do it’s easy to find yourself in a rut, doing the same old thing in the same old way. Some of that may be good but I feel I am at a stage when I need to make space for new ideas, alternative methods and to experiment with different ways of working. Is the same true for you?

I experimented recently by using the poem I quoted in my last blog (Prayer of the Student) with a group of teachers in a coaching programme, asking them to use it to reflect on their own professional practice. It brought freshness, insight and creativity, and the poem’s journey to those teachers was a wonderful story of collaboration. Humberto Maturana wrote the poem and Marcel F. Losada translated it and published it in the pages of a journal. I read the poem and it moved me, so I was compelled to share it with the teachers I was working with, and it is now sure to impact the people they teach. By writing the poem Maturana dropped a pebble in a pond and started a ripple effect, and the words he conceived are still reaching far and wide.

Maturana’s philosophy really stands out in the poem. He believes in love. Most of us do, but he believes that organisational transformation is a love story. It’s love that brings about change – even in corporations. I would like to believe that Maturana is right, but I have questions, such as: How do we get there? What does it look like? What are people doing? What stops or prevents love? What difference does it make structurally and interpersonally? What is the wider impact? So, in my spring clean I am finding a part of me that is seeking and searching, enquiring and curious about this question of love.

I sometimes come across fear within organisations and see how it can limit individual and institutional life, but I can see how love could drive out that fear and create a completely different place to work within. Maturana writes that love can lead to freedom, and freedom gives people the chance to try to reach their potential through autonomy, responsibility and creativity. It enlarges the possibility for self-development rather than diminishing it. It gives organisations the opportunity to flourish. He says*:

“….if you look at any story of corporate transformation where everything begins to go well, innovations appear, and people are happy to be there, you will see that it is a story of love. Most problems in companies are not solved through competition, not through fighting, not through authority. They are solved through the only emotion that expands intelligent behaviour. They are solved through the only emotion that expands creativity, as in this emotion there is freedom for creativity. This emotion is love. Love expands intelligence and enables creativity. Love returns autonomy and, as it returns autonomy, it returns responsibility and the experience of freedom.”

Perhaps love and fear are strong primary emotions from which all others emerge, but I’m fed up of fear. So, as the seasons turn and we move into the light and warmth, I’ve decided I’d like to give love more of a chance. It seems the right time for it.

* quoted from Volume 1, Number 2, REFLECTIONS