Regenerative View of Authenticity
Zac: WELCOME back to Business Second Opinion Podcast and we’re so excited to bring you another episode
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I am Zac Swartout, and always with me is Carol Sanford, our inhouse positive contrarian. We respond to big and hard questions with a radically different take.
Carol: HI Zac
Zac: We are all seeking ways to make sense of the world living in a pandemic, the first one in our lifetime. At times this whole thing leaves me feeling confused, scared, and frustrated. So for the sake of our sanity and yours, we wanted to do a show to support our devoted listeners that uplifts how they think about life. So Carol, let’s give folks a taste of what we are going to be talking about today.
Carol: A general question we are asked often is what it feels like too work in a Regeneratively designed organization. You can shift that also too say a society that works regeneratively. There is one aspect of life that gets interpreted at a narrow level of understanding we might tackle- Authenticity
Zac: There are a couple of HBR articles that I read that I felt, muddy the waters a bit, but I think with some examination might help us see how different a traditional world and a regenerative paradigm driven world operate. The first article is from the October 26, 2015 issue, called When Authenticity does more Harm Than Good. And the second is The Authenticity Paradox From January-Feb issue from earlier that same year.
Carol: Defining Authenticity, a much misunderstood idea, is a place to start. What do they say?
Zac: Well the authors are coming at this from a couple angles. In the Authenticity Paradox, Ibarra points what she believes are key aspects of authenticity like leading from one’s true self, maintaining strict coherence from what you say and do, and making values based choices. However she notes that these are fraught with their own challenges in situations like receiving feedback, selling one’s ideas, and taking charge in an unfamiliar role. In these situations, leaders struggle quite a bit to find their center and try to lead from a north star, so to speak. In the second article, When Authenticity Does More Harm than Good, authenticity again is defined as “the degree to which one is true to one’s personality, spirit, or character despite external pressures.”
Carol: Where does this fall short for you or come from a narrower view?
Zac: There’s a framework that came to mind as useful here, that we call reactive, ego, and purposeful. I use this framework when working on me to more accurately calibrate the mindset from which I am working. In these articles, I notice that many of the pressures lead the folks in the case studies into more reactive and ego focused modes of behavior. So the authors try to design solutions that fix those mindsets with solutions that fall in between the two. What drops out is a third way to see these situations, from a purposeful frame. In a purposeful mode of thinking, I find I’m able to think beyond my reptilian brain and my ego, to think of the larger forces at work in and entities who I might not have considered previously.
Carol: How do they speak to the experience of authenticity and what is missing?
Zac: They talk about authenticity as though being authentic is a double edged sword where they conflate authenticity with automatic and old, outdated behaviors that can get leaders in trouble. Seems to me what’s missing is an ability to examine how their biases about authenticity, in the first case as a paradox or polarity, and in the other a mechanical, training problem, keep them from understanding other ways of pursuing it as a way of being.
Carol: I want to offer a different definition that is more from a Regenerative Paradigm . True Self is rarely experience by most of us. We have many selves who compete for attention and we need a way to get to what ancient philosophers called “I” or True Self. They point to the fact that we are often scattered and leading from our ego or mechanically thoughts. Do you have that experience, Zac?
Zac: I find that I fall into that all the time. I will rush to judgement on some aspect of our business like this client to work with or that project and I do it automatically without thinking. It feels like almost someone else took over inside my head at that moment. It’s not until I take a minute to stop and reflect that I notice that was an “I” that I probably don’t want driving that decision as it was too much about me or I was reacting to a story I had about the situation rather than seeing it more clearly.
Carol: I think it might be helpful to give an idea of what our work at Carol Sanford Institute offers from Regenerative Education; how it works, looks like and how we build a True Self into an organization’s way of operating. I believe authenticity as a process capability rather than an action. It is not about saying what I think about a subject or person as feedback, advice or opinion. It is about creating a state of being in myself that I can see the whole of a situation and be a reflector of that whole. This requires me having managed all the things going on in myself that contaminate what I see. I cannot be a True self with all my filters and buffers. Zac, What does that look like for you?
Zac: One of the ways I touched on before is using a framework like modes of behavior is crucial to me being able to manage my state first and foremost. I notice this comes up quite often when I’m leaking frustrated or angry energy like a leaky boat. For me this comes up when I am fearful, which is fertile ground given the state of the world at the moment. Fear by the way, we define as “the process where we often find ourselves unable to appropriately relate to the situation at hand”. How I start takes a combination of what we’ve referred to before as self-observing and self-remembering. It’s like I have to watch my mind at work from a 3rd person perspective in order to see what ditch I’ve fallen into, and which aspect of my personality might be driving my thinking. From there, I find if I notice how and what I am reacting to, and where my ego is taking over, only then can I start to see an opportunity to contribute in a larger way.
Carol: And what changes when you can manage all of that?
Zac: What changes is the sense that I can pursue the mutual success of those effected and dedicate how I’m engaging to more than myself, even to the greater whole of which we and they are a part.
Carol: And that completes my definition at a Regenerative Level of thought for Authenticity: It is a process capability that seeks mutual success and dedication to the greater whole with thee greater whole we are embedded. In our Regenerative Seed Communities we engage communities Educators, Women Entrepreneurs, Change Agents and also for Business Teams in monthly developmental sessions, in a development process that offers three principles to use to catch ourselves and all the challenges you just mentioned.
