Leading with Nature

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Embracing Reinvention: Part Three: Hold On Loosely

Celebrate your reinvention and be open and ready to shift again. Image: freeimages.co.uk.

Tony Bond, MBA, MPOD
& Kristen Barney, MA, MSOD

How do we know when we are reinvented? We wrap up our three-part blog conversation by looking at the tangible, external results of reinvention.

TB: In Parts One and Two we turned inward, looking at the personal heart and mind. While looking within is essential, reinvention also involves other people. It is a contact sport. We transform in relationship, not in isolation. In fact, engagement with others propels us forward and allows us to see the progress we have made, when we might otherwise miss it. Reinvention can sneak up on us, because we are so busy striving, judging what we have not yet achieved, or looking for the next new strategy. Meanwhile, we may have arrived at a new station in life without realizing it. Here’s an example:

Years ago as a graduate student in positive organizational change, we were required to craft our own personal development plan that would include goals and aspirations for the next ten years. This came after a long process of defining our own personal vision, identifying personal strengths and gaps and building a personal network of relationships that could help us along our journey. The end result would be a total transformation into our ideal best self.

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Embracing Reinvention: Part Two: Moving into the Heart

The interior space of a shell reminds us of the heart, where transformation can happen. Image: freeimages.co.uk.

Tony Bond, MBA, MPOD
& Kristen Barney, MA, MSOD

Deepening our earlier conversation about our own practices supporting personal reinvention, in support of our consulting and coaching practices – and of your reinvention needs, we now explore the theme of creating space in the heart to allow for transformation.

TB: It’s hard to bring about transformation while living in the head. Transformation happens when attention is centered in the heart. A few years ago I participated in a transformative retreat with Father Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation. It changed my life, and every day I still connect with the experience and Father Rohr’s teachings.

During this men’s retreat, which was a modern initiation process based on ancient practices, we were asked to not refer to anything outside ourselves: not even our jobs, spouses, or children. For the entire week, we did not know the profession or status of our fellow participants. We could only identify ourselves as who we were at the core. The best part: this stripped away the identities I carried. It was basically me. At first, we were apprehensive. Not really knowing what to expect from the experience (letting go of control) and not being able to rely on the false identities we normally think of as our true selves, we felt vulnerable.

Once the ego is put in check and the focus is directed inside, there is room for growth and true transformation. This is what took place for all who were a part of the experience. There are leadership lessons to be drawn from this type of experience. Accepting the fact that we really cannot control most things, and being intentional in developing a high level of self-awareness can have a positive impact on others and the organization as a whole.

– Practice 3: Explore on the internet for a teacher or speaker who offers daily messages of inspiration, reflection, or inquiry, and subscribe to his or her list. Or choose a book of daily meditations from your bookstore or library. Commit to spending 10 minutes a day reading and journaling about what comes up for you during the reading. Spend an extra 3 minutes writing about how the reading and reflection changes your state of mind or the place of your attention. Keep it up for 30 days, and write a final reflection about what you learned and what you noticed about yourself. This might be about three pages long. If you choose, you can renew your commitment for another 30 days. Here are links to two teachers who offer emails and other resources for meditation: Father Richard Rohr and Tara Brach.

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Embracing Reinvention: Part One: Connecting and Seeing Anew

A defocused, decreasing, spiral fractal pattern, suggesting the true self being reinvented and released into the world. Image: freeimages.co.uk.

Tony Bond, MBA, MPOD,
& Kristen Barney, MA, MSOD


In a sense, we are Tony Bond and Kristen Barney. Yet like you, we are reinventing ourselves. All of us –individuals, leaders, and organizations – are being challenged to move beyond who we were yesterday or last year. This is the gift of our challenging economic times. All of us are called to be more, to dig deep within ourselves to draw out more of our potential. The good news: this is a chance to be truer to ourselves, which basically means shedding unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, or habits which are generating unhelpful results, and embracing more helpful ways of seeing and being.

The starting place for transformation is always at the personal level. And as consultants and coaches, in order to support others in transforming themselves, we (Tony and Kristen) must first be adept at self-transformation. So we sat down via Skype for an open-ended conversation on this question:

  • How can we share the essence of transmutation – shedding old skins and embracing different or refined identities – with individuals and organizations who might not connect with buzz words like innovation or reinvention, yet are being urged by the new circumstances of economic and other conditions, to change?

We have created a three-part blog post to share our conversation, including several practices you can use in your daily life to support self-transformation. We have used a wide range of terms to refer to  transformation, including change, transmutation, reinvention, innovation, and refinement. Many authors have written about the different meanings of these words and for this post we are using them interchangeably to refer to internal shifts that generate new kinds of results in your life. We invite you to explore what these terms mean for you.

Part One: Connecting with the System and Seeing from Different Levels

Tony: When I think of the reinvention process, and how insights can be transferred to other contexts, I am reminded of Professor Chris Argyris’ research, which found that the more educated one is, the less likely one is to look reflectively within.  (See Argyris’ Harvard Business Review article on this theme.) As leaders, we are tempted to look on our organization as something outside ourselves that we are managing (like a puppeteer with a marionette), while at the same time forgetting to manage (or reflect on) our own impact on the situation or system.

The truth is, the idea that we are “in control” as leaders is somewhat of an illusion, and our efforts to control actually block critical insights. When leaders and individuals can look inside at their own role in a situation, that’s when organizational transformation begins. I experienced this myself: when I paused to see how I was contributing to a situation, a veil of illusion was lifted and I could see more clearly.

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