Purpose Shared: 3 Purpose Pioneers

photo credit: Daniel Scotton

photo credit: Daniel Scotton

We've had the honor of knowing and working closely with three Purpose Pioneers: Richard Leider, Meg Wheatley and Peter Block. We are taking a moment to celebrate their life's work of living and teaching purposefully. Enjoy!

Richard Leider, Meg Wheatley, and Peter Block

Purpose Shared: Come Share Your Purpose

Art of Convening Virtual Training

We are excited about this great new AoC training: it will focus on your expression of purpose and leadership- virtually! [9 Steps to Collaboration]

You can email either Patricia or Craig for questions.

Purpose Shared: Resignation to inspiration!

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

"The secret sauce for any meeting: the agenda doesn’t go to outcome first; you design to quiet the mind and allow people to shift to the present moment to get connected."

I am jazzed! I just got off Zoom with a new action team of 12. Different locations, different reasons for participating, a common mandate to be revealed. I had 1-1/2 hours to create a container where they could come together and find commonality, in an environment of mutual trust and respect.

This team was one of six formed at the end of an in-person 1-1/2 day retreat, which was amazing: we created resonance in the midst of dissonance. Moved from resignation to inspiration. When people are inspired, they will step up, no matter how busy they are. 

Secret Sauce

The Convening Tool Kit Worked!

The secret sauce for any meeting: the agenda doesn’t go to outcome first; you design to quiet the mind and allow people to shift to the present moment to get connected.

More secret sauce: a process that focuses on the heart of the matter and gets the purpose and agreements clear, so that people can pay attention and participate fully.

(And, a lot more ideas and learnings to share in another post...)

Outcomes were achieved! Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. Common goals and committed action came easily and were the natural outcome of a designed essential conversation.

Whether you are leading a virtual collaboration or a weekly team meeting, an Art of Convening Training adds a powerful skill set to any facilitation or gathering. Learn the secret sauce of great meetings. We would love to work with you!

Craig Neal

Purpose Shared: 3 Leaders Sharing Purpose in Action

PHoto Credit: Daniel Scotton

PHoto Credit: Daniel Scotton

We are taking a moment to revisit and celebrate some of the purposeful work expressed in these blog pages recently.

View videos with Bob and Ren Wei and read a passionate essay from Cindy Kent. We'll have more. Enjoy!


Purpose Shared: Peter Block on Re-envisioning Vision and Ownership

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

"A vision created for others to live out is patriarchy in action. There is no ownership in endorsement or enrollment, a fancy term for selling the vision."

We are thrilled to offer a recent essay by friend Peter Block. We deeply admire his thought leadership.


In implementing stewardship principles many well-meaning people in power make the false connection that if we want consistency and control in the quality of product or service we deliver to customers, we must have consistency and control in the way we govern the people creating the product or service. The business process and the human process are both important, but they operate on different principles. Forgetting this results in cosmetic change.

We need to understand that the methods of change we choose can undermine our intentions unless they produce a redistribution of power, purpose, and privilege.  

A clear example of how popular strategies of improvement can reinforce patriarchy and feed rather than confront our belief in consistency and control is the organizational visioning process. We have bought the notion that vision must come from the top.

Since the mid-1980s, every top management team has created its vision statement and worked hard on communicating it. What this means in practical terms is that a consultant or staff person has spent a lot of time interviewing executives and writing vision paragraphs. A half- or full-day retreat is then convened so the top group can wordsmith the statement and plan for its distribution.

The intent is sincere and the content is always appealing. Each management team affirms its uniqueness by declaring that it

  • is committed to being world class,
  • will be number one in its markets,
  • believes in its people,
  • stands firm for quality,
  • cares for customers,
  • is committed to the environment,
  • supports teams, and
  • is going to make a lot of money for shareholders
  • (or will be fiscally responsible to its stakeholders).

Sincere intentions. An appealing statement. What’s the problem?

First, it is boring, but put that aside. The significant problem is twofold: ownership and implementation. Ownership resides with those who craft and create a vision, and with them alone. A statement created for a team to endorse is not owned by the team. An even more fundamental defect is that, in most cases, the vision statement is created for the rest of the organization to live out.

Notice that the vision here is used to define a culture or a set of values to be lived. This is different from top management’s rightful task to define business mission and set business goals. A vision created for others to live out is patriarchy in action. There is no ownership in endorsement or enrollment, a fancy term for selling the vision.

