"Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. (Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.) ~ Antonio Machado
"You have capacities within you that are phenomenal, if you only knew how to release them." ~ David Bohm
"As human beings we are on a journey of becoming who we really are, a journey of accessing the deep sources of Self." ~ Otto Sharmer


Hello everyone and welcome to the final Tele-class of our evolving Master Class. I am calling you today from a wintry and snowy Washington D.C. It is a beautiful sunny and crisply cold day. And it's been a very long while since Yumi and I have experienced the real changes in seasons together. We love it. And just like this winter is new for us, what I am going to explore with you today is new for me.

I am going to explore with you the phenomenon of the "growth spurt" of the therapist. And as you know from knowing me, it's not having a growth spurt that is new for me. But what is new for me to be so keenly aware of the phenomenon of having a growth spurt, of paying attention to its elements, of writing them down, and then having a "community of practice" with whom I can explore the whole phenomenon. This is a complete first in the journey of my life. And I thank you all for being in my life in such a way that allows for a deepening, an expansion, and a genuine development of my person, both professionally and personally.

So here we go:

I have been noticing lately in my work that I take chances I did not take before. I find myself doing the unexpected. Even though Shock and Awe has been a mantra of mine because I know that old patterns only dissolve when the mind is distracted, I find myself being in Shock and Awe of my own process.

For example in the "wildest dreams" section, I have found myself staying longer than the time it takes to teach the distinction between the language of deficit and the language of abundance. I stay till I connect essence to essence with each of the partners and that the authentic, deeper aspiration is on the horizon. I plunge in and navigate my way to a deep-rooted truth. That dimension often comes accompanied by tears of recognition, longing, reunion grief. During the journey, I will also intuit that there is a need for the exploration of a certain neighborhood "under construction," a courageous groundbreaking new exploration by the couple, and I will set up the conditions for that visit. I find myself using more and more the Bob Newhart method of "STOP IT" and “OH NO! We don't go there!"

But beyond examples of practical steps that I am taking, I have been noticing that I am more powerful in my work, more direct, bolder, more intuitive, more and more adventurous, as well as more confident in my leadership.

I know of Malcolm Gladwell's idea of the 10.000.000 hours of practice that lead to a new level of expertise and mastery, which he describes in his book The Outliers. It may be that I have put in another good chunk of hours. It could also very well be that I have arrived at a new threshold, where there is a palpable crack, an opening. Otto Sharmer in his book Leading from the Emergent Future tells us: "Attend to the crack." And what he means is attend to the opening you sense in you, let it speak to you with its message of: "The past is ending, and the future is wanting to begin." And when you are there, at that juncture, he advises: "Open your heart, open your mind, and open your will."

I know from listening to you, that some of you too are experiencing this palpable development, this new threshold, this crack, this opening. And I would like to explore its elements in my own life, both because it is such an opportunity to language the new, but also because I see the importance of this conversation between us. We are all growing and developing and becoming and evolving. As says Machado, we are the travelers and "we are all creating a path as we walk it."

In preparing my talk for today, and looking at the phenomenon of the "growth spurt," it became clear to me that even though I noticed the shift through my "doingness," it is the growth and development of my "beingness" in which the real shift has occurred. And as I observed I noticed that there are three elements of "beingness" that have shifted and deepened in me.

And the three elements are:

  • The Art of Presence
  • The Spirit of Engagement
  • The Soul of Leadership

And so in today's talk I would like to look at all three.

I will first of all look at the Art of Presence, a passive kind of activism, the power of "being there," with what Otto Sharmer calls Level 4 generative listening.

Then I would like to look at the Spirit of Engagement, this whole-hearted, enthusiastic, excited delight in living every moment to the fullest.

And finally I would like to explore the Soul of Leadership, and the phases of growth and development of what Joe Jaworsky calls a Stage 4 Renewing Leader.


I.  Let me start with the ART OF PRESENCE 

I read an incredible article in the New York Times. It was by David Brooks, and he titled it The Art of Presence. In his article David Brooks tells the story ofa family who was visited by tragedy twice. First their 27 year old daughter, who was working for a service organization in Afghanistan, went horseback riding and was thrown of her horse, and died from her injuries. And then, five years later, their younger daughter was biking to work from her home, and she was hit by a car, and her face was severely mashed up. She has endured and will continue to endure a series of operations. For a time she breathed through a tube and ate through a tube, and was unable to speak.

David Brooks describes how the mother talks about the "deep organic grief that a parent feels when they have lost one child and then seen another badly injured.” She describes it as "a pain felt in bones and fiber." But amazingly these two parents have allowed suffering to be a teacher about how those outside the zone of trauma might better communicate with those inside the zone. Their collective wisdom is summarized in six points:

  1. BE THERE: bring the ministry of your pure presence.
  2. DON'T COMPARE: each story should be heard attentively as its own thing, and respected fully for its own uniqueness. From the inside, comparisons sting as clueless and careless or just plain false.
  5. BE A BUILDER not a firefighter. Builders stick around even after the crisis.
  6. DON'T SAY "ITS ALL FOR THE BEST" OR "TRY TO MAKE SENSE OUT OF WHAT HAPPENED": in trauma we lose our tolerance for pretense and unrooted optimism. Do not over interpret, or try to make sense of the inexplicable.

