• Recently I had the honor to sit with Craig and Patricia Neal, authors of The Art of Convening and founders of The Center for Purposeful Leadership. Their career spans a lifetime of bringing people together in ways that generate authentic engagement and meaningful connection.

    What stood out for me was their emphasis on the internal journey of convening work. In my own process, I increasingly find how important it is to be clear on my commitment. Often this is not something that is necessarily comfortable, particularly in transformative spaces that hold difficult conversations.

    Patricia talks about the power of agreements both within a space and with herself:

    The agreements are as much with myself as they are with the people. I have an agreement with myself to show up and hold space for people to find their voice and hear themselves in their authentic voice. I know how to hold space and I’m willing to do it. I'm fierce about knowing the power of a well convened and contained space.

    Our conversation is wide ranging from the definition of convening to the life journey that brought them to that definition. Craig and Patricia share a moving account of how they convened hundreds of people in conjunction with city officials in their hometown of Minneapolis after the killing of George Floyd. They share details of how they transformed this potentially contentious political gathering into one that left everybody feeling heard.

    Their next Art of Convening Core Training is hosted on Sutra and starts on September 16th. You can find it in our newly launched Discovery Section: https://discovery.sutra.co/

    In this interview, Craig and Patricia offer deep wisdom informed by a long lifetime of work. Please enjoy.

  • Marilyn and Heidi bring decades of research working with groups as diverse as school districts and the U.S. Army. I love a story they share about the meaning of truly learning a lesson. A lesson is when you look at the past and notice what worked and what didn't. The learning is when you actually try something new in the world and get a different result. It isn’t a lesson learned until you’ve tried it out and it’s made a difference.

    Today’s conversation is all about how to learn lessons that create change in the context of community. Marilyn and Heidi share specific and highly practical approaches to learning together as a system and returning learning to the system. I took pages of notes on this interview and found it full of actionable insights.

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  • Today’s conversation explores something my guest, Bayo Akomolafe, calls post activism. Post activism opens a space of inquiry about the ways that we respond to crisis and invites us to examine places of power in a situation. It is noticing that the solutions that we advance to a problem may, in fact, be part of the problem until we recognize the framing from which we respond.

    Bayo shares: This is the reason my elders say, the time is urgent, let us slow down. Slowing down is not reducing one's speed. Slowing down is noticing the others that frame us and then acting upon that framing or the new spaces of power that are opening up.

    A father and and self-proclaimed proud diaper-changer, Bayo was invited to be the Coordinator/Special Envoy of the International Alliance for Localization in 2014, a project of Local Futures (USA). He temporarily left his lecturing position in Covenant University, Nigeria to help build this Alliance for a more beautiful world. Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) has been Visiting Professor at Middlebury College, where he taught on ‘transraciality’ (his neo-materialist take on racialization) and postactivism. He has also taught at Sonoma State University (CA, USA), Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), and Schumacher College (Totnes, England) – among other universities around the world. He is a widely appreciated speaker, teacher, public intellectual, author and facilitator, globally recognized for his poetic, unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change.

    This is one of the deepest conversations I’ve had on the show and our explorations are wide ranging. Please enjoy.

  • Time and time again, the world’s greatest leaders have persisted against all odds to change the world in meaningful ways.

    I often reflect on a scene from the movie, Darkest Hour, where Winston Churchill feels demoralized because his entire cabinet is against him and is demanding that he negotiate a truce with Hitler. His wife says to him: "You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.”

    Overcoming adversity and overcoming self doubt go hand in hand. Adversity is the very heart of the unknown because if the outcome was known, there would be nothing to overcome. It is the very fact of its mystery that lends adversity its tremendous force.

    It takes courage, stamina, and strength to hold space for your faith and your doubt at the same time. Whatever your adversity might be, willfully stepping into your doubt is the tried and true path to victory. Allow your doubt to inform your faith. This is the very definition of wise action: conviction with consideration.

    Today’s recording explores the power of faith.


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  • It’s difficult to define being because it is like an empty container. It’s primary attribute is the ability to contain whatever is inside it. And it’s very easy to confuse what’s inside it with what it is.

    The process of putting something inside it, is listening.

    To listen you have to hold space. The term itself speaks to this concept of being as an empty container - holding space. When we think we already know something or someone we project our definitions and expectations. We become closed to this quality of being available, because we are too full for new understanding.

    Holding space is, of course, a practice. There is no magic pill to become a good listener. But the good news is that every interaction is an opportunity to practice. Today’s recording explores the power and potential of holding space.


    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • Yogic tradition has the concepts of Bhakti and Shakti. Bhakti is devotional and revolves around surrender. Shakti is power. It is the creative force of the universe. Offering a blessing can be understood as both devotional and powerful.