The belief that crafting the vision is primarily a leadership-at-the-top function defeats, right at the beginning, the intent of driving ownership and responsibility toward those close to the work and the customer. Creating vision is in fact an ownership function, and if we want ownership widely dispersed, then each person needs to struggle with articulating their own, personal vision for their function or unit.

Ownership comes from an investment, and the investment required from each of us is to define purpose for ourselves. Each of us defining vision for our area of responsibility is how partnership is created. The desire for vision from the top is a subtle way of disclaiming ownership and responsibility. If this were our own business, it is unlikely that we would allow someone else to define values for us.

Adapted from Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest, 2d ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler, 2013). In the last 25 years, Peter Block’s Designed Learning has trained over 1,000,000 staff professionals worldwide using his highly successful Flawless Consulting™ workshops.

Resources: Designed Learning, Abundant Community

Purpose Shared: A Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

"I started this project as a small way of offering a counterbalance to the dissonance of the world. Now I am discovering that, while I believe this project is meeting that vision, it is also evolving into a process that goes far beyond." 

We are thrilled to celebrate with CPL Associate Barbara Shipka on this amazing milestone. More on the story below and by clicking on the photo.

From Barbara: Today I invite you to celebrate with me. Recently I was honored with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Boards of Directors of The Gestalt Center for Organization and Systems Development. To quote the Center’s President and CEO, John D. Carter, “Thank you for making a difference in the world through your presence as an applied behavioral science practitioner. You have found a way to gently touch the hearts of people by allowing them to learn from your work.” 

Each of you has had a lot to do with my winning this award. ...

I started this project as a small way of offering a counterbalance to the dissonance of the world. Now I am discovering that, while I believe this project is meeting that vision, it is also evolving into a process that goes far beyond that. It is actually demonstrating how, via technology, we can connect at the heart level even when we cannot be in person. Thus, our reach and our individual and collective webs can be so much more than we ever imagined! 

Recognition: Barbara Shipka

I’ve known many of you personally at some point in time covering many decades. We may not have been in each other’s physical company for years but, through this project, we have consciously reignited our connections with each other – both subtly and explicitly. Each time I send an email and you open it, we have gifted and blessed each other. Through that single act we are changing the world! 

Together, we form a collective of hope and possibility. We are all such good people who are each doing our part to make the world a better place through our presence. As a collective, we are on six continents…from Iraq to Australia, Ethiopia to China, Argentina to Belgium, the US to India. You are my graduate school advisor, my fifth grade students in Beirut, Lebanon, my clients and colleagues at work in places like the US, Switzerland, and Somalia, my business partner, my spiritual teachers and healers, my son, my beloved friends everywhere. You are my chosen family. I have learned so much from you. I send you my deepest gratitude!

May we continue together on this journey of recognizing how our relationships last longer than our in-person encounters. And may we continue exploring and unfolding new ways that show us more fully how we are connected whether we are aware of it or not.

Purpose Shared: Sharing Your Purpose by Finding Your Passion

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Serving the "Next Generation Human": I recently had the privilege of working with Roger Kenneth Marsh as he co-led the series Road to Renewal in Houston, Texas. Today we’re going to talk about how he leads people through "The Passion Test" as a path for discovering their purpose. But more than that, The Passion Test is a framework for what Roger sees as emerging: the "Next Generation" human. Roger has a rich background as a formally trained engineer, businessman, leadership and life coach (bio below). Join us for a fascinating leadership conversation.

Craig and Roger Marsh

Roger Kenneth Marsh is a formally trained engineer, businessman, leadership and life coach. He has a degree in engineering, an MBA, is a certified Leadership and Life Coach, a Certified HeartMath® Trainer, a Certified Passion Test® Facilitator, and is a Senior Teacher of Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) emanating from the Esalen Institute. Through his company Beyond Belief he offers Organizational Development Consulting that includes Leadership Development and Coaching, and The HeartMath Resilience Advantage workshop and training.

Website: NexGen Human

Author, NexGen Human: A Modern Age Path to Fulfillment

The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood 

Purpose Shared: Igniting a Purpose Revolution

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

"There are good companies out there, and a lot of work needs to be done by companies to tell their authentic story and build a firm relationship with customers based on who the company is..."

I first got to know John Izzo in a tent on safari in Tanzania. Our 3-week journey led us to one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes in Africa. Our leader was none other than our mutual mentor, Richard Leider, the "Pope of Purpose." John had already established himself as a global leadership author, speaker, and consultant. Little did I know that 11 years later CPL and John would be joining Richard in a global purpose movement, and John would write a defining book called The Purpose Revolution.  - Craig

The Purpose Gap

Dr. John Izzo


What is the Purpose Gap? It is both an opportunity and threat in the business world today. It exists because there a distinct difference between what people desire and hope for, and what is actually being delivered by businesses and organizations. Today a purpose gap exists for both employees and customers.

