Expanding our Awareness of Fields

Some of you know that Alan Briskin and I are working on a book about “fields.” I have written several previous posts about them. The map to this territory is becoming clearer, more detailed as we, along with David Sibbet, Gisela Wendling, and Karen Buckley share our ideas and experiences with fields. We are also investigating the work of those who have explored fields before us like Mary Parker Follett, Kurt Lewin, and Otto Scharmer. … Read more…

Perception and Action Are Not Identical Twins; They’re Fraternal

My husband has a wicked sense of humor. For years, I often misperceived his dry wit as criticism, especially if I had been silently rehashing what seemed a less than sterling something that I did or said in the past with a client. If I didn’t pause to check and notice his expression or ask if he was criticizing me, I was off to the reactive races moving into some form of criticism of him … Read more…

Invisible Threads Among Us

You might have heard of the indigenous South African philosophy of ubuntu, “I am because of who we all are.” Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, in a conversation earlier this year with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she described the meaning of ubuntu as “a person becomes a human being through other people.” As a clinical psychologist who worked alongside Bishop Desmond Tutu on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, Gobodo-Madikizela witnessed firsthand the invisible threads … Read more…

Pain and Fear

“What do you think we should be talking about more?” I heard myself recently say to a friend, “The world is just too much for my soul these days.”  I had just read an announcement from the Wiyot Tribe on whose unceded ancestral lands I live that they had declared a State of Emergency on the Wiyot’s ancestral rivers due to extreme low flows and drought conditions. The Wiyot Tribe are my neighbors. Some of … 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…

Human Consciousness and Generative Social Fields

This post is inspired by ongoing conversations with my colleague Alan Briskin as we consider writing a book about social fields. The intention is to examine what they are and how to create generative ones in the service of positive social change. I intend it to be a follow-on to Alan’s blog post The Power of Fields. As I reflect on conversations with my friend and colleague Alan and his recent blog post, these phrases … Read more…

Courageous Conversation Practices

“A difficult conversation is anything you find it hard to talk about…difficult conversations are a part of life.” —Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen in “Difficult Conversations” What difficult conversations do you typically avoid? How do you talk yourself out of speaking up? What makes difficult conversations difficult for you? During our annual Cascadia Center for Leadership program, we ask the 28 participants how they respond to these questions. Over the 20 years we … Read more…

Courageous Communication

Picture about seventy people crowded into a dimly lit room with a creaking, wooden floor of an old building at the edge of San Francisco Bay. It was the home of the Dolphin Club, a legendary swim club founded in 1877, and their board of directors called a meeting to propose a series of upgrades to its aging facilities. I was standing at the back of the room with a swim buddy listening to two … Read more…

That Which Is Unseen…

How do you feel in your meetings at work? Happy, sad, glad, mad or scared? What are your thoughts during those meetings? “This is such a waste of my time.” Or, “I am glad to be part of this conversation.” How does your body feel? Tired, engaged, agitated, calm? All three of these—your emotions, thoughts, and body sensations—contribute to a larger social or relational field in which the meeting is happening. The social fields we … 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…