Centres of Gravity

We all have some “centres of gravity” around which we orbit.

Family, Business, Idea, Cause. No matter where we go, they exert their pull and will always bring us back.

It used to be that the organisation we worked for was a major centre of gravity. It helped define us, provided a career and a social network, and gave us security. It was a major pull, and other centres of gravity were secondary. Other planets orbiting our organisational sun.

That’s changing. In a world where everything is more connected than ever, and people are more mobile than ever, the pull of the organisation is weakening.

In its stead, is the idea. People are increasingly attracted by the ideas that affirm them, and they will gravitate to those who best express those ideas. As individuals, they get their security from their craft and their network, not the HR department of an organisation that thinks of them as resources.

The power of the organisation as a structure is fading, but the power of what it stands for, and can be seen to stand for beyond money, is rising.

Authority derived from position is fading, whilst authority generated by what people stand for and enable is increasing.

The power of scale is decreasing, whilst the power of connection and context is increasing.

It is redefining what it means to be a leader.

Whether as individual or organisation, our leadership authority is only as powerful as what we demonstrated yesterday.

Fear is a habit.

Over the weekend, I attended an excellent workshop by Jamie Smart on influence. Not the normal yadayada, but something altogether something less formulaic, and much more useful.

Jamie’s central tenet is based on concepts of Clarity, and central to this is the notion that our feelings are a product of our thoughts unfolding in the moment. That we create our own world on an “inside out” basis. In other words, what we feel is determined what we think, and what we think and feel governs our relationship with, and our perpective of the reality of the world we inhabit. That is influence on steroids.

As I listened to the six o’clock news this morning, I reflected on this. The news was, well, equivalent to an oily black mass seeping out onto the floor. From prospects of doom for the economy, to unfathomable brutality in the Middle East, it seemed designed to put me into a black mood before I brushed my teeth.

Except of course, all the news items were, in reality, neutral. It was my reaction to them that wasn’t. And that is a choice. I can either accept my limbic system getting fear and prediction to do a tango round my head, or I can understand what is happening, and engage reality. There are many ways we can react to the news, which is certainly real, but allowing ourselves to be hijacked by it is not an advisable one.

I cannot yet find a positive side to the news from the Middle East, other than that this type of activity is inherently self destructive.

But as to the Economy, and our individual propects? – Uncertainty is now our standard fare. Things will certainly change, and only some of that is in any way predictable in advance (other of course, than in our heads) For most of us, that is an opportunity to be grasped.

Generating fear may suit those who benefit from a status quo, and it seems some aspect of fear or control is rolled out as standard fare by those in economic or political power or as a way of encouraging dependent compliance.

Every change presents opportunity for those prepared to entertain possibility. Fearing change is a pretty pointless exercise.

If everybody is being encouraged to be afraid of the same things:

  • How might these affect you – really?
  • What’s the “base rate” – the likelihood – really?
  • What might you do differently that leverages your unique skills, perspectives and abilities to increase your impact and reputation?