Personal, professional, cooperative

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Ever run across this:

Let?s be professional.  Let?s not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.  Couldn?t do my meditation because I am in a predicament with a movement member I like and deeply respect. 

I think the conscious intention behind the idea is great, but the practice is not.  In fact, for cooperative and democratic movements the practice might be insidious.

I don?t mean to insult anyone, but I do want to do a bit of provocative thinking for the sake of the work we love.

I was very happy to see that there are several of the workshop conferences are focused in one way or the other on the dynamics of our personal interactions.  For me this is absolutely crucial for expanding our movement out of the margins where we can make a difference.  In fact, I am doing one of those workshops.

We step on each other?s toes, get into each other?s face, irritate one another, have big philosophical and policy differences, and sometimes we get very angry about these things.  Sometimes, in the name of being ?professional?, we carry around bitter feelings.  That is, sometimes?maybe often times?we are being ?professional? and we are taking it very ?personally?.  Even to the point of gagging on it.

What we aren?t doing to a large extent is working out problems personally with the person we are having the problem with.  Instead, we practice masking what is going on from others and from ourselves.  And we have learned many ways of doing this.  This drains energy and causes power loss.  And, to a very significant extent, this practice becomes the culture we live and work in, sapping our capacity for cooperation.

That?s why I think this honored practice might be insidious.  It is a big obstacle to creating the space that cultivates deep levels of transparency, trust, and motivation as well as the skills we need to turn these interpersonal problems into opportunities for growing cooperation and self-empowerment.

Much better than gagging, no?

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