Not Rushing On the Inside

Yesterday was a full, full day. Six phone calls / meetings that were an hour long. I started at 7:00 a.m. with necessary preparation (after returning the evening before from a holiday weekend with my son — it was a transition that required some compulsion). I finished just before 8:00 p.m. What space there was in between was largely about todos resulting from calls, or prepping for the next call, or tabling (literally) some of what could wait for later in the week. They were all good calls. With good people. And satisfying. Just full.

It was my last call of the day, with Kinde Nebeker, when I realized how much of an aversion I have to rushing, which is a lot of what I felt I was doing during that full day. Kinde has become a good friend. She’s got a deep soul that calls out more of the deep soul in me. We make sure that we have a good check-in and a deliberate check-out. In the middle was lots of good imagining for the upcoming series that we are hosting, The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership: Knowing Our Nature. We both got excited about this. It builds on what we hosted previously in the Spring.

It was in our check-out that I realized something. I shared with Kinde that I was feeling the rush of things. All of those meetings. All of those todos. A growing list that is big enough that I need some luck and some real patience to get it all done. I discovered it, aha style, as I was saying it out loud to Kinde. “I don’t like to rush. I’m not at that stage of life. Depth matters more to me. But I do enjoy the buzz of getting things done. It’s just that I don’t want to feel rushed in here, on the inside,” I said, gesturing towards my torso and belly. “I don’t want to feel ungrounded here, or unpresent here.” I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Kinde and I were talking about presence. It is a big part of the series we are offering together.

Well, I know that many people I work with feel a similar rushed and hurried pressure. A hurry. A worry. A fear. A juggling of a deadline. An enslavement to a schedule that is not their creation. An obligation to organizational patterns and habits that haven’t been interrupted or challenged in weeks, months, or even years. “Why are we doing it that way? — Because that’s the way we’ve always done it (and we don’t have time to rethink how we are doing it).” Argh! That’s rough isn’t it. The battle grounds that are institutional and organizational life require coping with this reality in very brave ways. We share our busyness, and our ungroundedness — the rushed on the inside parts — like they are battle scars that we are proud of. And then we move on, finishing that last sip of coffee, back to the battle. I bet you’ve seen some of this, right. Sigh.

What if, we created more room for the calming and presencing on the inside? More of the inner work that so changes the outer work. More of the presencing that makes a big difference in the outer convening. I think it is what many of us are doing. And what many of us, institutionally need to do — I meet people everywhere desperate for depth and meaning.

Not so rushed on the inside.


Who Are We, The Voters — An Exploration of Shadow

Alan Briskin is, among other things, one of the authors of The Power of Collective Wisdom. He’s a person whose thinking I enjoy. I periodically check in to his writings. One of his coauthors, Sheryl Erickson, is someone that I was in contact with quite a bit, way back in the 90s.

This morning Alan shared an email about a series on collective shadow that he’ll be blogging about. An excerpt from that is below. I like his thinking on the angle of descent in to that shadow.

Finally, I want to offer a reframe for the meaning of descent. It can refer to a movement downward, even a sudden violent attack. It can also refer to origins, such as the background of a person’s family or nationality. All these meanings show up in my writing, but it is the angle of descent that concerns me. If the descent is too extreme, meaning unconscious, it can indeed result in a violent end. However, if the descent allows us to penetrate into the depths of our situation, and we return with greater consciousness, then we will be able to see our situation with new eyes and contribute to our world with new understanding. This is the journey we are all on, managing the boundary between conscious and unconscious awareness. Let it be a joyful one, opening the soul’s eyes, embracing multiple perspectives, and joining the company of those we most value and respect.

What really caught my attention from Alan’s email was his quote from NY Times Columnist, Thomas Friedman, reflecting on American presidential politics as gateway to exploring Shadow. “What interests me most right now, though, is a different question. It’s not, “Who are they – our politicians?” It’s, “Who are we – the voters?

Now we are getting somewhere, right?


