Memorial Day Orem 2016

It’s Memorial Day in the United States. Many people will be celebrating with backyard picnics and barbecues. Many outdoor swimming pools and parks will open. It is a long weekend, that for many, marks the beginning of summer.

I remember the first Memorial Day I experienced in the United States, in 1987. I was driving past a large cemetery in Provo, Utah. Cut flowers, bright yellow “mums” in potted plants, and small flags dotted nearly every gravesite. It was impressive.

For many, Memorial Day is opportunity to pay tribute to people in military service, past and present. At the airport today, the gate agent invited 30 seconds of silence to honor the military personnel on board our flight. In the crowded and cacophonous terminal, I was drawn to this simple and kind pause.

Memorial day has also become a day to generally honor people who have passed. My former spouse’s family had a great tradition of cutting flowers from their gardens, peonies if the growing season permitted, to place at the grave site of grandparents and other family. Then her dad would tell a story or two. It was playful. Often with laughter. Sometimes with tears. It was an invocation to remember.


For the last year when I’ve often been starting leadership events with an invocation to remember. Though many have come to learn what they think are new participative methodologies and frameworks, I often say, “I think we have come to learn and remember some things that we already know. We’ve come to remember some essential aspects of what it means to be in learning together, what it means to take journey together, and what it means to count on each other. Remember kindness. Remember curiosity. Remember the power of sharing a story as a way of learning together. Remember a quality of trust. Remember honesty together. Remember hope together.”

I don’t speak those words as a way to falsely motivate people, though I’m happy that they do settle participants into a simple narrative of what we are about to do for two to three days.


Sometimes remembering, memorializing, is about invoking the past. Sometimes, perhaps, the remembering is to realize that there is much that we already know about bringing a future into the present.

Is The Circle Way for Men — A Call For An Emerging Masculine

I wrote this short article to be deliberate about inviting men and women to participate in the practice that is The Circle Way, and in The Circle Way practicum occurring August 17-22, 2016 on Whidbey Island, Washington. I wrote it to shine a bit of light on some of the underlaying myths that may have men not feeling that this form of leadership is for them.

Below is an excerpt. The full article (two pages) is here.

“I want to re-language the gender-typing just a bit as it pertains to The Circle Way. The Circle Way is a methodology and way of being that is bedrock to the kind of leadership so often needed in these times and in today’s organizations. It is the leadership that is listening, which also happens to be a lifelong practice. It is the leadership that is being smart together. Yup, that’s gender free. It is the leadership that is diving deeply into purpose. It is the leadership that is shared discernment. The Circle Way creates leadership process that invokes the best of what people, men and women, masculine and feminine, can offer as gift.”

Check This One Out

I arrived yesterday to Portland, Oregon. My iPhone told me it was 88 degrees. On May 2nd. That’s hot. Beautiful. But a bit alarming too in this global shift of weather. I took my black sweater off immediately.

I was picked up from the airport by my friend and colleague Jessica Riehl. We know each other from meeting three years ago at an ALIA conference, at which we became rather instant friends. I love Jess’ way of living with questions in the world. And being able to laugh in them too. She’s someone that I appreciate for her facilitation instincts, her artful eye, and her great graphic illustration abilities.

Jessica and I are part of team hosting “Transforming the Way We Lead: An Art of Hosting Intensive” the next three days at Portland State University. I’m anticipating that gathering, 45 of us, to be a quality engagement with questions, laughter, and art. It’s a group of participants that care, of course.

In staying with Jessica, yesterday that meant picking up her three year-old Darwin from his preschool. It’s been a while since I’ve been with three year-olds for any length of time, but it was a phase that I loved with each of my three kids. Darwin is a sweet kid. He’s at that age of asking questions (many levels of why) and just enough mimicking that is adorable. One of the first things he showed me at his house was his Hot Wheels collection as I got down on the carpet with him. “Check this one out. Check this one out too.” He had a lot of them. Each time, I laughed. Each time I smiled with him and his beautiful innocence.

The other thing about Jess’ house, a two story with a high vaulted ceiling and a couple of ledges over the living room, is that Jess and her family have two cats. Buttercup and Yeezy (sp?). I’ve been enjoying watching these two cats come in and out of the room I’m staying in. Jess tells me it is “their room” — I really am the guest. One of the things that amazes me about my host cats is that they like to sit on the ledges. At the tope of the stairs, on a six inch wide ledge, with a 12ish foot fall, they seem so comfortable. I’m walking carefully by them, not wanting to unintentionally excite them or disturb them in a way that would make them fall. “It’s OK, we’ve got it,” they seem to say back to me reassuringly.

When I imagine my way into today, first designing with our team, and then hosting the group the remainder of the week, it’s clear to me that I hope for the kind of sweetness that I see in Darwin and the kind of confidence I see in these cats, Buttercup and Yeezy. What’s crazy is that I believe this is totally possible. Sweetness and confidence on ledges. It’s just that the group will likely be less about Hot Wheels and more about leadership. And, well, there are always ledges in leadership. But maybe they just don’t need to be feared.

Acting and Thinking

Yesterday I was on a phone call with a good colleague and friend, Cameron Barr. Cameron is among many things, Pastor at Grinnell, Iowa United Church of Christ Congregational. He and I are exploring some writing together, including a more deliberate article on the strategic planning process that we created with several stewards at Grinnell.

Yesterday’s conversation included sharing recent experiences of depth in working with teams. Sometimes it is there. Sometimes it is not. Cameron made this remark.

“It is a lot easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting.”

Together we referenced the slowing down that is needed in the latter. It’s a slowing down that can really interrupt the habit and pattern of many people. Many of us are quite eager to get things done. A good thing, right. That good thing can also impede us getting to the depth and change that we need. It impedes getting beyond the “act” and integrating new practice.

I’m glad to have colleagues and friends who remind me of this, who help put words to something that happens often yet can be difficult to name.