On possibility as an access to transformation

What is the access to transformation?  Specifically, what is the access – for you and me – to transform the quality of our living?  Put simply, it is shifting our being-in-the-world, and thus our showing up in the world, from impotent to potent.  What do I mean?  Let’s take a look at the definitions:

impotent

Adjective: unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless

Synonyms: powerless – weak – feeble – helpless – infirm

potent

Adjective: having a great power, influence or effect.

Synonyms: powerful – strong – forceful – intense

Let’s assume that you and I are up for transformation, up for shifting our being-in-the-world from impotent (the default) to potent.  What is the access to making this shift?  Willpower? No, this rarely works as many New Years resolutions show.  Is it setting goals? No, this rarely works because goals tend to rely on the exercise of willpower.  And willpower tends to fade.  So what is a suitable access?

The access to making the shift is inventing and living from one or more possibilities that move-touch-inspire us. Which begs the question “What is a possibility?” A possibility is not a wish.  Nor is it an intention.  A possibility is not a goal, an outcome, an achievement.  Nor is possibility a belief in that which is possible for a human being.

A possibility is like a context from which one shows up and gives life to one’s life.  A possibility is like a stand that one takes upon oneself.  A possibility is like a path that one chooses to walk of one’s own accord and thus gives up the multitude of other paths that are open to oneself.  A possibility is like a declaration one makes on what constitutes one’s life.  A possibility is always a choice one voluntarily takes upon oneself that gives shapes to one’s life and how one shows up in life.

Still looking for a pointer as to what constitutes a ‘possibility’?  Then let me share this quote from Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba The Greek):

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”  Nikos Kazantzakis

And when he speaks of believing he is talking about the following kind of believing:

“A belief is not merely an idea that is thought, it is an idea in which one believes. And believing is not an operation of the intellectual mechanism, but a function of the living being as such, the function of guiding his conduct, his performance of his task.”  Jose Ortega Y Gasset

A possibility gives meaning to one’s life and power to one’s being-in-the-world.  As such it does more than provide one with a reason to get up in the morning.  It provides one the access to transcend one’s psychology and push the limits of one’s biology as and when this is necessary.  It calls forth one to be unreasonable when unreasonable is what it takes.  In short, it the access to living a life that shows up as fulfilling.  A life worth living.

Why do I write this blog as opposed to put my feet up, watch a move, hang out in a bar?  Because I invented a possibility. What possibility?  The possibility of playing BIG, living an ‘extraordinary’ life, of being a source of contribution to a ‘world that works, none excluded’.  How about you?  What possibility leaves you moved-touched-inspired to be and create that which does not exist today?  What possibility are you up for inventing/living this year?

Please note, that all acts of leadership start with inventing a possibility that leaves one moved-touched-inspired to disclose and create that which does not exist today.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

8 thoughts on “On possibility as an access to transformation”

    1. Hello Jaspal

      Let me give you one example from my own life. I was born into a muslim family of believers who confuse religion with custom/culture and they were determined to marry me to ‘one of their own’. Given the custom of arranged marriages often being forced marriages for the women involved, this did not sit well with me. So I dreamed and in dreaming a possibility presented myself to me: the possibility of marrying someone who is not my colour, not my kind, not my religion and making this work. I found that this possibility called me – it really inspired me. So I stepped into and lived from this possibility. And that meant not going along with my parents wishes and dealing with their anger. It also meant transcending my psychology – in particular attraction and lust. How/why? Because I found my biology/psychology attracted to one young woman that my parents wanted me to marry. It was the possibility that allowed me to be “No”. Today, I find I have been married for some 17 years. And my wife is French, white, and non-muslim. I find myself married whilst both of my brothers and their arranged marriages fell apart some tiem ago. What cultivated this staying together? The possibility that I generated and act from.

      Let me give you another example from India. A possibility that is calling to India right now. What possibility am I talking about? The end of the rape and oppression of the womenfolk in India. And the possibility of cleaning up the police force and politics. This moment is pregnant with this possibility and if this possibility is not seized now then it could be a long time before India’s womenfolk become free from treated as mere objects to be used and abused by the menfolk. Clearly, this possibility has called many students, particularly female students. The question is will enough people in India heed the call and live from this possibility – act decisively, resolutely and as one.

