Eckhart Tolle on “Awakened Doing”

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

(From The New Earth, p 293)

Awakened doing is the outer aspect of the next stage in the evolution of consciousness on our planet. The closer we get to the end of our present evolutionary stage, the more dysfunctional the ego [our collective ego or dominant worldview] becomes, in the same way that a caterpillar becomes dysfunctional just before it transforms into a butterfly. But the new consciousness is arising even as the old is dissolving.

We are in the midst of a momentous event in the evolution of human consciousness, but they won’t be talking about it on the news tonight.

On our planet consciousness is awakening from the dream of form. Consciousness can now begin to create form without losing itself in it.

Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose—what you do—with your inner purpose—awakening and staying awake. Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.

Not what you do, but how you do what you do determines whether you are fulfilling your destiny. And how you do what you do is determined by your state of consciousness.

The road to Copenhagen

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Read about Heartland community member Paul Thompson and his road to Copenhagen in this morning's edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Nowadays, Paul Thompson lists his occupation as "climate changer."

Interviewing the retired Minneapolis teacher, you don't really have to ask questions. Mention climate change and he's off, memories and opinions bouncing from south Minneapolis to New Guinea to the Maldives, talking of green living and floods and biodigestion.

"It's all so intricately interwoven, and all of it revolves around having a healthy planet," he said. "It's about fulfilling the promise of what it means to be alive."

This week, Thompson, 61, has carried his enthusiasm to Copenhagen, where he is an official delegate to the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The meeting started Monday and runs through Dec. 18. He's there not only as a representative of Edina's Energy and Environment Commission but also because of connections to a group called ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, which made him a conference delegate.

Paul Strickland, to Represent Heartland at Global Spiritual Gathering in Australia

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

“There can be no peace among nations without peace among religions and no peace among religions without dialogue.”  ~Hans Kung~

Heartland member Paul Strickland from Minneapolis will represent Heartland at the Council of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia December 3-9, 2009. The Council is the world’s largest inter-religious gathering with over 10,000 participants from more than 80 countries. The first Parliament was held in Chicago in 1893. Since 1993, a Parliament has been held every five years: 1993-Chicago, 1999-Cape Town, 2004-Barcelona.

His blog will report Paul’s reflections on Council activities and his trip. As an emissary for Heartland, he will be making global contacts and raising awareness of the Art of Convening™ and Heartland’s vision of convening and supporting evolutionary leaders who are committed to creating a world that serves the well being of all. Paul is a Thought Leader Gathering™ member, a graduate of the core and advanced Art of Convening™ training, and a Heartland Mens Wilderness Journey™ participant .

Collective Wisdom, the movement: 11/19 VH Call, 12/4 TLG, 1/8 TLG

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

We're honored to welcome Alan Briskinand the book that is the beginning of a movement that will bring wholeness and sustainability to our communities and organizations: The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly. Alan was our November VisionHolder Interview and is our Conversation Starter for both the December and January Thought Leader Gatherings.

Listen to Alan's VisionHolder Call from November 19!

What enables us to collectively make wise decisions and sound judgments instead of splintering apart? When human beings gather together a depth of awareness and insight, a transcendent knowing, becomes available.  We have the potential to tap into an extraordinary co-creative power that exists in every group.  How can we do this more reliably?

Collective wisdom refers to knowledge and insight gained through group and community interaction. At a deeper level, however, it is about our living connection to each other and the interdependence we share in our neighborhoods, organizations, and world community.

Based on nine years of research The Power of Collective Wisdom shows how we can reliably tap into the extraordinary co-creative potential that exists whenever human beings gather together. Stories and historical examples illustrate how collective wisdom has emerged in a range of cultures, settings and traditions, and we offer a set of practices to help readers realize the key lessons of the book. Equally important, the book describes how to recognize the pitfalls of polarization or false agreement that lead to collective folly. Ultimately, this work emerges from a deep conviction that we all have a stake in each other and that what binds us together can be greater than what drives us apart.

We see our efforts as part of a larger social movement. Everywhere we look, we see groups, networks, and communities rising up to address common challenges. What all of us share is a collective outlook and a desire for wise action. We seek what human beings have always sought: to find what is best in ourselves and what is best in and for the group.

