Here is a current library of articles, book essays, poetry, and interviews. This listing is updated frequently.

Peruse our table of contents below or use the search magnifying glass in the menu bar to find specific articles. Please feel free to download and use any of these. If you want to make multiple copies for courses, books, or handouts, I appreciate you asking for permission. It helps me keep track of where things go and how these ideas are used.

I encourage you to look at the books and journals in which these articles appear. They often contain material from other authors that I think you will find interesting.

Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?

Margaret Wheatley ©2019


Some people want to put us into a category.
Some people only feel good when they know where they fit.

Are you an optimist?
A pessimist?

Really, there’s only one right answer. You have to be an optimist.
Otherwise you’re a drag. No fun to be around. Dr. Death.
And a new term, you’re from the “Doomsphere.”

In the past, we were taught to note our worldview by looking at a glass of water.
Is the glass half empty? Is it half full?

Your answer defines your identity: Gloom and doom or hopeful and great to hang
out with.

What a nonsensical question this is. Is the glass half full or half empty?
Who cares?!

The right question for Warriors is:
Who needs the water and how can we get it to them?
What is the work that needs doing and how can I contribute to making it

No labels. Just seeing clearly what needs to be done and stepping up to do it.

What This World Needs

Margaret Wheatley ©2016

Download the PDF in English

Download the PDF in Spanish

This world does not need more entrepreneurs.
This world does not need more technology breakthroughs.
This world needs leaders.

We need leaders who put service over self, who can be steadfast through crises and failures, who want to stay present and make a difference to the people, situations and causes they care about.

We need leaders who are committed to serving people, who recognize what is being lost in the haste to dominate, ignore and abuse the human spirit.

We need leaders because leadership has been debased as those who take things to scale or are first to market or dominate the competition or develop killer apps. Or hold onto power by constantly tightening their stranglehold of fear until people are left lifeless and cowering.

We need leaders now because we have failed to implement what was known to work, what would have prevented or mitigated the rise of hatred, violence, poverty and ecological destruction. We have not failed from a lack of ideas and technologies. We have failed from a lack of will. The solutions we needed were already here.

Now it is too late. We cannot solve these global issues globally. We can see them clearly. We can understand their root causes. We have evidence of solutions that would have solved them. But we refused to compromise, to collaborate, to persevere in resolving them as an intelligent, creative species living on one precious planet.

Now it’s up to us, not as global leaders but as local leaders. We can lead people to create positive changes locally that make life easier and more sustainable, that create possibility in the midst of global decline.

Let us use whatever power and influence we have, working with whatever resources are already available, mobilizing the people who are with us to work for what they care about.

As President Teddy Roosevelt enjoined us:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

in Who Do We Choose To Be? (Berrett-Koehler 2017)


Why Are We Behaving So Badly?; With 20:20 Vision, What Can We See More Clearly?
Article by Margaret Wheatley
Medium magazine, December 2020

The community of Warriors expands and deepens
Article by Margaret Wheatley, May 2019

National Park Advisory Board, including Meg, resigns en masse
Article plus letter written by Meg, January 2018
Margaret Wheatley ©2018

Who Do You Choose to Be? The Rise and Fall of Civilisations (PDF)
Academi of Wales Master Class, September 2019
Margaret Wheatley ©2017

Margaret Wheatley: Warriors for the Human Spirit
Published via; syndicated from
March 29, 2018
In this episode of the Sounds True podcast series Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Meg Wheatley speak on cycles of life and history, the need to see our present moment with clear eyes, and the necessity of creating “islands of sanity” within our communities and what it means to become a warrior for the human spirit. Listen to the podcast audio here.

Who Do You Choose to Be? An Invitation to the Nobility of Leadership (PDF)
Leader to Leader Magazine, Summer 2017
Margaret Wheatley ©2017

My Personal Journey into Warriorship
Margaret Wheatley ©2015

The Lifecycle of Emergence: Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale (PDF)
Kosmos Journal, Spring/Summer 2015
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze ©2008

Leadership Lessons from Besieged Nuns” 
Column for Global Sisters Report, December 22, 2014

Netzwerke der Gewalt: Terror in Zeiten des Internets (PDF)
Interview in German for the November 2014 edition of Evolve magazine. (translation: Networks of Violence: Terror in the Internet Era)

Living a Discerning Life in a Complex, Harsh World: An Interview with Margaret Wheatley (PDF)
An interview for Occasional Papers, the journal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Thursday, April 3, 2014

Capacity Building in Emergence
Margaret Wheatley presented “The Gift Economy” seminar November 1, 2013 at the River’s Edge Cleveland in Rocky River, Ohio.The transcript of the seminar is available from i-Open Research web site.

