An absence of love
"Everywhere we learn that love is important, and yet we are bombarded by its failure. In the realm of the political, among the religious, in our families, and in our romantic lives, we see little indication that love informs decisions, strengthens our understanding of community, or keeps us together." — All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
Yep, I'm here again.
Another 5 am start; but at least I've got coffee, water and, well, everything else.
Don't ask me why but I keep returning to the subject of love. The above book is currently the one I'm reading on Kindle. I'm also reading several printed books including Anam Cara by the late John O'Donohue and (believe it not) The Hard Way, Adapt, Survive and Win by Mark 'Billy' Billingham, the ex-SAS soldier who is part of the Who Dares Wins team on TV.
Anyhow, what of the subject of love?
Why is it (for instance) we seem comfortable talking about its absence in relationships but in no other way? In particular (at least how it shows up for me) why don't we discuss it in the workplace or in the running of our institutions? Is it simply not suited to the logical, didacticly-focused way we've come to perceive of our companies etc? What would happen if instead of talking about strategies, vision statements and human capital we lead with love?
No, I'm serious.
What would a company/institution look like if love was its sine qua non?
For me at least, it's almost impossible to conceive let alone articulate because, for the best part of my working life, I've worked in professional services firms where, sadly, they wouldn't know the meaning of the word love, let alone how to live, breathe and walk the talk. The name of the game, like most businesses, is profit and not much else.
But I think, no, I know, we're all paying a very high price for not trying to picture and then build a commercial world premised on unconditional love.
Just to be clear, the portent of love that I see doesn't mean we avoid taking hard decisions or doing the right thing but it does mean we lead with our hearts and not with our 'what-is-in-it-for-me' selves.
The way I see love working is very much like the model postulated by Stephen M. R. Covey in his wonderful book, The Speed of Trust. In it, he sets out to show how trust can and should be built based on the idea of ever-increasing layers — a bit like an onion. From memory, it goes something like this:
I don't want to completely rip off his book but you can see how if you changed the word trust for love you might start to contemplate how love could be part of (at least) the lexicon of our commercial world. But then again, much like I've experienced, I do wonder how a CEO or leader would change their current language, focused entirely on the shareholders, market or the owners to something infused with love?
"I love myself, I have great loving relationships at home and with my staff, the market is in love with us and our community thinks we're the best thing since sliced bread."
Ha bloody ha if you ask me. I mean, who's going to take said company seriously? But then again, if you look at those few companies led, I assume, by right-thinking people who are trying their damndest to row back from the climate catastrophe or building a business where their employees truly come first, I can't think what else might be driving their motivation unless it was love. Of course, the cynics among you would say I've lost the effing plot and it's money stupid that's on the agenda, pure and simple, but I think that would be doing a massive disservice to everyone who's ever tried to make a difference.
Perhaps in the end we need to accept that love will never find a place, at least so far as the language is concerned, in anything other than a relational setting but then again, isn't it, more than anything else, what's needed right now if we're going to change the world forever?
I know, I can but dream but I'd love to know what you think about how we start to perceive love in a much more powerful way.