What a wonderful conversation to be engaged in. Please join us by listening to the VisionHolder Interview, attending a TLG, commenting on this post, contacting Alan.

-Patricia & Craig

The Real Work

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~


photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Heartland: A Global Resource for Evolutionary Leaders
Heartland:Heartland delivers the future through conversations of thought leadership and transformation in intimate ways and settings. We connect, convene and support evolutionary leaders engaged in creating well-being for all in our communities, organizations and the world. Join our vibrant community with others looking to step forward in new ways.
-Join the Heartland Network (free): Heartland Network
-Become a Convener or hone your Art: The Art of Convening TeleTrainings
-Be Inspired: by our unique VisionHolder Calls
-Attend & Engage: The Thought Leader Gatherings (MN, CA)

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957: I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. ...(read more)

Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.

What you think, you become: Healing the Rift

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

“What you think, you become. Change your thinking, change your future. I hope people will understand, they are VERY empowered.”

Leo Kim, author of Healing the Rift: Bridging the Gap Between Science & Spirituality, joined Craig last for this month's VisionHolder Interview. Many thanks to Leo for a visionary conversation. He spoke to recent and coming scientific advances that coincide with spiritual beliefs about the power of the mind to heal. Clinical trials are demonstrating and proving the power of the mind.

Your mind can change your body at the cellular level. Science is confirming that literally, what you think gets relayed to the rest of your body. You can create a “reframe,” change your mind from negative to positive, to rewire your brain. Positive thinking gives you positive chemicals that spread to all over your body.

Scientific spirituality...

At work: treat people like they are your family. What motivates them? What are people’s dreams? Create the workplace to be congruent with people’s career goals and dreams to create a successful workplace. When people look forward to coming to work, it changes their chemistry to more presence and success for themselves, which translates to a successful workplace.

Help the individual to be highly productive, while moving them toward their dream, whether it’s with your organization or another future goal.

WWTWB: What we think, we become. What the group thinks, the group becomes.

When Leo realized that the world religions all teach the same thing, and then realized that science is now speaking to those teachings, he knew it was time to write the book. The book cover graphic is an elephant, representing the Hindu parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant. Each religion represents one point of view. Put them all together and you have an elephant.

There is more to the world than material things, i.e. A higher power. Spirituality is finding your own spiritual self.

Practical applications:
In order to practice WWTWB, you first have to quiet the mind, move to mindfulness. To rewire our brains, change our lives, we have to learn how to utilize the mind. 70 year-olds can reclaim the mental acuity of a 30-year-old.

How do you heal rifts? What can we do to put this into action?
If one focuses on differences, the rift will never be healed. If you focus on commonalities, you heal rifts. That’s how negotiators work. They look for the commonalities and build on them.

Integrate the commonalities within the business/employees/marketplace to have a successful business.

Creation- White Buffalo Calf Woman

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

"Creation does not take place
where there is a scattering and dissipation of energies.
Creation requires a gathering together and focusing
of your power within a circle of commitment -
like a seed, and egg, a womb or a marriage…

Consider wisely the ways in which you would
use your power and then around those ways
draw the sacred circle of commitment.

In the warm atmosphere of that circle, the power
of love builds like a storm above the wet summer
prairie until suddenly the circle can hold no more
and explodes in the conception of the new.

This fire is more powerful than any one of you."

White Buffalo Calf Woman, from Return of the Bird Tribes, by Ken Carey

The Medicine Way- FireHawk & Pele

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

FireHawk and Pele Rouge bring an ancient “medicine”  teaching perspective on Leadership to the Minnesota


this Friday. We will be working with the “4 Shields of Leadership” - Creator/Adventurer/Healer/Warrior - they will guide us through a process and conversation to expand our stories and experience of who we are as leaders.

The Medicine Way

Our forebears used simple, organic structures of “social architecture” to assure that all voices were heard in order to find their way to the same kind of balance that they saw in the rest of nature. Nature uses universal principles of balance to foster life that is capable of sustaining itself generation after generation after generation. These principles became known in many diverse cultures of the Americas as "The Medicine Way."

