SBM Articles


Be Your Most Imaginal Self!

by Judy Ryan

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” -proverb

Consider the following ellipses from the books “Butterfly,” by Norie Huddle, and “Waking the Global Heart,” by Anodea Judith.

Caterpillars are consumers that eat non-stop. They become heavy; outgrowing their skin until they become too bloated to move. Attaching to a branch, they form a chrysalis and within that chrysalis, a miracle occurs. Tiny cells that biologists call “imaginal cells,” begin to appear. These cells are wholly different from caterpillar cells, carrying different information, and vibrating to a different frequency–the frequency of the emerging butterfly.

At first, the caterpillar’s immune system perceives these new cells as enemies, and attacks them, (much as new ideas in science, medicine, politics, and social behavior are viciously denounced by the powers now considered mainstream). But the imaginal cells are not deterred. They continue to appear, in even greater numbers, recognizing each other, bonding together, until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into clumps. When enough cells have formed to make structures along the new organizational lines, the caterpillar’s immune system is overwhelmed. The caterpillar body then becomes a nutritious soup for the growth of the butterfly. (Did that just read soup!?)

Eventually, the entire long string of imaginal cells suddenly realizes it is something different from the caterpillar. Something new! Something wonderful! And then the butterfly emerges, vibrant, beautiful, light and free!

How amazing that something can completely reorganize from one state into another, exhibiting totally different gifts, assets and strengths. Something equally profound is happening within many courageous, forward-thinking workplace cultures in the process of transforming today, as innovative leaders replace consumerism (profit first) with purpose and values (people first).

Though we are awestruck by the incredible beauty of a butterfly, we often forget that the caterpillar had to first disintegrate into a messy, disorganized soup! That’s because we know the happy ending. Yep, being in a soup is a pretty apt description of workplace culture change, even at its best. There can be significantly messy, vulnerable, awkward experiences, especially early on, as each person learns skills to build trust, develop power within rather than power over or power under, and show up as an authentic team member. A beautiful transformation happens only when the majority of employees work to dismantle gossip, blaming, victim consciousness, rebellion, punishment, bribing and a whole lot more. Most of all, each must let go of any addiction to familiar. Culture change can literally feel like the end of the world because in large part, it is.

So, why this talk of caterpillars and butterflies in a business article? Here’s why: For you brave business owners and leaders, ready to turn your organization into the agile, innovative and creative potential it can be, we assure you that incredible beauty and possibility await you. You will be creating at the speed, and with the power, of your highest vision, and that will require courage, vulnerability and mental fortitude.At LifeWork Systems, we help amazing “imaginals” to be fully supported and guided through a proven culture transformation process so that progress is gradual and graceful. We applaud you, current and future imaginals, and hold the vision with you for expanded success you never dreamed possible. To your emergence!

Owners, community leaders and educators hire Judy Ryan and Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace. Judy’s book, “What’s the Deal With Workplace Culture Change?” is available FREE at You can also contact Judy at 314-239-4727.
Submitted 7 years 179 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
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