The Fourth Dimension of Social Fields: The Human Mind

A note from Mary: This post is longer and more dense than usual. I am exploring some big questions so please hang in with me and read through the whole piece. I would so appreciate your sending me your questions, comments or suggestions. Last Saturday night, my husband, Roger James, and I watched the last episode of HBO’s five-part mini-series “Chernobyl.” It tells the story of the nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986, … 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…

Say What You Mean—Do What You Say

We are receiving more requests to facilitate “difficult conversations” this year than in previous ones. We don’t know the cause. Perhaps it’s the national political climate that has people more on edge. One common denominator in many of these conflicts is people NOT saying what they mean or doing what they said they would do. According to Angeles Arrien, these are two major sources of conflict. In her bestselling book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the … Read more…

Giving Away Power

Recently, I was talking with a small group of women about difficult situations and the impact they have on us. By “difficult” we meant anything that triggers us emotionally and diminishes our ability to handle circumstances effectively and constructively. One aspect that we had in common is that in these situations, we tended to give our power away and lose access to our equanimity and skills. By “power” I mean the ability to stay grounded, … Read more…

Shifting from Pieces and Parts to Wholes

When tackling a problem, it’s easier to analyze its pieces and parts and try to solve them one by one than it is to try and understand the whole situation or system. However, this approach rarely works because analyzing the parts does not help us understand how the system in which the problem is embedded works nor how it keeps the problem you want to solve in place. Systems thinking, on the other hand, seeks … Read more…

Systems Thinking for an Interconnected World

Are you trying to tackle a problem that, despite everyone’s best efforts, does not go away? Are you trying to optimize your part of an organization without considering the impact on the system as a whole because it seems too complicated or too effortful to do otherwise? Are you afraid your short-term efforts might undermine your intention to solve a problem in the long-term? Are a number of groups working on the same issue at … Read more…

Are We Stuck at a Cognitive Threshold?

The complexity of issues facing us is outstripping our ability to understand and solve them. Governmental institutions spin on gerbil wheels of outmoded, linear processes and procedures, attempting to tackle issues with multiple, inter-connected parts one part at a time. This is as true in the United States Congress as it is in state legislatures and city councils. In the world of business, economic considerations (i.e., profit), trumps all other criteria in determining whether or … Read more…

Four Essential Questions: #2 Who is leading?

This is the second entry in a four-part series that explores four questions: (1) What are we doing here? (2) Who is leading? (3) Who owns this place? (4) Who belongs? Aftab Omer , President of Meridian University, shared these “archetypal” questions while we were planning the annual gathering of the Global Learning and Exchange Network (GLEN) with the founders of the GLEN, David Sibbet and Gisela Wendling, and fellow GLEN members Karen Buckley and FireHawk … Read more…

Artful Waiting

Recently during a workshop on mindful communication, Russell Delman  asked an evocative question: “What is ‘waiting?’” We wait in line to pay for items in a grocery store; we wait on the phone to talk to a live human being, and women in particular often wait to use public restrooms. While we wait, many of us get agitated, wanting this moment to end so the next thing can happen: return home with groceries, talk to … Read more…

Tackling Toxic Talk

To begin 2018 I offer two pieces on how to counter talk that undercuts and damages our ability to interact in constructive ways. This first one considers how to stop toxic talk in the work place. The next one explores how to handle talk that cuts close to people’s core: degrading comments about race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation.  I wish you a wonderful New Year, -Mary   “Public statements are not private,” asserts … Read more…