A few weeks ago I drafted an intimate, vulnerable, update to the members of the Better Men Project. Then it got sent to my entire listserv.
It was a mistake that left me feeling exposed. But I was moved and encouraged by your response. I’m still looking for the words to talk about what I have learned on this often painful path from toxic masculinity towards conscious masculinity. But I commit to finding a way to share. There is something liberating about truth and our stories.
Meet Damali Vidot. Chelsea's City Council President. A mother. An activist. A healer. And the coolest, funniest person that you will ever meet. In this series she speaks of her journey from being a self proclaimed "hood rat" to Chelsea's City Council President. She teaches us about the difficulties of working in the political trenches, and how spirit has been integral to her survival.
Laying in my tent. Camping in Cape Cod. A little bit ashamed about scrolling through my phone. I saw another headline about the burning Amazon. And how it will take hundreds of years for the rain forest to recover. My chest welled up. I wanted to cry. I said “not now” to myself. And I kept scrolling.
This is the launch of my video series. And I’m thrilled to be introducing you to my wife, Samantha Tan. She is an executive coach to women, a circle holder and all around wise woman. She is devoting her life to reclaim pleasure as medicine, compass and path.
I have always thought that Puerto Rico is a miner’s canary. A harbinger of what is to come. What has happened in Puerto Rico is a pattern that repeats itself all over the world. If everything is fractal, then Puerto Rico just showed us the way.
Last October I had the privilege of speaking at Inter(x) HubWeek about the difference between Toxic Masculinity and Conscious Masculinity. You can watch the full talk below. Next week, on Monday July 8 at 8:30PM East the Better Men Project will be hosting a call to relinquish patriarchy.
Only ten percent of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. Where we live. How rich or poor we are. Our health. Our place within the structure of oppression.
I want my work to have a direct impact on the objective conditions of the people. But it is imperative that I pay attention to how I go about doing this. Because I risk limiting my impact. My work should aim for more than only 10 percent of a person’s experience of happiness, of freedom and aliveness. I want real leverage.
Michael Pollan just wrote a beautiful book on the “psychedelic renaissance.” He titled it “How to Change Your Mind.” And it is a phenomenally important work. He is a best selling author many times over. Many of you may remember groundbreaking books like “The Botany of Desire,” “The Omnivore's Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food.” I mention these because he is one of Time’s 100 most influential people. This is what is important about this post: Michael Pollan just made “Journey Work” go mainstream.
“How has visual representation both limited and liberated our definition of American citizenship and belonging?”
This is the animating question behind the Vision & Justice Project, led by the incomparable Sarah Lewis. Visual representation has always been a powerful tool for reshaping our culture. But social media has exploded the power of the image. We need to be aware of this power. And we need to wield it with intention.
It is too easy for the work of dismantling patriarchy to become an arena of “competitive wokeness.” A well developed analysis can actually shut down curiosity. We tend to hold it as a fundamental truth. And the work becomes about grandstanding. Everyone wants to get it right. To let others know they have it right. And to enforce what is right. I call it movement fundamentalism.
I have nothing against what is right. But I do have a problem with spaces that make us afraid to get anything wrong. The fundamentalism that underlies “competitive wokeness” can paralyze us with fear. No one wants to get it wrong. No one wants to be exiled from the tribe. A primal fear hijacks our thinking. And fear is how possibility erodes.
We are part of a global community that meditates together evrey Wednesday morning at 9:30am Eastern Time on a Zoom Video Conference Call. We support each other in our meditation practice. It is a powerful way to deepen our sense of connection.
Our work brings together shamanic ritual and the practice of emergent dialogue. We experience it as a forward facing remembering.
We tune into the aliveness of our shared consciousness. We nurture the possibility of something that can take us beyond the boundaries of ourselves and what we think we know.
This is an experiment. You are welcome to join us on any Wednesday morning over the next three months. You are invited to join us starting Wednesday, April 10 at 9:30AM Eastern time.
It is important for the “first of” women in congress to know they have our support. We show that with our resources, with our volunteer hours, with our voices in the public forum.
It’s not easy to be first. The old guard feels like you are taking their place. The old system is shaking. You are what the future looks like. And you are perceived as a threat. It is a merciless environment. You are under a national microscope. You are facing waves and waves of digital hate.
