Friday, June 4th
Learning to Trust Ourselves: The Power of Self-Knowing
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
– Rabindranath Tagore
How do we serve in situations of conflict, tragedy, despair? How do we become trustworthy contributors and companions without adding to the fear and aggression that now dominate? How do we handle personal situations when people aim their aggression and fear at us?
Learning to trust one’s self requires ever-deeper levels of self-knowing: What triggers us, what judgements blind us from seeing clearly, how do our own needs obscure what is needed by others? How do we open to the needs of the world without being overwhelmed by grief, anger, despair? How do we serve what’s needed rather than what we think we need? How do we persevere and continue to contribute as obstacles, insults and frustrations proliferate?
Meg Wheatley will encourage us to step forward as Warriors, people willing to do the personal work of self-knowing so they can skillfully serve the needs of this time. Warriors need to know themselves so well that they don’t get in the way, so they can discern what others need from them. The commitment to self-knowing is not to attain personal peace, happiness, respect or love. It is to be a clear, non-egoic presence of insight and compassion.
Four Warriors will speak of the power and efficacy of being the presence of insight and compassion in different but equally challenging situations:
- A person of color serving as formal leader of white majority communities, needing to navigate power dynamics and issues of privilege while supporting the community’s collective good work.
- A front line worker in trauma, suicide, and child protection, whose skills of deep listening and authentic presence have evoked people’s inherent dignity even in situations of great fear, anger, and simmering violence.
- An educational leader who maintained her ground through a year of public humiliation and devastating loss of professional career/identity in a system of fear and dysfunction, and now is moving forward into a life of new possibilities.
- A retiree from the United Nations Refugee Agency whose exhaustion and disillusionment led her to Warrior Training, giving her the capacity to be present for others with a raw and tender heart yet not burn out.
Friday, June 11th
Restoring Sane Leadership:
Creating the Conditions for Contribution
Sane leaders have unshakable confidence that people can be creative, generous and kind. The leader’s focus is on creating the conditions so that people can rediscover these qualities in themselves and contribute to the common good.
This is an incredibly difficult time to be a leader. Every traditional means for bringing ideas into reality—visioning, project planning, budgeting, goal-setting—has become useless in the face of constant uncertainty. Leadership methods that work so well to motivate people– participative processes, Servant Leadership, whole systems engagement—are extremely difficult because people have withdrawn into survival mode, focused on self-preservation, grasping for what they can get, fearing strangers, blaming leaders. And most leaders meet uncertainty with demands for more control, insisting staff provide objectives, measures, timelines. Need for control has collided with the reality of uncertainty; the result is only more confusion and chaos created by leaders.
It is still possible for leaders to use their power and influence to create Islands of Sanity—sanctuaries where people can still be creative, generous and kind. Leaders as Warriors for the Human Spirit commit to three primary behaviors. First, the leader must embody the best qualities of being human so that others can rediscover these attributes in themselves. Secondly, the leader must work hard to keep the destructive forces of fear, control, and disregard for people outside the borders of the Island of Sanity. Thirdly, the leader creates the conditions for people to discover meaningful work that serves the common good.
In this seminar, Meg Wheatley will detail the work of sane leaders and offer simple practices for developing and strengthening these Islands of Sanity. Four Warriors will contribute their insights from working in a diverse range of roles and organizations:
- A team leader for Operations Performance in a large multi-national corporation that resists the need for profound changes.
- A leader of a community non-profit responding to the ever-growing complexity of issues that beset any community, including leadership development, diversity and inclusion, economic issues, systems thinking, polarization and conflict.
- An Associate Director in a global sustainability non-profit whose work combines futures, systemic and regenerative practices to catalyze collaborative and ambitious action on critical issues for the future, even as the future becomes more uncertain.
- An executive coach and consultant focusing leaders on their inner work as the means to do their outer work rather than the traditional issues of career success.
Friday, June 18th
What Do We Say To Our Children:
Responding To Their Despair, Confusion, Denial
A young woman was recounting a situation that had filled her with despair when suddenly she raised her arms to push away the adults who were moving in to comfort her. She exclaimed: You don’t need to help me. You just need to listen to me.
In our homes, in classrooms, in hospital emergency rooms we are witnessing the impacts of this fearful and uncertain time on our children, whatever their age. Among teen-agers, the pandemic has escalated a growing mental health crisis: the rise in suicides. Can they find meaning and purpose in a culture that bombards them with narcissism, consumerism, and escape mechanisms? For those in college or entering the workforce, the future has closed down: good jobs are few and far between, economic uncertainty predominates, and the pandemic has forced them back home. Some withdraw in anger, cynicism and depression; some deny reality and depend on illusory hopes; some pursue extreme levels of self-satisfaction; a few search for ways to contribute, to stop the obvious destruction of planet and people. And our little ones pick up the stress of their parents, becoming anxious, having trouble sleeping, while a few feel great sorrow for species they love who face extinction, such as polar bears, bees, and butterflies.
In this seminar, two Warriors will present their pioneering efforts:
- From a passionate and skilled international educator who works with young teens (ages 12-15) to train them as Warriors for the Human Spirit. Honoring their need to contribute, and believing in their future capacity to lead, this program trains young people to identify needs in their community, to understand system’s complexity, to work as a team, and to experiment with actions that can make a difference. They develop personal confidence, new skills and strong relationships as they discover meaning and purpose for their lives.
- From an ecologist, activist, educator, and parent whose work is to coach, mentor and educate parents to both honor and respond to “ecogrief,” the emotions of children as they sense what’s happening to species and places they love. She has developed practices and resources for children to connect to the Earth as a source of energy and love that can support them.
- We will also witness a conversation among Warriors who are parents and relatives of older teens and adult children. As parents, how do we encourage our children not to withdraw in denial or get lost in despair? How do we support them to find meaningful contributions? How do we offer a supportive and loving environment without our usual compulsion to fix or remedy their situation?