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By Dan Leahy
Associate Dean of LIOS Graduate College
With the proliferation of polarities rampant today, I’m rather fond of some of the “flash mob” videos that periodically show up on You Tube, particularly the ones in public spaces (the commons) that involve orchestras and choirs playing a human classic to the delights of the gathering citizens. To me this is an example of the human potential beyond our limitations: A moment that transcends our differences. Here’s the link to the most recent example that came from my daughter, Chelsea: http://bit.ly/Onvuc4
While I’ve never, yet, participated in one of these celebrations of Life, I’ve often imagined what it would be like. Well, if truth be told, I’ve actually wondered what it would be like to take part in a LIOS-inspired flash mob.
Which brings me to my new favorite TV series, Newsroom on HBO. In the opening scene, http://bit.ly/SUugrC, the main character’s monologue spoke to me. I wanted to both cheer for the audacity of speaking his truth, and rage that “We the People” have strayed so far from that path of possibilities.
Three things stand out to me in viewing this piece. One is the power of the media, the arts, and its ability to succinctly, eloquently express a collective pulse in a way that seems to cause proper matters to catch fire. A second is the power of doing your homework, of looking at the current, and in this case brutal, reality with discipline. And the third is the ability to connect that frank assessment of what is to the aspiration of what was envisioned in a way that seems to transcend the embattled polarities and evokes some higher purpose.
Which brings me back to the idea of the “flash mob;” I’ve been part of this grand idea that is LIOS for a long time now. I’ve seen and worked with hundreds of students. Over the years I have heard many stories of those who are working to make a difference in the systems they seek to serve. Many of them seem to carry the themes I saw in the video. They knew the reality of the system. They did their homework. And they found and are finding ways to transcend it, which I have found inspiring.
So, I wonder what it would be like if we began to gather the stories of these individuals in a virtual “commons?” What might we see in a LIOS “flash mob?” Given the individual stories I’ve heard over the past 30-plus years, I suspect it would be as inspirational as any flash mob I’ve seen to date. And, to me, the potency of the “flash mob” is its impact on the “commons”. It reminds the people of the path of possibility. It rekindles a sense of hope. I know that the individual stories I’ve witnessed continue to spark the flame of hope in me. I find the this world to be an increasingly cold place, so I’m hungry to see if the gathering of stories creates a bonfire of imagination create a hearth of hope for those in the commons.
Now, I don’t know if anyone reads these blogs, so this may be a voice in a vacuum. But I’m putting it out anyway. I calling for those who are so moved to gather at this virtual “commons” and share your stories about what you are doing to make a difference in the systems you serve. Let’s see what we “sound like” together. Together we may discover that there’s a symphony actions that begins to call us to more imaginative was of being. I’m hopeful, and I’m waiting . . .
The post Wanted: Stories about LIOS Graduates Making A Difference appeared first on Saybrook University.
Gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly, For the day I die, I’mma touch the Sky”
Kanye West, “Touch the Sky”
In life, we have no control over what inspires us. Inspiration can come from many different sources. I have been inspired by many unusual sources. When seeking inspiration, I often look to the Sky. I look to the Sky for many reasons.
In addition to being a metaphorical holding ground for the heavens, the Sky suggests dreaming, optimism, strength and a relationship with the atmosphere, a connection with the universe, an umbrella to all that is life. That is inspiration. That is the Sky.
As a dreamer, I look to the Sky as I search for a better place, not just for myself but also, as a place to join other misinformed, uninformed and ignored souls that dare to challenge the status quo. The ones in this Sky continue to defy the odds, march towards their goals and dream of success while wide awake. The characters in this Sky possess the vision required to see the evolution of life at warp speed, while embracing the moments within the moment, like this one…; the moments that had never happened before and will never happen again. This is done while guiding communities and inspiring legions they rarely see and may never, ever encounter. This is dreaming. This is the Sky.
As an optimist I look to the Sky as a container of all things possible; a covenant for new endeavors and representation of the blank slate provided by life to craft sacred stories. I look to the Sky to be enlightened during the desolate times that often define our desires. Even when gray, the Sky provides reason for optimism; actually more at that time. The gray Sky represents a pantheon that gives pause to the unlimited region known as the gray areas. The land that allow us to consider “both”, “and” instead of “either or”. This is optimism. This is the Sky.
