By Charles E. Smith | Bio
Lorin Smith had developed his own healing practice based on massage, singing, dance, telling stories. As I came to know him over time, I saw he could look at a person, individual, or look at a group, and see exactly what kind of energy was missing. He could see where the joy was missing, or where the relationship was missing. He could see whether people didn’t mean what they said. He could see how their bodies were contracted or turned against themselves or twisted out of shape. He had an ability to see what I was not trained to see. I could already sense some of this in my work with groups, but I was not really construing it in any kind of energetic framework as he did. And what he was able to produce, in terms of sick people getting better or groups going from non-directed to focused, was very fast and remarkable. It was as though he was breathing life—breathing energy—into them. And he would do whatever he needed to do, whatever he could think of to do, given his particular talent, culture, and repertoire.
I came back to my company and said, “What’s missing here is harmony. What’s missing here is people going in the same direction. What’s missing here is alignment. What’s missing here is focus”. I started talking to people about being aligned, about really being on the same page about what we were doing and the methods we were using, and the focus of the company. I told them I had come to a place where I was no longer going to put up with a company that was not aligned, and I meant it. It was a dedicated, heartfelt statement. And in the next months, half of the people left the company or I fired them. Those who left didn’t really want to align with me. My commitment to increasing my own energy and the energy of the company seemed to be the cause of many people’s departure.
It was my own lack of energy, my own burnout, and my own unwillingness to put up with that situation that caused me to sell the company and move with my family away from Washington, D.C. to the vast, empty desert of northern New Mexico. During this transition, there really was a contextual shift in my life. There was a shift in framework from hard-hitting, “Let’s get it done, let’s make the money, let’s get as big as we can,” to something that Lorin Smith had represented—a world in which the expansion of energy was the senior commitment. And with it came a new sense of hope, a new possibility.
In the desert, it is easy to see the world in energetic terms. Someone wrote that, “every new word begins in the desert”—that vast, empty place where all creation happens. There is nothing between you and the world. I’ve since come to think that, for the most part, the wilderness is the real world and that what people have constructed isn’t the real world. What if the real world was the sky, the wind, the trees, the water and the land. It was as though somebody had taken a vacuum cleaner to my mind and opened up my heart. My whole self and being filled the place. I felt so alive, with the high plains desert and the mountains, the pinon pine and the stars at night that stretch in a 360-degree horizon and shine bright in the crystal clear air. I had a continuing experience of having no barriers in between me and the real world. And I referred that experience back to most of the companies I’ve been in, where that kind of aliveness, energy and vitality was rare. I’d see it once in awhile in a hot project, a great relationship, or an exciting startup. But for the most part, the more organized a group was, the deader it was, the more people looked like zombies and developed these incredible rationalizations for how their lives were and how they worked.
What was so present in the desert was the opposite of this deadness—it was simple energy and lightness. For years now, I’ve been going back and forth between this wilderness and the work I do consulting to companies. And I continue to be amazed that the energy that’s available in the wilderness is so absent in organized, corporate life. At the same time, however, some of the best that has been created through technology and productivity is missing in the wilderness. It’s not just a one-way street and I’m not speaking at all against the best of modern life. What I’m speaking against is anything that drains energy, anything that takes vitality away.