The IAM Way

by KarenTax on May 16, 2011

Old ways are being challenged

I was listening to the news and heard a story about troubled automaker Toyota, besieged by a series of devastating challenges: Japan’s environmental disasters and a series of recalls that have called consumer confidence into question.

The impact of these challenges has been severe: Toyota announced a 77% decrease in their profits.

Toyota’s situation is also a reminder of how radically the world of work is changing: environmental disasters, global economic competition, persistent global economic recession…

Mother earth is asking us to find a better way

It’s as if mother earth has sneezed upon us trying to free herself of the congestion we have created within her body, while at the same time we ourselves have decided to contract our spending and activities as we try to find our way in an exploding business arena.

No one seems exempt from ‘the squeeze’ of these types of challenges, from giant corporations to Joe Worker trying to navigate a layoff or increased demands at work.

Toyota is famous for building their business empire based on ‘the Toyota Way’: approaches that have lead to groundbreaking management practices and production efficiencies. I sincerely hope that ‘the Toyota Way’ and the resilience of Toyota employees will help guide this business back to success.

And I have every confidence that we will all ultimately come out of  ‘the squeeze’ for the better …

At the same time, the challenges Toyota is facing, indeed that we are all facing, requires a new way of approaching business and work. A more holistic way that honors the rhythms of mother earth, as well as each individual living being on the planet. We need a new way where each individual organism thrives, so the entire earth organism thrives.

Most people would think this is too big of a challenge, too much to ask for … but no! Over the last 5 years I have developed and evolved an approach that I know will at a minimum get us headed in a better direction. And there are thousands more like me, also creating new ways.

The IAM way

I call the approach I’ve developed, The IAM Way. It was never a goal; it emerged out of my hopes, dreams and necessity. Already hundreds of people have contributed to it’s evolution (especially Diane Craver!), as will thousands more, and the way will continue to emerge.

The IAM Way is a guide to new approaches to business, work and indeed all of life – a holistic way that creates shifts:

  • from scarcity thinking to abundance thinking
  • from masculine/feminine power struggles to harmony and synergy
  • from inequities of power found in hierarchies to equality of power
  • from dualism of all kinds to non-dualism (wholism?!)

I currently see the IAM Way as characterized by the following:

Conscious

I can remember being in a group of change agents at Nortel Networks discussing how to get executives to understand the importance of self-awareness. From their perspective, it was a ‘naval gazing’ and impractical conversation; to us it was a matter of life or death. Being conscious is about being self-aware, ongoing and evolving. Being conscious is necessary to feel and see when you’re headed down an unhealthy path, either as an individual or an organization, and then having enough courage to do something about it other than just working harder. Nortel Networks died a slow painful death that we change agents saw coming because we knew the price you pay for being unconscious when your environment is calling you to wake up.

Equal

Many ways of approaching business, work and life have confused position power (executive, manager, parent) with true power, which is the power I have to create my reality and my experience however I want and however I choose. With inequities of power, one person defers to another, giving away their power. With inequities of power, we create unhealthy relationships and dynamics, where ultimately we end up in the roles of victim, rescuer and persecutor.

Only by engaging with true power, seeing beneath the superficiality of position power, can we access the soul level of our beings – where we are all equal. When I remember that we are all equal, and there is enough for all, then the most productive and healthy interactions occur.

Many times people confuse ‘equal’ with ‘the same’ and assume that equal power is the same as equal experience. Not true! The executive will have a clarity of vision that an employee does not; the manager will have experiences of success that more junior people may not; a parent can see the consequence of teenage behavior that the child does not.

With the IAM Way we share our experience not to have power or advantage over others, but instead to share our power and in the process call out the power in others, knowing that together as equals we can create more than we could alone.

Non-hierarchical

Hierarchies are useful for organizing: groups of people, categories of things, decision making processes and the like. Hierarchies are often misused for: doling out power, creating barriers between groups (silos), displacing stress from upper to lower levels and so forth. Hierarchies become dysfunctional when the needs and desires of higher levels outweigh those of lower levels and unequal power, status and respect results.

The IAM Way is inherently non-hierarchical, where people show up based on merit and common interests, and stay associated because it’s fun and productive. Associations based on fear wither away (I can’t leave this job I hate because I don’t have any other options). Associations thrive that are based on love, abundance, healing and learning.

Relaxed

Stress and fear are useful in small doses; when they are chronic they are literally life threatening. States of calm relaxation, balanced with natural rhythms of  excitement and tension, are the most conducive to creativity and innovation. Compared to the typical busyness and intensity of most work environments, the IAM Way is decidedly chill: slow, not urgent, relaxed.

We know we have more than enough time, energy and resources to do everything we want. We know that any task worth doing, is worth doing well and in a relaxed fashion, especially if we want to experience depths of pleasure and creative expression along the way.

Whole

Most ways of working have you check 80% of yourself at the door. The 20% that shows up is the part that fits within your ideas of what is needed to be successful. The ‘left behind parts’ are sacrificed for a higher good, the needs of others or the rules of the game (the TV show Survivor is a great example).