    In the devotional sense, a common way to understand blessing is asking for God’s favor and protection. But in the frame of all-powerfulness, you could consider blessing as the ultimate expression of omnipotence. Imagine yourself as the creator of everything around you. From that vantage point, it would be easy to envision that you have genuine good will towards everything you have created. It’s yours. You created it. Of course you want it to be well.

    Buddhism has a practice called Metta meditation, also known as loving kindness. It is simply projecting your wishes for the well being of another. You begin with yourself and gradually expand to the people around you. Extensive research shows that this practice reduces depression and increases positive emotions.

    Blessing is a similar concept and is deeply humanizing in the way that it offers a response that is both powerful and humble. Confronted by the human condition, you may indeed be helpless to do something for every person suffering on this planet. But you have the power to be fully present with each person you encounter. You have the capacity to respond with a genuine desire for their well being. This is incredibly empowering, heart opening, and uplifting. And, similar to the Metta practice, it can help you find joy in the darkest of your own challenges.

    Today’s video explores the power of blessing.


    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • You cannot see it, you cannot touch it, and you can hardly define it. But resistance is absolutely real. The answer is not some special technique that gets rid of it. It is simply choosing to step into it willfully.

    Elon Musk shares that he often feels a great deal of fear when he embarks on a new project. When starting Space X, he predicted that his odds of success were less than 10%. But he felt that even if he could move the field of space exploration forward a little bit, then someone else could pick up where he left off.

    This is stepping into resistance for a higher purpose. This story reminds me of a beautiful passage from the Bhagavad Gita:

    “They live in freedom who have gone beyond the dualities of life. Competing with no one, they are alike in success and failure and content with whatever comes to them. They are free, without selfish attachments; their minds are fixed in knowledge. They perform all work in the spirit of service, and their karma is dissolved.”


    Well, that sounds great in theory. But what about practice? Today’s video explores some specific techniques you can use to start winning the game.

    PS. Our team recently worked with graduates of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma to develop a fun and insightful reflective journaling experience to help you build awareness around boundaries and time management.

    We recently launched our pilot and feedback suggests the program delivers:

    It's worth the two hours! The experience gives you just the right amount of guidance to paint the picture of where you are currently at in your life with the different roles and responsibilities and the time being invested (or not) in those roles and why (or why not). After identifying your current reality and helping you unpack its significance you are guided in the process of constructing your future reality as it relates to each of those roles.

    If you’re interested, sign up here: https://timeofyourlife.sutra.co


    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • Because we think something is “out there”, it becomes something to resist. The art of non-resistance doesn’t mean giving in. Rather it means resolution. How do we bring a situation to completion so that it no longer distracts us from being fully present?

    In today’s video we go deep into the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono. Over the years I have encountered this prayer from several different teachers and have used it extensively in almost every area of my life. What seems like a simple prayer has many layers and mysterious depth.

    Ho’oponopono is a powerful way to find resolution in almost any situation. Today I unpack some of the more subtle nuances of its application and offer it as a tool to bring more “sound" into your life.

    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: http://www.systemself.com

  • Authenticity is a slippery slope. We often equate being authentic with self expression - but is this really authenticity? The great mystic Gurdjieff suggests that a person has personality and essence. Personality consists of all the different identities we carry, the many I’s of the mind. One moment we’re cold, the next hot. One moment we’re hungry, the next we’ve eaten too much.

    Essence is obscured by personality. It is that part that is most true and yet often buried under a lifetime of patterns and preferences.

    When you “express” yourself, what is being expressed? Is your expression simply a reaction - an effect to an outside cause? Or is it a cause in and of itself? If you are being reactive, can that be considered authenticity?

    Read the full post and join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • The opposite of FOMO is being with what is. FOMO is all about you. Your agenda, what you want, what you’re afraid of. Being with what is is all about being fully present to the experience that life is offering you and the potential that it holds.

    The world pushes us to be better, faster, more. This is the FOMO mantra. It elevates shallow experience over patience. In noticing the finer details of what is already present, we open up to unexpected possibilities. Patience and presence invites satisfaction and prosperity.

    Today’s video explores overcoming FOMO. Please enjoy!

    "Prosperity is a state produced immediately by the mind. When the sun comes out of the clouds, everything is lit. When the mind comes out of duality, prosperity is there.” - Yogi Bhajan

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  • Our team recently participated in the Presencing Institute's Societal Transformation Lab. Working with graduates of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma we developed a fun and insightful reflective journaling experience to help you build awareness around your relationship with time. After eight months of co-creative process, we’re launching our pilot today. If you’re interested, sign up here: https://timeofyourlife.sutra.co


    Something powerful happens when intuition is combined with hard work. The rigors of reality inform our subconscious mind. There is a certain necessity to the effort, to the way that it creates an embodied understanding. Think of a professional athlete that practices the same movement over and over again. Consistent effort over time is that practice. When the conscious mind becomes overwhelmed by too much detail, the subconscious mind instinctively knows how to respond with creative intelligence - if we create the space to listen.