Deepening human connection is at the heart of the evolutionary leadership framework. It is a response to our times. It understands that the species is at a choice point. That we are on the fast track to an evolutionary crash. And that we need to take an evolutionary leap. A leap at the level of consciousness and culture. A leap away from the narcissism of our day. And towards the possibility of a new “We.”
We can only grow in this direction by coming closer to each other.
I turn 44 today. Samantha and I had a date yesterday, and she held space for my reflection. Birthdays are good for looking back and looking forward. I had to start with gratitude. I know that I am abundantly blessed. Blessed by the goddess. By my family and friends. By my community and vocation. By the light of my ancestors. and by the grace of life in these times, in this place and in this moment.
Stacy Abrams spoke the truth in her response to the State of the Union: Voter Suppression is Real. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”
I spent a few days facilitating a gathering of people doing work that is not glamorous or sexy. But that matters everything. Advocates. Litigators. Census Organizers. People facing down a wave that means to roll back freedom. I am proud to report back that these good people are holding the line.
Our faith in institutions has shifted. But we still long for spiritual community. My friend Casper Ter Kuile recently wrote a powerful reflection on our need for spiritual containers. I have been contemplating it ever since. Nisha Purushotham and Jen Kiok, two women from our Evolutionary Leadership Community have recently launched a powerful experiment in holding such a spiritual container. Last month I was able to participate with my family. And it was medicine. It was grace.
We are rarely called to live into the higher virtues. Grace. Forgiveness. Compassion. Love and Letting Go.
The opposite tends to be true. Our culture encourages punishment, vengeance. Tearing down. Making things right by dehumanizing the other. There is little room for error. And so there is little room for growth.
Our moral stance tends to be static. We are rewarded for knowing right from wrong. For declaring it and enforcing it. But not so much for bringing others into the fold.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It is a rigidity that has been with us for a while. But the last presidential election brought it sharply into view. Faced with hate come into power, we gave ourselves license to hate.
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.
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?
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 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.
Interviews for the Better Men Project confirm that many of us want to do better. It is also clear that we do not always know how to. We know how to be better than Weinstein or Cosby. Some of us have learned tough lessons about the impact of our own behavior.
But being a good man has to mean more than "don't be bad."
There will be moments when good people who care for justice and the planet will be able to pass national policies that may have an impact on our collective destiny. But any and all hope for long-term survival is to be found locally, in relationship to each other, learning and experimenting together. Depending on one another.
In this episode I interview author Cyndi Suarez, who has just released The Power Manual, a book on how to master complex power dynamics. Cyndi has written a comprehensive operations manual for living into the tension of these distinctions and quite literally enacting our way to freedom.
Last month I was blessed to facilitate the fourth annual Evolutionary Leadership Workshop, our flagship program. A workshop to make dreams real. I also facilitated the first ever Evolutionary Leadership Graduate Program, an opportunity for former workshop participants to come back and level up.
I'm testing the approach to group accountability that will hold together our Mastermind Group. A premium program that we are developing for successful professionals who want to level up. Want to build your morning routine?
Damali Vidot-Rosa is the kind of person you fall in love with the minute that you meet her. She exudes the sort of authenticity that is defined by love. She is President of the Chelsea City Council and part of the Evolutionary Leadership Cohort of 2017.
In it he fantasized about what he would do with $500 million dollars. He said that he would try to set up places that would cultivate friendships. He would take the sort of networking programs that seem to transform people’s lives and make them less career oriented and more profound.
As I spend my days in progressive circles, privileged to spend time with people committed to a movement that can redeem our country and help save the world, it is crystal clear to me that this sign names the core platform that we are fighting for. Queer and trans liberation. The liberation of migrant people. The liberation of Black people. Governance grounded in reason. The liberation of women. The end of an extraction economy and right relationships with the planet. These are evidently true.
Sixty of us have been harnessing our collective energy to keep a daily meditation practice this month of March. I know I have benefitted from feeling into this connection as I meditate, and I as I remember that we are together when I go about my day.
Meet Kendra Rosalie-Hicks, Co-Director of Radical Philanthropy at Resist, and part of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop cohort of 2017. I asked her to share where she is with her project, and she blew my mind.
When my son Darshan was in nursery school I remember walking him there on one of those gorgeous days of Boston’s long-awaited spring. The hood was bumping and the hot cars blaring. I said “Darshan, can you hear that?” “Is that Puerto Rican music?” he asked. It was Hip Hop, so I said “no, but we were there from the beginning.” Today I wonder if I should have said yes, and if it was a mistake to limit Puerto Rican music to salsa and other Caribbean beats. (Don’t forget where reggaeton is from either).
