“Together we soar” (Exploring the Theory U)

When successful leaders manage to operate with heightened level of energy and a sure sense of future possibility, it is because they develop a capacity to come nearer to that source, where they experience the future as if it were “wanting to be born”. This experience described by Otto Schemer as “presencing” allows them to obtain amazing and satisfying results. A midwife helping a mother to bring about a new born in the word, she is required to be there alive whole heartedly and attentive only to what is about to emerge, that which is wanting to be born; paying attention to contracting muscles, to what is happening at each fraction of the second, as such she connects not only to the mother but to the child about to emerge, and together with the mother, senses the right moment to push and naturally help bring about this child in the world. This similar capacity is what we tried to develop by undertaking the Theory U journey for more than a week as the opening experience to our 2 months Joy Filled Gospel Renewal program. Getting beyond our tendency of ruminating the past (called downloading), to connect with our deeper Self in order to listen with open heart, mind and will was our first goal. We appreciated and embraced the introduction of Theory U in our renewal program, as it helps with personal, group, congregational and global transformation. Theory U takes its name from the shape of the letter “U”, which describes the journey for personal transformation which involves undertaking a downwards journey before emerging. This module was co-facilitated by Fr Yago Abeledo a Missionary of Africa and Sr Selina Mbuli from the congregation Sisters of Mercy, who helped us to discover a treasure in Theory U.

Participants and facilitators during a ‘case clinic’

In leading us into this empowering experience, our able facilitators creatively used Process Work, Radical Aliveness tools, TRE findings and many other practical exercises and audio-visual tools to help us understand and get the best from Theory U. Inspirational pictures of Pope Francis allowed us to get in touch with attitudes (playfulness, spontaneity, allowing, simplicity, fearlessness, compassion, attending, inclusiveness, expressive, novelty, creativity, Christ-centered…) required for a profitable theory U workshop experience.

The U-Process was discussed in five stages: Co-initiating, Co-sensing, Presencing, Co-creating and Co-evolving. At each stage, we made a concrete step into our renewal program. Co-initiating invited us to “listen” to self and more-so to others. Through this listening we appreciated our connectedness which we expressed in the common intent we formulated as follows: “lt is time to appreciate our strength and weaknesses and dare to let go in order to let come the future with renewed apostolic zeal and trust in Christ.”

During one of our sessions on Transactional Analysis and Theory U

At Co-sensing stage the call to observe, observe, observe resounded again in our hearts. We ventured into this deeper listening with open mind heart and will. As such we got to discover different levels of listening, which include listening from habits (downloading), factual listening, empathetic listening and generative listening. Little did we know that our bodies can fight for themselves to release tension. This was revealed in the Tension Releasing Exercise which was a very powerful and real aspect of releasing inner tension. We learnt to dialogue, befriend and master the disempowering forces within so us. Co-sensing invites to let the real me stand up, it is an important step into moving from the Ego to the Eco. This journey from Ego (self) to Eco (Self) is essential for a successful U journey. Exploring this with the help of Transactional Analysis, we discovered different aspect (voices of judgment, cynicism and fear) that may prevent us from successfully making this journey and how to fight them.

The eagle was the symbol revealed to the participants

After going through the 2 first stages and by continuously letting go of all that overburdens us, it was easier for us to pass through the needles-eye. We allowed ourselves to live this moment of stillness (sitting and reflect) called presencing. Here the symbol for our 2 months journey emerged: an Eagle taking flight. The experience was so rich so much so that one would think the journey stops here. But we had to start climbing up the U. The first step of this upward journey is Co-creating, we allow ourselves to come up with prototypes of that which emerged during presencing. We therefore explored different tools to help us start the journey up without being slowed down or discouraged by obstacles that we may meet. We then miraculously arrived at a prototype, our slogan: “Together we soar”. Exploring the energies of an eagle (our symbol) helped us to climb higher toward Co-evolving (performance) which is the last stage of the U process. This called us to institutionalize our stay together and create suitable conditions for us to soar together higher and higher.

Compiled by: Fr Remmy Kambole (M.Afr.) and Sr Christine Murombedzi (O.P)

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