I wrote recently about perseverance. In gratitude for Meg Wheatley’s book by the same name.

I’m picking up this book quite a bit lately. In the mornings. Randomly selecting a page. Reading the passage. Sitting quietly with it, the way I would a friend. And treating the passage as a kind of guide for the day.

Something in me is seeking. And tender. And persevering. And based on today’s reading, growing in patience.

The words below are all from Meg’s book, pages 140-141. Including the St. Augustine quote. There is a gift to essence, isn’t there.


The reward of patience is patience.
St. Augustine, born 354.



Perseverance is a journey seemingly without end.

Yet it has a few destinations or rewards, one of which is patience.

It’s not that we start out patient.
We don’t persevere because we are patient people.

We become patient because we have too.
There is no choice — the work is endless.

Everyday we have to make a choice.
Will we give up, or will we keep going?

When day after day we are willing to keep going we discover,
quite to our amazement, that we have become patient.

And then we just continue on.
Day after day.

Perseverance — Thanks Meg Wheatley

My friend Meg wrote this book, Perseverance, in 2010. She was offering it as a way to help people stay in their awareness and awakeness. She wrote it to help people not collapse into a more alluring and comforting superficiality.

There are so many layers of persevering that are required in these times. For some of us, it is physical. I’m doing my best with a rather challenging neck injury that has me with very little mobility. It takes a discipline to not cave to fears of all that is or will be lost. For some of us, our perseverance is emotional. It is continuing to offer an open heart, even when there is full reason to protect and hunker down. For some of us, our perseverance is intellectual, testing the edges of the known, and knowing that those tests often start alone. For some of us our perseverance is all of the above — so many of us can’t let go of our causes that seek to both interrupt current pattern and to evolve forward in new ways of being and seeing.

I appreciate these words from Meg. I appreciate here openness about staying in the questions. I suppose because, it’s so easy to get caught in a downward spiral of despair. I also appreciate friends and colleagues who are willing to lean in together to get to more of what we are all trying to persevere within.

Questions and Answers

How is it that some people devote their lives to a cause, to a person, to a place?

And how is it that even in the midst of failures, betrayals, reversals, they can still remain focused and dedicated to their cause?

What enables a person to stay, to not be dissuaded, to not lose focus? How to people not become overwhelmed, or succumb to exhaustion and despair?

How do such people sustain themselves over long periods of time? How do they reserve their health and well-being?

How do they preserve their faith?

I want to be one who perseveres, so these are all real questions for me.

Meg’s book is a good one to pick up and read in little snippets. It’s a collection of short writings meant to provide — I want to say hope, but it’s really providing context for what are persevering means these days.

Enjoy the read.

Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light


It is my experience that there is no doubt, darkness to lean into. The dark within self that often shows up as shame or fear over losses or perceived failures. There can be medicine in that in that leaning, though I don’t find I’m always able to go to it.

There is also the dark that is collective, and showing itself in compounded human relations in very stuck systems. There is hatred. There is systemic injustice. There is masked fear in reaction and protection. There can be medicine in leaning into awareness of those too. Or at least, not being afraid of being honest about them.

I so appreciate the invitation to the light, particularly when spoken with awareness of the dark. My friend Meg Wheatley is one who has often been able to speak this with me and others. She reminds me to take courage. Meg recently did this through a poem by Methodist Minister, Jan Richardson.

May it inspire.


Blessed Are You Who Bear The Light
Jan Richardson
(From Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons)

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives
in whom the brightness blazes —
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that

shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.




Meetings On The Edge

I’ve been reading a bit on chaos lately, particularly from the book above by Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack. There is much that I love in this book that applies to working with groups to help create good containers for learning and for connection. There is much that I like in the title and subtitle. “Imperative” is a strong word to me. It connotes something that is essential, that you can’t do without. This book helps bring forward more of the narrative about how essential chaos is for all of the good things listed in the subtitle — chance, disruption, innovation, effectiveness, success.

