It all started when I was on the phone and in walked not one but two neighbourhood cats. Showing little, well actually no respect, they sauntered over to Tigger’s food bowl (that’s our feline resident) and began to tuck in. If at this point they had encountered Vicky instead of me, it is quite likely that they would have lost at least one of their nine lives. Naturally, they were immediately and politely escorted out with nothing more than a verbal warning and a solemn reminder as to just how fortunate they had been in their understandable desire to dine out.
That evening during dinner I am telling the family the tale of the two tails when Vicky knowledgeably informs everyone that it was a good thing I showed them the door before they had the opportunity to ‘spray everything’. (One too many TV wildlife documentaries, if you ask me.)
‘Spray what?’ asks an impressionable and wide-eyed Tamryn.
‘Semen’, replies the Matriarchal Wise One.
‘Seaman?’ responds a now bewildered and wonderfully innocent Tamryn. ‘What’s that?’
At this point, even the previously uninterested Keegan momentarily stops shoveling food down his hatch, whilst I give silent thanks for the conversational restraint that sees me now merely cast in the role of ‘best supporting actor’ in this sudden twist to the tale. Time stands still, nature holds her breath. Captivated and inquisitive stares lock on to the Wise One like hungry scud missiles on some defenseless target. But before Vicky can confound us yet again with her dazzling insights into the world of cats, out pops the answer from an unlikely three year old source: Sipho, somewhat dismissively, replies, ‘Why, don’t you know? It’s a cellphone of course!’
We live in a connected world. Not just a wired world of networked connections, but one that is biologically and fundamentally connected in ways that are at times difficult to fathom and even to believe. The scientific world of quantum physics teaches that we live in a fuzzy world where boundaries can prove to be elusive and seldom mean what we expect them to mean. Continual focus on these boundaries, looking for clear lines between cause and effect can, in the quantum world at least, leave us frustrated and bewildered. It is useful to remember this when attempting to understand organisations and, in particular, communications within these organisations. Much of our conditioning and training has been to view the organisation, the system, as one made up of parts. These parts can be separated, reduced, quantified, measured and replaced. A profound change in sensibility is required – one that moves leaders to pay attention to patterns, directions and atmospheres. Smart leaders are those who are able to recognise and collaborate with the internal rhythm of what is happening.
P.S. Of course we all know that tom cats spray urine and not semen to mark their territory – but who would dare contradict the ‘Wise One’?