View from the Balcony
In the leadership development work I do with Margaret Benefiel and Executive Soul, we often talk about stepping back from challenging situations and imagining what things would look like from the balcony (thanks to the work of Ron Heifetz, et al). It is amazing how that change of view . . . that change of perspective . . . that stepping away . . . can offer new ideas, new insights, new energy and creativity.
While Heifetz talks about this practice in the context of organizational settings, I believe it is a useful and powerful tool as a spiritual practice. What happens if I step back from a challenging situation in a personal relationship? What can I see, and know, and understand, if I move away from the particularities of my own experience – hurt, anger, frustration, sadness – and see things through a wider lens – the experience of others in the situation, the dynamics of the situation and its meaning for each of the players?
In order to do this – to remember to do it, to take the time to do it, to be open to the possibility of surprise – I believe it is something I must practice. In the heat of a difficult situation, it is much more difficult to remember to stop and stand back if I haven’t been practicing it all along, and reaping the benefits. If I practice this in smaller situations, it is easier and more possible to have the courage and trust to practice it in larger, more potent situations.
Thinking about this has drawn me to ponder – how does God see things? What is God aware of as God’s vision is from the widest, most inclusive perspective? If this becomes part of my regular prayer, will this help me to develop the practice of standing on the balcony?
I find I am reminded of some words from St Francis of Assisi, that – for me – offer a vision of God’s perspective. He wrote:
I think God might be a little prejudiced.
For once He asked me to join Him on a walk
through this world,
and we gazed into every heart on this earth,
and I noticed He lingered a bit longer
before any face that was
and before any eyes that were
And sometimes when we passed
a soul in worship
God too would kneel
I have come to learn: God