White Paper on Regeneration’s Significance — Part 3: Paradigm Shifting versus Renaming Our Current Work
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their correct name
There are at least four paradigms at work in our minds in our culture at this time. Only one of them gives us a true understanding of how regeneration works. But people are using practices from the other three, older, paradigms, and rebranding their work as regenerative. This practice is the same process we have gone through with greenwashing. A green washer diverts attention by redefining the work they are currently doing as meeting criteria, from which they fall greatly short. Greenwashing is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are regeneratively friendly. They feel no need to actually learn about and move themselves toward the new potential offered. It is all about appearances. Not about effects and outcomes.
Why does it matter? It matters for the same reason that in other times the greenwashing slowed us moving into a healthy ecosystem and social system. People are identified with what they are currently doing and do not want to fully grow themselves in new direction, yet. We need to invite people to have a way to consider, at a deep level what regeneration means, how they can assess and step into a learning process. But they need a clear way to gain that understanding and assessment practice. They begins with knowing which paradigm they are in.
A Framework for a Living Systems Paradigm
A Sacred Indigenous Living Systems Framework: 7 First Principles (i.e. they precede knowledge gathering and framing of the best current understanding of the working of systems)
I was blessed to have a grandfather who was half Mohawk on his mother’s side and one quarter Mohawk on his father’s side. He grandparents spent a great deal of time with him and he did the same with me. We connected from the Turtle Lineage clan through his grandmother in the matrilineal social system. He told us stories about her teaching him about how to interpret the voice of natural systems and life itself, including humans in it.
The thing that has stuck with me is a rubric my grandfather taught me. It was based on what he called “inside before outside.” He was referring to preparing the inside of me, before seeking to understand others or circumstances. I now call it “doing my work;” I have to prepare myself to see reality rather than be blinded by my own projections and fabrications. When I got myself in the right state of inner being, I would be able to see the outer world as it is really working. But between those two, the inner and outer and all around them was this third force. It was the developing and growing in the capacity to manage both of these ways of being and their interaction/relationship. Developing that capacity was the pivotal work.
For example, when my children were young and before I jumped to engage them, for joyous reasons or corrective purposes, I had to start with myself. I know now, it is about waking myself up or I would bring a mechanical, unaware, presence into their lives. There were tricks his Mohawk grandmother had developed, or had passed down, that she passed to me through my grandfather. First, connect with the moment 1) by imaging it or them, as a whole, independent being or place, pursuing life fully, 2) as a way to contribute and learn, 3) to express the most essential aspect of themselves into the world. If it was an animal or watershed, to see it is a fully alive being, that is seeking to play its role in the system and has an essence of its own. Each being is different than each other living being. There are no categories or types. Each is singular. Typologies are an artificial contrivance created by humans with a less whole paradigm. (We will see the fifteen mentation processes that diminish the regenerative mind being at work in a later section)
I have come to call these three inner practices,
- seeing any being as a Whole,
- that has Potential as a result it is own special being,
- with an Essence that is like no other.
The second phase, the outer work, is when I can get my mind to see the individual or system being in front of me this way, through these three inner practices and qualities of regeneration, then move to engage with understanding the entity, place or system, through the three outer aspects of how it works when fully alive. For my children, it is seeing them as living in a nested world and interacting with other entities and processes like families, friends, schools, and churches. To understand the key aspect that is pivotal in that unfolding and where to intervene in a focused way but with a ripple effect. To see the field generating effect they are having on all entities that enter this field of energy. Although this may feel more abstract without practice and developing a particular mind put to work, it is the new version of reality we are called to take in. It is a different paradigm.
So, I have come to call this second set of outer practices,
- imaging the nestedness of whole entities/systems at work, so that
- I can see and engage through a nodal connection that has a prime effect as a result of a strategic and quintessential discernment of life at work, that
- as a result, fosters a field of creative energy that is beneficial for all that it encompasses and affects.
This comes from a living systems theory of change that is radically different in practice and beliefs than most change theory. Change itself is also paradigmatically defined. Regeneration is a living systems theory of change, (regeneration can only happen in living systems) and, yet, still requires envisioning something as alive and with agency in a system where is gives and receives for it’s overall vitality, viability and evolution. But without the inner work, the lower paradigms rule the mind and makes regeneration a dead subject to study like the dissected guinea pig in the biology lab.
All this leads to my great-grandmother’s final practice, developmental work. It might be compared to the fascia of the body, applied to the mind. The level of development it has is like the connective tissue that surrounds and creates links among and within the other two working practices. Depending of the health of the fascia, according to its metaphorical counterpart, it can determine how rigid or adaptable we are. Like fascia in the human body, it is 1–2% of the working muscle but produces 6% of what makes us strong, stable and resilient. An investment in development of human capability to think and be self-directed has the highest rate of return of any activity. Especially when it is pointed toward “the inner and outer work” of a regenerative practice. The reason we had to do this work, grandmother passed on, was that, we humans tend to forget ourselves. And the work on the inner and outer development as well as the connective tissue that surrounds them makes us able to work with more resilience and evolutionarily in real time and overtime.
In the fourth and final part of this series, we’ll explore the challenges of elevating our paradigm.
About Carol Sanford
Carol Sanford is a regenerative business educator, the award winning author of The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes, and executive in residence and senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College. She has worked with fortune 500 executives and rock star entrepreneurs for 40 years, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Learn more about Carol and her work at her website.