Medicine, as used in the term "Medicine Way," comes from a mistranslation of the word Medowewin, an indigenous word meaning "Wholeness." A Medicine Man or Woman was one who aided a person in restoring a larger wholeness to his or her body and life.

The term "Medicine Way," therefore, means a Way of Wholeness - a way where each decision is considered from a number of perspectives, so that nothing is left out - a way where our connection to the larger whole of life is built in to our thinking, speaking and acting - a way in which we see ourselves as a part of life, not separate from it - a way in which the Sacred, or the Holy is not compartmentalized, but is invoked and considered in all of our human activities - particularly in the ways we interact with each other every day.

Medicine Wheels are maps of wholeness and balance derived from thousands of years of observing what “works” in natural systems. Each wheel is related to and builds upon every other wheel. There are wheels for knowing ourselves, wheels for gathering wisdom, for making decisions, wheels for healing and many other wheels for seeing into and resolving life’s difficult challenges. We might think of them as compasses that help us find our way when we are lost, in danger or seeking to discover the next layer of awareness of who we are, how we choose to live and what is ours to do in this life.

Finding and voicing our soul's longing is not enough…. If our intention is to change who we essentially are, we will fail. If our intention is to become who we essentially are, we cannot help but live true to the deepest longings of our soul.” Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance. In the Medicine Way, there is no greater responsibility than to live and express fully the essence of who we are – in concert and harmony with other humans and with all of life.

Duane Elgin- The Living Universe

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

I've known Duane Elgin for some time, author of the seminal 70's book Voluntary Simplicity - a blueprint for a whole generation on how to live a conscious life within the laws of natural systems. VS along with Silent Spring and the Whole Earth Catalog were for me the early warnings system for what is now a global awareness of what a generatively sustainable planet could look like.

Thanks Duane for being the advanced scout.

Tonight's VisionHolder call with Duane was a special treat for us all to witness a man alive and on fire about a living planet and universe. Duane’s new book, The Living Universe, explores a new paradigm that is vital for building a sustainable future; namely, a shift from regarding the universe as fragmented and dead to seeing it as unified and alive. Check out the advance video

Traditionally, science has regarded the universe as made up of inert matter and empty space. Duane Elgin brings together extraordinary evidence from cosmology, biology and physics to show that the universe is not dead but rather uniquely alive, an insight which, he shows, is in harmony with all of the world’s major spiritual traditions. He explores how this view radically transforms our concept of ourselves, our place in the cosmos, and the evolutionary trajectory of the human family. The non-living view of the universe has led to rampant materialism and global environmental degradation. To transform our planetary crises we need to move past a paradigm of separation and exploitation and learn to live sustainably on the Earth, in harmony with one another, and in communion with the living universe.


Leaders Make the Future: A provocation from the future...

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

  • A provocation from the future... The goal of forecasting is not to predict but to provoke insights and conversation.
  • We used to be driven by engineering; now are driven by biology, natural systems.
  • Moving from problem-solving to dilemma-holding.
  • Foresight, insight, action: an underlying pattern of leadership.

Leadership Self-assessment tool

Our VisionHolder Interview with Bob Johansen, author, former CEO, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future spanned a swath of ideas from religion and the role of faith to Superstructing (using crowd-sourcing: 7000 players in 90 countries game playing for 6 weeks, contributing to this year’s forecast).

Listen to the call here:

Predictions of leadership—what is needed to thrive? We’re going to need new skills. The big challenges are not problems you can solve—where you figure how to make a world that works for all in spite of the problems.

What is the role of faith, of religion in the future, as an external force in a "VUCA" world: Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—are likely to get worse in 2009. 

The most basic challenge for leaders: making sense of this highly uncertain world—uncertainty in ways previous generations never had to.

A basic shift: going from a period of "good leaders could solve problems" to "we can't problem-solve our way out of this."

These days, most leaders spend time with dilemmas: problems they can't solve. How to thrive in the space between judging too soon (problem solver) and deciding too late (academic). That's where faith comes in. Faith lives in the same space where strategy lives in the corporate world.


Faith involves a leap/leap of faith. As leaders, we have to have faith, but willing to make decisions.