A particular part that I find myself thinking about from this book is about the importance of edges. Edges in systems. Edges in learning. Edges in communities. It’s at the edges, at the boundaries, that some of the most fruitful possibilities exist. The edges and boundaries are where seemingly unrelated things are able to relate. Or, at least mash things up bit. And evolve.

Meg Wheatley is one of the people that I’ve most appreciated for welcoming the narrative of the importance of chaos and life at the edges. It was 1992 when I first met her, beginning what would become now 26 years of working and friending together. Meg had just written Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, which among other things, invited people into a relationship with seemingly unconnected things. Meg wrote about living systems as they connect to leadership. She wrote about chemistry (and how a diagram for a chemical reaction more accurately describes organizational systems than neatly defined org charts). She wrote about biology (and how organizations are living systems, not machines, and thus evolve like living systems). Meg wrote about physics (and how living systems move toward higher levels of order by using messes to get there). Meg connected the fruitful areas of science, new science, to leadership. That helped to change the story and practice of what leadership was all about.

My life of working with change and dialogue began with Meg. In the early 2000s, friendship and colleagueship brought me to The Art of Hosting body of work. More good people working the edges and the narrative of the importance of chaos and non-linearity. Through The Art of Hosting, arose a process technology that combines Open Space Technology with World Cafe — Pro-Action Cafe. It’s a process that, among other things, brings naive experts to small table conversations to support one person’s project (and that they might know little about — working with strangers, temporarily). It moves energy to action. Pro-Action Cafe creates intersection at the boundaries. As Ori Brafman might call it, “planned or organized serendipity.” It’s the kind of evolution that you can’t plan, and that comes from surprise encounters. On the edges.

In the late 90s is also when I first discovered The Circle Way. Learning with Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin, circle would become a foundational practice for all of the leadership work that I’ve been involved with. Circle creates structure for how people turn to one another. For learning, yes. For connection, yes. For surprise, yes. For honesty, yes. It occurs to me that circle is a format for helping to weave the edges, and to welcome the surprises that chance and disruption give birth to.

I really enjoyed the Chaos Imperative. I enjoyed the feeling while reading it. I enjoyed the content. I enjoyed the invitation to come into more relationship with chaos — not as a “thing” but rather as a way of being that encourages being with life itself.

One further bit for the part of me / us that likes lists. Brafman offers 5 Rules of Chaos. I’ve added a bit of thought to each.

  1. Beware the Seduction of Data and Measurement — It’s so easy to fall in love with data. It’s so attractive for most of us to feel embraced by the sensation of certainty that measurement can bring. Let’s be clear, evaluation matters, and varies across contexts on what is relevant. But too much attention to data abolishes the appreciation for the aliveness, and uncertainty that chaos brings.
  2. Organize Chaos — There’s plenty of methods to use these days that connect groups of people in powerful learning and planning. Open Space Technology is a goto for me. Just enough structure (the bulletin board of offerings) to bring coherence and purpose. Enough freedom to deserve the name of life.
  3. Make White Space Productive — I think of working well in groups as having three simultaneous components that I first learned through pal, Chris Corrigan. Work. Learning. Relationship. They are all productive, and sometimes one needs more attention that another.
  4. Embrace Unusual Suspects — I think of these as wild cards. Often when working with groups that are facing the question of who to invite to a gathering, I encourage them to name all of the regular people, the obvious ones, AND to think about wild cards. Those that aren’t the first wave of people. Those that will help us think differently. Edges. Chaos. Imperative.
  5. Organize Serendipity — This is similar to number 2 for me. Serendipity often connotes a kind of luck. Or surprise alignment. It’s the kind of thing that can happen when people are given opportunity to bump into one another. I use milling exercises. I use a variety of containers / methods to encourage even just the softening into welcoming serendipity.

Here’s to chaos, what we loved as 5 year-olds, and what was schooled out of us.

Here’s to meetings at the edge, and the courage it takes to reinvoke the wonder of difference and the surprise alignment it can create.