These parents went to Afghanistan a few months after their daughter's death. They remember the journey they took as "a time out of time." They wept together with Afghan villagers, and they felt touched by grace. The mother says: "That period changed me, and opened up my imagination." She adds that being there with the villagers made her realize that: "This thing called presence is more available than I thought. It is more ready to let loose than I ever imagined." The pure presence of these human beings from their essence touched her to the core, where a much bigger reality exists, and from where she herself could then reach out to others with the deep wisdom and genius of simple pure "beingness."

David Brooks ends the article with the following words:

We have a tendency, especially in our achievement oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness - to propose, plan, fix, interpret explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence - to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation. Grant the sufferers the dignity of their own process. Let them define the meaning. Sit simply through moments of pain and uncomfortable darkness." David Brooks calls the Art of Presence "a passive kind of activism.

My own deepest lesson in "being there" with simple pure presence has as you all know been my time of holding Yumi's hand through the darkness. It was also a "time out of time." I too felt touched by grace, just sitting there with Yumi, or slipping into bed to lay down near him.

The Art of Presence seems to be accompanied by a special kind of listening. Otto Sharmer in his book Leading from the Future calls this kind of listening Level 4 generative listening.

Here are the 4 levels of listening as described by Otto Sharmer:

Level 1:   is our habitual listening. It is listening from our habits. It is the kind of listening where we are unable to hear anything that doesn't agree with what we already think. We are trapped inside the world of our preconceived notions. Sometimes even on an unconscious level we project the filter of our existing judgments.

Level 2:   is factual listening. It is the listening of observation of the world around us. It is receiving information.

Level 3:   is empathic listening. It is adopting the other person's perspective, and opening our hearts to see ourselves through the eyes of the other.

Level 4:   is generative listening. It is listening from the whole. It is presencing. It is not only opening our hearts but also our guts. It is a widened and heightened state of attention, in which new realities enter the horizon, and come into being. We feel as if we are connected to, and operating from a widening surrounding sphere. It is the zone of the encounter. Time seems to slow down, space seems to open up, and the experience of self morphs from a single point, which might be called the "ego" system, into a heightened presence, and a stronger connection to the surrounding sphere, which might be called the "eco" system.

In my own life I was able to bring this level 4 generative listening to the edge of the abyss, where Yumi was hanging out for a while, and be there with him with complete openness to welcome the realm of the unknown. Time slowed down. New possibilities entered into my consciousness. I was drawing strength from the hidden realms.


II.  And now let me go to the SPIRIT OF FULL ENGAGEMENT: 100% whole-hearted living

I recently received a gift. It is a book by Bene Brown called Daring Greatly. Interestingly the Kosher Choreographer introduced Daring Greatly at the right time into my life because Daring Greatly is an exquisite way to describe the Spirit of Engagement. The phrase Daring Greatly is from Theodore Roosevelt's speech called "Citizenship in a Republic", which he delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.

And here is the passage that made the speech famous:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 

The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; the credit belongs to the man who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm; the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy causes, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…

And so Bene Brown says:

Walking in the arena, whatever it may be for us, be it a new relationship, be it our creative process, be it an important meeting, be it a difficult family conversation, walking in the arena with courage, and with the willingness to engage fully, in total vulnerability, daring to show up, and letting ourselves be seen as we are in the moment, that is daring greatly.

And what she did to understand at a deeper level what this whole-hearted living is all about is that she studied what she calls "the anatomy of connection." She actually created research instruments for the arena of authenticity and vulnerability in connection. And in the process she developed a structure with 10 guideposts of what to cultivate and what to let go of to ensure 100% engagement in connection.

I am going to slowly read the 10 guide posts Bene Brown describes, because she has in a linear fashion outlined a guide for the spirit of full engagement.

And here are the 10 guideposts:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: letting go of what people think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: letting go of scarcity, and fear of the dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: letting go of the need for certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: letting go of comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol, and productivity as self-worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: letting go of anxiety as a life style
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: letting go of self-doubt and "supposed to"
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting go of being cool and always in control

And so Bene Brown concludes with: "What we know matters, but who we are matters more." Fully being requires showing up, letting ourselves be seen, daring greatly, being vulnerable, allowing ourselves to fail publicly, falling and getting up again and again. And so we must become very aware of three inevitable traps on the road: Shame, Comparison and Disengagement. At the implicit level these three traps are inevitable. We cannot grow without the feelings of shame. We will inevitably compare ourselves to other. And when shame and comparison join in together, we might disengage. I now see our task as welcoming shame, and uncertainty, and risk emotional exposure, and continuously become more and more real.

I remember a passage from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, which I read a long time ago. It is about being Real. It is the story of the stuffed toys of a little boy who are having a conversation when the little boy is sleeping. And here is what they are saying:

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes", said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been love off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

For me this kind of being real, and allowing the full exposure of vulnerability was the decision to share with our entire community the journey that Yumi and I were on, and that the diagnosis of his condition was Major Clinical Depression, and that we had made the decision to embrace a course of Electro Convulsive Treatments. Being real allowed us to take the challenging journey of steering our ship in a major storm with the flow of energy that comes from being matter-of-fact about simple truths.


