A Place for Everything
Working from a systemic perspective requires that the practitioner consider the ‘issue holder’ as part of something much bigger than someone/thing that functions as a purely independent unit.
Through this lens a business is considered to include everyone from the founders and CEO’s right down to the janitors and the security staff and events that have happened within and without it; the individual is seen as part of a unique blend of generational experience, that includes ancestors, events, culture, society, country etc. etc. Each facet, each unique event or circumstance is considered as part of the make up of what is present in the system now and given a place.
So, when a client presents with a personal/business issue or challenge I contemplate the idea that in some way the ‘system’ is trying to look after itself and keep itself ‘whole’ in the only way it currently knows how. This view includes the ‘issue’ presented as part of the system and thus the systemic question becomes more along the lines of “For what is this problem a solution for?” apropos “How do we get rid of this problem?” Often the act of giving the ‘Issue’ a place creates a transformative space and new information is now free to come to light.
For e.g - In a personal session I was working with a client who was suffering from high blood pressure and what could be considered a disproportionate level of anxiety around every day life, which was only serving to exacerbate this problem.
Rather than looking at the fact that the anxiety ‘shouldn’t’ be there and was something to ‘get rid of’ - I invited the client to contemplate the idea that it did have a place, it might just be that it wasn’t in the right place.
This line of questioning immediately eased something in the system, the client, let out a huge sigh and was visibly more relaxed. As we went further into the piece of work, it transpired that there were indeed historical family circumstances where there had been large amounts of anxiety present. In seeing this the Client was able to leave the anxiety in the ‘right place’ and not have to carry it herself.
In a business example;-
A new business on the 39th floor of an office building had the question “How do we attract customers get more people through the door?”
After setting up elements from the system it became obvious that there was the need to acknowledge and give a place to the security guards who worked at the entrance to the building. Everyone who came into the building had to pass security guards who were there to keep the building ‘safe’ - many of these employees had been there for a long time. They had seen thousands of people come and go and were proud of their position and status as being ‘guardians’ of this institution.
What happened next was amazing – Almost immediately the instructors who worked in the business felt it was ‘easier’ coming into the building, that they were ‘more welcome’ and that the guards were ‘looking after them’. The security guards started to recognise them and were even known to go and press the lift button for them – previously unheard of!
Potential clients or new clients who showed up and said where they were going to were also given a warm greeting, in one instance they were even escorted to the right floor and someone waited with them until the instructor turned up.
In these times that we live in with the surprise votes on Brexit and Trump the ripple effects of this, it’s all too easy to play the exclusion game… the ‘let’s get rid of it’ if we don’t like it’ - but what if we just sat for a while and asked ourselves the question - “what if these things do have a place, but what if they haven’t found their right place just yet?” “What is the system trying to tell us here?”
What is your capacity to first give everything a place, even the Issue?