Circle Energetics

Rock Stars

I love this picture above. It is all participants from The Circle Way Practicum earlier this month (except two that were unable to be there — we had collages they created to represent them). I love the picture because it brings back a palpable energy and memory.

One of the teachings that I really found helpful at the practicum was the one on Circle Energetics. I think I found simple words that I’ve been searching for to help describe and understand what I’ve been observing and feeling for a long time in groups about the more subtle yet essential dynamics at play. It comes in these three statements from one of the handouts.

“All living systems emit registerable fields of energy — including us.” I think of it as a vibration. It helps me to think of the first science classes I had when introduced to the properties of waves. They have a frequency (how many cycles in a given time period), an amplitude (height of the wave), and a wavelength (distance between crests). I can see the squiggly lines on paper from those science classes. It helps me to think of those lines when I watch people interacting. I’m making it sound more tangible that I mean it. I mostly feel it, this field of energy. I give myself permission to describe it as vibration to understand even more.

“All interactions between living systems activate these energetic fields.” I think of any human group as a living system. At the practicum, it was the group of 22 of us. My cohost, Amanda Fenton and I designed in a whole lot of interaction for the group — partners, small groups, the full group, solo reflection, play (and of course meals, social time, and sleep). The practicum is more than teaching a methodology, though it is that. It’s activating an energetic field. Now we are getting somewhere, right. It feels like a magician’s secret made clear to help make the uncommon, common.

“Circle organizes the energy emitted by interaction.” This one is the kicker for me that I’m learning the most about. My experience is that Circle creates container for that interaction, and that energy, to make more sense. It creates a kind of coherence that seems fully natural and palpable. One of the things that has helped me learn this more fully is to notice how that energy dissipates when the circle is complete or when the event is over. What felt really clear and simple, becomes fuzzy and more difficult to remember. Almost like a dream — you wake in the middle of the night with it thinking you’ll never forget it. By morning, you wake for the day and it’s completely gone. It is my experience that Circle organizes and clarifies — the best description of depth I’ve found is that it is organizing that energy so that we can access information in another, and often shared, way.

It was a fun piece to teach with Amanda. And it’s been a fun and helpful piece, this clarity of Circle energetics, to notice staying with me. Like the memory of a good meal shared with friends. Or a good party. It stays with us, right. My guess is that it’s the energetic that most lingers.

Discovery Park, Seattle


I love the Heron in this picture that I took last week at Discovery Park in Seattle. I’m told it is a Great Blue Heron. Teresa and I were walking some of the park’s trails enjoying varied sights of the Puget Sound and its coastal forest. It was just a great summer day in Seattle. And a much needed walk.

Herons are a discovery to me. I don’t know them well. They stand out to me as being so unique — they are not birds that I grew up with. Wingspan of six feet. They eat fish, amphibians, and even small mammals and other birds. The nest in colonies. To see this one across the pond was a highlight in my day. I felt wonder.

I like the thought that went behind Discovery Park, or perhaps even most, the naming. It’s more than 500 acres preserved to explore that habitat of many birds in particular. Discovery.

There are days when I don’t feel like discovery anything — this day at Discovery Park was not one of them. There are days when my curiosity has run dry and I don’t want to welcome anything new. There are days when many of us feel this, working with teams and groups of people. We are just trying to get on. To get by. To respond to the deep todo lists that are more about putting out fires than exploring new frontiers.

Discovery, however, is an attitude and disposition. I’m glad that I had a couple of grandmothers that taught me this, even though they may not have said it so explicitly. Discovery is about learning. Learning is about accepting that there are many mysteries and much that is unknown. Discovery is about letting go and throwing oneself into what lays ahead.

There are days when all I need is a bit of open-ended discovery. There are days when this is what we need in our groups and teams. Some discovery. A newness. A distraction from the todo lists. A Great Blue Heron and a park that invites timeless wandering. Thanks Discovery Park for a much appreciated moment.