Sussing Out Our Sense of Superiority

Our judging brains are powerful things. Within nanoseconds of seeing or meeting someone, we decide whether or not we like them. We are attracted or repulsed. My meditation practice, in addition to my intention to treat others respectfully, helps me notice the train of judgments that seems to spontaneously arise when I meet someone new or when I encounter someone whom I already know. Thankfully, I can now more easily notice the judgments and step … Read more…

Taking Responsibility For Your Attention

There’s a lot to be worried about these days. Fires in the Amazon Forest, rising tensions in the Middle East, chaos in the leadership of two of the world’s oldest democracies, frequent mass shootings, rising numbers of hate crimes, lead in the water in Flint and now in Newark… Oh my. I have to stop. With all that is occurring in the world (to which we have access 24/7), it is no wonder there is … Read more…

Spaciousness of “Negative Capability”

John Keats, English Romantic Poet, wrote about “negative capability” in a letter to his brothers George and Thomas in 1871 when he was 22 years old. I read this letter nearly a century later when I was 22, an undergraduate majoring in English literature. I understand this oxymoronically-named ability today in ways I could not have then. As circumstances at work and in our lives become ever more complex, negative capability might be one of … Read more…

Networks of Conversations

Conversations, aka meetings, are the sine qua non of organizations and communities. They are how things get done. “Is there anything that matters that isn’t done through conversations?” asks Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, authors of The Three Laws of Performance. Planning, problem solving, policy setting, coaching or staying up-to-date with colleagues: all of these occur through conversations. In addition, meeting conversations feed into other ones. Managers develop a recommendation for a board of directors. … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Pay Attention

This entry on attention is the fourth in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. The second entry investigates resilience and the third considers empathy and compassion. Attention is a limited … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Responding to Disturbances

This entry is the first in a five-part series. It will describe what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain, and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. For 15 years I’ve been tracking the impact of meditation on the human brain and its potential to help people be more constructive in meetings. In my work as a leader, consultant and facilitator it seems to me … Read more…

Well-Being in Meetings #4: Generosity

Generosity turns out to be its own reward. According to neuroscientist Richie Davidson, “There are now a plethora of data showing that when we individuals engage in generous and altruistic behaviors, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being.”         Generosity is one of the four building blocks of well-being identified by Davidson. The other three ingredients are resilience, outlook, and attention. They were the focus of the last three … Read more…

Well-Being in Meetings #3: Attention

Years ago a colleague remarked, “Attention is a limited resource.” Although I agreed with her at the time, I could not have appreciated then the deeper truth of her words because 25 years ago we did not know much about how attention worked in the brain. We now know that focusing attention and inhibiting or avoiding distractions uses lots of energy in the very part of the brain that plays an important role in paying … Read more…

Choose Your Contribution to the Future

I recently read this on a poster in the contemplative Santa Sabina Center in San Rafael, California where I spent six days on an Embodied Life™ retreat with Russell Delman. While there, I continued my decades long reflection and investigation into how we contribute to the circumstances out of which our future does take shape each time we interact with others at home, at work, and in our communities. Everyday we discover more about the human … Read more…