If I’ve been taught to derive value, status and belonging from how much sex I can get and how much dominance I can wield, then it will make sense to let my soul’s longing recede.
But if I’m taught to listen to my soul, if I can learn to take my masculine drive and place it at the service of something that is truly good, something much bigger than just me or you, then freedom becomes possible. It is from here that a conscious masculinity can be born, that the work of atonement can flow, that we will cease to be a danger and remember what is good.
It’s my birthday! I’m already tearing up with all the love coming my way via text and social media. What a miracle it has been to be born into this Flow of Grace. I believe in seven year cycles, and I stepped into my 42nd year with great intention (and intensity!). It has been quite a year. A year of deep, inner, personal transformation.
The impulse to develop the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop was the desire for creative freedom. I work for institutional clients, the client is the convener and I’m invited in to design and facilitate the experience. It is beautiful work and I am privileged to do it. But it is work that demands compromise. The client has their own goals, their sense of what is possible and their own set of constraints.
I set out to create a space that was free of such compromise. I decided to try being the convener. And I developed a workshop where I could apply the very best of what I have learned in service of what I see as our highest purpose.
Intention. Connection. Experimentation. These are the tenets of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop.
We live in a suicide economy. We are caught in a system of extraction that is decimating the planet and has the species on the fast track to an evolutionary crash.
We have a crisis of the imagination. In the words of Fredric Jameson, “it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of [globalized, unbridled] capitalism.”
But ours is not a dark story. Ours is the story of evolution. And everywhere around the world people are daring to imagine something new. Everywhere we find people who hold the wisdom we were taught had been lost. Everywhere there are folks who are practicing, inventing, remembering, experimenting with better ways of being human together. And isn’t that what an economy is for?
When I launched the Better Men Project I chose to focus on cisgender (term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth) heterosexual men in committed relationships. The intention was not to exclude other men, but to humbly begin the process based on the experience that I know. You have to start somewhere. And it is good to start with yourself. My dear friend Felix Endara was generous enough to sign up for an interview anyway. Felix is a trans man. I had no idea until the moment of our interview. I have been working with Felix for years. It turned out to be the most powerful interview that I’ve had during this process. Who better to speak to the redeeming aspects of masculinity than people who have had both experiences, the experience of being assigned female at birth and the experience of transitioning to life as a man. I write with Felix’s permission and with his eyes on these words.
We need to grow. To stop growing is to start dying. But the quest for achievement is not always about growth. It often is about wanting to become whole. It can be fueled by the idea that we are somehow not enough, and that happiness can only be found at some point in the future, when we become worthy of it. This is wrong.
This is a time of pain and self-reflection. Men in these interviews speak of the limits to our cultural idea of masculinity. They speak about having access to a limited range of emotion, of only being taught domination, or not always knowing how to speak to what we are feeling. These men are increasingly aware of the ways in which we have been crippled by patriarchy. Some make a direct connection between patriarchy, the climate crisis and our pillage of the earth.
We find anti-blackness in many migrant communities, Islamophobia and anti-migrant sentiments in Black communities, and our whole society is guilty of making Indigenous people invisible. It makes no sense for these communities to distrust each other even as we are all threatened by bans, walls and the criminalization of our very existence.
Here I’m re-posting what I wrote on facebook as I worked to contend with the pain of this powerful #metoo moment. It is important to be clear about this. I’m not writing from abstraction. I hold positions of leadership. I seek to call people to a higher standard. When I fail, when I make mistakes or miss my blind spots, the impact is greater, and messier. This is a commitment that comes out of real hurt and real learning.
Our first newsletter was supposed to go out on the New Moon of September. That’s when Hurricane María struck and the land of my birth experienced the first climate catastrophe caused by human made global warming. The island went dark. The diaspora went into despair. The waters and the winds struck with unfathomable fury.
The #metoo campaign is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen on social media. It is absolutely devastating. And it is also liberating. Silence, shame, hiding - these are the tools of oppression. I am disturbed by the masculine silence. Are you a man struggling with how to show up? Let's talk about it.
I can tell you that there are people who punctuate their lives with acts of devotion, who make sacred offerings with every meal and who sing prayers into every hearth. And I can tell you that they are beautifully perfect as much as they are also flawed. They have moods, preferences, blind spots and human stuff as much as any of us. But they show up. They say yes to the work. They try harder. They try again. They do it with devotion. They do it with love.