Seventy seven percent of employees say there is matters a great deal to work for a company they believe in and a job where they have a sense of purpose. Fifty percent of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for the right company, and almost forty percent cite purpose as the main driver of their engagement and retention at work. Yet the vast majority of people, 75%, say that they don’t work for this type of company- that the company they work for mostly cares about profit and its own self-interest. Therein lies the purpose gap for employees.

Customers around the world are asking for more purpose than companies are delivering. Eighty percent of customers globally want to buy from companies that they believe are doing a good job in the world. Yet they feel confident that only 6% of the companies they do business with are actually good. In other words, they have a deep desire to buy good, but have no idea if the companies that serve them are good or not.  There are good companies out there, and a lot of work needs to be done by companies to tell their authentic story and build a firm relationship with customers based on who the company is, and what positive good it achieves.

My co-author Jeff Vanderwielen and I talk in The Purpose Revolution about how companies who close the purpose gap are going to

be the real winners. As employees and customers, we want more. The companies who listen and really deliver are going to be the ones we choose to work for and buy from. The Purpose Revolution is here. Are you ready?

Watch my Izzo on Purpose video to find out more about The Purpose Gap.

More here: https://drjohnizzo.com/purpose-blog/purpose-revolution/the-purpose-gap/

Purpose Shared: Leadership is Convening

"Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged."

Peter Block became a foundational mentor when we founded Heartland/CPL 22 years ago. His writing and thought leadership was invaluable.

'The Answer to How is Yes' and 'Community: The Structure of Belonging' were both primary texts for the early Art of Convening Training's. The essay below states the case for purpose shared as convening, and convening as a foundational characteristic of an on-purpose leader.

Leadership is Convening

Excerpt from Community: The Structure of Belonging, by Peter Block, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, May 2008

In communal transformation, leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices. It is not a personality characteristic or a matter of style, and therefore it requires nothing more than what all of us already have. 

This means we can stop looking for leadership as though it were scarce or lost, or it had to be trained into us by experts. If our traditional form of leadership has been studied for so long, written about with such admiration, defined by so many, worshiped by so few, and the cause of so much disappointment, maybe doing more of all that is not productive. The search for great leadership is a prime example of how we too often take something that does not work and try harder at it. I have written elsewhere about reconstructing leader as social architect.

The Art of Convening

The shift is to believe that the task of leadership is to provide context and produce engagement, to tend to our social fabric. It is to see the leader as one whose function is to engage groups of people in a way that creates accountability and commitment. In this way of thinking we hold leadership to three tasks: 

• Create a context that nurtures an alternative future, one based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment.

• Initiate and convene conversations that shift people’s experience, which occurs through the way people are brought together and the nature of the questions used to engage them.

• Listen and pay attention. 

Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged. Through this engagement, citizens discover that it is in their power to resolve something or at least move the action forward. 


Engagement, and the accountability that grows out of it, occurs when we ask people to be in charge of their own experience and act on the well-being of the whole. Leaders do this by naming a new context and convening people into new conversations through questions that demand personal investment. This is what triggers the choice to be accountable for those things over which we can have power, even though we may have no control.

In addition to convening and naming the question, we add listening to the critical role of leadership. Listening may be the single most powerful action the leader can take. Leaders will always be under pressure to speak, but if building social fabric is important, and sustained transformation is the goal, then listening becomes the greater service. 

This kind of leadership––convening, naming the question, and listening––is restorative and produces energy rather than consumes it. It is leadership that creates accountability as it confronts people with their freedom. In this way, engagement-centered leaders bring kitchen table and street corner democracy into being.

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Purpose Shared: "Making Happy" -Cindy Kent

Purpose Shared

"So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future."

Cindy Kent was the lead Conversation Starter at our 20th Anniversary Conference in 2016. As a thought and purposeful leader, her values are central to all she does and how she does it. 

Making Happy

In nearly five decades of life, and too-many-experiences-to-count later, I have come to realize how misguided the notion of finding happiness is. You don’t really find happy, in truth, we make happy. Finding Happy is an ill-conceived notion, that inherently implies that happiness is some illusive by-product of luck or fortune or even, some edenic destination—a wistful, ideologue of a reward at the end of one’s diligent pursuit. Instead, I believe, we make happy—one decision, one choice, at a time.

