Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Outcomes and ecology checks
Chris took this picture on the road between Calgary and Banff last winter. We were in Calgary to train police trainers. The picture represents the outcome formation that got us there and began to point us towards our next "mountain-top" experiences.
There are many ways to form outcomes; fewer to do it with precision. When I look back to Calgary, I hear Chris at one of our first meetings, two years earlier, talking about his passion for training police to practice integrated thinking so that they could connect more effectively and more safely. I look back to the outcome I formed in my practitioner training for learning to work together, and remember precisely what that meant to me then and what it means to me now. When I think about it, I did know that true collaborations involve intensity and deep commitment and marathon-like endurance. All of those were as much a part of our experience in Calgary as Chris's outcome of making a difference for police officers and the people they serve.
What amazes me is how exactly the experience came to us that would give us the chance to learn and practice what we most wanted. It was not necessarily the experience that best fit our little outcomes (the ones our conscious minds spend 90% of their time worrying about): it was the experience that most exactly fit the deep, wide outcomes we chose to stretch ourselves. The road to the mountain-top curves: we cannot always see exactly where we are going. When our outcomes are so finely tuned to who we really want to be, we need to be on the right road more than we need to see what comes next. Because the view when we get there more than makes up for the blind spots along the way.
We often talk about measurable results and sensory evidence for success. If we are both wise and lucky, our deepest outcomes are mapped with more precision than this: we know we have reached our outcomes not by what we see, but by the eyes with which we see it. From the top of the mountain, we see that the road curves around obstacles and works with the flow of the landscape. The point is not that the road curves but that it and we keep going until we wind our way to the top.