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The Transformative Power of Partnership

It’s easy to say that a course was transformative, but it does feel as if the 'Power of Partnership' hit the right spot at the right time in my life.

I’ve been facing two particular challenges which the course helped me to address. The first is my work situation, where we’re undergoing what seems like an interminable restructure forced by a loss of funding. This has brought some very contentious issues to the surface which has left my colleagues and I feeling deeply frustrated, disempowered and depressed.

When asked, as part of the course, to give a short presentation on one of the themes in Riane’s book, the chapter on 'Your work and community relationships' stood out. It prompted me to look at the workplace dynamics through the domination-partnership lens. This gave me some insights which have changed my behaviour at work; I am no longer willing to accept an organisational culture which is led by a (female) dominator boss.

As organisational cultures are created by everyone involved, I have had to consider my own contribution and realise that I have been complicit. Although I have challenged the culture in the past, I’ve backed down and accepted the status quo too easily. This has similarities to my childhood family relationships.  

Now that I am conscious of this and can bring more self-awareness into my workplace relationships, I feel that it might be possible to challenge the dominator regime in a constructive manner.      

My other challenge this past 3 months was to prepare a presentation on climate change for a local discussion group. This required some intensive research to strengthen my knowledge of the subject, as I knew I had to be prepared for possible attacks from climate change deniers. 

Sure enough, there was one vocal denier in the group, evidently steeped in New World Order conspiracy theories. Although his arguments were weak and easily countered, I experienced a strong physical reaction to the engagement as I struggled to contain my anger, causing my hands to shake quite violently.

A couple of days later I read a section in Riane’s book on ‘Dominator psychology and the environment’. She says: “one way people with dominator mindsets deal with the world is through denial”. 

This switched on a light bulb for me. Climate change deniers have dominator mindsets, and encounters with them trigger those hypersensitive childhood patterns which dominator family structures force upon us. 

Whether it’s controlling bosses, climate change deniers, authoritarian politicians, murdering terrorists or the destructive impact of our civilisation on the rest of nature, the root cause of my anger is the same: domination structures arising from dominator mindsets, perpetuated ad infinitum by the cycle of learnt childhood behaviour and social and economic indoctrination within a global dominator culture.

It feels as if healing is emerging from partnership in thinking and practice, both in my own damaged psyche and in my relationship with the world. The new challenge from this learning is to live, breathe and act from the partnership way in all aspects of my life.

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Comments

  • Paul:  I will echo others' expression here--this is a post that evokes deep thought and hopefulness.  Thank you!   I am glad that the Power of Partnership course could offer some new ways of approaching your current challenges, and supported you in the larger work.  Your contribution to our group discussions (and your wry sense of humor) was much appreciated.  I hope that you will continue successfully in (and I repeat from your post here) "the new challenge from this learning...to live, breathe and act from the partnership way in all aspects of [your] life."  Best, Susan (The Power of Partnership course co-facilitator)

  • Paul,

    I too resonated!  As someone who weathered the three recessions of California, it's been quite an experience to reinvent myself again, and again, and again.  As always, dominator models and I don't get along, and I choose more creative ways to move outward.

    Your essay is full of deep thinking and hope.  All voices and hands are needed in this time of revolutionary change. Men speaking to men from this perspective of partnership is a gift to all women, and all life.  Thank you!

    • That's a nice thing to say, thank you Melissa :) Whether the women in my life see me as a "gift" is another matter altogether!

      Yes, "All voices and hands are needed in this time of revolutionary change". I'm about to launch a climate change literacy website and local 'climate circle' here in mid-Wales. I'll draw upon Riane's work on partnership of course, combined with Helena Norberg-Hodge's approach to localisation: http://www.localfutures.org

      Best wishes, Paul

  • Just wanted to let you know, Paul, that I really resonated with your post. I've had very similar experiences on both counts.

    As you go through the workplace discussion have you come across alternative (partnership) models like Holacracy and Sociocracy? There are a number of really interesting discussions going on, specifically many companies' experiences trying the different models. Tom Nixon is someone whose opinion I really respect - here's a good article of his to start the ball rolling: https://medium.com/creative-order/beyond-hierarchy-holacracy-truly-....

    Blessings to you,

    Michael

    • That's a very interesting link, thanks Michael. Clearly there are similarities between "the authority to bring an individual’s creative vision to life" and Riane's hierarchies of self-actualisation. 

      I also found this interesting: "It’s not helpful to treat it (an organisation) as a living entity." Having tended to do this in the past I may have to try thinking a bit differently...

      Thanks again,

      Paul

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