What are the social and rights-based implications of the “quantified society?”
This was the mind blowing question behind one of the most interesting gatherings that I facilitated this summer. Artificial Intelligence is advancing at a relentless pace. And the most powerful corporations on earth now have unimaginable troves of data about our most intimate behavior. We don’t seem to have the bandwidth to deal with the implications. And yet answering this question is a democratic imperative.
We have always known that laughter is the best medicine. Grandmothers have always told us so. Today’s science is catching up with ancient wisdom, and the myriad physiological benefits of laughter continue to be revealed. In our high stress, often depressed society, laughter becomes the most precise medicine for our day.
I've turned off my WhatsApp notifications. I'm part of too many active groups! But I can turn to it at any given point, much like I did this morning, and let my heart be moved by one group or another expressing love for each other.
Launching and piloting Your Project X was a phenomenal experience. I am so grateful for the Boston Founding Fellows, the first participants in our Boston Career Change pilot. It takes courage to be first.
I'm excited about the turns that YPX is taking. This project is right where it needs to be, the team is learning and iterating, it is practicing what we preach.
After a lot of personal reflection, I have decided to step out of the project. I have full confidence in this idea, I love the team that is bringing it together, and I know that it will iterate its way into something pretty amazing.
We are off to the third annual Evolutionary Leadership Workshop. Here is a note to the participants:
You have probably had a set of landmark experiences in your life. You have had moments that you refer back to over and over again, you have had realizations that continue to feed you. Our goal is to craft another one of those experiences. We want the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop to become a landmark moment in your life. Our intention is to support you as you reach deep alignment with yourself and with your own highest purpose. We want you to return home with a new community of people and a concrete set of steps that will launch you into what is next for you. We want you to actualize your dream, we want to enroll you in the evolutionary movement of our time.
I am thrilled to announce the launch of Your Project X! It is my latest effort to help people (re)discover their passions and build careers they’ll love.
You know I’ve devoted my life to helping people do the work that matters most. I cannot think of a more important moment to tap our creative impulse and do what our hearts are here to do.
I am excited by the ongoing success of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop. But not everyone can get away to a magical island for an intensive seven days. So here is Your Project X. We run 10 week part-time programs in New York City and Boston designed to help participants accelerate change in their careers -- by amplifying what they are already doing, breaking into a new industry or founding a company.
Tim Ferriss shared Daniel Ketchell’s Medium piece breaking down our current media environment. It is an excellent exposition of the way a relatively neutral or even positive story is funnelled towards negativity and outrage. It’s really worth checking out.
Here is a quote that stood out for me –
There is probably an evolutionary reason for the virality of outrage, but I’m not a scientist, so I’ll use a simple, light example. Have you ever seen anyone scream at a sports bar or stadium full of strangers about a logical and sound referee decision?
Outrage encourages interaction and engagement, the fuel of our social networks. So outrage, too often, becomes the narrative — or at least skews the narrative.
Thomas Friedman launched a recent column reminding us that automation will define the future:
Software has started writing poetry, sports stories and business news. IBM’s Watson is co-writing pop hits. Uber has begun deploying self-driving taxis on real city streets and, last month, Amazon delivered its first package by drone to a customer in rural England.
He also reminds us that there is nothing that competes with the human heart. It is only the heart that can can love, have compassion and dream. He reminds us that only humans can build deep relationships of trust.
I’m a believer. Not the uptight fundamentalist type. I’m well over the idea of God as an old man in the skies waving a magic wand. But I believe. I have a cosmology that helps me to live into the infinite vastness of this great mystery.
I imagine a tantric dance between what is quiet, perfect and still and what is full, unfolding manifestation. What we might call the “ground of being” and what we might call “evolution.”
There is a narrative out there that 2016 was the worst year ever. Not only did we lose beloved icons ranging from Prince to Carrie Fisher, but the United States just handed the Nuclear Codes to the least qualified individual ever to hold the Presidency. And this is without talking about his white supremacist tendencies!
I am the last person to deny the very real implications that our political choices will have on very real people.
Tim Ferriss shared Daniel Ketchell’s Medium piece breaking down our current media environment. It is an excellent exposition of the way a relatively neutral or even positive story is funnelled towards negativity and outrage. It’s really worth checking out.
