“This is the Moment I Was Born For.” ULAB 2X

Helio Borges
8 min readMar 26, 2020
Visuals: Olaf Baldini

“This is the moment I was born for”. This sentence is the hope of our collective journey to help each other to rise to the occasion and to operate from that place of possibility.” Otto Scharmer

February 20, 2020.

The date itself wanted to tell us something. Looking back on this experience, I now feel as if we were rehearsing for things that would affect the whole world very soon. The Presencing Institute’s U.lab.2X convened 261 teams, with more than 1,000 participants from 48 countries, to a four months journey that will take us “From Prototype to Eco-system Impact.” All of us met virtually on the 02/20/2020 for the kick-off session. Otto Scharmer opened the program with these auspicious words.

Otto’s Words

Otto Scharmer

“This is the moment I was born for! The purpose of u.lab is to activate the enormous potential for transformational change that we feel is being present in so many places, networks, communities, and larger systems right now.

I know that we live in a moment of profound disruption, where an old civilization is about to hit the wall — it is dying. And another civilization is being born. What we mean by another civilization is the way we organize our economies, governments and democracies, learning, and leadership infrastructures.

What is our role in that?

One way of describing that role is Seeds, Soil, and Farmer.

The Seeds

So, we are the seeds, the initiatives that each of us is bringing into this collaborative u.lab2X space.

The Soil

The soil aspect is how we help each other. It is the holding space that allows the seeds to grow. How we relate and listen to one another, within our team, but also across teams, shape my journey as a changemaker. Each team has its own journey, but there is also the collective journey that, as a distributed community, we are beginning to activate. The potential for transformative change that is present in and around the world right now in a more intentional way.

The Farmer

The farmer is not only paying attention to the seeds and the soil, but also to the surrounding eco-system. That is what we do, how we support each other across initiatives. We listen to each other, we support each other, and we attend the larger eco-system that we can connect with, and that can be part of the activation story of that transformative potential that we believe that is not only necessary, but it is also quite real, quite possible.

The Sentence

One changemaker from Indonesia summarized in one sentence all the learnings, disruptions, and also possibilities in her own context of the changes that she had experienced, “This is the moment I was born for.”

The sentence resonated with me on two levels: Firstly, it resonated with my own personal life, and secondly, it is a place within ourselves that we can personally connect with.

Sometimes I am confused and dragged down by all the problematic changes that are happening around us. But remembering that sentence is a choice. It is a place that I can look to connect with within my own awareness. “This is the moment I was born for,” says YES! to the challenge, and helps us to operate from the intentional space, instead of reacting to the disruptions that are happening in my environment.

“This is the moment I was born for.” This sentence is the hope of our collective journey to help each other to rise to the occasion and to operate from that place of possibility.”

Fiorentina Bajraktari explains the roadmap of u.lab’s collective journey

The Co-Initiating Session

Antonio Mota La-Torre explains the 2020 cohort

Eva Pomeroy spoke after Otto, telling the details of the program and reminding us that “It is necessary to keep in mind that what we really try to accomplish here is to change the space from where you operate. What are the practices that you want to agree on that will help you as a team to shift that place.”

In the second part of the live session, they divided the participants into small groups, so that we could meet other teams in separate conversations. These are the groups with which we met: “Aprendizaje acompasado” (Argentina), “Total intelligence” (Latvia), “Setubal sustainability” (Portugal), “Time for changes” (Portugal), “Good shepherd sisters” (India), “Next level” (Amsterdam).

At the end of the session, Otto asked us to reflect on Olaf Baldini’s scribe of “This is the Moment I was Born For.” (See the reflections below)

At the Local Level

Team Proyecto Hikola

The first stage of u.lab2X is Co-Initiating. In Co-Initiating, listening is the key: listening to our intention, to our core partners in the field, to what we are called to do now. We are Proyecto Hikola, in Caracas, Venezuela, and had begun the program one week earlier. On that occasion, we explained the basics of Theory U, the details of the Co-Initiation stage, and practiced the listening technique. Thus, we started today’s local session with a conversation about how everyone was doing with the daily listening exercise.

Watching the live session

Later, we explained the Case Clinic technique, commonly known as Coaching Circle. It is an activity carried out in groups of 5 people. One of the participants has the role of “case-giver.” She exposes before the others a challenge or a situation about which she needs to have a different perspective. The other four “Coaches” listen deeply, and each one delivers images, metaphors, emotions, and sensations without giving advice or judging. Following, the case giver reflects on the other coaches’ gifts to her, and they all begin a generative dialogue. This tool will be one of our critical practices during the program.

Listening to Otto

At ten o’clock, we connected with the worldwide Co-Initiation session in which we listened to Otto’s words and other details about the mechanics of the program. They also showed some examples of groups that had already started the program. At that time, they showed a picture of 6 teams, and one of them was Proyecto Hikola from Venezuela!!! Of course, we cheered.

Proyecto Hikola

The Collective Reflection

At the end of the session, Otto asked us to reflect on Olaf Baldini’s scribe of “This is the Moment I was Born For.”

Olaf Baldini

Here are some of our “I see, I sense, I feel” reflections from Olaf’s image:

“I saw a protective bubble that was expanding and getting bigger. I sensed a very great sense of security, and I perceived a desire to make a global change. I felt a sound wave that called me and went through my whole body and took me to meet more people with a will to make a difference as great as mine. I felt union, and I entered that bubble that I saw, and there I was happy.” Oscar.

“I saw chaos. I sensed chaos. I felt that in the center, there was a beating heart, a lot of love, and it is through love that chaos is dissipated in us and the world.” Rosaling

“I saw a Lion, its fur taken back because he is moving forward firmly and being able to make its way safely.” Maria Antonieta.

“I saw: an explosion, a bang like the Big Bang. I sensed: creative energy that emerges from the center and expands unlimitedly. I felt: the force of a powerful nucleus, that unites, that pushes, that attracts, that agglutinates, that catalyzes, that transforms.” Indira

“I saw a luminous butterfly spreading its wings. I sensed light and a healing heat emanating from it. I felt like I was getting into the wings of the butterfly, and she welcomed me, and it was wonderful!” Mildred.

“I had the sensation that I was throwing a stone in the center of a large lake, where I could see its bottom and observe how just by touching a point in the water, I generated equal waves and with the same energy of the other dimensions of that vast lake. The thought that emerged was “This is the moment for which I was born, I am doing well. I will continue working in my microsystem, generating waves as perfect as in water because I know that sometimes in conscious moments and no so conscious ones, but that at some point, I will be impacting other broader systems that I have occasionally considered not achievable. “I must continue placing the stone at the point of the water where it is located.” Irene.

“I saw a worldwide community of people that seeks to be and express the best of ourselves. I perceived the connection with like-minded people, both in the room where we were but also with the people with whom we shared in the USA, India, Argentina, Portugal, France, Puerto Rico, and so many other countries. I felt a great flow of energy that hugged me and propelled me forward. All the fear I had felt, all the anxiety that I had about an uncertain future before me, disappeared, dissolved.” Helio

What’s next

Later, we had a generative dialogue about our experience and convened to meet on March 10 for the Co-sensing stage of the U process. Although the Coronavirus emergency was in all the news, we still considered it as something alien and far from us.

For more information about Co-Initiation, see our February 12 article All On Board Systems Change! The “Theory U” STL is Now Departing

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Helio Borges

Executive & Team Coach & Mentor. Cultural Transformation Change Agent & Consultant. Twitter: @hborgesg. Instagram: @heboga. FB: helio.borges.35. Uriji: @hborges