Eight Fearless Questions
From the Shambhala Institute Core Program, Halifax, June 2006, published in The Edge magazine, Online Edition, August 2013

Groundlessness (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley ©2005, 2012

Living in the Age of Distraction (PDF)
Published in Shambhala Sun,  May 2013

Lost and Found in a Brave New World
Published in Leader to Leader Journal, Spring 2013

An Invitation to Warriorship (PDF)
Article in The Landscape of Being, an e-book of art, photos, essays (2012)

Ancient Wisdom, Social Science, and the Vastness of the Human Spirit (PDF)
An Interview With Margaret Wheatley with Kathryn Goldman Schuyler
From Inner Peace – Global Impact: Tibetan Buddhism, Leadership, and Work
Information Age Publishing (2012)

Be Brave, Don’t Add to Fear and Aggression
Posted on the Dalai Lama Center for Peace & Education (October 20, 2011)

The Big Learning Event (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley © 2011
Prepared for The BIG Learning Event: Powerful Conversations for the Future held at the University of Wisconsin Madison, June 2011

Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley with Debbie Frieze ©2010
Published in Resurgence Magazine, Winter 2011
See also: French translation  >Le Leadership a l’ère de la Complexite (PDF)

Reweaving the Web of Connections  (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley ©2010
Originally appeared as a blog on Yes Magazine’s site

Perseverance: Lost in the Gulf of Mexico  (PDF)
from Margaret Wheatley’s YES Magazine Blog, June 2010
Read the blog at
Margaret Wheatley ©2010

Are We All In This Together? (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley ©2009

The True Professional (PDF)
A poem
Margaret Wheatley ©2009

Raven, Teach Me to Ride the Winds of Change (PDF)
A poem (January 2009)
Margaret Wheatley ©2009

The Place Beyond Fear and Hope (PDF)
Shambhala Sun, March 2009
Shambhala Sun ©2009

An Era of Powerful Possibility (PDF)
from The Nonprofit Quarterly, Winter 2008

Capitalism and Community: In Search of Entrepreneurial Spirit (PDF)
from Strategy+Business, The Best Business Books of 2008, Winter 2008
Margaret Wheatley and Carole Schwinn ©2008

Fearlessness: The Last Organisational Change Strategy (PDF)
Published in Business Executive, the Journal of the Association of Business
Executives (England) ©2008

What is Our Role in Creating Change? (PDF)
In the Second Edition of Turning to One Another, January 2009, Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Margaret Wheatley ©2008
See also: French translation: Comment susciter le changement? (PDF)

Can I Be Fearless?  (PDF)
In the Second Edition of Turning to One Another, January 2009, Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Margaret Wheatley ©2008
See also Spanish translation: Puedo vivir con audacia? (PDF)

Why We Need New Ways of Thinking (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley, Adam Kahane, Paul Hawken and others contribute to
this article by Barry Boyce
Shambhala Sun, August/September 2008 Issue
Shambhala Sun ©2008

Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale (PDF)
Publication of The Berkana Institute
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze ©2008

Usando el Poder de lo que Emerge para Potenciar la Innovación Social  (PDF)
(Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale – Spanish Translation)
Publication of The Berkana Institute
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze ©2008

Lezioni di Leadership per il Mondo Reale (PDF)
(Leadership Lessons for the Real World – Italian Translation)
Leader to Leader Magazine, Summer 2006
Margaret Wheatley ©2006

Leadership from Self-Organized Networks: Lessons from the War on Terror (PDF file)
from Performance Improvement Quarterly Vol.20 No.2, 2007
Margaret Wheatley ©2007

How Large-Scale Change Really Happens: Working with Emergence
from The School Administrator Spring 2007
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze ©2006

Journeying to a New World (PDF)
Adaptation of the epilogue in Leadership and the New Science, Second Ed., Berrett-Koehler, 1996
Margaret Wheatley ©2006

Relationships – The Basic Building Blocks of Life (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley ©2006

The Real World – Leadership Lessons from Disaster Relief and Terrorist Networks (PDF)
Written for the Third Edition of Leadership and the New Science, Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2006
Margaret Wheatley ©2006

Leadership Lessons for The Real World (PDF)
Leader to Leader Magazine, Summer 2006
Margaret Wheatley ©2006
See also: Italian translation Lezioni di Leadership per il Mondo Reale

To Be Free From (PDF)
published in Mindful Politics, Wisdom Publications, 2006
Margaret Wheatley ©2005

We Can Be Wise Only Together (PDF)
Preface for The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Margaret Wheatley ©2005

