In management, there are two basic ways of creating structure in a business.
The first is imposing structure; creating a system that you have invented and then training the people to play their roles in that system. This can easily be seen in an assembly line. In that structure, people are just mostly just playing machines you can’t easily make or buy, doing complex tasks as an adjunct to the machines.
The second way is organic structure, in which you take the natural patterns and tendencies of humans and try to use them to achieve your goals. This is the kind of structure required for creative jobs, like journalism and programming, where people have to work in their own way, but also have to follow the rules, supporting the goals, requirements and strictures of the organization.
Of course, both of these approaches are required in any organization. An assembly line has to take into account the humanity of people, from bathroom requirements to congeniality to pride, and a creative organization has to enforce structure in order to keep things ordered and functioning.
It is the balance between these approaches that is a key challenge of management. For any given change or challenge, is it better to force structure and demand compliance, or is it better to use human patterns and desires to achieve that goal? Do we impose or do we harness?
Today, lots and lots of seekers are transfixed by the law of desire concept. In this belief system, you can imagine what you want and create it in the world. In other words, you can impose your own desires on the world and it will obey, if you just want it intensely enough.
To me, these people often seem to be missing the other side of creating side of creating structure. They miss the idea that all you can control is your own choices, and beyond that, all you can do is convince or train others within their own nature.
I was at a party with a friend, and the hostess had made a stromboli, sausage and cheese rolled in bread dough and baked, a treat we often call “garbage bread” in this corner of the world.
Her stromboli was a mess, raggedy and flat, not appealing. I offered to make the second with the other half of the same ingredients she used.
Bread dough, well, in my experience it doesn’t respond well to intention. Instead, it responds well to attention. I started working the dough, slowly and carefully, getting it to the right size and thickness. My hands felt the dough and what it wanted, working with it to be good, rather than demanding it follow my intent.
I took the time to let the loaf proof some too, to let it rise and relax, making its own structure of air pockets through the interaction of the yeast, gluten and sugars.
After being baked the stromboli looked nice, better than the hostesses first attempt. I predicted to my friend what the hostess would say after seeing my bread, and I got her reaction right on.
“That looks great,” she said. “How did you do that? I pounded the heck out of mine and it didn’t come out half as good!”
Yeah. She had the intention of imposing her will on the bread, while I worked with the bread to help nature to take its course.
I was speaking with a friend recently and she was noting all the obstacles she had to jump over to stay on her path.
“Uh,” I said, “those obstacles are your path. By engaging them you learn, about the world, about yourself. They are moments for miracles, for that change in perception that A Course In Miracles (ACIM) talks about.”
She promised to consider this. Still, I have seen ACIM gatherings where people are invited to pray for the miracles that they want, invited to try to impose miracles on the world, rather than to accept the teaching that miracles are a change in perception, a moment when this world we share teaches us how to surrender, how to become more organic, how to work with nature rather than against it.
The challenge between having dreams we can create in the world and learning to accept the world as it is is always difficult. We need to impose ourselves in the world, yet the best way to do that is by accepting the nature around us.
You know — God grant me the strength to change what I can change, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. That old saw.
Somehow, someone on LiveJournal linked to this blog, although I haven’t been able to find out who, rather just finding links from “friends” pages. I never understood LJ, and don’t now, either.
Grace chose to comment on “Who The Fuck Wants To Be A Tranny” about how trans isn’t a gift in any definition she has of the term, because she can’t return it, can’t reject it. She is caught in the cleft between her nature and a heterosexist society, and to her she just is being ground down between those surfaces, crush and pulverized in a way that causes her frustration and pain so great that she wants to “kill God.”
Me, well, I had to learn to kill the false gods to find the deeper real ones.
So many of these “law of desire” people never suggest that your desires may be limiting, destructive, out of whack, based in social expectations rather than natural essence, and really just off. They never suggest that desires need to be questioned and challenged, put into the fire to see what burns off and what remains solid.
For me, that process of burning my desire has been invaluable. I remember what I desired twenty years ago when I first started really engaging my nature. My desires drove me, and they drove me to be twisted and manipulative, to be desperate and needy, to be demanding and broken. I couldn’t accept the love I was being given because I wanted the love I wanted. I tried to bend people to my will, but thankfully I found Christine, who both stayed around and slapped me every time I tried to control her.
I am where I am now not because I imposed my desire on the world, but rather because I surrendered to nature and allowed the expectations to burn off, returning as much as possible to the handmade life, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about in The Red Shoes: On Torment And The Recovery Of Soul Life, a fundamental text for me.
We need to impose structure, but we also need to let nature inform and elevate that structure, working with the world rather than against it. After all, not even the most impose order manager would suggest that we can ignore even the laws of physics; we have to work with gravity as a given. Don’t we also have to work with humanity as a given too, or pay the cost for abusing that energy?
I worry we have twisted the human out too much from the world, and that the cost of that is compounding daily, but that is another discussion.
Yes, we have to be in touch with our own desires, our own Eros. But that is very different than deciding we could or should be able to manifest anything we desire, bending the world to our unchecked and uncleaned will.
Find your deepest desires, burning away the dross of socially imposed expectation, and then be that desire. It is then when you will attract what you need, when the universe will assist you in connection and creation. It is when you open to the miracles of changed perception that you can see what you need is around you, even if what you expected to want escapes you. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just get what you need, you know.
We live in a magical world, where there exist possibilities far beyond our limited perception. Desire is a potent force, but so is nature, nature in the world and nature in you.
It’s just my experience that working with the dough, rather than against it, will always make better bread.