As a symbol of strength I look to the Sky as a steady force of refinement; a new way of considering life, a new way of living. This steadfast approach that highlights fortitude is often misconstrued as petulance however, the Sky knows, like the old wise men in villages, what the gods are whispering. The Sky uses its strength, power and coverage to hold these secrets, my secrets, your secrets in place via light via fragments of information from the healers, over 2000 seasons that bring forth our blessings. The Sky is in constant contact with the universe and muscles are being developed accordingly. This is strength. This is the Sky.
While mourning the recent loss of my mother, when in need of an inspiration, I meditate and think deeply. When doing so, I look up to the Sky; it’s like an affirmation from mama, a drug, and think to myself, with my feet firmly planted on the ground;
“I’m, I’m Sky high,
I’m, I’m Sky high
I’m, I’m Sky high
Feels good to be home, baby! Feels good to be home!”
Respectfully Submitted by;
Sip hot cider & nibble seasonal treats at our next Taste of LIOS, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15, at LIOS Graduate College, 4010 Lake Washington Blvd., Suite 300, Kirkland. Meet Dean of Students, Cynthia FitzGerald, & Dan Sewell, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Saybrook University. Faculty members Jeff McAuliffe & Alex Onno will guide you through a mini-LIOS class. RSVP at 425-968-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post Your best friend calls you and tells you he/she’s really sick? How do you show you care? appeared first on Saybrook University.
What an exciting place to work! LIOS Graduate College offers some amazing things and you don’t need to be a student here to attend. Dan Leahy, former president, will lead the next session of the LIOS Leadership Workshop series called: Results-Focused Communication. The all-day session will run from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at LIOS, 4010 Lake Washington Blvd, NE, Suite 300, Kirkland. Discount for early registration and for LIOS alumni. Call 425-968-3400 for more information or email email@example.com.
The post Your best friend calls you and tells you he/she’s really sick? How do you show you care? appeared first on Saybrook University.
In a recent planning meeting with the Dean of LIOS Judy Heinrich and Organizational Systems Chair Mark Jones, we were reminded of one of the great educators, Parker Palmer. Parker wrote a book and founded a program called” the Courage to Teach.” As we thought about LIOS Graduate College, the phrase “the Courage to Lead” was uttered and it was one of those YES moments. I want to expand upon the concept of “the Power of Yes.” But first, let me begin with the alternatives to Yes.
Our minds know all too well NO (all of us are familiar with the terrible twos that are filled with NO’s); we are quite familiar with the MAYBE’s, the NO-BUT’S, or YES-BUT’s. However, in contrast, there are those YES moments in life that our consciousness can fall into, those YES’s that exist beyond our doubts, the YES’s that have no end. When I speak of “the Courage to Lead,” I am reminded that we must have the courage to attend to, to pay attention to, those YES’s.
Courage as a concept and as a word is rooted in the heart. The head of leadership is more about theories of practice and practice of theories. The heart of leadership, “the Courage to Lead,” is about our values and dreams. It is difficult to talk about courage without exploring fear. It has been said that courage is fear that has said its prayers. Let me tell you a true story about the first tightrope walker (taken from Mark S. Lewis’ commencement speech at University of Texas, 2000).
In 1859 the Great Blondin — the man who invented the high wire act, announced to the world that he intended to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Five thousand people including the Prince of Wales gathered to watch. Halfway across, Blondin suddenly stopped, steadied himself, backflipped into the air, landed squarely on the rope, then continued safely to the other side. During that year, Blondin crossed the Falls again and again–once blindfolded, once carrying a stove, once in chains, and once on a bicycle. Just as he was about to begin yet another crossing, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, he turned to the crowd and shouted “who believes that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow.” Every hand in the crowd went up. Blondin pointed at one man.
“Do you believe that I can do it?” he asked.
“Yes, I believe you can,” said the man.
“Are you certain?” said Blondin.
“Yes,” said the man.
“Yes, absolutely certain.”