The very idea that we make happy can be hard for some people to accept. Why? Because if we accept that we make our own happy, then it places the responsibility of our happiness squarely on our own shoulders. As such, it puts an end once and for all to the infamous “blame game” and the convenient opportunity to blame someone, anyone, for our failing to achieve the love, success and happiness that we desire. It would mean that the years we’ve spent blaming friends, parents, spouses, partners and employers for failing to make us happy were in fact, a bad use of our good and precious time. It does not mean that these individuals are abdicated from any wrong-doing, but it does suggest that we maintain absolute control over the effect that we allow their actions to have on our emotional and mental well-being. Fundamentally, happiness is much more about our reactions than it is about the actions themselves—reactions, which are completely within our own control. At some point we must make the choice to let go of the pain and hurt inflicted by others and choose to forgive them, let it go and MOVE ON. In fact today, or better yet right NOW, you can choose to let this very moment be the last bit of hurt that you ascribe to any event of your past. As you take deep cleansing breaths, you are releasing the bitterness of yesterday and taking in all the joy and hope that tomorrow brings. If you choose to wait, to have one final pity party or to savor the familiarity of pain’s bitterness one last time, then tomorrow will never come. So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future.

Cindy Kent

So what is happiness? Happiness is the deepest level of contentment that you can possibly imagine, a sense of fullness that envelopes every fiber of your being. It is soul joy—a knowing that you are where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing at this very moment in time. It is not a feeling, for feelings are fleeting, but instead it is a sense of wholeness and being completely at peace in the moment. Happiness is inextricably tied to purpose. Walking in purpose and living life on purpose, by its very nature is a higher order of livelihood. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many people go through their entire lives having never experienced the depth of peace that comes from a life truly lived. 

After years of “ordinary-ness,” the human spirit that is purposed for greatness will eventually take one of two paths. It will either grow dull and bitter, having convinced itself that ‘this is as good as it gets’ or two, the intensity of frustration will fuel the yearning to find ‘something more.’ It is at this point that one becomes increasingly aware that what you’re doing now, or even what you’ve spent the last twenty or thirty years doing is not fulfilling. This can be a frightening and overwhelming experience fraught with questions and self-doubt. What will I do instead? I don’t have the training or education to do what I really want to do. Will I be able to meet my financial obligations? I have a thriving career; people will think I’m crazy to leave this great job. Be assured that these feelings and questions are normal—and necessary—milestones as one endeavors to make happy.  

Cindy (Smith) Kent

Innovative Healthcare Executive. Focused Operational Growth Leader. Visionary Change Champion. Public Speaker.

President & General Manager, 3M Infection Prevention Division


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Exciting new "Purpose Shared" series from Center for Purposeful Leadership


"Subscribe now to get your 2x/week spark of purpose."

In the weeks to come your twice-weekly “Purpose Shared” will feature a beautiful inspirational photo and saying one day and an original article from one of our Purpose Fellows. Welcome to #1!

Could 2018 be the year that we start to see companies who embrace a more purpose-led strategy in an era of technological disruption start to win the war for the best talent?* Great question, but certainly not the only reason to consider why purpose plays a central role in culture strategy and alignment. Why focus on purpose? Purpose brings goodness into our everyday lives and more. 

As we evolved from Heartland to Center for Purposeful Leadership, we have been blessed with the presence, heart, and wisdom of hundreds of Conversation Starters plus thousands of attendees as clients and at our events. What did they have in common? A sense of purpose shared with those around them. 

Recently we realigned with Richard Leider, the "father" of the Purpose Movement that is exploding around us. It's a perfect fit. CPL has been known as the Convening Company. Marrying convening and purpose has become the sweet spot that defines us. We realized that at the heart of the matter is purpose. Convening activates purpose. 

  • Purpose shared is core to great leadership.
  • Purpose is our true north, our reason for being. 
  • Purpose is fundamental to health, healing, and happiness. 
  • Purpose is always about something larger than yourself.
  • Purpose expressed is an activator and crucial for an alignment strategy.
  • Purposeful leaders are constantly growing and “becoming” self-aware, self-led, and self-less.

We look forward to sharing reflections from the purposeful leaders that inspire us.

Next week we will feature Richard's newest writing on "Becoming a Wise Leader." Stay tuned!

Subscribe now to get your 2x/week spark of purpose

*A recent article in MARGINALIA: FUTURE OF WORK MAGAZINE, focused on "Future of Work Predictions for 2018". While a lot of the predictions focused on AI and technology, there were many comments about the role of purpose and this question: Could 2018 be the year that we start to see companies who embrace a more purpose-led strategy in an era of technological disruption start to win the war for the best talent? 

