Exploring Transformational Work
What am I doing with my life? What am I supposed to do? I see the pain and the suffering out in the world and I don’t know how to handle it. The shiny world where people are going about their business as usual seems to tell me, don’t worry about it, we’ll innovate our way through it all. We’ll master nature’s hiccups in no time because we can do anything we set our minds to. I want to believe them, I really do. It is such a nice thing to imagine: a clean world where everything has its place, there is a process for everything and there are no questions about the workings of nature anymore because, damn, we have figured it out.
And then there is this part within me that is screaming for change. And when I listen closely I can hear, that it is not just screaming for change, but for a radical transformation of the way, we relate to everything else in the world. And when I stand firmly in this pain, I know that this is the only way forward: to embrace the reality of impending radical transformation. This clarity is liberating because it plants a flag in the sand, a line behind which falling back will never be possible again. From now on I am an agent of change on behalf of the planet, humanity, and all living things.
But soon I find myself wondering: How on earth are we going to do this? Where are we even going to start and how? How deep do we have to dig to find the very tips of the roots of what we are trying to transform? Is what I am doing contributing to this transformation or am I unconsciously reproducing the patterns I am trying to put to eternal sleep in the history books?
My best guess is to go out into the world and try. And while I try I observe myself and the effects that my behavior has. I compare it to the patterns that I have identified as outdated and harmful and I try to develop a sense for what could be a remedy. At first, it is all a lot of guessing. But after a while, my sense of what is helpful gets a lot more attuned to my new reality. I find that transformational work is work that contributes to a fundamental shift in the way that our human societies function. A shift from transactional relationships like in markets and economies, to personal, lasting, and deep relationships. A shift from needing to understand someone to accept them, to a condition less form of compassion, where we see each other as whole and complete without buying into the limiting stories, that society and ourselves are telling about our so-called flaws and issues. A shift from competing for an edge to supporting each other in making an authentic contribution. A shift from linear to circular, from pyramidal to networked. A shift from separating ourselves from nature to recognizing our inherent connectedness and taking on stewardship for the land we live on and off of.
Working in these fields comes with many challenges. The old paradigms that worked for the industrial growth society of competition, oppression, and linear extraction, deny us entry into this new world. Yet they are deeply embedded in our social DNA. So this work first and foremost means work within oneself. Transcending patriarchy, transcending racism, transcending othering and ableism. Being aware that in our lifetime, we might not be able to actually eradicate these patterns, but all we can do might be to get so good at recognizing them, that we can shift our attention to something more empowering as soon as they start playing out. This way we might be able to keep these patterns from seeping into generations to come.
This means learning the skills to recognize ones authentic voice of wisdom and telling it apart from all the baggage that we still carry along with us from the old ways of seeing the world. Transforming the way we view “work”, making it include reproductive work, care work, and emotional work to eventually get rid of work altogether and just live and contribute.
This kind of work is mandatory if humans are to have a chance to stay on this planet for more than just a little bit longer. But it is not a duty. It is a privilege. To get to be in this work is the most amazing dance, that one could imagine. It is an exhausting and painful dance at times, yes. But the beauty of what we are playing and dancing for is greater than anything we could imagine in the words of the old language we use to describe interactions these days.
Come join this work. Look to contribute, support your peers and reach out if you need support.
This article was in part inspired by Joana Macys Work That Reconnects.
If you liked this article, if you want to discuss it, if you see things differently, or if you want to take the idea further, please contact me. By mail, Linked-In, or Twitter. I look forward to your message!
About me: I work as a Coach for Regenerative Transformation. This means, I support people to clarify the vision they have for a livable future for all, recognize their challenges and self-limiting conversations and then move beyond those by setting meaningful and attainable goals. If you are interested in what I do with this work, I invite you to check out my website https://jonasgroener.com.