A new year often heralds announcements. True to form, I wish to use this space to announce our new direction, which will begin to unfold this week.
About three years ago, our team realized through our teaching, research, and client services that conventional notions of leadership—even the more innovative versions—were failing to manage the effects of our pace of change and information overload.
We recognized that the disruptive nature of change—especially as it relates to coaches, educators, and executives (our client base)—and its unintended consequences demanded greater attention and inquiry.
Leadership development today requires more than strategies for dealing with product life cycles, supply chains, and scaling or mission statements that encourage employee retention and optimization of teams and systems.
The onslaught of information and frequency of change revealed another critical dimension to our work: the well-being of the colleagues and the wellness of the culture to transform a business into a community.
Through much research and inquiry, we explored becoming more.
New Direction: The Human Side of Change
We began with a shift in direction, guided by our clients. Most come to us for leadership development—yet, we have noticed a stronger focus on cultivating learning than on developing leadership. This includes the learning, unlearning, and openness required to navigate the effects of our information-laden world of volatile change.
Today, the nature of change demands that we pay attention to learning to learn and to coping with unlearning.
This learning-and-unlearning dynamic is necessary to cultivate the very openness required to develop leadership mindsets today—to release outmoded views and deepen the commitment for an inclusive and sustainable culture.
We view this as the human side of change, which involves a three-phase methodology:
- AWAKEN. An inquiry into your being as body, mind, and language.
- INTEGRATE. A transition that expands mindsets to include your whole self.
- SUSTAIN. A life of contemplative practice to sustain awareness and action.
This focus on the human side of change through deep learning will now become our “north star.”
This realization began with the task of changing our name, expanding our brand, and birthing an evolving story.
Our new brand involves three interrelated elements: our name, our symbol, and our tagline, which come together to tell our story.
Our new name, Bhavana Learning Group, speaks to several elements of our new direction.
Our new brand affirms our shift to include Eastern wisdom and practice as a fundamental part of who we are becoming.
Bhāvanā is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “to seed” or “to cultivate.” It’s derived from bhava, which means “being, a state of body or mind.” The Buddha himself chose the word bhāvanā to describe a process of cultivation: the development of mental qualities, such as imagination and awareness, directed toward intentional change.
Typically, the topic preceding bhāvanā is the focus of cultivation. Metta bhāvanā in Sanskrit means to cultivate kindness. At Bhavana Learning Group, we view our work as grounded in a commitment of becoming.
We support learners in cultivating the soil of awareness and seeding intentional change as they develop the leadership to serve their colleagues and organizations within our field of learning.
The symbol that accompanies the name embodies two messages.
The first message is represented by an image of the contemplative labyrinth.
The labyrinth was originally created by the Greek king Minos to keep the Minotaur (the part-man, part-bull beast) confused and therefore contained.
Today, the walking or meditation labyrinth is widely used in parks and public spaces of sacred reflection or practice. It is no longer used to confuse but to help one navigate a path through contemplation. By meandering, we find ourselves at the center for clarity and enlightenment.
The Bhavana labyrinth exemplifies the deep reflective process and confusion-and-clarity journey that leads to transformation and expansion.
The second message is illustrated by an image of an emerging sprout.
The emerging sprout represents becoming, which is central to our work at Bhavana. It reveals the journey of wisdom and practice that leads to growth and expansion from being grounded in contemplative practice.
Through our services, study, resources, and practices, we trust that this symbol will come to represent the unique and focused personal commitment involved when working with the professionals at Bhavana Learning Group.
The story of our tagline may now be more apparent.
It clearly acts as a prescription of wisdom and practice for becoming, which represents a deep part of our commitment as demonstrated in our programs and services.
However, there’s another dimension that is often overlooked.
The work of distinguishing being extends beyond inspirational or sentimental moments that often lean toward the aspirational. When we considered these three words, we wanted to convey a both/and approach that cultivates an interdependent view—the notion that becoming rests both on wisdom and practice.
Wisdom involves what is most significant. Bringing wisdom into everyday living requires deep reflection and an openness to inquiry—of our experiences, their immediate impact, and unfolding connections and consequences.
Practice includes what is most fundamental. These are the basics we tend to forget—the pausing, breathing, or clear-minded observing that form disciplines we dismiss or avoid as we reach for the aspirational. Yet these disciplined practices ground our being and open us to the moment, to each choice. With practice, we cultivate consistency that conveys credibility. In fields of human mastery, such as art, music, and sports, practice shapes our competence and credibility and deepens our capacity to generate.
We endeavor to live our commitment to integrate Eastern wisdom and practices with Western learning and business models. Thriving in a world of volatile change requires continual learning and unlearning from both the significant (wisdom) and the fundamental (practice).
Working with coaches, educators, and executives requires a clear-eyed focus on human potential and the human side of change.
Expanding leadership capacity today requires a cultural awareness from an interdependent mindset. With contemplative practice, we can embody learning and unlearning to expand views, question knowledge, and deepen our wisdom.
We invite you to review our website, blog, and weekly digest over the next few months as our message and direction continue to unfold in programs, services, and opportunities to practice together.
Tony Zampella is the learning designer at Bhavana Learning Group (previously, Zampella Group), which serves coaches, learning professionals and business executives. As an instructor, researcher, and designer of contemplative learning programs and practices, his work develops mindsets for growing a culture of servant leaders.
His focus includes ontological inquiry, into the nature of being; Integral theory to
include Eastern wisdom and practice with Western learning and business models;
and, Zen Buddhism to sustain contemplative practice.