I've been quiet during this ominous week. Even when we still thought Hilary was going to win I found myself walking the city streets and murmuring to myself - "this is not good, and I don't know what to do." Little did I know how much worse it was about to get.
Glenn Beck is not on Fox anymore. Many of us don’t hear from him as much. But his media empire is growing. I remember when he was front and center in the imagination of the progressive movement. He was the embodiment of evil. The mouthpiece of the right. I heard more about him than from him. And what I heard was all bad.
n the US it is common to make fun of the French and their unions, their strikes and their 35 hour work weeks. It is easy to forget that the unions are indeed “the folks who brought you the weekend.” I was excited to read Sweden is introducing the six hour work day.
Our relationship to work is all wrong. It is by now a cliché to say that too many of us live to work instead of work to live. But it is true. We have left our children to be taken care of by iPads, and we have limited our own lives to an idea of “productivity” that has simply come up short. Too many of us are not happy.
I watched Hercules last night. The terrible B movie starring “The Rock.” Don’t ask me how I ended up here. I sat through the annoyance of cliché after cliché. It wasn’t until the movie was done that I got some value from it. Samantha, my wife, who finds something to appreciate in everything, was the one to point it out.
I had a bout of insomnia last night. And so it was in the middle of the night that I finished reading Yaa Gyasi’s heartbreakingly beautiful book, Homegoing. It must have been three in the morning, tears streaming down my face as my aching soul connected to the plight the ancestors, and to their benevolence.
As a person of color I have experienced direct and explicit aggression as well as significant forms of exclusion. I also experience plenty of microaggressions. As a man who has been culturally conditioned by patriarchy, I have also been the perpetrator of explicit and implicit aggressions. I have been hurt and I have hurt others.
It is unfortunate that we have structured a society in which the power embedded in relationships of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, exclusion and privilege define so much of our human experience.
We are social animals. We cannot be an isolated self. Affluence allows us to become more and more independent from each other. It allows us to isolate ourselves.
This is the big irony. We are “wealthier” than most people on earth yet we are lonelier than most people on earth. The “stuff” that we buy with our wealth, the “safety” that we buy with our wealth, the “independence” that we buy with our wealth, it all seems to diminish the very thing that gives life meaning - the generative power of human connection. Our wealth is making us scared. Depressed. And small.
Today is the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence. The event matters to all of us. Not just because it impacted one out of every five humans walking the planet at the time. But because two centuries of domination by the largest Empire that the world had ever known were finally undone by a revolution that was fundamentally spiritual and had nonviolence at its core.
We just watched the new take on “The Little Prince” that Netflix released on Friday. I found it beautiful. I loved the art. And I loved the “story within a story.” It is a great way to bring grown ups back to the magic of a fable that we learned to love as children.
I bring it up because the new version offers a sharp critique of a world defined by corporations, “productivity” and standardized education. It reminds us that the most precious things in life cannot be dominated or owned. It reminds us that we have lost too much.
I’ve been struggling with “movement space.” It feels like the people who are devoting our lives to social transformation are also burdened by an unconscious shadow. This shadow takes the form of judgement and self-righteousness.
The rush to indict and exile is not exclusively applied to “the other.” It’s not just the bad guys who are wrong. The whip of self-righteousness is increasingly applied to those who are in movement with us.
I’m just getting back from two weeks at Sundance. I just facilitated two very different gatherings at the intersection of culture, art and justice. There is such a thing as a creative impulse. It is the driving force of evolution itself. It moves through us.
This creative impulse is your desire for purpose and significance. It is the eros that defines your subconscious. It is the thread of all good stories. It is why we thirst for meaning. It is what makes you want to grow, and what allows you to not know.
The creative impulse holds the magic of our aliveness.
I teared up this morning when I saw clips of Hillary’s nomination. We made herstory last night. And IT MATTERS. Every time a glass ceiling is broken it matters. Every time women or people of color can see themselves reflected in a position of influence and power it matters. Patriarchy is real. Racism is real. Breaking through is something that matters.
Make no mistake about it. There is a link between yesterday's devastating Supreme Court non-decision - the one that will tear apart immigrant families and destroy their livelihood, Britain's vote to leave the European Union, and the rise of Donald Trump.
Nationalist voices are on the rise. They are winning BIG victories. The reactionaries have momentum and this is not good for the world.
