Living in the 21st century means to have only one certainty – and that is uncertainty. Uncertainty and a high level of unpredictability are key characteristics of complex environments. Another attribute is connectedness; that everything is connected to everything.
That means whatever we change in such a complex environment; it will always have an impact somewhere else in the system, immediately or at another point in time.
More on complex environments, click here.
To lead yourself and to lead by example requires a deep understanding of our complex world. Within complex environments, the term “connectedness” and what it really means is an essential key prerequisite to taking action, to lead yourself and to lead others towards a better future state.
Connectedness – all living beings are connected to each other
I have written about connectedness in the past. You may want to check out this post: “A few playful thoughts on connectedness and trees.” Connectedness is defined in many ways by scientists and spiritual teachers. The results are pretty much the same. Look at this scientific foundation by astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator Neill de Grasse Tyson:
“We are all connected to each other, biologically, to the Earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe, atomically….That makes me smile…It’s not that we are better than the universe…We are part of the universe; we are in the universe, and the universe is in us.”
—Neill de Grasse Tyson
The next level is to understand that connectedness does not only address human beings.
Connectedness covers all living beings.
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
For me, it’s always fascinating to discover that the scientific and the spiritual world are more closely connected than one would expect. Both disciplines look at the same issue from different perspectives, and they come to similar conclusions.
“Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”
– Hildegard of Bingen
Connecting these dots between science and spirituality and deriving practical approaches for people to work with – that’s a gatekeeper’s purpose in this world.
Understanding connectedness to drive change
Understanding connectedness in the context of our complex and dynamic world is fundamental to drive change and transformation for the better. Consequently, that requires understanding that we cannot transform anything to a better future state with isolated actions that are focused on our own advantages only. We have to think through what our decisions and actions mean to other living beings in all areas of our lives. Furthermore, we have to understand what our decisions and actions mean for mother Earth. Do we really only take what we need or do we take whatever we can get without even thinking about our decision’s impact? Review daily issues like using plastic bottles or plastic bags; think about the unnecessary waste in all areas of our lives, think about what you eat and what that means for other living beings involved – and what it means for mother Earth. As the universe is in all of us, so is mother Earth. If necessary, you may have to adjust your actions and decisions. I shared a personal example in one of my previous posts: A Journey of Self-Leadership.
Reflecting your decisions and actions and their impact on other living beings and the environment is an exercise nobody can do for you. It is an exercise you should do with yourself in order to grow and to leverage your own potential. This process is the beginning to lead yourself in a more conscious way – to lead by example.
Connectedness and sharing – two sides of the same coin
If connectedness is one part of the coin, sharing is the other one. Often, the best approach to achieve a goal is not a maximum for one part, but it’s an optimum for all involved parties. It’s often described as win-win situations, which is not always perceived the right way. Achieving “mutually beneficial” solutions expresses better what an optimum means compared to a maximum. Think about a sales situation – a customer will only buy if what he/she buys will create some value for him/her. And the deal has to make sense for the seller. It has to make sense for both; more sense than the financial impact only. Often, that means to share – visions, ideas, resources, teams, budgets, shipping expenses, profits etc. A name on a higher level has already been created – the “shareconomy”. In business terms, sharing means stakeholder value, no longer shareholder value only. It means to build responsible business models that are based on a thoughtful approach how to work with nature – not against nature.
I’m focusing so much on the initial meaning of connectedness here because nowadays the term “connectedness” seems to be reduced to a technical term only. To focus on the technical dimension only – without having developed connectedness in your mind and heart first – will never allow people to use “being connected” technology wisely to make a difference. Only understanding the technical dimension of connectedness creates a situation in which people are led by technology and not empowered by technology.
Given our complex environment and the huge challenges we are facing in this century, developing connectedness in people’s hearts and minds is not a luxury; it’s a necessity to survive. Mind- and heart-based connectedness will equip people to lead themselves and others to a better future state – powered by technology, but not led by technology. And that enables the most authentic way to lead – to lead by example.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
— Albert Einstein