Creating Systemic Change for People and Planet


How can we change a system?

During recent years, I have found myself deeply immersed in discussions about our existing systems and the challenges they present. It is apparent that we are well-aware of the major issues at hand and, in many cases, even possess solutions. Yet, a disconcerting gap persists between this awareness and our collective actions. Individually, we may be taking steps towards positive change, but collectively, the transformation seems elusive.  This discrepancy between knowing and doing on a collective level has become a focal point in my understanding of our complex systems. It’s as if the clarity we achieve in recognizing the problems isn’t translating into tangible changes in our behaviours and actions. This gap, where awareness falls short of implementation, is precisely where the concept of systems thinking becomes essential.

Visualized often as an iceberg model, systems thinking delves into the unseen, submerged aspects that influence visible outcomes. The visible problems we perceive above the waterline are intricately linked to the concealed dynamics beneath. As a change maker or leader, it’s insufficient to merely react to surface-level issues; true understanding involves addressing the deeper root causes. When we employ a systems lens to examine current realities, we observe a collective creation of results that few desire. No one consciously wakes up aspiring to harm nature, others, or themselves. Yet, as a society, we grapple with immense environmental and social issues, forming what I term the ecological and social divides. Moreover, there exists an inner or spiritual divide—a disconnect between one’s present self and the potential future self, resulting in a loss of energy, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression.

Systems thinking poses a crucial question: Why, despite individual intentions, do we collectively deepen these divides? It delves into the root issues, unveiling the interconnected layers of structures, paradigms of thought, and the profound sources of our energy and creativity.  In the journey of systems change, attention initially focused on structural aspects, but understanding grew that structural shifts were intertwined with thought paradigms. To truly transform thought paradigms, access to the deeper sources of our being was necessary. The culmination of addressing symptoms, structures, paradigms, and sources is what I call “awareness-based systems change.”

This approach hinges on four steps:

1.       We cannot change a system unless we transform the mindsets that created that system.  In essence, outer changes are a consequence of from inner shifts in mindset.

2.       The challenge then becomes, how does one transform a system? The answer lies in making the system see itself—moving from knowledge about broken systems to a deep, felt understanding. The process involves sensing the system from the perspectives of all stakeholders, fostering empathy and connection through activating the intelligence of the heart.

3.       We then need to develop the ability to sense or feel the future as it is wanting to emerge in the present moment.  This can only be done when we stop doing and simply create space to be, just be.  A walk in nature, listening to music, meditating. It is not enough to know the problems; we must delve into the depths, fostering a profound understanding that transcends intellectual knowledge and extends into the realm of felt experience.

4.       Once we are able to sense the future, we need to activate leadership fuelled by the courage to step into the unknown.   Our human capacity to lean into emerging future possibilities and create from nothing, is what will always differentiate us from AI.

In conclusion, there is an intricate dance between awareness and action. Through awareness-based systems change, we can bridge the gap between knowing and doing and between doing and being, ushering in a transformative era of collective progress.

#systemstransformation #leadership #heartintelligence #impact #sustainability #consciousness #ghaya

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