This post was written by Patti Owen-DeLay, a Newfield graduate of the Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery program.

“Evolution is a messy process. So, anybody who really wants to make the effort to strive for something new is going to have to be willing to make mistakes, take wrong turns, even to fail, but never give up… If you really want to succeed, you have to have the big heart, heroic will, tenacity, courage, and commitment to fearlessly engage with the evolutionary process until something profound, mysterious, and extraordinary happens that cannot be undone.”  – Andrew Cohen, spiritual teacher

I like things complete, orderly, and tidy. And I love when the process to get to that place is anything but complete, orderly, or tidy.

Although these two statements may seem to be in conflict, they are essential to each other.  Complete only comes from incomplete. Order comes from disorder. Evolution comes from regression.

I often work with business teams that have a clear achievable goal, a tidy strategic plan. But once the plan is put into place it becomes a process: some things don’t go as expected, timelines have to be renegotiated, and revisions need to be made to the plan. As a plan evolves and morphs, people feel the tension between what they envisioned and how that interacts with reality.

When we are feeling stuck or pulled by opposite poles, we need to remember that there are beauty and opportunity in the mess. We also need to remember that uncertainty and a winding path are:

  • Human – The only place we are perfect is in our imperfection
  • Cosmic – There is chaos in creation.
  • Archetypical – In the hero’s journey, we leave home (the familiar) to face what is unknown. This encounter changes us and when we return home we find that the familiar is forever changed.
  • Freeing – Acceptance of what we cannot change allows us to release resentment or resignation and to seek ambition.
  • Restoring – When we embrace that life is both orderly, tidy, complete AND disorderly, messy and incomplete, we feel how expansive our soul can be.

Knowing this, can we give ourselves—as well as each other, our organizations, families, and countries—permission to be messy as we strive for growth?

Accepting the Messy Path to Evolution

How do we live in this dance of evolution that comes from regression, from meandering, from error?

Learning is one form of evolution that happens daily. Learning requires that we bring attention to how and who we are being while we do what we do. It requires that we become agents of choice. We decide whether to continue to do or be as we are or to try something different. Practice is also important for this type of growth—we need to keep trying what feels new until we can internalize it.

Here are a few practices to help you on the journey of learning and evolving:

  1. Acceptance – As you practice what is new and reach towards goals, accept that you will sometimes fail and regress, that the path is not linear.
  2. Gratitude – Bring your awareness to how fortunate you are to have gone beyond survival mode. You have freed up that energy to have conversations about evolution and to feed spiritual and psychological evolution.
  3. Compassion – Stay with your heart and maintain your self-care in moments of seeming blunders or missteps.
  4. Forgiveness – Forgive yourself and others when you observe the less evolved self-appear.
  5. Ambition – Stay open to what is possible and continue reaching for it.

Imagine how we could evolve if we engaged in our world with acceptance, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and ambition.  How are you showing up in the world as you go about evolving?

Want to learn more about Newfield’s ontological approach and integrated learning? Check out our programs here.

About the Author: 

Patti Owen-DeLay has worked in a variety of industries from legal to civic. She is fascinated by human beings and organizations. Her learning has emphasized how people grow and develop, and how they come together to interact within organizations of any type, from family to corporations. Patti loves to support work and developing programs and opportunities for people to see things in a new way. In her coaching, she works with clients from all walks of life from business owners and entrepreneurs to people in life transitions. She believes that we become through our interaction with others. Her education and experience emphasize the diversity of learning that has become a solid foundation to support others.

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