“Thank you,” said Blondin, “then, sir, get into the wheelbarrow.”
Like that man in the crowd, we often know a lot of things, some with apparent certainty. But also like that man, there will be times in your life when knowing things won’t matter as much as how scary the situation is–and when that happens you’ll have to decide whether or not to get into the wheelbarrow. There are times when, in order to succeed, you will have to trust –when you will have to take a big leap of faith–and when that time comes I hope you will face your fear, say your prayers, and take appropriate action.
What you have earned as graduates of this amazing institution is the ability to move on, to dare to do anything. What you retain as graduates of this amazing institution is the privilege to return any time–to return emotionally, spiritually, or just to visit. And it is what you’ve learned at LIOS that will in part determine what you do out there.
And my hope is that “your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.”-anonymous
by Marcus Berley
Life as a graduate student is often overwhelming. Take a busy schedule, limited finances, and a daunting reading list, and add in whatever major life transition you are experiencing at the moment, such as a divorce, a death in the family, or a newborn baby. Now, go write a sound, well-referenced, and creative academic paper.
What makes LIOS different from other graduate school programs is that, in addition to balancing a busy life, it challenges students to explore who we are and where we come from. What question have you always wanted—but been too afraid—to ask your mother? What are the rules of your family, and what role do you play? What cultural biases have crept into the crevices of your way of thinking? Well, your homework is to go ask those questions. To your parents. To your aunts and uncles. To your grandparents. Take all of that newly acquired systemic knowledge and apply it to yourself and your most intimate relationships.
Not terrifying enough for you? Well, you’re only reading about it, possibly imagining it, but not actually experiencing it. LIOS is all about experiencing. The theories you read make so much sense on paper, but watch what happens to your insides as you study group theory in a group that is studying itself. Your mind jerks. You scramble to figure out what is going on. Your heart cracks open. A teacher asks you if you have a tendency to avoid conflict, then challenges you to try another method with a conflict that you currently have with another student. Throughout all of this you’re being evaluated on a wide range of skills you’re supposed to be developing. Oh yeah, and it’s ok to cry.
Somehow, you’re doing it. You read and you write papers, and you tell your mother that, even though things have gotten complicated, you love her. You move apartments and split up with your partner or find a new one, you find an internship or a project, and you don’t have much time to look around. It’s graduate school. It’s overwhelming.
And going through it is wonderful preparation for life as a sound, creative professional.
By Diane Moore
A definition of leadership is emerging in my thinking based on several recent encounters with leaders who might not think of themselves as such.
I began graduate school at LIOS in part because I was inspired by a few graduates who awoke in me a sense of “I want that!” They had some way of being I could not articulate. They were powerful and vulnerable at the same time. They spoke about things that I did not know people could speak about in a workplace, like trust and care. It is only after several years that I now realize what I recognized in them. The “that” which I wanted was leadership. They spoke about what mattered to them. And that mattered.
As I watch my thoughts on leadership develop, I encounter my old definition of leadership. My story was something involving a charismatic person in a position of authority: presidents and CEOs, executives and inspiring political organizers. I think we could all name several of these types of leaders.
This story is transforming into recognition that a leader is a person, any person, who is deeply in tune with what arises in them and brings it forward into the world. Leadership is that simple. The complexity, if there is any, is getting out of my own way; to allow that which arises in me to have voice in the world. Even if it is not what is expected of me; even if it does not please the people around me; and maybe most importantly, even if it surprises me, I must not abandon authenticity for consistency.
Three experiences in particular have emboldened this emerging notion.
I had the honor of listening to seven colleagues present their practitioner theories shortly before we graduated. We each took a stand for what we believed characterizes healthy organizations and to present our individual theories of organizational change, influenced by other theorists we had encountered. I grew increasingly more inspired as each person spoke. When a person stands energetically in what is true and meaningful and important to them, even while making space for others’ truths, they are leading. They are inspiring. They are electric.
I had a similar experience with a client group about the same time. I worked with a nonprofit staff and board of directors while they brainstormed ideas for fundraising. As people began to speak from the intersection of their passion for various activities combined with their deep love for the organization, they each became alive. The room filled with leaders who tuned in to the passions arising in them, brought them forward and created movement where there had been stuckness. I wanted to follow each one of them. Each one of them was a leader, inspiring the others to connect to the possibilities that were flowing through the room.
