Regeneration is not a method, not a model, not a set of tools. It’s a commitment to a new Life Paradigm in order to realize the evolutionary potential of Life.
“Regeneration is a process that only happens in Living Systems. It requires us to learn to see and work with life as living.” — Carol Sanford
Regeneration is only possible in Living Systems, not fixed systems, so we are called to become and see everything as alive, increasing our ableness to engage with people, organizations, corporations, nations, and ecosystems as living entities with the inherent capacity for evolving.
It is due to that understanding that we, in DUIT, are increasingly able to work in a different way, transforming our being and increasing our will to take on work of Higher Order.
After years of walking on this path of a regenerative way of living, I am able to see more clearly the different aspects of my life that have been affected by it: 1) the transformation needed in business ecosystems towards our Next Economy, 2) the role my corporate group is called to play, 3) the roles I play as a businesswoman and in society, my own personal life…
Moving up to a different way of Being in the world
Shortly after I started my career as a businesswoman, I realized I had a strong belief that businesses should be a means to raise up society and grow healthy communities. So when we formed the Holding company, I convinced my partners it was relevant to start working — along with some of the CEOs of our companies — on making clear the real profound Direction of our entire Business Group.
As I took over general management of the Holding Company and, with it, oversight of the evolutionary path of the businesses we hold, I needed to step up to a different level of relationship with our key stakeholders, including all people collaborating in the companies that are part of the Business Group. I had to move up to a deep caring level of relationship with each one of them, in order to really see and act in favor of the development of the whole system.
It was a surprise to everyone in the business group that, in order to be able to clarify and take on a meaningful Direction, we needed to change the way we see and think about the world; it required us to shake off our flat view of the World, re-shaping our way of thinking. It was disruptive! So disruptive that we lost revenue and employees, once people decided they could not take the changes and separated from the group.
Regardless, I was convinced we needed to do this in a profound way, so we partnered with Ben Haggard, primarily to help us engage in a profound and structured change process — at the Regenerative level.
Within ten-months, we discovered our true Corporate direction: Serving as instruments to bringing into existence an Economy for Life in the Country. Setting the bar and the change path for all business to become part of our Stakeholders Systems, towards manifesting a profound shift in economic dynamics in the Living System we are in.
For the last 16 months, I have focused my work, along with two other people in the holding company, on generating and understanding what the state of our Stakeholder System is in an Economy for Life, one in which all energy dynamics work in favor of bringing in more and better life in our social-ecological systems.
During this period of time, we have worked on many questions, which are the basis of our explorations. And as we start to find answers regarding design and manifestation, I plan to share them with you in future articles for the Regenerative Economy Magazine we are building with Carol Sanford.
Re-shaping the Way We Work
As I mentioned before, from the moment we realized we were meant to have greater effects in our communities´ wellbeing, we needed to make a commitment to change ourselves. We needed to shift completely away from old paradigms from which we were sourcing our ideas and business activities to seeing everything / everyone as Alive — and to start living from the Regenerate Life Paradigm.
In this section, I want to share the second big change I’ve experienced on this journey. While working on redirecting the business group, I realized that the way I had been leading the Companies´ efforts was no longer sufficient and that I needed to make changes in myself as a leader… I needed to become more of an “Educator” inside the businesses than a Boss, someone who has the answers to business challenges and makes the important decisions. I needed to care deeply for the development of every single individual in the company, if we really wanted to become instruments for deep, meaningful change in the business world. Investing in development gains significance!
As I stated for a piece in Chapter 8 of Carol´s fifth book The Regenerative Life, which is dedicated to the Regenerative Entrepreneur Role:
“In the last years, my father and I, along with some of the CEOs in the group, decided to work on changing old, toxic practices, within the business (…) we got rid of the weekly report meetings. Instead, we instituted a space where we would come together to be creative about specific situations, products or processes, that we wanted to improve. I made a point of being a participant in these meetings, not a leader…
(Later in the practice) I realized that I had become much too identified with the role of the hero, the smart businesswoman who can solve the problems and make things work. (…)
When I spoke to Carol about my experience, she encouraged me to have a look at the role of the regenerative educator. What would it mean for me as an entrepreneur to shift into a role where I was developing the people in my organization instead of giving orders or solving problems? (…)
This would enable us to grow our individual and collective intelligence in order to disrupt and evolve the business field we work in.”
Of course, the change didn’t happen overnight! It required us to first explore new behaviors and manage our frustrations as those changes were implemented in our meetings and work processes. Here, we learned that regeneration is a process that happens in Living Systems and that it always requires a commitment to work on change on a personal level.
Generating Authentic Relationships
It is amazing how everything can change and evolutionary processes can happen when we generate authentic relationships, relationships that are built on unique forms or unique bonds between living entities based on whom these entities truly are. “Whom these entities truly are” can be summed up by the attractive and more often used word, “Essence.” Essence is a profound and delicate way of seeing. It’s the way we are able to see the world and people with and for whom we work, when we engage in a transparent and humble practice of going beyond what we “see and hear” superficially. It demands we get rid of the categories and tags we put on people and living beings. I’ve learned that this is relevant work that requires years of practice (even decades), but once you are able to connect this way, it transforms all relationships in which you are invested.
I remember the day — after almost 6 years of having a distant relationship with my father — that we agreed to work together to build a new company, the company that would hold some of the initiatives on which my dad and his partners had worked for years, as well as the separate entrepreneurial efforts of my brother and me.
The first year was so challenging! For the most part, our conversations and meetings were happening to meet a middle point, to compromise. We negotiated to include or not different perspectives, strategies and actions, as we each fought for our own ways of working.
Business results were poor and relationships were deteriorating. It was visible to everybody (except ourselves) that this way of relating was toxic to our relationship and also for the people we were working with.
It wasn’t until my father and I realized the “gap” between our current states and the states required to fulfill the Higher Purpose for which our companies are instruments that the relationship started to change. Our work toward the Higher Purpose would not be possible if we, stayed the same… Change must happen in each one of us and in the Business Corporation.
I needed to step away from past differences to really see my father being and working from who he really is — beyond an external personality that would ignite my negative reactions.
The regenerative processes have touched us personally, and the relationship between my father and me has changed dramatically for the better, as a result.
Now I can see the gift of his unbreakable persistence and his way of bridging to generate a strong, healthy legacy. Being able to connect with my father in a deep and authentic way has created new conditions under which a succession process can happen. Rather than merely a process by which the elders retire, and the younger generation comes in to learn, Succession has become the process that enables us to Succeed, which is very different from how it is understood traditionally
We think of it as the evolutionary flow of development towards our Potential as a Corporate being, while the wisdom of one generation is passed on to another.
As my father states with honesty and humility:
“We are in an ongoing process of detaching from our old patterns, methods and idea, to effectively manifest an Economy for Life.”
From my experience, there are many ways to work on making your work relevant, but I have found the work we´ve done with Carol Sanford and Ben Haggard very engaging and developmental at all levels: at the Systems level, the business level, and the personal level. This calls us to re-orient our efforts to create practices that Focus on and engage in a developmental path. This path is not for the faint of heart. But it can and will evolve our capacity to positively evolve capacity of the larger Living System.