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…

Meetings as Sacred Practice???

I imagine “sacred,” “spiritual,” or “spiritual intelligence” are words you do not associate with meetings. (See quote in the graphic above.) For my purpose here, “sacred” means being devoted to one important purpose or use that is worthy of being treated with respect and care. For example, as the purpose of a charitable organization is sacred. “Spiritual” means that it relates to or affects the human spirit or soul. But, to what does “spiritual intelligence” … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Empathy and Compassion

This entry on empathy and compassion is the third 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. One of the most popular and memorable … Read more…

The Best Seat Is Often In The Balcony

In a recent conversation with a close friend I noticed I was getting angry and decided to “go to the balcony”* so I could avoid blurting out something I would later regret. This helped me take a broader view of what was actually going on and remember how important this friend is to me. “Going to the balcony”—as if you were looking down on an interaction from the distance of a balcony—can change your perspective … Read more…

Patience Is a Virtue*

Imagine you are a four-year-old and a man places a marshmallow on a plate in front of you. He tells you that if you wait 15 minutes before eating that marshmallow you will be given one more. The man leaves and there you are, alone, with that marshmallow and 15 minutes of time. What do you do? If you waited 15 minutes not only did you get to eat two marshmallows, later in life you … Read more…

Returning to the Present Moment

This spring, the water in Murray Canyon* is higher and faster than I have ever seen it. Heavy rains have washed parts of the trail away. To reach Seven Sisters Waterfall you need to follow a trail that goes from one side of the creek to the other. This entails crossing the creek multiple times on rocks or forging through the cold water rushing down from snow capped mountains. Either way, over the rocks or … Read more…