The third experience that fueled my thinking was a telephone call with a potential new business colleague. He introduced himself as a learner; not a consultant, not an organization development professional, but as a learner. He did not shower me with the facts and figures of his expertise, although considerable. He spoke about a potential client project as a learning opportunity for him, for the organization and possibly for me. He also shared some of his vulnerability with me, aspects of consulting work where he was not as strong. But rather than framing those as a deficit, he was simply sharing the self-awareness that informs the kinds of business partners he seeks. I entered the conversation somewhat prepared to rattle off my “creds” and sell myself. Instead it turned into a conversation of mutual learning about one another, our passions and our theories for what supports healthy change in organizations. The way he came forward with what was authentic for him was an act of leadership, and I followed, by revealing my own strengths and vulnerabilities with him.
These encounters in short succession led me to write. I created a blog site several months prior, but felt I needed to have something polished and worthy to say before I published. I was pre-managing expectations of potential clients and colleagues. One of the many things I do is teach social media classes, and I am well aware that anything we shout to the world atop our highly-discoverable electronic soapbox can take on a life of its own and “brand” us. What if my personal brand is a person who expresses authentically both her strengths and vulnerabilities? What if this also creates space for others to do the same? What if I trust that what arises in me is something that wants to be said in the world? This is leadership.
Find out more about Diane at www.diane-moore.com
by David Franklin
I start to see the reaction amongst many people in the West: celebration, rejoicing, time to party, “it’s about time he got what was coming to him.”
Somehow, I get the feeling he (and many other people he was aligned with) were thinking the same things about us after 9/11.
And we hated them for it.
Which begs the question, “why is it then acceptable for us to feel and react that way?”
Are we better than they are? Are we right and they are wrong? Why do we get to claim the “moral high ground?”
Is that racism? Ethnocentrism? Who are we to say who deserves to die, any more than he did? I’m sure he had his reasons, same as we did.
Don’t get me wrong – I believe in holding people accountable for their actions. However, wishing death upon another person is not about accountability – it’s about revenge and vindication. It is reactive. It is a way for us to feel better about ourselves, to temporarily avoid the suffering, anguish, pain, and fear that we all face.
And yet, our darkness still lives within us. We still suffer – another’s death does not truly bring us liberation nor release that darkness and shadow. Our anger and pain still lives within us, ready to emerge again once someone else steps up to commit some heinous act that we despise. It doesn’t go away – it simply goes underground, causing us daily misery in forms such as disease, unhappiness, scarcity, illness, and persistent emotional states such as fear, anger, and grief. We may temporarily have the illusion that we are safe and secure now, only to soon find some other reason or circumstance to project our insecurity and lack of safety onto.
We become liberated once we can face and embrace our own shadow. The part of us that could kill if we were pushed to that point. The part of us that hates. The part of us that is intolerant. The part of us that thinks we have been dealt injustice, lack of compassion, been judged for our beliefs and way of life. The part of us that is righteous and thinks we are better than everyone else.
It makes me sad to see people celebrating someone’s death in such a way. It makes us no better than the monster that we judged him to be.
We have seen the enemy, and he is us. Stand for justice, and confront the enemy within. It may not be easy. You may not like what you see. It may be extremely uncomfortable. And, this is where peace begins.
Welcome to a new venue where this dynamic and unique community that we call LIOS can be explored and discovered.
In true LIOS fashion, we will see what emerges out of the distinct corners of our community. As an institution that has been around for over 40 years, we have the ability to tap a wide variety of voices, ideas and insights.
“For in community one learns that self is not an adequate measure of reality; we can begin to know the fullness of truth only through multiple visions.” – Parker Palmer
We look forward to sharing with you research, articles, musings and learnings that will create that ‘fullness of truth’ -at least in regards to what it means to be part of the LIOS educational community.
There is also a standing invitation for you to join in the conversation. Isn’t it in the dialogue between us that the learning happens?
If you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Jennifer Herron at firstname.lastname@example.org