LeBrun L. (2007). Fully alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth. Ottawa: Wel-Systems Institute.
Louise Lebrun continues to write in a growth inspiring way in this extension of her life’s work as an author, speaker, coach and creator of WEL-Systems. She draws from scientific and intuitive wisdom to illuminate the power of the individual to reach their full life potential to build solutions at home, at work and in the world.
In this 3rd edition, she writes with a sense of urgency that the time is now to have the courage to act alone and to understand who and what we are as human beings. She suggests that for too long we have looked for answers outside of ourselves, “to parents, teachers, bosses, books, audio products, course, coaches, therapists, systems etc” (p. 6), in what she says is a betrayal of our own truth, creativity and intuitive awareness. Organizations have also looked for quick fixes by using seminars, workshops, audio-visuals, and organizational approaches to little avail. She calls forth the power of the individual to create places of creativity and compassion where work and life are not split.
She claims her book is not about the tasks, structures and organizational systems of work. However, the book is very much about how our individual and personal feelings have the power to create and transform our workplaces. She asks us to, “Look inside and not outside for answers” (p. 11). She asks us to be seekers and to ask the big questions and to tolerate the ambiguity and uncertainty of this journey. She definitely calls upon the power of One to, “find the courage to act alone” (p.13) and not to fall into “abandoning ourselves to collective thought” where we “become weak and puerile in our capacity to reason for ourselves” (p. 12). She says we have “formed the numbing effect of generations of mindless, habituated thinking, asleep to what crumbles around us, hoping that someone’s will take care of it all” (p. 20).
Much of her book is dedicated to building a case for proceeding with this evolution by intention to uncover that our greatest potential lies in the unknown where, “what you don’t know you don’t know” (p. 50). She suggests that “If you want creativity and innovation; if you want authentic and profound changes, you have got to go into that unexpected territory” (p. 51).
In true Lebrun coaching style, she maps the journey for the reader and provides steps in this process toward change: naming it; claiming it; choosing it; and changing it.
The first step, she calls Naming It which requires a fundamental change in how we see work, “where each of these individual living systems come together with other individual living systems, we create larger living systems that are a reflection of the individuals who created it” (p. 58). Her entire premise is that “There’s’ nothing going on at work but individual human beings having conversations with other human beings” (p. 62). She points out that many work systems are based on parent-child models and other power approaches and that, “We cannot change these systems with the very same behaviours that created these systems” (p. 69). She calls for some new thinking, feeling and action.
Step two is, Claiming It where we must own that we have created our work, family and educational systems and that if we want something new, we will have take responsibility to do this. Each of us has shaped the beliefs, values and attitudes at home and work that may not be working for us and we have to create new ones, by adopting new attitudes, beliefs and feelings. She is hopeful that we can make such changes and that “Each of us carry deep inside of us, information that is unique to our structuring of the world in which we live’ (p. 91).
Step three is called, Choosing It and herein lies the vision that makes for the book’s title: “We want to create work environments that support and sustain life; that invite health, humour, compassion and truth” (p. 111). To do this, LeBrun says that we have to start “with something that transcends philosophy and principle and dogma. We start with you and me” (p. 112). To be a chooser, we must get conscious of our feelings and thinking for: “Authentic choice must involve me directly as the creator of my own experience” (p. 124)
Step four involves Changing It by thinking for ourselves and creating a context to be able to make change. The last chapter outlines the transformational milestones to create a new future and place to stand: trust your body; breathe; follow impulses; tell the truth of your experience; stay in the tough conversations; be willing to stand alone; and shape or be shaped by your world.
Lebrun integrates matters of intuition, heart and systems thinking in her book. She does not appeal to objectivity, but to a very subjective, personal response to her writing. She provides metaphors, pictures, word maps and conceptual maps to take the reader on the journey to, “Stop for moment … take a nice, long, slow deep breath … and step gently into your future, ready to discover the amazing Being that you are!” (p.26).
In the beginning of the writing, she envisioned: “As you move into the following chapters, may you find within yourself the courage and the willingness to live every day awake and aware, choosing a meaningful life over a familiar one. From one breath to the next, the time is now” (p. 26). The power of her writing can only be measured by its impact on each reader to be enabled to move forward in their own way to becoming more FULLY ALIVE.