In Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, Peter Senge and his co-authors write:
“We’ve come to believe that the core capacity needed for accessing the field of the future is presence. We first thought of presence as being fully conscious and aware in the present moment. Then we began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control and, as Salk said, making choices to serve the evolution of life. Ultimately, we came to see all these aspects of presence as leading to a state of “letting come,” of consciously participating in a larger field for change. When this happens, the field shifts, and the forces shaping a situation can shift from re-creating the past to manifesting or realizing an emerging future.” (2004)
The truth is most of us are not present most of the time. We aren’t present to our thoughts. We aren’t present to our feelings. We aren’t present to one another. At a recent workshop I said, “If you’ve felt really listened to by an other person in the last week, raise your hand.” Three hands went up in a room of over 50 people. We have some work to do if we are to live and lead in the field.
There are no simple steps or directions on how to be an authentic and effective leader. Leadership is a path; and the path leads to the field. The field is the place where we are present, non-reactive, attuned, and open to both letting go and, as Senge writes, “letting come.” When we are in the field, we are not concerned with the past, nor anxious about the future. When we are in the field, we are not being driven by fear or anxiety or frustration, anger, or sadness. When we are in the field, we are not relating to the world as victim, villain, or rescuer; we are conscious, connected, and concerned.
The field is where we as leaders need to be. Our teams and our organizations will be extremely well served by our living and leading in the field. It is very difficult to enter and lead in the field and very easy to get pulled out of the field if and when we are in it. The starting point for walking the path of leadership is cultivating consciousness – striving to become more self-aware. Cultivating consciousness is a daily practice and a life-long journey. It is vital to living and leading in the field.
Fear is something that can keep us from walking the path of leadership and entering the field – fear of change, fear of losing what we think we have, fear of confronting and owning our own reality. The question each of us has to answer is, “Do I choose to accept responsibility for my life and live and lead in the present, in the field, accepting what comes of the choices I make, or remain stuck in the past and afraid of the future?
As summer draws to a close and we begin gearing up for another year of racing to accomplish and accumulate, I challenge us all to get on the path that leads to the field. Sit for a few minutes each day. Reflect on what living and leading in the field looks like and feels like for us to be authentic. Reflect on what might shift for us, for our teams, your families and friends if we could be in the field more. What might the next year look like if we could begin to let go of our old identities, our need to control? What might the next year look like if we began to realize an emerging future from the field of real presence, the field of greater consciousness and more authentic leadership?