Share the News: Heartland is now CPL

Hello, we have some news! Heartland is now the Center for Purposeful Leadership (CPL).

Though our name has changed, our values remain the same. At the heart of the matter is purpose. We invite you to join us on this journey into new beginnings.

As we celebrated our 20th year in business, it felt like an auspicious time to evolve to something that calls forth where we began - at the inner life of business. We'd love for you to preview our

new CPL website and read about our solutions

We particularly love our photos and this new blog. While here, feel free to download our new Owning Successes and Setbacks as A Team thought piece. 

On this blog, we will continue sharing current news, case studies and tips to finding shared purpose in leadership. First time visitor? Please subscribe. 

Know this: the deepest satisfaction of our professional lives is to be of service to people like you. Let's be powerful on purpose together.

~ The CPL Team

Convening and Judgment

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Have you ever been judged? I know the answer to that, because we've all been judged. We're judged every time we walk among others. For the very same behavior or characteristic we can be judged positively (especially by our moms!) or negatively (as by our arch nemesis if we have one).

My own judgments are both involuntary and continuous - like breathing. Sometimes those judgments help me make sense of the world, but more often than I would like, if I have the opportunity to test the judgments I make, they can be amazingly wrong. That is, unless I have triggered the "self-fulfilling prophesy" kind of judgment.

We are all multifaceted human beings, and as such could display characteristics that show us to be shallow barbarians one minute and deep, thoughtful geniuses the next. People judge me (and others) using all kinds of criteria - by the expression on our faces, by the shoes we wear, by the condition or color of our hair, or perhaps by a blog entry. A momentary lapse of manners may be judged as refreshingly real by one person and as unnecessarily crude by another.

A challenge I struggle with sometimes when I convene or participate in a group is setting aside my judgment. A key principle in the Art of Convening for the Aspect of Hearing All the Voices is to suspend our judgment. But my brain is constantly making conscious and unconscious evaluations of the people I am with - and others often seem to be doing the same thing. Like a frisky puppy, judgment chews on my hand and vies for my attention, becoming more stealthy and present as I struggle to banish it.

"Judgment is not necessarily a bad thing, I've learned. I want to have and continue to nurture good judgment in my life."

So, rather than fight with my judgment and try to get rid of it, I have decided to treat it like a puppy I've brought along, but is not participating. I take the time to train her to sit quietly at my feet or under my chair, until my meeting or conversation is over - then I take her away with me somewhat better behaved, more informed and matured in some way.

Judgment is not necessarily a bad thing, I've learned. I want to have and continue to nurture good judgment in my life. But I do myself a disservice when I allow my judgment to be a barrier to relationship with others in my gathering. I notice that the Art of Convening principle asks me to "suspend" my judgment, not to eliminate it. My objective is to be present in my gathering as a place of "charitable interpretation" and openness to being surprised.

What are your experiences with judgment and The Art of Convening? Is your judgment like a puppy too? Do you have some tips for the rest of us?

Cynthia Wold, Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"

NOTE: In the original post, Judgement was spelled with an "e" after the g. Both spellings are correct, but I was persuaded to change to the more popular Judgment.

"Merriam-Webster prefers judgment and lists judgement as a variant."

VisionHolder Interview w/Peter Block

Photo credit: craig neal

Photo credit: craig neal

Join us Tuesday April 16, when Craig interviews Peter Block in our  VisionHolder Series. 

Community: The Structure of Belonging

with Peter Block, Author, Consultant and Partner, Designed Learning

April 16: VisionHolder Interview Call, 7pm - 8pm CT

Peter articulates a potent design for creating living communities whenever and wherever people gather, through the realization that everyday acts of citizenship are acts of leadership.


Registrations for the VH call on April 16 have been unprecedented. This time, we asked registrants to tell us what they hoped to get out of the call. A tiny sample of responses so far:

"Finding out what Peter considers to be everyday acts of citizenship, more detail about the design for creating living communities, what is his personal experience out of which came this new book."

"Essence of Peter Block--I don't even care what he says, I just like listening to him."

"I spent the first 20 years of my career as a grassroots community organizer, and the past 8 years as an organization consultant. I'm very interested in the intersection of those two worlds. I'm looking forward to hearing Peter's insights."

"A knowing of Peter deeper than knowing him from reading 'The Answer to How is Yes.' Getting additional thoughts provoked for me before heading into the Spring Ceremony weekend"