Since 1977, I have been sending out a newsletter called LEARNINGS. Here is how I began the first issue:
This newsletter—LEARNINGS—is my way of sharing with you what I am learning. Often I learn something with one client that would have been useful with another client the day before. In order to bridge that gap of time and also to bridge the gap of space that separates me from clients and other friends outside Cleveland, I will share my learnings with you regularly in this newsletter.
That statement feels amazingly accurate more than 35 years later. The only real change is that I moved from Cleveland to London and then on to the Crook of Devon in Scotland.
In the earlier newsletters, I shared one or two learnings each time. Then I read a wonderful book by Michael Phillips called The Seven Laws of Money. He describes the Taoist approach to creating Seven Laws about anything.
I like that approach except that instead of announcing Laws, I prefer to share Learnings. I’ve now discovered Seven Learnings about all sorts of things, including Journaling, Love, Retreat, and Diversity. The latest Learnings starts here; the rest are in the Learnings Archive.
LEARNING: Moving into new situations gives me a change to learn what I really want.
Last weekend I moved. And two days later I moved again. On the weekend I moved my personal belongings into a friend’s flat and two days later I moved the office equipment into a new office.
One of my learnings these past few days is that when one person moves other people have to move as well. I have experienced that from both directions this week because a friend invited me to move into the flat and I invited a colleague to move into the office.
As I move into my friend’s flat, I feel very conscious of moving into space that belongs to someone else. I am treading very carefully. Room has been made for me in various cupboards and on various shelves. I try not to take up too much space but it is obvious that the other person has to move in order to accommodate my move. Since I have been invited in, I know that I can ask for whatever I want – as long as it isn’t too much. So I find myself setting priorities very carefully. I decide to ask for a certain cupboard and decide not to ask for an extra drawer. I alternate feeling daring and feeling cautious.
A few days later as my colleague talks about moving into my office, I feel very conscious that the space belongs to me. I can make room but I don’t want to give up too much space. I want to keep control of what happens here. Yet I can see that I will have to move a little in order for my colleague to move in. Since I am inviting the other person in, I know that I can offer whatever I want – as long as it isn’t too little. So I find myself setting priorities very carefully. I offer shared use of the telephone but I resist the idea of shifting some of the furniture. I alternate feeling open and feeling closed.
When I invite someone to move into my space – my psychic space as distinct from my physical space – I have many of the same feelings. I alternate between being open and closed. I think carefully about what I want to reveal and what I want to hide. I am very clear that I am in someone else’s space but I do want to have control over my part of that space.
Another thing that I have learned the past few days is how many professionals can be involved in moving. I have spoken with a solicitor, and accountant, and architect, and several colleagues who are consultants. They all seem to follow a pattern. First they listen and look. They listen to what I say and don’t say. They look at what I do and how I live. Then – after all this – they each ask the same question: “What do you want?” Once I can clearly express that, then they use their particular expertise to help me get it.
When I am working professionally as a trainer and consultant, the other person has often invited me into her or his space specifically to help make changes. Just like the professionals who assisted my move, I first listen and look. Then I ask the question: “What do you want?” Since part of my expertise is helping people answer that question, we may spend a lot of time on that. And now we can use the new edition of my career-and-life-design worksheet A Goal Is A Dream Taken Seriously to organise the process. I used the process myself to plan for this latest move.
After I have listened I can then risk asking the questions: What do you want? How will you know if you get it? How do you feel about it? Those questions helped me decide whether I could accept the invitation to move into someone else’s space and whether I could invite someone to move into my space.
When my colleague arrived today to talk about moving into my office, we both spoke of feeling afraid and excited. That reminded me of a definition I heard once: “Transition is excitement and anticipation blended with nostalgia and terror.”
That is certainly what the last few days have been like as I leave some places behind and move into new places. And the most exciting part of all this moving is the ongoing risk of moving into the space of another person and letting her or him move into mine.
LEARNING: I can learn as long as I keep moving!