Beautiful, glorious, radiant queer and trans Latinx siblings. You are my people. I love you. I welcome you. This cis-hetero-Latino man is here to hold you, to cry with you, to lay with you and spoon you. I am not complete without you. We are a people, we are us only with you.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry for every school yard joke, the stupidity of dorm rooms and locker rooms, every disparaging word, every expression of derision and fear that permeates this culture when it comes to the beauty that is you.
I'm sorry that you have been listening to this, feeling this, hiding from this, seeking haven from this for all of your precious and glorious life. I'm sorry for the times I played a role, I'm sorry for the times I played along, I'm sorry for the many times that I didn't ask them to stop.
Evolutionary Leaders reflect on challenges, the Self AND the Emerging Self. They reflect on their sense of frustration, their sources of energy and inner resistance. They name their own voices of judgment and fear. And they also reflect on this moment, their community and their future. Together we look at what we need to let go of, at the seeds that are present and at that which can be tested. We look at who is with us and what action needs to be taken.
The 2016 Evolutionary Leadership Workshop launches tonight at Hollyhock, Cortes Island, British Columbia. And we thought we’d give you a taste of what we will be doing together. Our leadership reflection will rely on a great tool for guided journaling that we borrowed from the Presencing Institute. We invite you to answer these for yourself!
I dropped offline for about 10 days and I’m just making my way back. I find myself in a flow of open hearted gratitude. This morning I woke up to a thread of e-mails of Evolutionary Leaders introducing themselves to each other. Participants in last year’s workshop and those who will be coming together in just about a week. Forgive the dramatic intensity but I literally fell to my knees with gratitude. I was bowled over by the abundance of generosity and mutual care. And I was overcome by a sense of being fully in service of the creative impulse, the evolutionary thrust that propels us forward towards a future that is ceaselessly beckoning, tugging at our hearts, desiring of our participation.
Today I launch facilitation of a year-long leadership and network development process for young climate leaders (between 25 and 40 years of age). The process will be anchored by three intensive retreats between now and March 2017. The work aims to build leadership capacity and support the development of trust and authentic collaborative relationships among leaders of this most important of movements.
This sort of year-long development process, with multiple touch points taking place over time, is my preferred method for leadership and network development. I find it to be truly transformational work, it changes lives and has lasting impact. It was during the fall of 2007 that I first participated in a year-long process. Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out Fellowship, facilitated by Robert Gass, who would become a most important mentor. I knew right away that this was the work I was here to do.
A recent client engaged in an ambitious thought process: How do we change the underpinnings of the economy in two decades? The process was launched with a helpful framework. A participant proposed that any time big social change happens - we must have three things in place:
I’m not shy about my politics. I definitely stand to the left of the average Democrat. I’m clear and passionate about what I believe it will take for humanity to make a just transition to an economy that is good for people and the planet. But even with all this passion and conviction I understand that the only way to make my vision a reality is to include those who don’t see the world as I do.
David Brooks just wrote a phenomenal column on “how to fix politics.” People on my side of the political argument often get appalled when I quote him. And that is precisely the problem.
Your attention is your currency. This is both a spiritual fact and a political fact. We live in a distraction economy. The biggest corporations of our day live and die based on how much of YOUR attention they can get. Advertisement is the backbone of capitalism. Advertisement’s purpose is to capture your attention. Once your attention is captured it seeks a hold on your imagination and once it has your imagination it seeks to shape who and how you choose to be. It promises meaning and purpose, but it leaves you empty instead.
Our experiment is almost over. Join us for ten more days of meditation!
Maybe you've been with us all along and you are now 30 days into your practice. Or maybe you signed up full of desire and commitment to get into meditation for the first time, or to finally come back to it - but maybe you couldn’t quite do it, you couldn’t quite get those five minutes in every day. Perhaps you didn't sign up for our experiment, but you really thought about it, maybe something struck your curiosity about this practice.
Vincent Van Gogh is a huge inspiration for my work - ever since I read “Lust for Life.” And Seth Godin is an important model for approaching it. I appreciated his post today, in “When will you get to Ramsgate?” Seth takes the arch of Van Gogh’s work to illustrate one of his core mantras “drip, drip, drip,” or, you get there step-by-step. He shows Van Gogh’s evocative yet somber painting of Ramsgate. It took skill to get there, it took step after step after step. And Van Gogh was still nowhere near the Van Gogh that we are so moved by today.
