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“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.“
e. e. cummings
FIERCELY AWARE: The Call to Get Fierce: 1.3.3
Systemic Autoimmune Response
Generally speaking, we all like to stay exactly as we are. To make sure that happens, we have an internal and a social immune response to change. When we begin to acquire new knowledge we might feel uncomfortable and even a bit silly with it at first. Do you remember the first time you had to deliver a speech, or make a pitch, or give a presentation? I will never forget the first time I spoke in front of my colleagues. Beyond being terrified of tripping, forgetting my words or worse, I felt ridiculous, almost like an actress. With this awkwardness, it’s easy to convince ourselves that it is really not so important after all to incorporate the new and so we give up. This is our own psychological immune system at work. Living systems naturally prejudice against “otherness” according to Otto Scharmer and the coauthors of Presence. If we don’t stay fierce, we jeopardize the potential of developing into our best, possible selves.
As you begin to make shifts in how you think, act and react, there can be an external upset as well. Homeostasis and stability characterize social networks. Have you ever noticed within a circle of friends that when one person makes a change – loses weight, gets a new job, has a new partner – that suddenly the group becomes unsettled?
I know a young professional who began her second year of teaching completely fired up to remake her classroom based on motivational research she had read during the summer months. Susan was so enthusiastic that she was almost unaware of the extra hours she was putting in before and after school. And as a result of Susan’s significant effort her students grew more engaged, excited and made tremendous academic strides. Her principal championed her results and her effort. However, the more success she enjoyed the more distant her colleagues became. Over the course of the school year, the chasm grew between herself and the rest of the staff, and she decided not to return the following year. At first blush, Susan’s story is discouraging. But there is more. Activating her strengths, opened new possibilities and she went on to start a very successful business based on what she learned. She continues to live a joyous and authentic expression of her best self.
Just as Susan stood fiercely in the face of a system seeking status quo, we can, too. Sometimes it is just a matter of substituting “or” for “and.” Read how here.