The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The balcony

A friend shared earlier how spending the last two weeks without his kids gave him the time and space to reflect on their family life and even more so on what his kids are experiencing.

He had needed the rest and the opportunity to be on his own for a while to become able to analyze the situation and discover the patterns as they are occurring.

In their book “Adaptive Leadership” Ronald A Heifetz and Marty Linsky call this “getting on the balcony”.

The idea of the metaphor is that the things visible from the balcony are very different from the ones visible on the dance floor. People get swept away by what is happening on the dance floor, there is the flow of events they are reacting to and that keeps them busy. Stepping away from the dance floor and onto the balcony gives a very different view and allows one to see what is happening in its wholeness as well as to discern the larger patterns shaping the events.

There are two ways to step onto the balcony. One is the method chosen by my friend, which is taking some time off to evaluate the situation.

Another is to do so in the moment. There it’s making oneself aware of what we are doing besides the task we are involved in as well as to note one’s feelings.

Both ways need practice. It takes time to learn to stop and take time out or to stop and note what is happening for us. But both have a high impact on how we deal with a given situation.

It’s a practice that is relevant for fathers as it is for leaders. Leadership is both active and reflective. It requires to alternate between participating and observing.


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