      Examples of possibilities that changed the world. Genghis Khan and the possibility of a united Mongol nation. Gandhi and the possibility of India free from the British. The USA and the Declaration of Independence. Martin Luther King and rights of the black people in the USA. Jesus and the possibility of Christianity. Mohammed and the possibility of Islam. Buddha and the possibility of the end of human suffering. Engles and Marx with the Communist Manifesto which led to the Russian Revolution amongst other significant changes…..

      I hope that answers your question.

      At your service and with my love
      Maz

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  1. Maz,

    Thanks for your message. I get what you are saying wrt to your experience and it’s indeed inspiring, yet away from my existence.

    – How does it feel to the body, “what gets into the mind” about when you think of that possibility and as well as ” what’s it’s state – of mind”?

    – what are the ‘type’ of steps or action one takes when the possibility arises and how’s it different than fixing a planed project?

    I’m not sure if I’m able to articulate my question completely! What I’m putting across my thoughts which came after reading your inspiring response.

    Another personal question and you may very well ignore that,

    I relate to the your decision or not into arrange marriage way, as it’s like choosing best from the choice-less fellow’s. But how you came to the possibility of going for different religion, color and type? was it the manifest-ion of rebellion against your parents or system? or what was the source?

    Sincerely,
    Jaspal Rekhi

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  2. Hello Jaspal
    You are creating an interesting conversation between us, thank you. Here is what occurs for me in response to your questions.

    1. How does it feel to the body…?

    One way of connecting with that which I am speaking about is to think of possibilities as calling out to us. Some possibilities call to us and many do not. Recently, I read about the plight of a family and the call for donations to help this family out over Christmas. This possibility of making a contribution called to me and so I donated money. Another possibility showed up this Christmas: the possibility of getting gifts/presents from family and friends. This possibility did not call to me so I asked people not to give me gifts/presents. Another possibility did call to me. Which possibility? The possibility of changing lives by making funds available to entrepreneurs though Kiva. And so I ‘donated’ USD 200 over Christmas to 8 entrepreneurs via Kiva. And I signed up to making a regular monthly contribution to KIva and thus people who need funds.

    How does it feel in the body? Possibilities that call us touch our hearts, can move us to tear of joy/sadness, can/do inspire us, gladden our hearts. In a very literal sense they enlarge us, they leave us surging with energy and often they literally move us from sitting on our bottoms and/or complaining to being in action. Think India/Delhi/Rape/Protest. How many people have been moved to go on to the streets and demonstrate as opposed to sit at home and be comfortable? Those who have been demonstrating have been called by the possibility of ‘no rape’ for women. Those who have not taken part in demonstrating have not been called by this possibility. Is it any accident that the demonstrators are mainly young middle class women? No. Why? Because the possibilities that call to us tend to be those that are tied to our sense of identity. Why do I donate money / fund entrepreneurs in poor countries? Because, I have experienced poverty: I know what it is to be hungry – to ask for milk and have my mother refuse to give me milk as she had to sell it to feed us / work the farm. I remember watching people in Pakistani administered Kashmir pounding rocks with hammers in the glare of the harsh sun when temperatures were 35+ degree Centigrade. And I found myself moved to give them all the water that I had on me.

    So in a very real sense some possibilities call to us. They pull our heart strings. They inspire us. The tend to move us to act.

    2. What are the types of steps and who are they different to a plan?

    Let’s take an example from my life. I created the possibility of putting ‘our humanity into action to make a difference to the poor/needy and connecting with my cousins’ who I had let go of for many years. How to do both? Inspire my cousins with a project that would touch their hearts. What project? Raising funds for the poor people from their home village near Mirpur, Kashmir. Now that I had the possibility tied down to a specific project – raising minimum of £5000 pounds in 90 days with the help of my cousins and getting publicity for it in the press – I had to think through the steps. What did I do?

    I put together a game plan. The game plan was to reach out to one cousin with whom I had the best relationship and to whom the possibility of this project (feeding/helping the poor) would call and call strongly. His name is Shamim and he is older than I. So I called him and I shared the possibility of touching lives, of making a difference to ‘muslims in his village’. Then I answered his questions. At the end he agreed to be a partner in this possibility – an equal partner. He suggested that I speak to his sister Naheeda. Which is what I did. I called her and I set about inspiring her with the possibility of the project and this time I focussed on the impact that could be made to the lives of women especially young women like her. Then I answered her questions. She agreed to be a part of the team. And I asked her help in finding a venue and for reaching out to our cousins and inviting them to come to the venue to learn about the possibility. She agreed and we set a date for the next weekend. I was keen to move quickly as the project had to be completed in 90 days. After I got off the phone I rang my sister to share the possibility to inspire her and sure enough she agreed to take part.

