Love is…

I wonder what will happen when I submit an academic report about how I inspire leadership in other people (coaching and mentoring approaches). And my answer is: I love them.

I wonder if part of becoming masterly is about the courage to write/speak/practise what is true to you, strengthened by awareness of criticism, in fact seeking this, and being reflective and open.

I wonder how comfortable you are with a blog about love.

My Twitter profile reads “Be kind, Love freely, Nice is underrated” and a wonderful nameless-friend has made me re-think this message time and again, by querying what ‘love freely’ communicates. To said friend, I know you’re joking, but we know where the normality and acceptance of that joke comes from. Because unfortunately, as a woman, as a human, it’s generally not ok to love freely. To love someone of the opposite sex is too readily considered sexual, whereas same sex relationships can be openly full of love and accepted. So many corners of culture in the UK today make loving other people a negative, and my career path has crossed these corners. All of them. I’m aware, and this isn’t love. (For one #lovedoesnthurt). I also notice in some corners that it’s not ok to hug, as touch and tactility hold similar meanings as above. Yet at the same time I’ll never forget exploring the power of facilitated communication for people with autism. Where touch enables previously impossible  communication.

Love is a verb, with different meanings and intentions. I’ve seen relationships end because ‘I’m just not in-love anymore‘. I wish I’d been in a position of insight and maturity (impossible) to say, “what about just doing it then instead of waiting to feel it?”. Do we expect that enough love to fulfill and sustain can be provided by just one person?

Love, has multiple facets, reflected in Greek by several words for different kinds of love (as Steve Wheeler recently reminded me) which Roman Krznaric describes in The Wonder Box. The seemingly uncontrollable and all encompassing sexual passion of being deeply in love is EROS. The long lasting love forged after years of coupledom and unity is PRAGMA. Then there is playful love, emergent from laughter and free-ness in social interactions called LUDUS, and love from within loyal friendship and mutual appreciation called PHILIA. The ability to see the best in someone, and look for their goodness, showing care selflessly is AGAPE. And PHILAUTIA is loving yourself, of which there are two kinds: one reminiscent of narcissism, the other involving self-compassion and self-esteem. The art of loving deserves a fitting vocabulary.

How many of these do you recognise in your life and relationships? What value do they have to you, and your experience?

Coaching and mentoring practice, with its models and approaches is ultimately about a way of being, with and for others. A philosophy in action. This extends to leading learning, and creating environments and relationships conducive to this. Then this week I find Nancy Kline:

“It’s the love of a person’s mind. Love of their capacity. Love of their yet un-thought thoughts that only they, not you, can generate, but that your Attention makes possible. It’s a love of their goodness. Love, most of all, of their intelligence. And it’s love like this, beamed through your Attention that is the change maker, the fire on the tip of the finger”

Then what happens? You can have open conversations including conflict, ambivalence, dissonance, because differences are valued and we know despite the discomfort, it’s safe to disagree.

One last thing, if it’s not obvious yet, love is a boomerang-verb. If you’re not ‘feeling’ it, maybe try doing it. And if you’re not sure how, go back to the top of this blog and read again.

Love is the first step to empathy and true listening, and then what happens?

6 thoughts on “Love is…

  1. pwillcox

    I think what you’ve done here with love is what I do with happiness. Some say (eg Paul Ekman) that there are 14 enjoyable emotions (16 in the title & 14 in the paper) which I disagree with as I think there are more. Haven’t categorised them yet, (maybe that’s the PhD) the point is, some say there is only one positive emotion ‘happiness’ which is rubbish, there are many many types of happiness. Thx for a fab post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo Stephenson Post author

      Very glad you enjoyed it Phil
      I like that you have your sights on a PhD too!
      Love to me is the activity of doing that evokes the positive emotions – yes, beyond just the one. If it’s subjective experience there are surely endless positives and it’s only our vocabulary that limits the richness.
      I’m hugely interested in the skills that demonstrate love in a professional/learning relationship – including capacity for them (inc EQ) but then you know this 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s