My subject this week is love. It’s not an easy one to write about, but it just feels so important right now.
Love is complex — we use it in casual ways to express our ‘love’ of food, films, and activities. It is used in marketing to sell us everything from cleaning products to holidays. And it means something very different when we say ‘I love you’ to our child, our friend, or our lover. It can be a truly vulnerable and tender thing to speak about, especially in realms where we have grown accustomed to excluding emotion.
We all know that love is more than images of hearts, couples, and warm fuzzy feelings. It is one thing that we all desire and something that all of us need to survive and thrive. l think we could all agree that our world would benefit from having a lot more love.
But we do not include love in our conversations in the places where we are making decisions for our futures. In business, economics, and politics it is rare, unheard of, and even taboo. But to create a more loving future, love needs to be brought to the table. It needs to be included in our conversations and actions, otherwise, what are we doing and what kind of future are we creating?
I believe that love is essential for positive change and below I describe some of the ways we can bring it into our work.
1 Love is more than a warm and fuzzy feeling
We have been learning about love for millennia. The Ancient Greeks described many different types of love some of which are described in the image below.
If you are lucky you have felt the love of friends, family, or a spouse and maybe love for life, humanity, and our living earth, and all the agony and ecstasy that can come with that love. The breath of emotion, grace, and grit are all part of the experience of BE-ing human.
A good starting place is to remember that we all love, in all kinds of different ways and there are very appropriate ways of bringing love into our work e.g. through the love and respect you show yourself (Philautia), the love we express for life and the living world (Agape ) and the act of doing our work with love, creativity, and devotion (Meraki).
2 Feel love
Of course, we only really, truly get to understand love when we feel and experience it in our lives and our bodies. So, I invite you to stop for a minute and remember someone or something you wholeheartedly love.
Let yourself notice what this feels like in your body. Notice what happens to your breath, your shoulders, your belly, and how you hold your jaw as you tune in to this feeling.
You might have felt a flush of emotion, a wave of softness, a flutter in your heart or tummy, a softening of tension, or a sense of heightened awareness and presence.
Notice that this feeling is emanating from inside of you, so you have the capacity to tune in to it at any time. If you can even take a few moments before, during, and after conversations and meetings to let yourself feel even a little of this love you can bring a little more of it with you in all aspects of your work.
3 Start by loving yourself
Like the advice for oxygen masks on aeroplanes — take care of yourself first. When we truly love ourselves we remember that we are enough, that we are good enough and we learn to work with what we’ve got. From this place, the way that we speak, act and work changes and can transform our interactions. Nurture self-love and let it grow from there.
4 Engage your imagination
Your brain is not your only tool for solving problems. Love keeps us in connection with our hearts, with new ways of seeing the world and ways of imagining what is possible.
Engage your intuition and imagination — instead of solutions that don’t quite feel right, be curious and look for ones that you feel excited about and that spark joy.
5 Communicate authentically
Speak with authenticity, speak your truth and speak from the heart. Don’t be afraid to speak up when something is not aligned with what you believe in.
To love is not to be a pushover. Communicate your expectations, maintain clear boundaries, and say no to work that is not in line with what you believe.
6 Find your people
Don’t just follow the crowd, if something in your work doesn’t feel right for you, trust that and question it. You can’t get on with everyone — say no to people that are not good for you and yes to the people that are.
7 Lead with love
“We need leaders who are not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Bell Hooks, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Martin Luther King are all examples of how to lead with love. Their love was, and remains, the very opposite of weak, it is powerful in its capacity to remind us that life is good, that we do not have to fight to create change, that love and peace are powerful agents of change.
Learn to recognise when you are operating from a place of fear and practice leading instead from a place of love.
8 Find common ground
Our desire for love brings us together and lets us see our common ground. When we start from what we have in common we can learn to see from new perspectives and this can open doors to new creative solutions.
Let yourself practice moving from ‘me to we’, from ‘what I want’ to ‘what could we create together?’. If you work in groups introduce play, jokes, and stories to explore ways of sharing ideas.
9 Practice acceptance
“Deep acceptance of the way things are is the source of all creative change. The perfect paradox.”Jeff Foster
Before trying to change things, practice first accepting people and things as they are. Engage your curiosity, your attention to detail, and your capacity to see patterns and connections.
Love brings us into a deeper connection with what is, with our aliveness, and with the possibility of seeing what was not visible before — of seeing from new perspectives — seeing new connections and solutions.
10 Take it one step at a time
Be courageous, have patience and stay curious. Like starting anything new, bringing more love into your work can take time.
Love is essential for positive creative change. It keeps us focused on what is possible, allows us to see new perspectives, and is a potent fuel for powering our imagination!
These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you have many more that suit your life and situation better. I will leave you with some questions.
- How would your day be different if you showed more love for yourself?
- What does bringing love into your work mean to you?
- What would be possible if you and your co-workers/employers/employees and other stakeholders worked with more love for one another and the living world?
“The subject tonight is love
And for tomorrow night as well
As a matter of fact
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all
Die!”Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)