Having participated and experienced being in one of Canada’s largest natural disasters, I am wondering how many people really know their neighbors, and are you focused on your most important priorities with presence?
On summer solstice 2013, when the moon was very close to the earth, our home town was flooded, one of Canada’s economic hubs. The areas around the Elbow River and Bow River were filled with absolute raging, frigid, unforgiving water. Ten percent of Calgary’s population was evacuated, over 100,000 people.
We were in France. We received the call….”I am in your basement” from Jay Simmons, a neighbor up the hill, dear friend, local serial entrepreneur, and Calgary Maverick. In the days prior, he project managed our house, removing everything from the basement. All the photo albums, drenched artwork, furniture, and the children’s toys. Hundreds of unknown faces entered our community to lend a helping hand, in any way they could, unasked, yet they heard our call for assistance. Scenes from the city were bleak and desperate. A river was running down our street, a number of blocks from the actual river. Houses destroyed, bridges demolished by the power of the water. Our company was closed due to flooding for one week, in the downtown of one of Canada’s economic hubs. Clubs opened their doors to help. The local church invited the community in for meals and represented everything good in a church. The river’s flow called out something greater in all of us.
The Stampede is one of the biggest parties in the world, according to CNN. The Stampede grounds flooded just 14 days away from one of the greatest outdoor shows on earth, which has a significant impact on our city’s businesses. Our cowboy spirit rallied and we emerged because of our love of humanity and community. We pulled up our cowboy boots and dusted them off, and we held the greatest outdoor show on earth, with thanks to hundreds of nameless volunteers. I know my neighbors and I don’t know the hundreds of people who came to the aid of our community.In business, do you know your neighbors, I mean, really know them? If you shake hands with someone new every day, you never know what may emerge.
Are you focused on what is important to you right now? Many of my neighbors actually feel sorry for those not in the flood, as the level of presence during the tragedy was at an all time high. To experience a natural disaster is both a blessing and a curse. It depends on the moment of your experience. I take away a belief in a higher calling for humankind, one of generosity, compassion, and connectedness. Practice putting your energy into what is important to you.
How does Catherine’s experience relate to our Enneagram styles? There are many paths to pursue, but my heart says to really reflect on Catherine herself because she has really put her heart out for all to read. Catherine, for those who may not know her, is a deeply beautiful human being, a social subtype Eight, who runs a business (a big one, of course), has a family she adores and is utterly devoted to her two small children, is involved with multiple community organizations (often starting them, such as PEAC, the Professional Enneagram Association of Canada). She also teaches at universities and is writing a book.Imagine being an Eight who makes all these big things happen, keeps everything under control, and is a go-to person when anyone needs an in-charge person. Imagine having something bigger than even you, a larger-than-life social subtype Eight, can handle, that is so close and personal: your home, neighborhood, and community. And imagine being thousands of miles away when it occurs. Then imagine that you discover that, as an Eight, you can actually depend on others, on your community, and that you didn’t have to be the one who generated this. Life can hand us these moments, when we get the opportunity to face what may be the most difficult challenges, especially ones that trigger our type structures. This is Catherine’s; she embraced it, and I doubt she will ever be quite the same. She was wonderful before, and she’s only getting better.What challenge could present itself to you that would challenge your type structure, when all your most important type-based issues would arise, you would face them, and then come through and out a different person in some deep way?
Mine happened in 2004 when I was hit by a car and suffered not only back injuries but even worse, a closed head injury that was bad enough that most people do not recover. At the time I had a 10 year-old son for whom I was 90% responsible in every way, and it took me six months to recover, during which time I didn’t even know what time or day it was. I was utterly dependent for almost everything, the ultimate type Two disaster scenario. As I moved through this, I tried to depend on several people, especially those closest to me, my ex-husband, my then boyfriend, and my office assistant. Surely they would see how much I was in need and respond to my specific requests for food and comfort when I could not do this for myself! Actually, all three were pretty awful. My then-boyfriend and assistant were actually angry with me because I was not longer capable of doing things for them. My ex-husband did what he normally did which was to ignore me.
But people I didn’t really think to count on really came through for me in big ways. My brother listened to everything when I needed to talk. A therapist friend did amazing color work with both parts of my brain. Luck or grace handed me a wonderful back surgeon and an even better physical therapist. And my young son was the best of all. And I also took care of myself by just allowing myself to relax and heal.
So think about yourself. What lessons do you need to learn to face your deepest type-based fears? How can you do this without a natural disaster or a near-death car accident?