With the IAM Way we know that any compartmentalizing of our wholeness leads to disease and dysfunction. Our goal is to live with integrity, becoming more whole and authentic with every experience and interaction. Work and life is a journey of healing, and claiming our wholeness more and more each day.

Reciprocal

In the world of scarce power, I get what I want and you don’t. Or I get what I want only when you get what you want. With the IAM Way, we all always get what we want or something better. Relationships are reciprocal in that we support each other in getting what we want for our mutual benefit.

We know that the process of finding the territory where we can all get what we want will take us beyond limiting beliefs into realms of new possibility and potential.

Artistic

Our purpose in life is to experience abundant joy and creativity; sometimes I describe this as being your best.  Notice I didn’t say our purpose in life is to make money. With the IAM Way, we know that when we make the focus of our work making money, we loose sight of our real purpose, and work becomes a job, a daily grind, something to endure.

Making money is great – as a by-product of focused creative expression. When we remember that we are artistic, creative, joyful beings first and foremost, absolutely everything in life, including income, falls into place.

Sustainable

Personal growth, business growth, consumption of natural resources, all are not sustainable when we live from scarcity feelings such as ‘I can never be enough or have enough’. We consume more than we actually need because of a fundamental disconnect between our sense of who we are and our true nature.

With the IAM Way we know that connecting to the essence of ourselves , is accessing abundant, infinite potential and gives us a sense of being enough and having enough. We know that sustainability in the natural world, starts with sustainable in our inner worlds, built by connecting every day with our essence which is comprised of the energy of love.

Fun

Disconnect from our true selves is a drag; it creates conflict and drama and stress. We know we are grooving in the IAM Way when we’re having fun and things are simple, not stressful. We laugh a lot. We look forward to being together, creating and growing. It’s a lot more fun to focus on what’s working well, on what’s positive, on what’s possible, than on problems.

The tough stuff is there for our learning and healing and when we see it that way, it actually becomes part of the fun. Really! Conflict, drama and stress poof away quickly when you use them to develop yourself. Anything is possible when you’re having fun and everything that happens has the potential to be fun.

This is my version of the IAM way

 

Each characteristic of the IAM Way, and the way I’ve described them, is very personal based on my wisdom and experience working with clients. I’ve described what I’ve learned about connecting to and living from IAM – our true abundant and infinite nature: masculine and feminine, positive and negative, light and dark.

You may have different characteristics to describe your IAM Way.  Or you may include the characteristics I’ve used, but describe them in a very different way…

My hope and intention is that you get a clear sense of what’s possible with my description of the IAM Way, and add your thoughts here about your perspective. There is no one IAM Way, there is actually a different IAM Way for each and every person on this planet…

What’s core to our ways is the IAM way

What’s key and core to ALL IAM Ways is our true abundant natures and the reality of how we can live in peace and harmony right this very moment when I remember who IAM. IAM is like the pole in this picture: it connects your way and my way together.

Our opportunity now is to create a new way forward that is loving, peaceful, and sustainable. We don’t actually have to wait for anyone or anything else, other that ourselves! And to remember in this very moment who IAM.

Now about how to develop the characteristics of the IAM Way? That’s what the IAM Learning Community is all about, and the IAM Maps are what we use to guide us in the IAM Way:

  • The IAM Essence Map
  • The IAM Energy Map
  • The IAM Navigational Compass

You can find out more about the maps throughout this website …

Please share your thoughts about the IAM Way as I’ve described here, and your version of the IAM Way!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

dianecraver July 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Karen, you captured the IAM Way beautifully!

In addition to what you’ve described above, to me the IAM Way is about simplifying some pretty complex, pie-in-the-sky stuff into something people can actually use to guide their hopes and dreams. The holistic process you describe is essentially a framework of success for all stakeholders.

I’ve watched my clients use the maps to create opportunities where none existed, become skilled communicators, lead organizational successful change efforts, find their dream jobs, navigate through chaos, and so on.

Thank you for designing and evolving the IAM Maps. I see them as a gift to the world so that we can all be better versions of ourselves.

Rebecca Harrold May 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Thank you for your map. This is exactly how I want to venture forward. I try to live this out at my job but there are many obstacles to living the I AM way. Presently I AM leaving my current job for many reasons. I have different ideas about how the company I work for should strive to succeed and therefore I find myself engaged in pointless conversations because they will not change. So that means I must change. I feel very confident and free now. Thank my God that I have my health and I am a vibrant artist! I look forward to being a part of this community. It is inspiring because it is so much what I believe in.

Karen Tax May 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Rebecca, You are welcome! I came to the same conclusion that I must be the one to change. By sharing our stories of how we’ve overcome obstacles to living the IAM way – we literally help each other move forward. We’ve learned so much already and have captured this learning in the different IAM offerings. And there is so much more to learn – it feels to me like we’ve only just begun – which feels very exciting! You are not alone in what you believe. I look forward to learning more about your journey!

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