A “japa mala” is usually composed of 108 beads. It is a lot like a rosary and it is used to facilitate the repetition of the Divine name. It helps focus the mind during meditation and it helps return to center throughout the day. 108 is a sacred number in the yogic tradition. Today I celebrate 108 days without taking alcohol or pot, today is my sober mala.
March 20 is a special day. It marks the halfway point in our 40-day effort to meditate daily. It is also the Spring Equinox. It is one of two days of the year in which day and night are in perfect balance, they are equal in length. It is also the time of the year after which our days start to get longer. Our ancestors paid a lot of attention to these celestial events. Let’s honor them. Let’s observe the Spring Equinox together.
Join me and our community in meditation this Sunday, March 20 at 7PM East/4PM West. It will be a 30 minute call.
I spent "Super Tuesday" facilitating the third "Solidarity Summit," a series of convenings bringing together American - Arabs, Asians, South Asians, Latinos, Black folks and Muslims of a diversity of backgrounds. These leaders are organizers and activists, policy advocates and social media personalities, part of new and emergent movements as well as representatives from legacy organizations. To me they are already legendary. They are the people who give shape to history.
Be careful of the "grown ups." Seriously. They think they have figured it out. Be careful of anyone who claims to have figured it out.
Now think about it, when have you changed?
How have you changed?
What made you change?
It was either trauma or epiphany. It was either a broken heart or a flood of love and light. Our hearts change, then we change. We become more open or we become more afraid. And that's how we move ahead. We are either hopeful or hobbled by mistrust.
This is my life. And today I get to celebrate it. I get to celebrate the treasure that is my family and I get to celebrate the blessing of living a life of purpose. This will be my 41st journey around the sun. Turning 40 came with a significant transition, a different way of being in the world. I am enjoying every bit of this decade. I feel like my feet touch the ground. I feel like I have something to stand on and I have something to build. It is nothing short of excilarating.
I’ve been a meditator for about 12 years. I have experienced ebbs and flows in my practice and I have meditated every day of 2016. On February 29 I will be concluding a 60 day meditation “challenge.” A commitment to meditate at least 20 minutes per day every day for 60 days. I don’t want stop. And I want to invite you to join me.
I became a minority at the age of 12. It wasn’t a good experience. The Autobiography of Malcolm X became a formative text. Identity is how I came into politics. I often refer to the process as a first liberation. It gave language to my experience. Nothing was wrong with me or my people. We were all victims of a system of oppression - the problem was structural, not individual.
Feedback loops are at the very heart of our capacity to self-organize. They are what allow us to work together organically. We have to get them right. Feedback is what allows us to adjust behavior, to shift our approach, to adapt in ways that make self-organization possible. But feedback can get really hard for highly sensitive, emotional, social animals like ourselves.
One post on feedback led to another and now I find myself writing a third one. This piece by Tara Sophia Mohr showed up on my feed and it got me thinking about how hard it is to get feedback. It can be crippling. Few of us had perfect parents, and critical feedback can often send us back to our worst childhood wounds. One of Tara’s insights is that “the criticism that we most fear receiving and that we find the most wounding is criticism that matches up with what we believe about ourselves.”
On my recent post on “timely feedback” I made reference to “feedback loops.” I said that feedback loops are at the very heart of our capacity to self-organize. Self-organizing is the ecological antidote to our industrialized approach to planning. Of course it is important to plan! The problem is that we plan with an industrial mindset. The industrial mindset depends on high levels of predictability. But our increasingly complex world is highly unpredictable.
Last weekend I participated in a weekend workshop led by Patricia Albere of the Evolutionary Collective. It was powerful. And it was deeply resonant with my approach to facilitation. Patricia Albere is a leading teacher and practitioner in a socio-spiritual movement that has been taking shape and picking up steam over the last few decades.
Here is the BIG takeaway - there is indeed a collective awakening going on, but it's not so much about a bunch of individuals waking up. It is a mutuality, a being-with, that is awakening to itself.
When I say that culture leads, that it is the most important lever of change, I’m not usually talking about the MoMA. But I do trust there is culture there, I do see a barometer in that space, I do like to visit and experience that sort of museum art.
Today marks my last day at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. This has been my professional home for the last 10 years. IISC is the community that has shaped me and my capacity to fulfill my life’s purpose. I am eternally indebted to this place. This is the platform that has allowed me to make my contribution to our quest for liberation. I leave with love, appreciation and commitment to our evolving relationship.
