The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Principles first

Mitch was complaining loudly. According to him, members had been spreading rumors, they were talking about him, and were behaving in a way he would never do.

Mitch hadn’t taken the time to understand how the team was working together and the team hadn’t taken the time to share how they are used to working together or how Mitch preferred to work.

They all had settled with some general statements describing their intentions and aspirations.

Complaints are a logical consequence of this approach. Team members find themselves confronted with a diversity of values and principles describing the many ways people are used to connecting with one another.

Behaviors are the result of a set of principles people learned to live by. The values guiding these principles, however, are an abstract notion that has been shaped by experience. At any given moment values are enacted depending on the situation and creating new experiences.

While seeking to contribute to the group, Mitch was expecting the group to act according to his expectations, that is according to his understanding of values and the principles he had learned. But the group was functioning with a different set of principles than his.

Where, for Mitch, it was difficult that people were talking about him, for the group it was a way of making sense of how he might be contributing. Where Mitch had assumed that some of his aspirations would stay with the smaller group he had asked for feedback, the group had started sharing his aspirations to see the resonance they created.

Intentions and assumptions belong to the individual. Often, they are linked to principles and values the individual perceives as universal.

The challenge the individuals experience there is to become aware of their own ideas as well as of the nuances they have never thought about themselves. The opportunity is to stay aware of the fact that diversity means nuances in the perception of values and diverging principles.

By gaining an awareness of one’s own values and principles it becomes clear how things rarely are black or white.

By stepping into the diversity people become open to flexibility in dealing with the many greys that exist between black and white.


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