An Antidote to Uncertainty

In a recent conversation with friends and colleagues in the United States and Europe, Marilee Adams, author of an insightful best-seller—“Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”—said, “The antidote to uncertainty is inquiry.” Since then, I have been reflecting on the truth of this observation. “Antidote” usually refers to a medicine to counteract a particular poison. Although uncertainty is not a poison, the discomfort we feel with uncertainty can become one. So, although I like the … Read more…

Four Pillars of a Healthy Mind

In 1992, neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson met the Dalai Lama for the first time. Like many neuroscientists and psychologists, he had been studying what was wrong with human brains: anxiety, fear, depression, and stress. But his Holiness asked why he wasn’t using neuroscientific tools to study kindness and compassion.  At first, the question startled him, but it then led to nearly two decades of collaboration between them and the establishing the Center for Healthy Minds … Read more…

What Life Expects of Me

Roger James and I were taking a glorious walk in the early morning sun around the Arcata Marsh. We had just stopped for a few groceries when a distraught man passed by screaming through a bandana, “This is bullshit!” Continuing up the street, he continued ranting about how he had had to enter the Farmers’ Market through a roped entrance and walk opposite to the direction he wanted to walk. His rage was palpable even … Read more…

Break Apart or Build Bridges

john a. powell, professor of Law, African American and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, made the astute observation that in times of stress, societies either break apart or build bridges. In addition to the stress from accelerating changes in globalization, technology, environment, and demographics, we now add a global pandemic and an economic free fall. All of this is hard for the human brain to process. Because the brain evolved to keep us safe, it … Read more…

Will It Have Been for Nothing?

Browsing our bookshelves, my eyes landed on “An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum.” She wrote these diaries in eight exercise books in Amsterdam during the Holocaust years. She died in 1943 at Auschwitz at the age of 29. I first read her diaries when they were published in 1983. My mother had died recently and my engagement with life was half-hearted at best. Her words opened my eyes to what is possible within … Read more…

The Dream of My Life

I have loved Mary Oliver’s poetry since college. Her poems speak to me in deep and surprising ways, particularly the stanza above. It came to mind this morning and brought the fragrance of rivers and forests along with a sense of calm and hope for our world during this perilous time. Oliver’s words invite a slowing down and expanding of awareness. When I do this, it helps me find meaning in all I have been … Read more…

The Still Point

In the midst of the onslaught of emails, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn messages about all the do’s and don’ts during this exceptional time, I meditate. Each of us appears to be searching for inspiration. One morning, T.S. Eliot’s words about the still point floated into my mind from my years as an English literature major in college. I will not use his words to add to the list of tips flooding social media. I will, … Read more…

The Gifts and Challenges of Generative Listening

The first time I was listened to, really listened to, was a revelation. It happened in my mid-twenties while talking with Grace, a close colleague and friend. She did something deceptively simple. She paid attention. She restated back to me what she understood me to say. Then she asked a question to increase her understanding of what I was trying to convey.  Hearing my words reflected back to me was revelatory. I felt seen and … Read more…

Engender Psychological Safety at Work

Would you like to wield a magic wand and create a work environment in which people feel safe enough to take interpersonal risks, try new things, acknowledge mistakes and learn? In other words, a climate in which people do NOT embarrass, reject, or punish one another for speaking up? This is what you could get if employees feel psychologically safe. A 2017 Gallup poll estimated if leaders could move the current ratio of employees who … Read more…

A Series of Small Acts

These past few days, I have been waking up to a jumpy body and an overall sense of “How am I going to get it all done?” It seems that life has a way of constellating all the “yeses” I have offered over a long period of time into lots of activity in a short period of time.  As I sat meditating, I reached for a copy of Tao Te Ching and read these passages: … Read more…