Equinox: time for thinking equality
On 22nd September, the whole earth was bathed in an equal amount of light and darkness. Global equality, held in nature for 1 day on the equinox.
Just think about that for a moment.
What would it be like if we could hold a space of equality for each other? Where no one was perceived as more senior, more clever, more powerful? If we could appreciate each other’s thinking, presence and uniqueness equally? What would happen then? What magic would we create?
At the same time as we were experiencing an equality of day and night, I was listening to Nancy Kline read ‘More Time to Think’. I was drawn to the chapter focusing on importance of equality in our listening. Kline poses the question, ‘Do we really believe in Equality? Really? I mean really, as in cross our hearts?’
My first response when faced with this question was to say, ‘of course I do (and who wouldn’t?)’
Nancy Kline encouraged me to think more deeply. ‘Even if we mean it a bit, enough to march for voting rights and equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity (whatever that means)’, she continues, ‘what we most likely don’t mean is that we are all equal as thinkers’.
And I think she’s right. It’s easy to assume, consciously or unconsciously, that we know best and indeed, that we’re paid to know best, for example, when we’re instructing, advising, sharing the benefit of our experience, coaching even or counselling. In these situations, there is a lack of equality as we hold a belief that our thinking is superior, more refined or more developed than that of the person with whom we’re sharing a conversation. If you work in a hierarchical organisation, I’m sure you’ll experience this in some form or other almost daily. Notice who speaks first or most in meetings, for example, who challenges whom about their ideas, who feels free and able to share their thinking when there are more senior or experienced employees in the room. This inequality gets in the way of uncovering the most ingenious of ideas, the most creative or innovative approaches, the most meaningful outcomes. It limits thinking and growth and performance and ensures that some employees contribute only a fraction of their capacity to their colleagues each and every day.
So how can we create with our colleagues, our friends and family and our clients a space of equality where everyone holds the capacity to do their very best thinking and indeed, does just that?
By listening deeply and with our full attention and by valuing each other truly as thinking equals.
When this is our intention and our practice, that’s when the magic happens..