Do We Have To Let Go of The Hierarchy to Keep The Love and Freedom In Business?
When the 4 of us in our team first came together, one thing that was common to all of us was how much we valued our freedom.
Paul had been operating out in the world as the Freedom Coach for years;
I had left my corporate job as a lawyer, started, grown and sold a licensed business, and was in the inquiry of what to do next with the proceeds of sale; ideally that would create maximum freedom and fulfillment for me;
Diana had recently finished her Masters degree in Transpersonal Psychology and had been on her way to Hawaii with a one-way ticket when she met and fell in love with Paul; and
Max had been building websites freelance from the age of 9, and had put up with all of 6 months in corporate, before choosing to pursue a life as a relationship coach.
We found each other because we had all been drawn into relationship with Paul for different reasons;
Diana as his intimate partner, me as his client and Max as his friend.
After we all met, we found that we kept gravitating together.
Paul, Diana and Max moved in together in Boulder Colorado, and I was traveling around on a cosmic treasure hunt (after selling the licensed business) and inexplicably kept finding myself gravitating back around the firepit on their back porch in Colorado.
It was around that fire pit that we would spend hours sharing our life stories and weaving our (i) perspectives on; and (ii) visions for the world;
In the business, technology, climate and relationship landscapes.
After 8 or 9 months of weaving our shared reality and our shared vision, coalescing and recognizing how aligned we were in what we intrinsically desired…
…..there was a miraculous influx of resources;
And I say miraculous, because it came from surrendered generosity, in the form of an unconditional gift, entirely non-transactionally.
Which removed the remaining practical impediment to us choosing to engage in a creative business endeavour together.
Now, one thing that’s valuable to note here is that all of the team members valued, and had been on their own path of, self-development (or as visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard would call it, Conscious Evolution).
In the absence of modern rites of passage for young men, Paul (who had gown up in Rwanda as the son of missionaries for the first 8 years of his life) had very intentionally self-initiated through a variety of experiments which included (but isn’t limited to):
- Returning home to his Mother’s basement and allowing their relational dynamic to trigger and release his latent traumas and insecurities;
- A 21 day water fast;
- Combining psychedelics and various cartoons to recondition his emotional responses; and
- Engaging in a surrender experiment by leaving the family home, refusing to be given money by the family and choosing not to do anything for money that he wouldn’t do for free in the first place.
As such, Paul came into the relationship with the rest of us having cultivated an unwavering presence and unique ability to hold space for emotional process without getting destabilized.
As such, and given that we had all gravitated into relationship through him, as well as the fact that he stands as an impressive and commanding 6’2” white male, there was a way that we naturally looked to him for leadership and direction.
But with freedom being such a central tenet of how we all wanted to live our lives (Paul had been the Freedom Coach, remember?), and given how much the love and our relationships really mattered to us all, it was clear we were going to need to find a way to relate to each other as equals, where we could all rise into our respective leadership so that Paul didn’t have to be in control at the top, in charge of telling everyone else what to do (with all the incumbent risk of: (a) him being stuck managing us rather than being creative, AND (b) the rest of us unconsciously rebelling against his leadership).
For those of you who may have seen some of my other content or attended any of our previous webinars, you will already have heard how, before signing any agreement between us, we focussed on creating anti-fragile relationships to support us in weathering the inevitable startup storms.
There are many things that supported that process, including:
(i) The sharing of our personal life stories around the fire pit;
(ii) Discovering a set of shared (transcendental) values that we held sacred and meant more to any of us than our comfort;
(iii) The shared recognition that the process of creation is an individual and collective development journey where you’re called to prioritize empathy, unconditional positive regard and self-responsibility;
Among many other things that served to continually deepen the trust within our relational bonds.
But to create the conditions that would allow the love and freedom to continue to deepen and expand, particularly given the magnitude of our shared vision, there was a fair amount required of us to de-condition ourselves of the traditional legacy hierarchical patterns and dynamics.
Paul surrendered fully to the process;
He didn’t tell anyone what to do;
He didn’t control the money;
He didn’t engage any of us transactionally (“if you do this then I’ll pay you that”);
He gave everyone FULL freedom;
He didn’t put any time constraint on our experiment; and
He literally did nothing but hold space for everyone else’s emotional processes.
And in that context, the rest of us slowly learnt how to (and, at times, are still learning how to):
Stay in the fires of the transformation that was organically happening through our relationships;
Stop acting or creating from fear, insecurity or scarcity;
Stop giving our power away;
Stop looking for or act from a need for external validation;
Stop defaulting to working out of avoidance or emotional discomfort;
Stop scurrying or incessantly do-do-doing;
To identify and move through the places where we were resistant and had judgments of ourselves; and
To begin to slow down, relax and surrender to what was arising, increasingly entraining ourselves to respond to the feedback that our reality was giving us in every given moment.
The funny thing is, that once we began to experience some consistent spaciousness in the relational field (meaning less emotional process and more genuine creative inspiration, without anyone avoiding anything that was coming up, but rather because there was just less that was coming up to be moved through) we could begin to see what was organically working about what we were doing/how we were working together, and to look back and start to capture and codify it.
That’s how Nature informed us, in an embodied way, about how to let go of the ways we had been conditioned to do things, which had traditionally required us to sacrifice our freedom and compartmentalize our love;
And instead teach us that we can trust and lean into what and how things are organically unfolding, trust who we’re naturally attracted into collaborative relationship with and through our shared value of freedom, access even greater levels of love, belonging and collective creativity.
As is so often the case in the de/re-conditioning process, it’s from there, that there was scope to introduce the useful elements of hierarchy back in.