Grace and Responsibility

Grace and Responsibility

As I turn towards a new year, and the evolution of my own work, I am bringing more of my attention to the idea of radical responsibility. Radical responsibility is the centerpiece of the couple’s work that Samantha and I facilitate. It is a stance that refuses to blame. It means turning toward conflict with a very specific question: how am I responsible for the situation?


Radical responsibility seeks to honor the resilience, power and grace of our ancestors. It says: terrible things happened to us, terrible things happening even now, but we are still here. And we did not get here by chance. We bring our attention to each and every way in which we hold power. We seize on every prayer and every lesson that has been passed down by our ancestors. And we honor them with our courage and our strength.

The Intimacy of Men

The Intimacy of Men

I wonder about the men who are out there, needing to be held. Devoid of true friendship with other men. Needing to learn to love themselves. I wonder how much of Patriarchy's thirst for power and domination could be quelled by fulfilling this basic human need? How much more emotionally present could men be if we allowed ourselves this medicine?

Cohesive Leadership

Cohesive Leadership

I always say I am committed to doing work that changes everything. So when I choose to work with an organization I want it to mean more than facilitating a one-off event that feels good in the moment but loses momentum as soon as you get back to work. I’m want to facilitate a lasting evolution.

If you work within even a basic hierarchy. If an individual or a team has a higher pay, or if they have any say about whether someone else gets paid, that responsibility demands clarity and leadership cohesion. It demands courage and truth. Do this first. Keep coming back to it. This is how you lead.

Information Overload

Information Overload

Information is a shiny object. It used to be scarce. It used to mean power. So we sought it. And we hoarded it. We exchanged it with care and discrimination. We offered it with purpose.

Today we are drowning in information. But that doesn’t make it less titillating. So we keep consuming it. We keep trying to drink from the firehose. We think we’ll make sense of it later. We take, we read, we watch, we share, we click. But the flood is actually endless.

NetGain: Platform Accountability

What do Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Youtube have in common?

You are what they mine

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Your attention is your currency. It is your most precious resource. It defines your experience of life.

We are talking about the most powerful corporate entities in human history. And they are not accountable to anybody. Their power is too new, too different, to fit our current regulatory frameworks.

They know everything about you. But they are not being governed. We are not in charge. They are.

We need an unprecedented innovation to challenge any of these platforms.

Either that, or we figure out how to govern them.

Democracy flails at the mercy of fake news. The taxi industry is erased and the precariat are left to compete for the bread crumbs. Local economies disappear behind Amazon’s tyranny of convenience (prime member here). And we miss our own experience just so that we can share the picture.

Do you remember when Silicon Valley promised us utopia? This is not it.

Last month I facilitated the NetGain Partnership’s Maine Convening. The Ford, MacArthur, Knight, Mozilla and Open Society Foundations bring together brilliant minds to grapple with the question of platform accountability. This is unsung work. It’s not glamorous. It is overwhelming. And it has massive implications.

We don't have answers.

We have climate change. An obsolete governance structure. And a whole new economy held in the grip of these platforms. So what can we do?

Gather in person. Ask big questions. Resource this work. And experiment.

This is the important work of the NetGain Partnership. But as big as these foundations are, we are still talking David vs. Goliath.

But these technologies depend on us, on our participation, on our attention. We do have choice. And we can craft alternatives. It will take time. This is the work of a generation.

Immediately, you can:

Over time, you can:

  • Pay attention. Make political demands. This should definitely be a bipartisan issue.

  • Learn about things like Amazon and the potential of antitrust intervention.

  • Make demands of the platforms themselves. You are their customer and their product.

We must find ways to meet this moment.

Where is your attention?

After The Burn

After The Burn

Almost everyone I speak to says that Burning Man is transformational. This was true before the burn, it was true during the burn, and it was even true among people who have never been to the burn. Something is happening here that has the potential to change people's lives. It is something that wakes up commitment and effort to be part of this community.

But what do we mean when we say "transformation." I think of it as change that cannot be undone. Developmental change. Leveling up from one stage to the next.

The transformational experience is my life's central concern. It is what I seek for myself. And it is what I facilitate for others. It is key to evolution itself.

But we live in hyper-advanced capitalism. This late stage capitalism is more immersive than Burning Man. It is the ocean we swim in, it is where we live, love and work in every day of our lives. It is the default world. And the default world seeks to comodify the human experience. It does not matter what you are into. It can be virtual reality or the great outdoors. It can be meditation or sex positivity. It can be the workshop circuit or sacred medicine work. It can be Burning Man.

All of it can be commodified.

All of it can be reduced to an experience that you pocket.

You get to speak of it.

You get to remember that you had it.

But it will not be something that changes you.

Change demands integration.


Mutual Accountability

For 21 days a group of us endeavored to build and hold a morning routine. Win the morning, win the day! We supported each other using a set of tools. But the process was held together by a simple rule: if I fail to keep my commitment, everyone in my group has to pay.

We are social animals. We don’t want to let each other down. And we certainly don’t want to be the cause of someone else's punishment. The tool worked like a charm. Even on those few occasions when one of us missed a day, it was very easy to jump right back on track. No one wants to start the trend of leading their team to fail.