  • "Dilemma flipping": most of us have been taught to problem solve: examine all the possibilities, reduce to 2 solutions, choose the best solution and run with it. But that doesn't address current problems with multiplicative sources and implications.
  • "Smart Mob": ex. is Iran. people are organizing to bring about change in a disruptive, emergent way.

Next generation leaders will lead through multiple media, multiple sources of information. Look for the "commons" as new structure: commons creating/shared space, allowing for win/win solutions.

IBM used to sell machines. Now they give away software and sell solutions with higher margins. we're moving from closed intellectual property to open source.

Commons is a more sustainable version of a smart mob.

  • Superstruct: used crowd-sourcing to assemble this year's forecast: open innovation process. Forced a rethink of the notion of expertise. We can't control the outcome.
  • "Diaspora": smart mobs linked by their values or the values they are seeking. After katrina, P&G sent tractor trailers of washer and dryer machines, and free Tide. Today 1/2 of the population is still not returned to the city—have created the Katrina diapora—and are tide loyal.
  • Link purpose and brand to spread: the purpose-driven brand.
  • Wisdom: basic to the concept of leadership. Leadership has to come from inside. It's built in to what motivates you. There is wisdom of crowds.
  • Enduring leadership traits/styles: the context in which wisdom gets mined, grown, explored within community. Everyone is in a network--we're all nodes in a network. Leaders try to grow the networks.


  • Religious studies: is it where we’ll be in the future? Is spirituality at the core of our next phase?
  • The link between leadership and spirituality: In the past month, at a business conference, topic was spirituality in the workplace. At a recent TLG, a CEO mentioned serving clients with love. Is this a cultural shift? A shift in consciousness?
  • Leadership capacity of different generations: different needs for different times, different traditions of native cultures, intergeneraltional wisdom.
  • What is the nature of the sacred in uncertain times in relation to leadership. The role of the leader is a keeper of the sacred things of the community. It’s the root of the word “Hierarchy.” Traditionally, sacred has provided the roots. In this technology-connected world, how is sacred changing?

BOB'S response:

  • Marcus borg: relationship w/ god is more imp than belief about god. What is sacred in uncertain times?
  • The Episcopal Church came to us to do a 10-year forecast: their notion of discerning questions is particularly appropriate for these times. Sacred will come from questions, not answers.
  • Dilemmas love the space between answers and decisions. It’s the same faith space religion traditions speak to.
  • The threshold of righteousness as people look for solid answers, so they move to being right. And everyone else is wrong. The rich/poor gap will play into this also.
  • Tradition of elder to younger needs to be encircled. Young people are increasingly in immersive learning environments.
  • Under 25: Generations now shorten to 6-year cycles.
  • Immersive learning environments: We adults/parents are going to look back 10 years from now and think that we made a horrible judgment about video gaming. It’s teaching dilemma sense-making.
  • Sacred/wisdom will be uncovered, tapped into.
  • Cyberspace will disappear. Where we go online will be the same where we are in the physical world. We’ll have a virtual overlay on the physical world.
  • Leaders provide a filter. Servant leadership: listening to communities and engaging them.
  • We predict a backlash against speed.
  • God in the workplace: a more sophisticated experience of neuroscience. The psychologists did nothing but studying deviance. Now they study happiness, meaning.
  • We know that being engaged in community gives people more meaning, stimulates portion of the brain that gives pleasure.
  • The Golden Rule: neuroscience documentation gives credence to it. People who can forgive, are healthier.
  • Leaders constructively depolarize.
  • NEXT STEP: where do you want to learn, grow? Bioempathy- most leadership teams are weak at this. Use the principles of nature to guide your organization/decisions.

Consciousness...The Blind Spot of Economic Thought

photo credit: Craig neal

photo credit: Craig neal

Intellectual bankruptcy in most organizations
Stages of Capitalism
4 levels of crisis response for organizations/ecosystems
7 Acupuncture Points
Creating Co-sensing Infrastructures: Listening the New Into Being
What is needed
Principles of groups

Heartlanders gathered today to hear Otto Scharmer speak online. More powerful, incisive reflections from Otto, who is a true visionary, in the most collaborative, generative way possible. Download SevenAcupuncturePoints

Intellectual bankruptcy in most organizations: How people pay attention collectively affects the outcome. The quality of consciousness we share as human beings directly connects to the future we collectively want to create going forward. What do we really do? What is the essence of leadership work on how people pay attention to shifting the fields of collective attention? The reflective turn opens the possibility of something new. How do we help people to be attentive?

