In 2020 I wrote about systems here.
It was in the thick of the pandemic and I was mulling over the shifts we were in and the potential to see us move into a new way of operating.
I most recently wrote about my affirmation of the systems of self-management that I am so ideologically bound to here.
So this is a reprise of the first post and a build on the most recent. I’m writing it for me. Because I’m trying to make sense of the world as part of my quest in life. I didn’t plan to — but my natural disposition is to want to know, appreciate and change systems.
I have an ideology as I’ve said just now, about self-managed systems of work. So much so, that this overrides all other ideologies I have. Yes, it’s that powerful for me.
I don’t see it as something that I am such a believer in for any other reason than I had the sense of a system that I wanted to be part of or even will into being some time ago. I just didn’t have a name for it. I felt hindered by any hierarchical interference even at school. Not disrespectful of my teachers. But those who were more inclusive and seemed to allow for more self-discovery appealed to me more than those iron-fist dogmatic tutors who insisted on a very rigid approach to learning. No surprises, I did better in my exams on History, English, French, Social Studies, Geography, Biology and less so in Maths and Physics. All teachers in the former were more open and participative. In the latter, fiercely traditional.
In the workplace, I joined the Civil Service in a very hierarchical legal environment and had to find a way to be more “liberated” in tech projects.
Then into HR and the systems side of learning, OD and talent.
During that period in HR, I discovered my love of systems and particularly alternative, progressive and contemporary systems. I was delighted to know about those alternative systems because I had worked in the traditional, dominating hierarchical systems for some time and felt the constraining nature of them. But again, I didn’t realise it until I saw different things and in experimenting with them, I knew I’d found my “place” and “thing” and had a name for it all.
OK, so you get it. I’m a self-ordained systems-kinda person. And in that, I’m a self-managed system of work practitioner.
Luckily, I have come to know and learn from some absolute standout others in this space so I feel enlightened, enriched and emboldened by their work.
Now I’m coming to the point of this.
I have such faith in this system I’ve found and this way I’ve set myself up as to be in the world, that it will not falter in me. I guess it’s similar to how others describe any form of faith. Religion or sports-team affiliation or whatever.
Faith is a word that you don’t often hear except for the religious element to it and that people might have faith in to do something you’ve said you’d do.
I have faith in that system of self-management even if it is challenged or backfires a bit around me.
Because it isn’t for everyone. I’m not naive to that. Some people are more comforted and comfortable in a system that doesn’t centre on the complexities of being able to step into something where it’s you, your choices, within parameters and not have others shape it for you.
I cast no aspersions on people who find self-management isn’t for them. Just as I don’t judge anyone who has an orthodox religious faith; chosen sports team; or a political ideology. I draw the line at some things of course, because our faith in something isn’t always inclusive and is downright divisive. Fascism, capitalism etc I will leave it at that.
Self-managed systems though can be equally divisive to some people and I get that. I don’t want to “convert” the world. I want my faith in self-management to be something others respect my choice and calling to that. But if they disagree I’ll stand in my space and let them have theirs. I don’t want to “win” by my faith in self-management except to win within my soul and appreciate that I’ve found that system that I believe in and want to be a part of.
No judgement, no sneer, no condescending.
If that system is attacked unfairly, I will see myself as a manifestation of it though, and may defend it. Because I’m “being” with self-management an outright attack is a bit of an attack on me.
This got me thinking, about how much faith I have in it and therefore feel protective of and in service of it, that I’ve become “it”. I’ve become self-management.
In Robert Kegan’s Adult Development Theory which has captured my thoughts and attention this year, he talks about the 3 stages of pure Adult Development as:
3. The Socialised Mind (where we have interests and desires and we are our connections and affiliations with others). Wherein we are validated mostly by those we’re connected to.
4. The Self-Authoring Mind (where we have our connections and we are our ideologies). So in this case, I feel that the ideology of self-managed systems, and that is what I AM.
5. The Self-Transforming Mind (where we just ARE and our self is defined by transience and flux and we are one with the cosmos somewhat).
Now, only 1% of us are in or realise the Self-Transforming Mind. This is why, when I talk about this, it’s Dalai Lama territory.
So I’m not just are, because I have faith not in something transcendental and ethereal and ever-changing, I am with the Self-Authoring Mind (35% of us) when it comes to this. And I’m also occasionally of the Socialised Mind (56% of us) in being validated by others and belonging to affiliative groups. I say this because it’s important to me that I’m with others who share my ideology of self-managed systems.
So my faith is described by my being and that I am self-managed systems.
And I’m so comfortable with that and believe in it being me, that I’m undeterred, unfettered and unmoveable about it.
Now then what’s the REAL point of this?
Faith. What do YOU have faith in?
If it’s other people that can be great but also a let-down. I’m a let-down. I have been let down. So I have limited faith in other people.
If it’s a brand, or a company or something like that, it has no being other than the people that represent it, so it comes back to people. You may have had faith in Volkswagen as a company or cars until the diesel emissions scandal. But again, Volkswagen the brand has no sense nor does a Golf or Polo. They’re conceptual or inanimate objects. So your loss of faith in this instance was down to people doing unethical things. So I have limited (if not no) faith in brands or companies.
If it’s a political party of similar. It’s not that either. They’re intellectual constructs and again, it’s people who are politicians who will either give, bolster or lose your faith through their actions, words and behaviours.
If it’s something like a process or system you have faith in — selection for a job, purchasing something, a contracted acquisition. You could have faith in the process to apply for something or receive something and then it fails to deliver. That could be a process failure but that process was likely devised and developed by a person. Again, people become the faith-losing entity.
Self-management is different now hear me out on this.
It’s still got people in it that pervert it or purify it. Of course.
But the essence of it — autonomy, agency, choice, finding yourself, accountability, action-orientation, thoughtfulness, determination (self and drive), motivation, joy, flourishing, discovery, design, deliberateness, adaptiveness, attunedness, synergy, intellect, emotion, clarity, sustainability — are why I have so much faith in “it”.
People may thrive in it they may not. But it (self-managed systems), itself, I have that absolute faith in.
The sum of the parts that become self-managed systems is where I’ve found my spot in the universe.
I have faith. I am that faith. And I will be with that as part of my being.