One of our favourite things about winter is lighting our wood fire in the late afternoon. Once we have closed out our work day we move to sit on one of the chairs in front of the dancing flames. Here we review the day and relax before starting supper.
When the fire lights well, the wood catches and burns and the coals glow red, it is a most satisfying feeling. It doesn’t always light well. Sometimes the wood burns too quickly without making good coals. Other times the wood won’t catch at all possibly because it is not dry enough or because the logs are too thick and dense. The house can fill with smoke as Matthew puff, puff puffs the small bellows at the dying coals urging them to reignite into flame.
On Sunday evening, however, the fire was just right. The coals glowed and glittered as warmth spread through the room.
“I have just read a quote from Eckhart Tolle which says ‘Awareness is the greatest agent for change.’ “ said Matthew as he slid into a chair, phone in hand. “But that’s not right, is it?”
“Self awareness is a start,” replied Chantal, “ But self awareness itself does not necessarily lead to a change in behaviour.”
“No, it’s action that is the greatest agent for change,” said Matthew, throwing another log on the happy fire, “It’s the doing that makes the difference.”
It’s the doing that makes the difference
Matthew settled in his chair to read something else he had come across. Interesting things have a way of finding themselves into Matthew’s inbox, Twitter feed or various subreddits.
“Listen to this,” he said, moving his screen so that Chantal could read it too, “ It’s a mantra: I am the light, I am the love, I am the truth, I am.”
“That’s beautiful, we need to remember that.”
“We have something similar, though,” he continued, “ We have the ABC of life: Act like a tree, that’s our version of truth. Bring the light, and Choose love, always. But for us it’s about doing. It’s in the action that the change happens.”
The beautiful big yellow wood that inspired our ABC of Life.
Messiness is good
It is in the doing that the magic happens, and the messiness too. It is all good. It’s like playing in the sand, as a child. How high can you build a sand castle before it falls over, crumbles or gets washed away? There is nothing better than having an idea, a theory and creative urge and putting it into practice. It is only in the action that the cracks and crevices, the missteps and fumbles as well as the opportunities and unseen possibilities emerge.
All our work has been based on this premise. We design and develop and then go out and do it. This is when the fun starts. Anyone that has designed interventions or workshops will know that you can plan all you like but there will always be that something that you did not think of.
It is useful to have a flex philosophy when working with groups. You never know who will arrive in the room or how they will show up. It doesn’t matter whether we are working with adults or teens, it is rare that everyone will read the instructions, do the pre-work or arrive with the required items. Hopefully the venue will be set up as requested and participants will know where it is and how to get there. You’ve got to work with what you have, in the moment.
We have been there and done it many times…
We learn so much
We have arrived an hour and a half late to a venue less than 5 kms away from us. Despite Waze’s traffic projections no-one could have anticipated the sudden congestion and nowhere-out situation that resulted in us moving slower than it would have taken us to walk there.
The intervention we were facilitating was doomed from the start with a fuzzy approach from us, and unfocused, uncommitted participants from the client. The traffic jam was merely a mirror of the messiness we were encountering.
We learnt so much from that topsy-turvy workshop. And so many others. Like the one where we were squeezed into a space between an oversized boardroom table and a self locking door with no access card. And the one we facilitated on a school holiday when only half the teachers showed up. The others had chosen to “go home” without letting their principal know while a few other unexpected but welcome participants joined instead.
…and met the most incredible and amazing people on the journey
There is magic too
We learn so much from all our interventions and not only because of the muddle and jumble and the disarray that can arise. We learn from the magic that surfaces too. We never know just how we will impact those we engage with. Some may dismiss us as flighty and faint hearted. Still, others do see the valour it takes us, and others that do what we do, to stamp new paths in fields full of sod and stones.
We trust in the wonderful and the out of this world as we keep our feet firmly planted on the earth. While we keep our eyes on the mission to make the world a better place, we also make friends, connect with constellations of like minded souls and find hope in the minds and hearts that open up to each other.
It is in the doing that real change occurs. It is in the doing that dreams are fulfilled. In the doing and redoing with consistency, commitment and discipline.
As Denzel Washington said in an interview “On the road to achieving your dreams you must apply discipline, but more importantly consistency. Because without commitment you’ll never start and without consistency you’ll never finish.”
Until next time.
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.
We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.
Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.