My reading of Daniel Goleman’s fascinating book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence has coincided this week with a powerful experience of “a field” of energy in a group. Goleman writes persuasively about how important it is to be able to change our focus, and to focus upon things that our conscious minds have never known they ought to focus on. To lead effectively, it’s essential to sense and/or intuit the presence and nature of a field of energy. This week, I ask you to help us (reading and leading learners) to build an imaginative picture and a baseline sense of the kinds of fields typically in our cultures.
Let me explain with a story. I invited my 56 undergraduate students last Monday to experiment. “Take your attention away from me,” I said. “Just withdraw it,” and I further explained they could look away, go blank, daydream, whatever. After perhaps 90 or 120 seconds in this condition, I asked them to describe it: “What was it like?” One student said, “It just felt really heavy.” I was struck with this description, for as I stood in the center of the horseshoe of chairs during those two minutes, a little voice in my own head had three times made me aware that I felt heavy. After years of meditation, I pretty routinely sense my body and posture, and here, at the center of this spot in the classroom — which usually ENERGIZED me — I literally felt like my back and shoulders were bowed with weight. I was struck again by a keen insight when another student reflected on the experience: “It got heavy instantly,“ he said.
So, we had intentionally created a “field.” Like an electromagnetic field or a field of gravity, it was a general condition — not obviously visible or measurable to our senses – that was exerting a powerful influence. If you have been to a close Michigan State vs. University of Michigan basketball game, you’ll experience that kind of field. Fields can infiltrate our homes, as when a mom or dad comes home angry from work, a teen feels the pull of depression, or a usually buoyant mom is distant. And a field can shift, as it had in my class, or when, by contrast a person with a ball of new ideas comes into a meeting overflowing with possibility and enthusiasm.
Again, leaders sense and/or intuit these fields because they affect motivation, coordination, and positive or negative charges that affect how we think and act.
Before you pay perhaps a little closer attention to the fields in your home and work, I invite you to click on this one-question survey and see what kinds of fields you and your fellow readers see as the predominant fields in the places you work. Thanks for contributing to our field of inquiry, as you,
Lead with your best self,