8. Your Tensions, Your Proposals

This page is part of the Holacracy Habits series.

One of the most basic assumptions of Holacracy is that everyone is responsible for finding solutions to his or her own problems. Need something? Go get it. Have questions? Ask them. Have ideas? Share them. Need help? Ask for it.

As kids, our parents take care of us. As employees, we often learn a similar lesson (only replace “parent” with “manager”). In Holacracy, things are different. You have pathways to process your own stuff. This also means that no one needs to heroically process tensions for someone else. They have the same pathways as well. This may not be intuitive at first. Here’s a common situation for new Holacracy practitioners:

Steve and Ben are having coffee.They both feel tension about an accountability on one of Steve’s roles (Ben depends upon Steve's role a lot). Steve records an action to bring it to the next governance meeting. Ben, assuming that Steve has it covered, doesn't feel the need. At the governance meeting, Steve proposes a tweak to the accountability but Ben doesn’t like the change. During the reaction round, Ben shares a passionate pitch to change the proposal. Steve makes no changes to the proposal (because it resolves his tension). Ben then raises an objection. He doesn’t think Steve’s idea will actually cause harm, but he’s very worried that his perspective is missing. The Facilitator explains that having a “better idea” is not a valid objection. Ben doesn’t understand. Steve’s proposal obviously won’t solve the issue. Ben doesn’t yet understand all he has to do is add his own agenda item to the meeting.

It’s easy to assume, like Ben, that others implicitly feel the same or see the same solutions. But no two people will ever sense a tension in the same way.

Holacracy assumes that you are uniquely qualified to get your own needs met by sensing tensions and taking the first step to resolve them. The governance process gives you space to selfishly process your own tensions (without stopping anyone else from getting their own tensions resolved).

So, as you practice your habit, Record Tensions for Governance, remember it's up to you to process your own tensions.

Everyone has the same responsibility to use their own perspective and bring up issues. You don’t necessarily have to have a solution (you can always ask for discussion), but you must at least bring the item.

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. —Wayne Dyer