Losing my Way

Road: iPhone

Road: iPhone

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" (Yogi Berra)


My 'fork in the road' photograph came in handy in 'the things I feel gratitude for' Twitter challenge  As I look back at my own seven images and the postings by other nominees, I'm struck by how mundane and ordinary the source of our appreciation is: a blue sky, a bowl of fruit, our pets, flowers, trees, a shadow on a wall.... (Note: no humans or explanations allowed!)

But today I walked along the track in the wood and the fork had gone.

It does that.

Depending on the season and how much rain has fallen, the grass seems to come and go. Today, the summer drought and early autumnal detritus on the road meant that it had disappeared again.

I trust it'll be back soon.

As the effects of my brush with burnout begin to subside, I'm trying to make significant life decisions as images of my future form, move dissolve and reform in front of me. The seductive, binary appeal of a 'this or that' solution appears before me then drifts out of focus into an ethereal, ghost-like mist that bends the limits of my rationality.

Yet I 'know' how to make decisions. As an academic and, previously, as a military operator, I've been deeply schooled in the discipline. I even know how to deal with high uncertainty in organisational settings, when we are working with high stakes, multiple stakeholders, shifting goals, uncertain information. I know the difference between a tame and a wicked problem.

Woo-hoo!  I'm pretty good at all that...

But I'm coming to know differently that we can't tackle complex issues from a place of 'expert knowing.'  Our easy, personal development or management consultant prescriptions for 'simplifying' complexity are confounded as problems become 'computationally intractable'.  Even big computers and AI aren't up to the game. There are some things we simply cannot predict with any degree of confidence.

Over the last few months, I've found that any sense of expertise I might have held to in 'knowing that...' has been replaced by a deeper way of 'being with' humility, vulnerability, openness and trust.

Transformational change isn't achieved through the application of our expertise or ego. We need to let go of all that and open ourselves to images of the future that are unclear, seen only temporarily and disappear into nothing in front of our eyes.  The choices we make can only be built  on trust and half-held hunches as we softly orientate ourselves to a renewed way of being in the world. 

An everyday Twitter challenge has reminded me of the value and meaning in the mundane and ordinary. 

I'm pleased that I managed to lose my way. And as I look to the future, I'm placing my trust in the appreciation of commonplace things.  

They're enough.



I'm struck by how it took me a first degree, two masters and a PhD to reach a non-expert view of transformative learning. If you'll excuse the irony, here are just a few of my guiding texts:

Gregory Bateson became very clear that the seeds of human difficulty came from the deep-rooted Western worldview that enables us to compartmentalise our thinking. He called for a new theory of knowledge in "Steps to an Ecology of Mind."

In 'The Electronic Oracle', Donella Meadows argues for a fully engaged way of working where people, "can be willing to be wrong, vulnerable, caring, and idealistic."  

You have to take a look at David Bohm's work; he studied with Einstein and Krishnamurti as he developed his ideas of thoughts and thinking. Have a look at 'Thought as a System' where he says, "...thought, felt, the body, the whole society sharing thoughts - it's all one process."


Steve Marshall10 Comments