Zac: I like this idea of a process capability. It means we can learn to achieve authenticity, not just figure out when to be as suggested by the definition the HBR authors suggest. What I realize here is that I could always be authentic. It is so easy to fall into ‘what’s in the situation that affecting me and speak from that” or “try to stop doing harm” or even “let me just do what I see as good for some specific others and not be thinking about a Whole”. And you can’t be regenerative with that. What we are talking about here is the idea of paradigm blindness vs moving towards consciousness.
Carol: You are speaking to the 7 First Principle of which begins with a Whole in mind and has development our ourselves as the hinge for all seven that holds it together. . So maybe now we can s look at the beginning Principle of Regenerative view of Authenticity which we can use to development ourselves. Zac, can you read the first Principle of Authenticity.
Zac: The first one is to “speak and engage thinking about the Meaning to you and others of what is happening or unfolding. What is behind the surface.”
Carol : What does that speak to about our offering to others at Carol Sanford Institute—
Zac: It speaks to communicating more than just the words or ideas in our mind. We have to be are able to communicate what is central in meaning to one another. We go beyond the facts to the implication for the persons who are involved and impacted.
Carol: How is that different than what the authors of the HBR articles are proposing?
Zac: Our process strikes me as just that, an unfolding process and work engage in, rather than a problem to solve. It’s also not data that we should count but a path that leads to an ability to see situations and people more clearly and fully.
Carol: Zac, what is the second Principle of a Regenerative View of Authenticity?
Zac: Well, the 7 First Principles say start and continue with a whole in mind, not a part or fragment. That is what the second Principle of Authenticity is about is about. It proposes, “When we describe a situation, event or any other experiences to others who were not there, we avoid being partial.
Carol: What does that call on you too be intentional about?
Zac: I have to strive to convey and discover the whole of an experience. Rather than excluding any portion to limit someone’s ability to develop a fuller understanding of the meaning and implications for themselves. Nothing is positioned for the impact I want, but from all perspectives. I must speak from the essence of the situation and represent the same situation in the same way no matter the audience or situation, because I am intending to include the whole of the thinking of all involved and effected.
Carol: What is the effect of that thought on you and how would it change a few conversations you have currently but on reflection, would now do it the Regenerative way?
Zac: To be honest in saying that I am noticing how I’ve been positioning myself in some business conversations recently that have been more about self-preservation out of fear, rather than choosing to represent things more clearly.
Carol: How does it differ from our HBR authors?
Zac: I think they would tell me go back to those conversations and “swipe right” since I wasn’t authentic, or learn from someone else how they would have engaged in those situations. Neither of which is really about working a process within me to represent things more clearly for all those involved.
Carol: What is the third principle of a Regenerative View of Authenticity
Zac: Engage Receptively—I need to be able to take into account the other persons and other systems aspirations. I have to avoid the tendency to project my feelings and desires onto others and instead consider it core to my responsibility to continually increase all of our ability to see through others eyes.
Carol: That seems to me to be a critical path or way to increase my understanding of all that is in a situation and to interact with others from this whole and meaningful perspective.
Zac: Yea, I notice I have to open myself up to the energies and directionality inherent in the patterns of what we are working in and on. And that I and others are nested in interrelated systems.
Carol; How might this reframe the HBR authors ideas. Summarize for us. What would they need to add .to the practice to make it a Regenerative View of Authenticity?
Zac: Simply put they would need to add this capability of seeing through the eyes of others. Ibarra offers this idea called “outsight”, but this is really about trying on different personalities and situations and doesn’t fully explore the aspirations of others and really is just another pass on the ego.
Carol Check the shows notes for details on the articles we are examining with Regenerative paradigm eyes.
Zac: Carol Sanford Institute has been offering online, development for almost a decade so we are pretty good at it. A set of Live workshops where we bring together a dozen or so individuals or teams, over time to develop their own regenerative based interpretations of how Living Systems thinking can inform their strategy and leadership, as a Regenerative way to architect a business , organization or a Life with these ideas.
Carol: We have a new community which I mentioned earlier. The Regenerative Educator Community. For education and development roles for anyone who considers themselves an educator. The community is established to enable members to work with a Developmental Epistemology, that is how they want to educate: Move from expert view to- Experientially, Developmentally, based in 7 First Principles of Regeneration. Check out SEED-communities.com to learn more. Look under Regenerative Life offerings.
And for Women Entrepreneurs , check out that same link for communities just for you.
Carol: and keep listening to Business Second Opinion for more ideas on working from Regenerative Paradigms and Practices. And Carol’s new book is out The Regenerative Life with an extensive workbook and Book Club materials, which Carol support with Live online Workshops for Free. More at carolsanford.com.
Zac: Thanks again to our sponsors at Guayaki and your pursuit of Regeneration with high integrity. If you want one of our Get a Second Opinion Mugs, send us your article and topics on practices in business that needs a second opinion. You can email us at carol@businessSecondOpinion.com or find us on Twitter @biz_second_opinion . If we use it to develop an episode, you get a mug. Also, your ratings and reviews on any platform help people find us and spread the word. Sign up for our newsletter so you get connections to the show notes and much more.
Carol: Thanks to Numi Tea: They sponsor our Business Second Opinion Show Notes and Babson College for sponsoring The Regenerative Business Summit and Prize, annually online and in Boston Check out the Business Second Opinion website for more info on our podcast . Join Numi Tea as a Champion of our podcast.
Business Second Opinion Podcast digs deep to answer questions about business and business practice, you may not know you need to ask. But we believe you should be asking for the benefit of your understanding and your businesses ethics and practice. In the process of answering them, we give you a second opinion, usually a contrarian opinion, but that is well tested and proven to give the outcomes you really want without the side effects.
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Carol Sanford and Zac Swartout, co-producers