Butterflies and Cogs

What type of cog are you? Are you a small one that goes frantically round and round in circles; or the cog that often gets stuck or the cog that disappears, leaving a gap? Or perhaps you are the cog that flows easily and aids other cogs to work well?

We are all cogs, and each cog has a knock effect on others, just like a watch….it can tick away nicely, or causes other cogs to jam, not work effectively. So a cog…and us are part of a number of systems. Our body is a system, so are our families, community, and work. There are systems within systems…industry, countries, the world. Even a hermit will be part of a system – affecting the countryside around them.

Recently I was coaching a client who struggled with a family member. She felt sad and frustrated, avoiding being in their presence. By experiencing this issue from different perspectives, from her own – the other persons’ – and as an observer she could see how her own behaviour played a part. The more she behaved in a certain way – the more they behaved a certain way. So the cog moves and affects the other cog.

I then asked her to move so that she could observe the situation from a systems point of view. Immediately she visualised other members of her family and saw how this issue was affecting them. She stood back looking amazed with her eyes wide open. A shift happened…

And what I believe is now she has taken on board some fundamental learning for herself, this will have a positive effect, not just relating to this family member, but also in other systems – friends, work colleagues etc.

It’s a bit like “The butterfly effect”. In 1961 Edward Lorenz researched weather patterns and discovered that a tiny change could produce dramatically different weather system patterns. He suggested that, in theory, a butterfly flapping its wings in South America could cause a tornado in Japan 10 days later.

So could the “flapping of a person’s wings” or changing the efficiency of a cog have a similar exponential impact on the wider organisation? I believe it can.

By believing that we are all inter-connected, we realise that our own behaviour has an impact on the systems that we are part of. Just notice what happens if you go into a shop and are happy with a bounce in your step – and compare this to being grumpy and snappy – what’s the effect?

We can get too self-absorbed with our own stuff, leading to “poor” me or a victim mentality. We focus on how others affect us – “they made me feel X”. By shifting our focus of “me, me, me” to “we, we, we” – we can notice the effect we have on others and the wider system.

Having a systems thinking approach to life I believe that we take responsibility of our own behaviour and are aware of the impact that we have on others. Within our family we can develop a peaceful and loving environment. At work by seeking to comprehend how our role is part of the system – at organisational, client and industry level, this can have a huge impact on the actions and decisions we make, realising that we are not independent of others. We can positively influence the wider system; building resilience, empowerment and balance.

So what are your cogs like today? Flowing effortlessly and effectively?

Lindsey Reed is an experienced NLP coach and trainer – enabling her clients to be their best selves and achieve every day excellence. if you would like to work with Lindsey, contact her either by email lindsey@glows-coaching.co.uk or call 01832 280168 for a chat to see if she is the right coach for you.

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