We don’t create things all at once, fully formed. Whether it’s an organization, a community, a tiny human or ourselves, creation takes time and the build is always unexpected. That’s a big reason why we subconsciously hold back from creating anything new: it feels risky to invest emotion and effort and not even have the guarantee that this thing we want will actually happen, or happen the way we want it to.
If we make a plan before starting (which is always a good idea), it’ll orient us in the right direction and help take suitable steps, but it likely won’t reflect the nuanced terrain we’ll actually walk. That’s because neither the terrain nor our creation remains static. Both respond to our actions and the events in our larger environment. Similarly, we ourselves respond and change; what we thought last week or last month will shift a bit when we engage in the work. Finally, we never build anything alone. Ever. There are others right next to us co-creating and going through the same push and pull of change and creation. So we’re changing, our creation is changing, our co-creators are changing and the environment is changing. This happens simultaneously and repeatedly. This dynamic is called emergence, and it asks for emotional flexibility.
The work of creating something new is less like driving a self-driving Tesla on a traffic-free highway, and more like walking a dusty backroad full of brambles alongside others. It’s never a cool and collected experience of just sitting back and arriving. We all get scratched, stumble, bump into each other and kick up dust as we walk.
To make matters harder, we regularly pass through invisible gates that change the scenery and the terrain. What we did before needs to be adjusted in unexpected ways. If we were too absorbed in the work of creating, we may not even realize that we passed a gate. That’s when the emotional dust peaks―we all scramble to make sense of the new terrain, run furiously into the brambles and each other, kick up more dust, and make it harder to see things clearly.
Knowing this, what if:
- In addition to drawing maps, we prepare for that dusty and brambly trail with unseen gates.
- Instead of a heroic solo journey, we note others who walk besides us.
- Our commitment isn’t to one specific outcome but to staying on the dusty path. We develop resilience, integrity, and might I add―joy, so none of us opt-out in favor of the cushy Tesla path.
- We invest time in creating trust: holding a hand, mending a wound, or offering a sip of water on this twisty path.
- Most importantly, we create the capacity to be ok with emotional dust as we blind each other with it.
“The mighty oak was once an acorn that stood its ground.”― English Proverb, Author Unknown
It may not happen.
If it happens, it wont happen the way you imagined.
If it happens, it’ll be its own thing: emergent and separate from you, uncontrollable by anyone.
Bringing it to life will dent you and others in unseen places.
So, why do it?
Because you came with these fertile seeds.
And if you hold back, first the seeds will wither…then you.
― A little ditty, by Suparna