Stages of Capitalism:
1.0: Shareholder Capitalism [growth, extractive, externalities I]
2.0: Stakeholder Capitalism [distribution, welfare state, externalities II]
3.0: Conscious Capitalism [transformative, regenerative, eco-system renewal]

In order to get to 3.0, the important point is to convene the key players within each ecosystem that is evolving: i.e. local/city, business/global.

The main differentiator of Capitalism from 1-3 is based on 3 different levels of awareness.
1- Ego
2- Stakeholder
3- Eco-system awareness- seeing things whole

Competition [2.0] vs. collaboration [3.0]
Competition creates opportunity and diversity
Collaboration creates innovation through seeing and acting from the whole.

4 levels of crisis response for organizations/ecosystems:
Reacting -> Redesigning -> Reframing -> Regenerating
Most organizations only consider levels 1 and 2, in a continuous loop and never get to levels 3 or 4

photo credit:

photo credit:

7 Acupuncture* Points: Innovations in Infrastructures to move to 3.0
Co-sensing Infrastructures: Listening the New Into Being
[Creating a new mechanisms]
1- Coordination mechanism: Infrastructure for collective action arising from shared seeing and common will. Local living economies
2- Nature: New property rights for commons (Trusts)
    the challenge/nature of the current way we consume the earth needs 1year/4months to recover.
3- Labor: Basic income as a human right. Access to health, education, entrepreneurial opportunity
    1/2 of the global economy 3-4 million— live below the poverty line. Billions are unemployed.
4- Capital: Transparent e-Bay-style participatory banking+investing. Carrying Costs. Complementary currencies.
5- Technology: Open source technologies for community entrepreneurship and innovoation.
    Need massive investment in new technologies: green and social, particularly collaborative technologies
6- [MOST MISSING] Management and leadership: Global and local action leadership schools [G schools]; challenge of cross-sector innovation.
    Create joint understanding and innovation. This competence is not nurtured in educational systems, nor leadership development work.
7- User/Citizen: Reinventing media+public conversation. Deepening democracy: participatory public planning.

*in Chinese medicine acupuncture is used to activate the resilience of the bodily organism as a whole. Working to heal and evolve the collective social body means co-creating it moment to moment.

What is needed: a whole new concept of leadership learning and management. Move it out of the classrooms, into the world. Create new kind of leadership schools working within centers of societal innovation and communication. Doing rather than reading.

Citizenship: renew how we communicate across boundaries.
Civil Society/Business/Politics move from this level to create fields of conversation and innovation to allow for collective creativity. Inner space/innovation space missing today.

Principles of groups:
Intention of Group- Common intention on the innovation journey to create something together
Co-sensing- systems thinking
Create opportunity for connection to Source or presencing: Create opportunity for asking “what is my intention?” “what is my calling?”
Prototyping- holding space and enabling infrastructures
Enabling co-sensing Infrastructures

Paul Hawken Commencement Address Unv. of Portland

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

"Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television."


Paul Hawken is one of the true elders speaking clearly and passionately to what is before us as an interconnected & interdependent planet. I have know him since the 60's and marvel at his growth and maturity into the kind of leader we are yearning for.


Commencement Address to the Class of 2009
University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not onepeer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. 

Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.

Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true.  Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown – Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood – and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled inhistory.

photo credit:

photo credit:

The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe – exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are glob ally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Agenda for a New Economy: Moving from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

photo credit: Craig neal

photo credit: Craig neal

Reflecting on an extraordinary VisionHolder Interview with David Korten last which David outlined a lifelong journey leading to a profound stake in the ground: an agenda to liberate the latent entrepreneurial energies of Main Street from Wall Street’s deadly grip and bring into being a new economy—locally based, community-oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits. David is a strategic visionary who synthesizes complex, obscure concepts into understandable, actionable ideas.