How is Your Leadership Changing (PDF)
Margaret Wheatley ©2005

Solving not Attacking Complex Problems (PDF)
by Margaret Wheatley and Geoff Crinean ©2004

Is the Pace of Life Hindering Our Ability to Manage (PDF)
Management Today, a publication of the Australian Institute of Management, March 2004
An Interview With Margaret Wheatley ©2004

Dark Night (PDF)
Shambhala Sun, 2003
Margaret Wheatley ©2002

When Change is Out of Our Control (PDF)
published in “Human Resources in the 21st Century”
John Wiley & Sons, 2003
See also: French translation L’impuissance face au changement (PDF)

Dream World (PDF)
A prose poem
Margaret Wheatley ©2002

The Servant-Leader: From Hero to Host” (PDF)
Voice of Servant-Leadership Series
An Interview With Margaret Wheatley ©2002

“What did you hope America would have learned from September 11?” (PDF)
Tikkun Magazine Fall 2002

Silence is the Problem” (PDF)
Shambhala Sun, November 2002

Stressed Out Kids‘(PDF)
Shambhala Sun, September 2002

Speaking our Suffering” (PDF)
Spirituality and Health, Summer 2002
See also: Spanish translation Compartir el Sufrimiento (PDF)

Supporting Pioneering Leaders as Communities of Practice” (PDF)

Leadership In Turbulent Times Is Spiritual” (PDF)
Frontiers of Health Services Management, Summer 2002
See also: French translation Le leadership en période de turbulence (PDF)

It’s An Interconnected World” PDF)
Shambhala Sun May 2002

Listening as Healing” (PDF)
Shambhala Sun January 2002

Partnering with Confusion and Uncertainty” (PDF)
Shambhala Sun November 2001
See also: Spanish translation: No Est? Tan Segura/o
See also: French translation: S’inspirer de la confusion et de l’incertitude (PDF)

Can We Reclaim Time to Think? ” (PDF)
Shambhala Sun September 2001

Relying on Human Goodness” (PFD)
Shambhala Sun, July 2001

Restoring Hope to the Future through Critical Education of Leaders” (PDF)
Vimukt Shiksha, a bulletin of Shikshantar–The People’s Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, March 2001
Spanish Translation

The Real Work of Knowledge Management” (PDF)
IHRIM Journal, April-June 2001, Volume 5, Number 2, pp.29-33

Innovation Means Relying on Everyone’s Creativity” (PDF)
Leader to Leader, Spring 2001

Bringing Schools Back to Life : Schools as Living Systems”
in Creating Successful School Systems: Voices from the University, the Field, and the Community
(Christopher-Gordon Publishers, September 1999)

Turning to One Another” (PDF)
Keynote Address Spring 2000, Kansas Health Foundation 2000 Leadership Institute

Maybe You Will Be The One: To My Sons and Their Friends” (PDF)
in Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century (Rodale Books, June 2000)
See also: Maybe You Will Be The One: FRENCH TRANSLATION (PDF)

Disturb Me, Please!” (PDF)
in The Works: Your Source to Being Fully Alive, Summer 2000
See also: Moléstenme, por favor! – SPANISH TRANSLATION (PDF)

It Starts With Uncertainty” (PDF)
Shambala Sun, November 1999
Margaret Wheatley & Pema Chodron

Consumed by Either Fire or Fire:- Journeying with T. S. Eliot” (PDF)
Journal of Noetic Science, November 1999

Servant-Leadership and Community Leadership in the 21st Century” (PDF)
Keynote Address, The Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership annual conference, June 1999

What Do We Measure and Why? (PDF)
Questions about the uses of measurement”
Journal for Strategic Performance Measurement, June 1999
Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

Reclaiming Gaia, Reclaiming Life” (PDF)
in The Fabric of the Future, (Conari Press, September 1998)

Bringing Life to Organizational Change” (PDF)
Journal for Strategic Performance Measurement, April/May 1998
Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers
See also: Bringing Life to Organizational Change SPANISH TRANSLATION (PDF)

Love and Fear in Organizations” (PDF)
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Newsletter, May 1998, Volume 20, Number 5

The Promise and Paradox of Community” (PDF)
in The Community of the Future (Jossey-Bass, 1998)
Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers

The New Story is Ours to Tell” (PDF)
World Business Academy / Perspectives on Business and Global Change, June 1997

Goodbye, Command and Control” (PDF)
Leader to Leader, July 1997

The Unplanned Organization: Learning from Nature’s Emergent Creativity (PDF)
from Noetic Sciences Review #37, Spring 1996
Margaret Wheatley ©1996

The Irresistible Future of Organizing” (PDF)
July/August 1996
Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

Chaos and Complexity: What Can Science Teach? (PDF)
from OD Practitioner, Fall 1993