January 2017 saw the launch of the first of three two-day Worldview Intelligence community programs for Itasca and Cass Counties. These programs are part of a larger project around workplace and welcoming community, intended to explore possibilities to address the growing need for workers.
The Worldview Intelligence framework was shared along with strategies for working with different perspectives. Participants entered personal and cultural worldview explorations using personal reflection, small group discussion and art.
Personal Worldview Exploration Reflections
At the end of the first day, which focused on the personal exploration, the common themes that emerged were around curiosity and how we can bring it more fully to differing worldviews, the power of stories and how they can quickly create connections between people, the importance of good questions in learning about and understanding someone else, and the possibilities that emerge when we question our own stories and the perspectives we bring.
People found themselves more curious about what connects us and what makes us different, noted that how worldview collisions are perceived was already changing, some were already feeling less likely to be a participant in any next potential conflict and that our worldview influences how we see ourselves and each other in exchanges.
LeMoine LaPointe, an elder from Rosebud Nation, offered the metaphor of ‘body as medicine bag for the soul’ and it resonated deeply with participants. The idea of impermanence was raised: impermanence of the human being but also impermanence of our worldviews because shift, change and expansion is always possible. Genuine engagement leaves people different.
The next morning, people were expressing hopefulness and optimism, expansion of horizons with a group of beautiful hearts and gratitude for the acknowledgement of issues in the community.
Cultural Worldview Exploration Reflections
The culture we grow up in guides our life and choices, often more significantly than we know. Culture is deeply engrained; it can be insidious, so creating the cognitive space to think about it brings it into awareness offering the opportunity to make changes if we wish. Culture does not happen in a vacuum and it is a constant force. It can be as invisible as the air we breathe and it is very difficult to disentangle personal and cultural worldviews but helpful when you can do so.
“With all I know, I still don’t know if I know what to do, but I keep remembering we know together ~ which is why it is important to engage.”
Worldview Awareness Helps Discern Starting Points
The importance of starting points – understanding our own and someone else’s – in providing new ways through conflict or conflicting points of view was noted. Starting points are influenced by reality, history, future, values, practices and knowledge. What might be true for a lot of people from the same or similar culture, might not be true for individuals from that culture ~ and that’s okay. Different is not wrong.
Any one can fall victim to their own or anothers’ judgments or assumptions. To be able to bring curiosity when that happens is a practice to be cultivated. It is easier in some situations and harder in others.
People like predictability, even when the underlying assumptions may no longer be valid. This is one of the reasons people hold tightly to their worldviews, their perspectives and decisions made along the way.
What’s Different After Two Days of Worldview Exploration?
In addition to identifying “increased personal awareness of my own worldview, the stories I tell, how I tell them and what triggers me”, participants identified immediate shifts and actions they intend to embrace. These include recognizing responsibility in stepping up rather than avoiding potential conflict, start with the positive, pause and remember someone else’s experience may be very different, step into situations where people may not share my own worldview, to be less afraid to approach someone when there is difficulty and figure out how to have that conversation, focus on reflective questions. In conflicting situations, the “truth” often lies somewhere in the middle – you are not all right or all wrong so look for where the person you are in conflict with might be right and use that as an entry way into a more helpful conversation.