Love Affairs with the Common Good

Today’s blog is the positive passage from our monthly newsletter.

Once I was invited to a week-long retreat.  In the opening session, a woman said she would like us to introduce ourselves.  Instead of engaging in the typical process of taking two minutes to speak about the roles we play, she said she would like each of us to take 15 minutes recounting our “love affairs with the common good.”

She then sat down.

I felt panic.  What was she talking about?  What is the common good?  How do you have a love affair with the common good?  Had I ever been in love with the common good?

As I searched my history, experiences from my personal and professional life slowly came to mind.  I believe that the common good is what is best for any “whole” of which I am a part.  The whole might be a relationship, group, organization or community.  Committing to the good of the whole is an act of concern for others.  With this definition in mind, I recognized that there were many times when I had been committed to the common good.

The first person stood.  As he filled his 15 minutes, I was glued to his every word.  When he was done I felt a bond.  He was a stranger no more.  The process continued for a half day and after each speaker, I felt a desire to know that person better.

By the end of the morning, I realized that the organizer had asked a transformational question.  In issuing the query she invited us to move from conventional, secular space to unconventional, sacred space.  As we responded to her invitation, a new culture emerged.

In sharing the stories, there was an impact that looped back on the speaker.  He or she is reminded of their own most meaningful life experiences.  When people commit to the common good, they tend to give much and, in the process, they tend to grow much.  In recalling and retelling the experiences, the speaker is reminded of their own best essence and the joy of actualizing it.  The desire to again do so begins to emerge.

There is also an impact on the audience.  The audience is reminded that they can individually and collectively pursue the common good in the present situation.  The desire for a more positive culture grows.

Given this start, it is not surprising that the rest of the week went very well.  In that first half-day we had built a culture oriented to authenticity, empathy and growth.  For the rest of the week it was easy to pursue leadership development, because we so deeply trusted each other.

Reflection

When have I had a love affair with the common good?

How could I promote love affairs with the common good?

How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

The moral of the story is that nearly all of us have had love affairs with the common good.  Recalling them is a worthwhile act.  Promoting them is an even more worthwhile act.  Great leaders know this.  They continually seek to inspire and orient others to the common good.  When they succeed, the culture becomes more positive and everyone wins.

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