Vast and Endless Sea

I’ve been using this quote recently.

If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up people to gather wood,
divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French Writer and Aviator

I’ve been using the quote to invite attention to the vast and endless sea that is people in connection and learning together.

I’m glad to be a person that can offer nuance, detail, and practice of participative leadership and community engagement. I’m glad for circle. I’m glad for other forms that shape not just what, but how, people are together.

I’m also glad to know just enough of the endless sea that is people remembering who they are together, and who they want to be together, with honesty of what inspires, and, what is hard.

It is the sea that I long for, and that I think most long for. Often, in our teams and organizations, we just need a bit of permission, or perhaps suspension of the norms that so lock us into the details, to once again, enjoy the way the sea changes everything.


It begins with a simple hello. There is joy in connection. A joy that is as natural as this mountain stream cascading over stones. There are four of us on Zoom, which gives us video and voice connection. We are colleagues. We are also friends. We haven’t connected in this way for a couple of weeks. If we were wolves or dogs, this simple helloing is some tail-wagging and playful bumping into each other.

It continues with some restatement of purpose. There is joy in this too. “I think what we are up to today is a bit of reconnection (in this case, before going into a Q & A session with prospective participants to an upcoming Art of Hosting that we will all hold together).” We are cultivating our learning field among us, which has direct bearing on what participants will experience.

It continues with deliberate check-in. It’s updating a bit of where we each are on our respective paths. We each know that it won’t be everything. It’s not a report. It’s a moment of witnessing with each of us choosing right-sized bites to share that build us into an “us.” There is more than tail-wagging. We are inviting the belonging that is pack.

Aside note — I recently listened to “The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack” by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. It was road-trip listening that carried me through much of Montana and southern British Columbia last week, headed north to Fairmont, Canada. I loved the book. I loved the imagery of the wolves. I loved the insights into their social behaviors.

Back to the call — I’m close to these people on this call. There is already a chemistry. And it’s growing. Because we are committed to hello, and purpose, and deliberate check-in. We are going together. We are growing together. It feels natural to be in our sharedness and in our difference that is held by honest relationship — I’m glad for that.

And then the call continues. Others come to join — these are the participants. They are yummy. They share a bit of intro. They share a few questions. And then we think and be out loud together. Without script. But with much purpose, honesty, and expectation to learn and connect.

All of this, I would suggest, is tending to a “field.” It is a less visible connective tissue. It involves words, but is more than words. It involves images and is social cues, but is more than that too. “Field” is the ethereal that carries more of the whole of us. Into knowns and unknowns. I love this. And I’d suggest, that this is so much the work of people in varied organizations today. Reclaiming connection. And honesty. And unscriptedness. So that we can go deeply to the inner and the outer.

Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, is often quoted for this expression of field:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

Here’s to our awake together. To our fields of awakeness. And streams. And to all the good that grows from that. Inner. And outer. In groups small and large.

When Winter Visits Spring

It snowed where I live this past weekend. Three inches on the ground in the valley where I am. I suspect a foot or more, higher in the mountains. Those who ski and snowboard will be quite happy.

This snow is a bit late in the season. Crocus and daffodils have already began peeking their way through the ground, warmed by the sun’s call. People have dressed down a layer of coat, themselves peeking with anticipation to the changing season.

There is a beauty in the snow. When I woke Sunday, looking out my bedroom window to mono-clouded and mono-colored sky, “Wow!” was the first expression from my lips. Wow for the beauty. Wow for the surprise. Wow for the gentleness of it — this was not a bitter wind storm that had created this canvas before me. Nor was it biting cold that continued to craft what was before me, as I looked outside other windows.

When we can learn to see the beauty and gentleness in the surprises before us in working together in groups, teams, and communities, just as we do in witnessing and welcoming Winter’s Sunday visit to Spring, then too, might we know some added, and needed joy of being human together.

Loved it!

When Winter visits Spring.