As David and others noted, it will require courageous and imaginative changes to how we measure economic success, organize our financial system, even the very way we create money. Everyday small actions, consistent large actions that bring to voice/create a collective demand to change our systems for the sake of health and wholeness that create a world that works for all.

We are grateful for David's pioneering voice that encompasses a serious and strategic assessment of our current condition, while holding profound hope for people to step up as citizens in compassion and love.

Theory U: the future is now

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Our May 7 Thought Leader Gathering with Otto Scharmer as Conversation Starter was mind-blowing! 110 of us gathered and experienced presencing the future, modeling the behaviors of leadership that support a positive future and a world that works for all. Both Otto and David Sibbet have blog posts that capture the essence of the day.

As Otto notes, "In spite of most people in the room meeting for the very first time, what happened throughout the morning was profound. it felt like a huge energy shift (or energy generator) that changes the state of self, awareness, and personal source connection.  This morning we had time to [take the conversation to] a deeper level by applying the U to one’s personal situation right now, right here.... I wonder how we could use this enormous potential for shifting the state of awareness more fully?"

A critical question posed during the morning: "How do we create the inevitability of sustainable, positive change?" By practicing and presencing and continuing to gather with people who are engaged in these important conversations.

Many thanks to Otto for his vision and great energy, and all TLG participants for a powerful morning session.

Leader as Convener: The Power of Intelligent Community

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

The question is: “Who you gonna be while you do what you do?" –song by Barbara McAfee

Craig was joined by 2 other unforgettable leaders, Pablo Gaito, Cargill Corporation and Michael Trebony, Best Buy Corporation, April 3 at the Twin Cities TLG. Craig's life work has in large part been influenced by the concept of "Leader as Convener" and his remarks brilliantly outlined the tenets, practices and principles of this concept. Then it was brought into sharp focus for us when Pablo and Michael shared their very different paths, but very similar principles in leadership with the group.  This is what Thought Leader Gatherings are about.

Which brings us to another question:

Why are we still here?

For 11 years the Thought Leader Gatherings has convened over 1800 leaders in Minnesota and the Bay Area to explore and practice what it means to be an authentic leader.

We get to be the leaders and we get to convene. It doesn’t mean you are a leader with a big title. It is the relationships that we have. No matter where we are, we find that a lot of what we do is based on principles—core principles. When those principles are enacted and community is enacted, we see what is present is our own choice. People feel they have a choice. There is wonder. It isn’t just for children.

There is trust and faith, and understanding and safety. How do we feel safe in this community? The underlying principles that we use. We deeply listen to one another. We use inquiry and questions and the ability to look beyond.

Reflection: a leadership quality of reflection, to deeply reflect about who we are and who we’re going to be; allowing collective wisdom to surface; realization of our interdependence. The success of each of us as individuals is connected to the success of us all. One is based on the other. We create communities of success and intelligence.

Listening, speaking from their own experience, allowing pauses, suspending certainty, and allowing space for differences. These principles carried the day and brought enthusiastic participation within the gathering of about 60.

Patricia filled the role of convener this time, with Wendy Morris assisting. They set the conversation that day to one of "power rather than predictability" and clearly held us all in their hands. Patricia took her role to heart and when Craig, who is usually the main Convener of the TLGs, began to advise, she simply said "Who's the convener?" We all knew.

Barbara McAfee, singer, musician, poet, speaker, muse and much more, closed the gathering with a performance of her song that says it all: "Who You Gonna Be While You Do What You Do?" Watch the video here.

Life as Ceremony with Pele Rouge & FireHawk

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

We gathered around the VisionHolder campfire to engage in the "Heart of Leadership" with our dear and wise friends, Pele Rouge and FireHawk, guides and teachers of the Medicine Way. For 10 years they have partnered with Heartland to convene the Bay Area Thought Leader Gathering sharing the Earth Wisdom teachings in many ways. They have brought the power of beauty and the practice of "stringing the beads" or hearing all the voices to each gathering. This evening they spoke of leadership as  stepping forward in energy.Listen to the full audio recording of the interview with Craig Neal in the column to the left.

Our Vision

The people gather

in a Sacred Way

Listening deeply

Wisdom emerges

Courageous action ensues

Healing happens

Awakening occurs

Pele Rouge & FireHawk