Presence in Complexity Series #8: Scaling Awareness

Complexity is unpredictable. Our world responds to good intentions and common sense actions with perverse and unintended consequences. Our noblest efforts fail to accomplish what we believe we should be able to accomplish. This is of course a huge challenge to our sense of self! And, it’s not personal! Complexity is actually normal. Even when […]

Presence in Complexity Series #7: Resilience: De-Coupling State from Context

We live in extraordinary times. It is a new form of agency to begin to discover that we can affect our mood, our sense of ourselves, our outlook on life, and our thoughts simply by directing our attention where we choose. What do you mean? No drugs, no therapy, no decades of self-improvement reading? Really? […]

So Where In the World is Doug?

Some of you have gotten my email autoresponder to the effect of “I am on extended travel through most of April. I will be checking email occasionally, but am also practicing being less responsive than you might reasonably expect.” I get that leaves a lot open to interpretation! The truth is that I am traveling […]

Presence in Complexity Series #6: Leadership Presence in Complexity

Leadership presence is the means by which our internal feeling states are shared into our relationships. Consider this thought experiment. You are walking down the sidewalk alone, at night. Someone is coming the other way on the same sidewalk, a hundred yards away. There’s nobody else around. How does this feel? Well, how it feels […]

Vignettes from the Road

Friday. Trump inauguration. I decide, at the last minute, that it’s very important to watch this moment in history. I sympathize with some of the concerns that brought Trump to power, but I deeply believe that Trump himself is completely incapable of addressing them. His angry, nationalistic inaugural address, speaking of a dystopian America that […]

Presence in Complexity Series #5: Embodying Congruent States

Wow, what a world we live in! It’s a New Year. And, we face a level of risk and uncertainty that I’ve not experienced since the Cuban Missile Crisis. My father is in the hospital, facing difficult decisions about surgery. My plans for the next weeks are completely subject to events. It can feel that […]

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, 2001 It is the longest night. It is the shortest, darkest day. Time has to pause while the sun stills, while the earth waits to draw her next breath, frozen moment when we imagine nothing can help, that we’ll be caught in this darkness forever: and so we light candles, our fragile signals […]

Hope in Bad Times

To be hopeful in bad times is not foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our […]

Presence in Complexity Series #4: Resourcing with Presence in Challenging Times

Complexity, for leaders who are accustomed to making things happen, is an uncomfortable space. Lack of predictability can trigger us in ways that reduce our resourcefulness when we need it most. As a ready example, note your own reaction to the recent US election. What has been your mood? How are you reacting to breaking […]

Presence in Complexity Series #3: What Does the Body Have to Do With It?

Everything, really! Our body structures our interpretations of the world around us, generates our reactions to things around us, and determines the actions we take. Attention in the body is the key to staying resourceful when the world isn’t cooperating. It is how we can bring bringing awareness and choice into our reactions to the […]

Presence in Complexity Series #2: Identity on the Line

We experience situations as difficult when they call into question our sense of who we are. Among most of the people I know, domestically and overseas, there is a sense of outrage about last week’s election. Among others, there is presumably a sense of vindication, of optimism, of finally being heard. Both of those responses […]

Post-Election: 11/9 and the Throughlines of Resilience

Yesterday was a very difficult day. I went to bed on Tuesday night with the election trend clear, but not knowing the outcome. I awoke at 6 a.m. yesterday to find out that the candidate that I felt scared by had won decisively. I understand that for many, this was great news, and I appreciate […]

Presence in Complexity Series #1: Reading Our Context

It’s most people’s experience that the world we live in is changing rapidly. We experience it as “VUCA,” a term coined by the acronym-favoring military at the end of the 80’s to describe the emerging post-Cold War world. The acronym stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, the intensity of which has increased dramatically since […]

Voting as a Simple Act in Complexity

I voted early the other day. I didn’t feel any significant sense of relief, though it did feel good to vote for Hillary. But the election is still two weeks away. I actually don’t expect to feel a huge sense of relief even if the election turns out the way I think it will, which […]

Complexity in the Mountains

August offered me an 8 day wilderness trip in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, accompanied by my two brothers. I came here for the first time in 1973, for a geology field school. I’ve been returning for the past 43 years, exploring new territory each time. This time, we poked around a new part of […]

Mindfulness Tips for Behavior Change

Mindfulness has been receiving wide attention lately in countless books, published research papers, and mainstream business literature. The physical and psychological benefits of mindfulness are indisputable, and the implications for coaching, behavioral change, and leadership development are profound. Coaches and clients alike can leverage their change work through these simple tips. Mindfulness: What Is It? […]

Living at the Frothy Edge

We are all in transition. Something is always ending; something else sprouting. For sure, some transitions are more painful, liberating, intentional, or dramatic than others. But, we can all point to things in our lives that are diminishing and to others that are taking root. Projects, relationships, health, life circumstances, the focus of our intentions […]

Whole-heartedness

I have been feeling the turning for some time now. It began a couple years ago, when a combination of circumstances made it clear that we could no longer sustain what we had so enthusiastically built, and it was time to create some change. Moving to town, selling our beloved retreat center, Walker retiring, building […]

The Turning of the Wheel

There is ample evidence for the turning of the wheel. I have two grandchildren. My father is 85, and counting. I’m in my 60’s. Walker and I have faced significant health challenges. We sold our retreat center last year. All these are indicators of bold new territory! In this emerging chapter of our lives, there […]

Work and Awakening

I spent last weekend at an alumni retreat with the Institute for Zen Leadership. It was held at the Spring Green Dojo, a lovely Rinzai Zen dojo (“place of the way,” or training center) being carved out of the Wisconsin woods under the leadership of Gordon Greene Roshi. The space is inspiring. Structures are built […]