I met a friend for lunch, in the way we have all been slowly getting back together for tea/coffee/dinner, coming out from behind the cobwebs of our covid-19 isolations. We catch up on the two years of silence, in which life had continued to creep along. Children were born and young children grew into adolescence. Work continued in fits and starts, at home or at modified work sites. Milestones were met. We chuckled in between our storytelling, surprised by some updates, unsurprised by others. We traded stories of how we had caught covid and how we survived it. We shared stories of our anxieties and hypervigilance as we stepped into our first post-covid gatherings. Inevitably, as the cobwebs faded away, we stepped into the hazy light and are faced with the present moment. We talk of war, the global political power games at play, the increased price of gas and inflationary pressure on all food, goods and commodities and services. Déjà vu wraps around me. This is becoming the familiar arc of every one of these reconnections. It is emblematic of the times we are living through. “What can we do?” my friend muses. “We have to keep living our lives.”

We have to keep living our lives.

A simple truth. Yet a statement that represents the polarity of despair on one hand and hope for a better future on the other. We can keep living our lives, allowing ourselves to be passive subjects to what seems to be rising tides of incivility, fear and divisiveness, online and offline[i] all around us, or we can choose to stand for the best of our humanity. As we sat with that statement in the air—we have to keep living our lives—I found myself hanging again in the balance of the pendulum, between despair and hope, and choosing the quiet assurance of hope in a better future once again. Not the head-buried-in-the-sand kind of hope, but an active hope that comes from the groundedness of my work and research. It is the work that has taught me that living from Resonance (operating from a deep identity core that’s keeps us individually and collectively focused on transformation) is an essential worldview and lifestyle choice in complex and traumatic times that leads to transformation. What is the alternative?

This is what I wrote about the importance of living from Resonance in my book Transformation After Trauma: The Power of Resonance.

Resonance is important because it signals the moment(s) when people begin to integrate their past experiences, even traumatic ones, and shift out of narratives of despair or hopelessness towards narratives of transformation. Herein lies why Resonance is so critically timely, and relevant now more than ever. This knowledge is crucial for our times when so many situations are complex and adverse world events such as global terrorism, violence, warfare, social and structural conflicts, natural disasters, unstable financial markets and leadership challenges are continuing to impact individuals, organizations and societies in traumatic ways. Suffering abounds in our world. And as you will find in this book, so does the potential for transformation.

Resonance gives us the ability to return to our deepest memories that remind us of our individual and shared humanity, unleashing the desire to take actions to create a better world for all. It shows that transformation, thriving and positive impact on others and society are still possible in spite of traumatic impacts. You see, especially in these situations, unlocking Resonance creates access to transformation. Resonance gives us pause to unlock what matters most in the midst of the most traumatic circumstances.

Furthermore, when we are living from Resonance, we are:

Living on Purpose

Living in Connection

Living for Development

Living with Gratitude (Valuing life)

Living in Action

So what does it mean to live on purpose as one of the transformative outcomes of living from Resonance? Here’s what I further say about that:

…[Resonance] takes us one step further to access our deep soul connections to the why behind what matters. As Simon Sinek[ii] has so eloquently reminded us, getting at why is the essence of great leadership. Our WHY goes beyond rationality and analytics to our inspiration heart centre, corresponding with the limbic system of our brains. This is where actual decision-making and behaviour change is controlled.[iii] …Therefore, as people focus on the WHY behind WHAT they do, they reinforce the core of what matters most to them and generate profound intrinsic motivation to keep acting on their WHY. It becomes sustainable because as brain science has corroborated, whatever we focus on grows. [iv] As Viktor E. Frankl recounts in Man’s Search for Meaning: “There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning to one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.””[v]

So as we continue to live through a pandemic, the complexity of social justice and change movements, wars and armed conflicts, climate risk and all the everyday divisiveness among us, it’s imperative for those committed to a better future to live on purpose. Ask yourself:

  1. What is a story from your life (remembrance from childhood or recent past – to a person, a thing, a trigger with the quality of nostalgia) that deeply connects you to the need for a better future?
  2. What meaning does it help you make of the current circumstances?
  3. What matters most to you in the current state of things?
  4. What is your purpose [relative to creating a better world]?
  5. What is that purpose calling you to?
  6. What impact do you want to have on the world?

Using the syntax found in the Find Your Why Field book (Sinek, S., Mead, D., & Docker, P., 2017), complete the purpose statement:

To [make what contribution] so that [what impact]

For me, a focus on living from Resonance means a relentless focus on living on purpose. It means taking time on an early morning or a weekend to engage in sessions about Resonance, such as at the Appreciative Inquiry Jam.

It is about filtering requests that come my way to ascertain whether they align with my purpose in the world:

To inspire leadership action, so that the people and communities she serves are transformed.

What is your purpose?

[i] A note that this article on Diversity and Division in Advanced Economies share valuable data and insights, but the framing of Advanced Economies in itself shows the global systemic and economic biases and exclusions in global research.

[ii] See Simon Sinek’s work on Start at Why: https://www.startwithwhy.com/; TedTalk: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en; Book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

[iii] Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston,MA: Beacon Press.

Rock, D., & Schwartz, J. (2006). Strategy+Business. Retrieved from https://www.strategy-business.com/article/06207?gko=f1af3.

Sinek, S., Mead, D., & Docker, P. (2017). Find your why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team. New York, New York: Penguin Random House.

[iv] (Rock & Schwartz, 2006) Rock, D., & Schwartz, J. (2006). Strategy+Business. Retrieved from https://www.strategy-business.com/article/06207?gko=f1af3.

[v] (Frankl, 2006, pp. 103-104). See pages 103-104 of: Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston,MA: Beacon Press.