Some of the things I learned this week thanks to my self-organizing groups:

  1. Chaos and order are both within us, and both ok. It’s in our nature to be chaotic, silly, ridiculous, and huge risk-takers. Within these groups, I can accept chaos as rewarding and even fun. Yet it’s also in our nature to appreciate order and structure and to minimize or avoid risk. Within these groups, I can accept order and structure as rewarding and even fun too. I have both within me, and both around me, and I’m ok with that. Honestly, I really like that. Both support creativity.
  2. These groups change me as an individual. As I change, everything around me changes. My self-organizing groups are a doorway into seeing and learning more about who I really am and who we really are. The more I learn as and with these groups, the less fearful I become and the more perspectives I’m willing to accept about who I am and who we are.
  3. “Us vs. them” is becoming less relevant for me, most days, thanks to these groups. These groups are teaching my individual self valuable lessons about my tendency to experience and think about things as “us versus them.” My individual self needs “us vs. them” as a way to decide who is safe (us) and who isn’t (them) in any given moment. My self-organizing groups pull more and more people into my “us” category. Today I believe that the more self-organizing groups I spend time with and reflect on, the more “us” I will discover as part of myself. Sometimes I shift to a place where I can see that there is no “them” at all. I shift back, as needed, to protect my individual self. Thank you individual self.
  4. These groups unleash creativity in ways my individual self couldn’t even imagine. The very moment I recognize myself as my self-organizing group (valuing the group to the same extent as my individual self) all sorts of good things start to happen within me and around me.
  5. Life is hard, yes. And aren’t we still so very lucky to be here?

Here are some of the pictures and stories from my life the past week that document my learning experiences…

A picture of my friend Julie and her friends and family in the lovely, chaotic Seattle solstice parade. Thanks for sharing the photo Julie. Go Julie! Go chaos!

A dung beetle float in the solstice parade (photo by my friend Josh—thanks Josh). Does this image capture order, chaos, both? You tell me. Regardless, from my perspective it’s a big rolling pile of awesome!

And here, in her YouTube debut, is my friend Annie demonstrating in one minute how to play the lifesize Jenga game at the Georgetown Street Fair: Listen to her self-organizing group members cheer her on. Yea! Go Annie!

Photo of the life-size Jenga game. Order and chaos working together. Go Georgetown! Go Annie’s friend Neils, co-creator of this work of art/game/life lesson!

Here’s a picture my dad sent me of his lake cabin garden this week. Check out those straight lines! Check out the thoughtful placement of vegetables by size, growth habit, and sunshine needs. Bee-attracting and wildlife-repelling flowers circling the vegetables and working hand-in-hand with fencing. Yea structure and order!

Here’s what wildlife in northeastern South Dakota face when attempting to eat my parents’ veggies! Experience and creativity combine to create a veritable vegetable Fort Knox. Beautiful. Go mom and dad!

Shifting gears. Here’s a brief demonstration of a transglobal self-organizing group creating an effective conflict-soothing meditation mantra instantaneously via Facebook. We are not proprietary about this just-developed technique. Feel free to use it and share it as you see fit.

Janice: Very very very annoyed with British Airways right now.

Lori: Here, try my breathing meditation: 1) Breathe deeply in for a count of 6, thinking “What can I learn right now?” Hold the breath in for a count of 8. 2) Breathe even more deeply out for a count of 6, thinking “Fracking idiots!” Hold for a count of 8. Repeat as needed.

Janice: They are winding me up over child vs. adult fares! Grrrr. I’ll sort it out eventually, but in the mean time I’ll focus on Lori’s recommendation part 2!

[A few hours later…]

Janice: They are making it up to me today with a free upgrade to business class, in the upper deck of the plane which I’ve always wanted to see!

Lori: Like!

Lastly, as a self-organizing group this past weekend, my friend Doug and I facilitated a workshop about self-organizing groups at the annual Organizational Systems Renewal conference on the Seattle University campus. After attendees identified their own self-organizing groups as individuals (the source of their learning and expertise on the subject from my perspective), they organized themselves around the questions that mattered most to them and then began working as small groups to answer their own questions. Before they presented their ideas to the larger group as a whole, the small groups were asked to co-draw a picture to represent what the words “self-organizing group” meant to them. Some of the comments (paraphrased) that I can recall hearing from the various groups as they moved into co-drawing pictures:

  • We need way more colors than just the four markers that are on our table. We need to get more colors! Who has more colors?
  • What color do you guys think should we use to represent life force?
  • We need modeling clay, not paper and pens. That would make this easier.
  • This flat flip chart paper doesn’t really work, does it? We need to represent the groups in 3-D. How do you think we should do that?
  • You know what would be cool to have? Water. I think water would do a better job than paper and pens to demonstrate what we mean.
  • I want to dance to represent these groups. Should we dance? We need to at least make sure the image includes dancers or dance steps.

Um, wow. Just wow. The creative force that emerges from within these groups gives me goose bumps and causes tears to well up in my eyes.