    At the agreed time I drove from my home to Bradford (4 hour drive) to speak at the meeting that my cousin Naheeda was hosting/arranging and which 14 cousin agreed to attend. At the hour of the meeting I had to deal with my fears. What fears? The fears to do with dealing with the hostility of my cousins – I had disowned many of them and had nothing to do with many of them for many years. Put bluntly, they had not measured up to my standards of how people should be and so I had cut myself off from many of them. They knew that.

    In the ‘meeting’ itself I was pleased to find that 12 of the 14 cousins who said they would turn up did turn up. Then I got busy communicating the possibility or making a difference to the ‘their poor brothers and sisters in their village back home in Kashmir’. And the specific project – to raise minimum of £5,000 pounds and get the event covered in the local media, all within 80 days or so. During the course of my sharing I had to deal with all kinds of questions: why now? why with my cousin? what was I hoping to get out of it for myself? was I doing this to build a name for myself, for my family? how could they trust me with the money? how could they be sure that the money would actually get to the people who need it? and so forth. I dealt with these questions honestly. The questions on money, I asked one of them to be the treasurer – to hold/manage the money and produce the accounts. On the question of making sure that it got to the right people, I asked two people to volunteer to go to Kashmir and make sure that the money went to the right people. There was one condition – whoever volunteered had to pay all of their costs (flight to Pakistan, travel to Kashmir, accomodation, food…) themselves. Only one person volunteered Shamim. So I volunteered to go with him to Kashmir once we had raised the money. To deal with the question of ‘elevating one’s standing’ I asked one of them to take the role of leader stating that I would take the role of being a coach to the leader (working behind the scenes) and also doing the work or raising funds etc.

    At the end of the meeting we had a core team of five where each person had a specific role and responsibilities and another ten or so cousins who agreed to take part, to support the project. Cousin Naheeda with my backing/coaching ended up being the leader/manager for the project. And the rest of the core team was made up of her brother Shamim. One of our cousins (Riaz). My sister and her husband. And myself. Within 90 days we raised over £5,000 and put on an event – charity run / fun event – and the event was opened by the Mayor of Bradford and the local paper covered the event. And in the process I rebuilt my relationship/affinity with many of my cousins – not all, as some were not up for it.

    My role was that of ‘container’ for the possibility of the project. And coach to the core team especially the leader/manager Naheeda as she was the youngest of all my cousins (in her early 20s) and a female which made life hard for her given the status of young females in muslim families where males are the only ones that matter. And in the process I had to improvise. For example, the person responsible for getting us media coverage was not successful. When the coaching did not work she asked me to take care of the task. Which is what I did.

    To sum up, I formulated a plan of creating a core team of five people. Then being a coach to them to help them to carry out their roles and be the leaders. And I dived into doing work that was necessary and which was not being done my the core team as and when it needed to be done. As a part of my coaching I coached each member of the core team (4 of them) to recruit 4 people to be part of their core team to help him/her get her role/contribution done. And I developed a high level project plan and worked back from the 90 days to figure out what would need to happen when. This was easy as I had project managed large projects and programmes.

    3. Why did I chose to marry a person from a different county, colour, religion?

    I did not create this possibility as a rebellion against my parents, or against anyone. This possibility showed up for me when I was faced with the fact that the tribe that I was born into did not give the women any choice at all as to who they married or when they married. And I was constantly told that one had to marry into one’s tribe, one’s religion, one’s nearest family – especially cousins. When I asked why I was told that only those kind of marriages worked. Marriages to non-tribe, non-family, outside of religion did not work.

    The possibility came to me as a from of leadership. To walk the path: to encourage diversity/tolerance/relatedness by looking for/ marrying / and making work a marriage/relationship to someone who parents called ‘the other’. Someone always has to lead, to show the way, so that others can feel safe in following. Someone has to put himself/herself at risk. And Ifound myself to be called, to be inspired to be a role model for mixed marriages that worked. And I am delighted to say that I have been a role model. Life is funny. Who is it that my parents praise the most nowadays? My wife! Why? Because she is the kind of daughter-in-law that they wanted.