    And the best way to listen is to take moments of stillness. The subconscious communicates through random thoughts, images, and sensations. Taking just a few moments to tune inwards opens the doors of perception.

    The trick is continually coming back to center. Too much stillness, and we take no action. Too much action and we are lost in perpetual busyness. To quote the ancient greeks - know thyself. This is a practiced territory of coming back to internal presence over and over again.

    Today’s recording explores how you can lead from the emerging future - a phrase coined by MIT professor Otto Scharmer. How do you cut through all the noise to make important decisions with more intelligence? How do you tune in to what wants to emerge? Today, we delve in to a simple and specific way to approach any creative project with awareness and intuition.

    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • Martin leads Tamara’s Institute for Global Peacework. Tamera is a peace research village with the goal of becoming "a self-sufficient, sustainable and duplicable communitarian model for nonviolent cooperation and cohabitation between humans, animals, nature, and Creation for a future of peace for all.” Located in southwestern Portugal, the Tamera social experiment was seeded in 1978 and continues as a research center dedicated to discovering how human beings can live peacefully among themselves and with nature.

    Martin and I go deep into exploring the unknown between people and how radical transparency builds trust. Our conversation ranges from collective and ancestral trauma to the meaning of truth in intimate relationships. Please enjoy.

    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: www.systemself.com

  • Everybody fails at some point in their lives. But there are many ways to look at failure. Did Steve Jobs fail when we was initially fired from Apple in the mid-80s? Or did that event provide him with the necessary internal growth to later build Apple into one of the world’s most successful companies? It’s hard to know for sure, but what is certain is that had Steve just given up, the rest would not be history.

    In today’s video we explore how to fail your way to success.

    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: http://www.systemself.com

  • There is a deep nuance to be appreciated in the relationship between positive, negative, and neutral forces. The interplay is more obvious on a broad level, but equally present in the subtleties of everyday life. Bringing awareness to these subtle patterns and working with them consciously can be a vehicle for creative insight and innovation.

    Today’s recording definitely takes a turn for the more creative. Please enjoy a short spoken word poem exploring chaos, creativity, and a simple way to cultivate capacity.

  • When Guru Nanak, founder of Sikh Dharma, came out of samadhi, he spoke 36 stanzas of which four were about listening. Each stanza concludes with: “Deeply listening, sorrows and errors depart”.  The implication is that when we listen deeply enough we cultivate an understanding of all things based on the interrelatedness of life - thus all sorrows and errors depart.

    There is a tremendous power to listening that is often under appreciated.  In my own experience, learning to listen has transformed my relationship with myself and every person in my life.  It continues to be one of the most rewarding and challenging practices in my life.

    Today’s video explores the mechanics of listening and specific techniques to improve listening capacities.

  • Each of us participates in a chain of cause and effect and the way that we respond to the “causes” coming at us, very much sets stage for our “effect” on the world. Forgiveness transcends this dynamic. It releases us from the necessity of eye for an eye reactivity while empowering us with super human capacities. That’s super human with a space in between, as in, very human.

    Join the mailing list to receive awareness building insights for change makers on a mission: http://www.systemself.com

  • I love juicy words like surrender. I spent years confronted by this concept. For something that is at the heart of so many religious and spiritual traditions, it was hard for me to connect with surrender in a practical and accessible way. I felt certain that something that is so widely referenced had practical import for the human experience.

    Wisdom is often subtle and counter intuitive. Can surrender bring victory? Can it translate to business acumen and productivity?

  • This week we delve into one of my favorite subjects - being with discomfort. Somehow, this one never gets old - a) because it’s so hard to do and b) because it's the key to wholeness.

    Read the full write up here: https://blog.sutra.co/2019/06/28/being-with-discomfort/

  • Today I share a story about one of the darkest moments in my entrepreneurial life and an insight that has helped me evolve my psychology.

    Creating something new is intrinsically insecure. It can be soul crushing. And transformative. One often leads to the other. I offer you a simple approach that has helped me “lean” into this unknown even in the most challenging of times.

    Read the full write up here:

  • We explore the thin line between self consciousness and self awareness. Transforming insecurity into inquiry has been a life long journey for me and, in this video, I share my reflections on a simple shift in orientation that makes all the difference.