III. THE SOUL OF LEADERSHIP: Becoming a renewing leader

In his book Tribes: We Need "You" to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes:

Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable. It is uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers. It is uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail. It is uncomfortable to challenge the status quo. It is uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle. When you identify the discomfort, you have found the place where a leader is needed. If you're not uncomfortable as a leader, it's almost certain that you are not reaching your potential as a leader.

Scott Peck in his book A Different Drum looks at the development of our spirit and identifies four progressive stages of human development that both individuals and organizations pass through, and that are found across cultures and geographic boundaries. Joe Jaworski in his book Source describes leadership by basing himself on Peck's four stages of development. Jaworski expanded Peck's four stages into four stages of organizational leadership.

I have found these stages to be very useful tools to see myself in my own development as a leader, with the understanding that there are many gradations between stages, and that even the most developed of us often move back and forth between levels.

Let me start by describing the four stages as described by Joe Jaworkski:

STAGE 1:  Self-centric Leaders: Jaworski tells us that this stage of leadership development is characteristic of young people, and of 20% of adults, who are young emotionally and relationally.

Here is how Jaworsky describes the self-centric leader: "Members of this group are not yet capable of truly loving "others." They may appear to be loving and think of themselves that way, but their relationships with their fellow human beings are essentially manipulative and self serving. They are unprincipled, governed by little but their own will. And since they may shift from moment to moment, there is a lack of integrity in their being. Some may be quite disciplined in the service of expediency, and their own ambition, and so they may rise to positions of considerable prestige and power."

However, because of our human capacity to integrate, some self-centric leaders occasionally advance to Stage 2 and become achieving leaders.

STAGE 2:  Achieving Leaders: Jaworski tells us that achieving leaders are people who have matured emotionally and relationally to the point of authentically valuing people. Here is how Jaworsky describes the achieving leader:  "The achieving leader's self-identity may include their family, their peers, their organizations, their faith groups, or the nation they belong to.

Stability is a principle value for people in this stage. They seek to conform to the established rules be it of their faith, of their organization, of their community. And they seem to be disconcerted or threatened if someone seems to be playing the game outside of these rules. Their pursuit of excellence is characterized by fairness, decency and respect for others. They routinely succeed in their organizational goals because they genuinely value others. Their achievements are a reflection of their self-discipline. As they rise in organizational power and influence in the later phases of Stage 2 development, they develop and strengthen others as well. In these later phases their achievements are accomplished with and through others."

STAGE 3:  Servant Leaders: Servant leaders are at a stage of development that is marked by an even greater expansion of self to embrace all people, regardless of race, gender, class or creed. Here is how Jaworsky describe servant leaders: "Members of this group routinely use their power and influence to serve and develop other. Those around them become healthier, wiser, more autonomous, and more independent, and more likely to become servant leaders themselves.

This is a stage of growth that questions rigid belief systems, and transcends conventional rules and roles. People at this stage of development exhibit a high need for achievement, yet not at the cost of other in their organization, or in society at large. They have a high need for independence and a low need for conformity. They have a high propensity for mature risk taking, a strong sense of self efficacy, and a tolerance for ambiguity. Accordingly they thrive in times of turbulence and complexity. They have developed a systems view of the world. In the more advanced phases of this stage, Servant Leaders gain a stronger awareness of the interconnectedness of all life. In their organization or community, they nurture understanding of and responsibility for the larger social system within which the individual and the organization operates."

STAGE 4:  Renewing Leaders: Renewing leaders embody the characteristics and the values of the servant leader, but they have matured to a more comprehensive and subtle level of development. They exhibit a capacity for extraordinary functioning and performance. In Jaworski's words: "At the heart of this kind of performance is a capacity for tacit knowing, intuitive knowing, a knowing in one's fiber and bones, that can be used for breakthrough thinking and innovation including envisioning and creating the kind of organization or society we desire. Stage IV leaders hold the conviction that there is an underlying intelligence within the universe that is capable of guiding us and preparing us for the future we must create. They combine their cognitive understanding of the world around them with a strong interior knowledge of the hidden potential lying dormant in the universe - a view that carries with it the power to change the world as we know it."

I would like to end today's Tele-Class with a call to action. I see us assisting each other in our development in all three categories that I have described today, because I see this kind of support as what we also are giving to the couples who come to learn from us.

I see us giving each other encouragement and support to:

  • thrive in our humanity and grow in our "beingness" to be able to offer our pure essential presence;
  • develop our 100% engagement in authentic whole-hearted living in connection; and
  • grow and flourish in our leadership from the stage of servant leadership to continuously keep expanding into becoming renewing leaders.

Let us keep encouraging and supporting each other, so that we can keep growing our leadership into the kind of leadership where we increasingly trust the hidden potential lying dormant in the universe. The hidden potential that lies dormant in the universe, is the mysterious genius that lies dormant in the space between the couple. As we grow our capacity for whole-hearted presence and leadership we can more and more allow the mysterious genius to inform us and inform the couples we guide.