    I hope that this answers your questions.

    At your service and with my love
    Maz

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  3. Hi Maz,

    Thanks. It’s thought provoking and your effort to reach me are inspiring. Incidentally it’s having an interesting effect. On one side I get carry on with your narrative, feel good and mind get’s into ‘some’ action mode. On the other side, I find myself away from the point of getting a possibility! Let me try to again to communicate – I feel the urge of action but it doesn’t move beyond that. Maybe it’s not strong enough or I’m still inauthentic and living in my own world of hypocrisy!

    On argument sake and I realize it impotency, the feeling of anger, loss of someone dear, frustration also give similar feeling to the body in context of tear of sadness. so how does the good possibility differs from the painful situation? Or is it, if we make ourselves relate to the pain in certain way – the possibility comes into being. Like Delhi rape incident.

    Both your possibilities of your village and marriage are commendable. My question lies at the initial edge before the possibility occur which I label as source, and somewhere after it occurs to the happening in body and mind.

    Sorry If I’m occurring you as a wall. My intention is exactly not be that.

    Sincerely,
    Jaspal Rekhi

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  4. Hello Jaspal
    I get what you are saying. And so let me see if I can better address your question.

    You writing “I feel the urge of action but it does not move beyond that”. And I say “Great, let it be as it is.” What is my point? My point is that the being of human beings is to act as and when one or both of these contexts are presents:

    a) You simply find yourself drawn toward (rather like magnets) a possibility that calls to you. You may even find yourself acting before you consciously choose to act. If you are the more analytical type then you may put a plan together then act. Either case, you find yourself drawn towards a possibility or not. Take the Delhi rape, you either marched/demonstrated or you did not. That is all that matters. It is possible that you thought about it, you had an urge to do something, yet you did not do it. If you did not do it then it suggest to me that the call, if you were called, simply was not strong enough, important enough for you.

    b) Life pushes you to act. That is to say you find yourself with your feet on fire and you run/jump of the coals and into cold water. Any number of events can give rise to this. Your business closes because there are not enough customers. You lose your job. Your wife dies. A child of yours dies. A dear friend dies. You fall seriously ill. You run out of money. You lose your home……

    I say that whilst it may not occur to you that you are comfortable with the way that the world is. The reality as expressed by your action is that you can live with it. And you are choosing to live with it rather than to be/act different to that which you are/do today. If you get that and can be fine with it, then there is nothing to do. You are at peace.

    Finally, I wish to say that there are no formulas. That is right no formulas for living that work for each and every person. Each life is unique. So I can only share with you what shows up for me in my living. And hope that something of what I speak speaks to you. If you think deeply you find this is a blessing as it leaves you with your freedom to be, to create your life as you wish. Whilst bearing in mind that you are always ‘you and your circumstances’. And so the life that you create, wish to live, has to take into account your circumstances.

    At your service and with my love
    maz

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  5. Hi Maz,

    I also get to get what you are saying :=) on an intellectual/reasoning level, but when it comes to experiential level, I struggle. I got couple of example from my life.

    I like to live in the possibility of being forgiving, aware and welcoming to the people around me. In 2 instances repeatedly, one in personal relationship and other in professional one, I find it hard to practice. I work on being, having this being every night but during the day when I face breakdown in terms of breakdowns and lack of integrity, I’m unable to maintain that and the past, the aggression, frustration and dis-empowerment comes. I keep on re-generating working with my stand, but this flip-flop make me feel tortured at the least.

    What I need to know, who do one feel when he embraces or freely choose to take a being, for example which I take for being “forgiving, aware and welcoming’? I don’t seem to know the physical and mental feeling of this experience, which make me deviate from my stand?! For me, the stand is for real, but not it’s existence. so in essence, I’m inquiring it’s existence.

    Having said the above I do see my in-authenticity and believe there is lack of it from my side being in this being and I need your help to have an insight for this.

    Sincerely,
    Jaspal Rekhi

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  6. Hello Jaspal

    I would be grateful if you were to share with me your reasoning behind “i like to live in the possibility of being forgiving, aware and welcoming to the people around me”. Why? Of all the possibilities what is it that caused you to come up with / jump on to this one? Why? And who – yes, WHO – created this possibility?

    Once you are clear on this and share it then it occurs to me that I am likely to be in a position to help you with your question.

    At your service and with my love
    maz

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