Stuck in the Matrix?

Stuck in the Matrix?

In the famous cyberpunk film “The Matrix” played by Keanu Reeves the protagonist finds himself in the midst of an adventure that is partially self-created and partially imposed. In the ensuing quest to find out what is real and to make progress, he is challenged to embark on a journey of simultaneous creation and discovery.

A key focus of his attention is discovering who he is and how he fits into where he is particularly at. But even in the midst of confronting his predicament and seeking answers he becomes aware that the perplexing reality he is in, is one that is partly self-created and partly given.

He is at a place and in a predicament that is at one and the same time supporting as well as restricting. It is feeding on as well as giving life. The challenge for him is to discover the primary task of his existence: to give shape and meaning to his pursuit. And while doing so to avoid being caught and drawn into a predicament created by rules and forces which he needs but which he cannot control from the outside and could therefore just as easily destroy him.

Along the way he seeks out the wisdom of a guide "Orpheus" and the prophesying insight of the “Oracle”. Both have a lot to say and to offer the questing "Knight". But they cannot live his life for him. And even as he chooses between the different coloured pills that will configure the path he can take, the risk that he faces is whether he can truly trust them; and even if he could, whether they're in a position to direct that trust in support of the same quest and the greater good and not misappropriate it to serve some other end or matter motivated by their own selfish interest.

Neo is faced with multiple and challenging choices of taking the quest, trusting others, avoiding encumbrances, creating new paths, working within the unknown and with the lesser-known and staying on course.

He has to face the anxiety of being committed while not knowing and believing others, before seeing himself. He has to create a sustaining structure that he must then ensure that he avoids being stuck or unencumbered within. He has to live in a New World: an initially virtual world that he must create in his own mind before he can create it in the brute world. And even after creating it – he has to test it. He has to be able to step in and out of it and to know when he's in his own imagination and when he's in the real connected world that he's now created. He has to be able to abide with and live in it, paying attention to other people's needs, issues, commitments and realities.

Over the years I have worked with leaders charged with taking up new roles that have to create new teams to stretch across the world and build new business outcomes. Typically these leaders are multi-cultural, ambitious and young. They are on the journey because they are working in the service of a vision that a business or business leader has presented to them and they have “bought” into. They are thus taking on a role of creation as well as leadership. They are stepping into a new world where the organisation deliberately does not exist yet. Their role is to make it happen. It is to create out of nothing a New World, a community of people who can share the same view and take on an approach that can create new value.

They have a guide (Supervisor/CEO) and perhaps even have an Oracle (Coach/Mentor), but the Oracle will not do the work for them. They have to find partners that they can knit together into constructive networks of individuals equally committed to creating and delivering the vision and the value. So at times they find themselves engaged in intricate one-to-one discussions, seeking to create trust, to engage one another and to examine the possibilities locally on which the business foundations can be built. But even as they do this, they realise that they cannot commit all their time to one to one individual discussion. The network they have to prime, build and feed is wider than this. The matrix that already exists, and that they are part of creating, demands greater efforts in other places as well. They have to be prepared to leave and step out; to see the bigger picture; and then step back in when needed, to engage actively to create the reality that will bring the results they are committed to realising.

Their challenge is a challenge of leadership as well as of creativity but it's also challenge of awareness; of knowing when they as leaders and individuals are fully awake; when they are alive and connected with the new possibilities whilst at the same time staying free of being stuck in the grasp of a world that might strangle these possibilities at birth.

My role working with these individuals and their teams has been one of an accompanist. It has been aimed at listening intently to the timorous concerns of the individual people setting forth on this journey or caught in the midst of it. The challenge I have felt has been to help awaken them to situations they are facing. To encourage them to hold their hands open and to feel for the true sense of the territory they are crawling their way through. It has been to draw attention to the resources they have available and are also able to offer.

I have been focused on supporting awareness building, and encouraging a real connected authenticity that doesn't deny one's challenges but seeks out and engages with the help and resources available. In the process I have become aware of the need to develop a brutal honesty about what one is committed to achieve and how willing and able one is to take the journey needed to achieve it. And along the way a key focus has been helping them to notice what works, what is successful, and to encourage them to build a strong and sustaining story for themselves that will replenish and protect as they are intimidated by the challenges of the quest.

So we discover that being effective ends up requiring a strong sense of direction, a willingness to seek out the direction even when one is feeling lost. Knowing that being lost is an essential step along the way. And that certainty of direction rarely comes ahead of commitment. So each step has to be an enquiry. And each enquiry has to lead to a choice: a decision and commitment as to where to trust oneself to place the next step.

I have learnt that those who successfully escape the clutches of the matrix are also the ones most skilled at navigating into and out of it. They recognise that the structure that they step into does not define the reality with which they must live with. They step into it and work well with what is already formed and what they have to be constrained by. They are organisational explorers and artists rather than pawns or victims. They respect the rules of what is created because a lack of respect may jeopardise the quest, or, at worst, even “threaten” their whole lives. However they know that respect for the structure can never be elevated above the commitment to seeking out and walking along an authentic long-standing and fulfilling path of creation. They seek direction but avoid creating directives that are not borne out self-evident and life-giving commitment.

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Pete Moore
My personal matrix is academia. It has deeply set structures and ways of assigning value to individuals an their output. Academia is strong... but as with any system, it is flawed.

For those trying to pursue research, the structures and scoring systems can seem strange and at time stupid. There is a tendency to blame the system for lack of success.

Here each person has a challenge. Few have the opportunity or power to invoke significant change. Some choose to constantly fight against it... they tend to become bitter. Others let the system push them around... they loose spirit. A few ride with the system, take energy from its strangeness, build networks of like-minded colleagues and co-belligerents and thrive. They 'resect the rules' but pursue 'an authentic long-standing and fulfilling path of creation'.
Quote 29 April 2014 09:46

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