Last week I had the privilege of facilitating a unique gathering of movement actors. They are the protagonists of “When We Fight We Win!” a soon to be released book about the social movements that are shaping the 21st century. The book is more than a book. It is an art object. It is a cultural expression of our contemporary demand for liberation. You can pre-order this piece of art now.
I just facilitated the Rauschenberg Foundation's SEED Summit and I found it truly refreshing work. Artists bring a different energy to the work of collaboration. They have an intuitive understanding of our inherent capacity to create. Most of these artists are not explicitly movement artists, they are not explicitly committed to social justice. It might sound strange but this too is refreshing. I am appreciating time with people who share my values but live outside of my echo chamber.
We did it! The first-ever Evolutionary Leadership Workshop was a remarkable success. It was the landmark experience that we meant for it to be. Participants launched their projects, they committed to an experimental approach and they dared to take their dreams out of their heads and into the world.
We lost Grace Lee Boggs this week and our world feels a little bit smaller. But I try not to lose sight of the nurturing presence of our ancestors and I feel strong again when I know that she is among them.
I cannot say much that hasn’t been said about the life of this true American [R]evolutionary. I can say that her wisdom has shaped some of the most important aspects of my life and how I choose to live.
A group of visionaries came together this June in the first ever Evolutionary Leadership Workshop. The bond we formed was so strong that the group self-organized the reunion that took place this weekend. It was powerful, it was liberating, it was magical.
I was overcome by shame when I read this piece on the experience of women in our culture - It was easier to give in than keep running. My heart aches with the awareness of my role in perpetuating patriarchy. You don’t have to be a rapist to be part of the problem. We swim in a patriarchal ocean, patriarchy is found in every crevice, it threatens to define each of our micro-interactions. We practice patriarchy with our gaze, with the energy that we bring into a room, with the sexualization of a friendly smile.
Eleven years ago today I had an encounter that changed my life forever. The glance of a spiritual master led to an awakening experience that is still unfolding within me. It was an initiation so far outside my realm of possibility that it took two years and the breakdown of my life for me to begin to come to terms with it.
I am still learning the lessons that come with that unlocking...
I was specially moved by this post shared by Swarn Leung, one of the most empathic listeners I have ever met. I loved it because it resonates with my own experience of the power of deep listening. But I was also moved because it points towards the possibility of democratizing how we heal.
I think this is some of the hardest work. It’s not about pack hunting an external enemy, it’s about deep shifts in our own ways of being.
But if we want to create a world in which conflict and trauma aren’t the center of our collective existence, we have to practice something new, ask different questions, access again our curiosity about each other as a species.
Our learning journey to Bolivia began on the Winter Solstice (Southern Hemisphere), the moon went from new to full during the time that we were here. The stars were aligned in our favor. Bolivia is a place like no other, the group dynamic was uniquely generative. This really has been one of the best learning journeys I have facilitated.
Bolivia is blowing our minds. We are visiting a place that is in the midst of a most significant revolution. No. It is not a place without contradictions. But what is?
A country that is 70% Indigenous has its first indigenous leader since the Spanish came with rape and colonization 500 years ago. This is a BIG deal. They have a new constitution, and it is among the most progressive on the planet.
Puerto Rico’s first Spanish name was “Isla de San Juan Bautista.” As a spiritual kid growing up in a devout Catholic family I came to develop a sense of devotion towards the Saint. He spoke with the fierce urgency of now. He was the prophet who declared that a world changing event was upon us. Sometimes I feel like I can hear him holler in the desert. Today is his fiesta, today he is remembered and celebrated.
The first ever Evolutionary Leadership Workshop, my first public workshop after a decade of doing this work, was an incredible success. I am still grasping for words to capture the potency of what we just experienced together. But I have felt so loved and held by you, my community, that I feel I owe it to you to share a first sense of what just happened here in paradise.
This is a moment worth naming. I write from Hollyhock, Cortes Island, British Columbia where in a few hours we will be launching the first ever Evolutionary Leadership Workshop. After more than a decade facilitating other people’s gatherings this is the very first time I offer my own public workshop.
Came across this description of the class that Junot Díaz teaches at MIT and I couldn’t help but think about the work that Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown are doing with Octavia’s Brood and the way it all relates to the [r]evolutionary organizing and activism that so many of us are doing. Let’s Leap!