New Paradigm Leadership – The Power of Conversation

Adapted from Our Culture On The Couch, Seven Steps to Global Healing

Creating a positive future begins in human conversation. The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered.

– From Who Will Tell the People? by William Greider

Consider for a moment the importance of conversation. Virtually every action we take is predicated on a conversation. It is so much a part of our experience that we are rarely aware of its true importance. The conversations we engage in with our families, organizations and in all portions of our lives give rise to patterns of behavior. Sometimes these are brief conversations whose effects are short-lived, sometimes the conversations are deep and moving, and their effects are stable and long lasting.

By learning to pay attention to our conversation, and acquiring the skills of good conversation, we bring about ever-greater degrees of coherence. As a result, we obtain a high correlation between what effect we intend to have and the effect we actually get. We must always keep in mind that the future is not somewhere we are going; it is a place we are creating in the now with every thought, word and action.
High quality conversations among individuals and within organizations generate meaningful change. Conversations are an important way to actively participate in creating our world and its future through this process of connecting authentically and appreciatively with each other. As we share knowledge, know-how and creativity, we build relationships. Collaborative conversations between us “neurons” are the synapses of the Global Brain.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. – Albert Einstein

For as long as humanity has lived in family groups, tribes and communities, conversation has been a primary medium for making sense of our world, discovering what we value, and imagining our future. The networks of communication formed the underlying pattern that allowed our ancestors to come together in a meaningful, supportive, sustainable way. Networks form the underlying pattern of all living systems, and human organizations, families, and communities – are living systems.
Wise leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the power of these networks of conversation and their systemic importance as a core process for the large-scale collective learning and transformative change we now need at every level of system.
New Paradigm leaders recognize that essential learning and knowledge sharing occurs through informal relationships and networks of conversation. The new role for today’s leader focuses on convening and hosting collaborative conversations among diverse stakeholders to explore core questions and emerging possibilities. Key skills include being able to create the appropriate architecture of engagement and then asking compelling questions, questions that encourage collective thinking and learning.
As the system connects to itself in diverse and creative ways, Collective Intelligence emerges – we access the wisdom of the whole on behalf of the whole. Often, as we allow our collective wisdom to emerge, we discover that we already have the answers we need.
So, what if, in fact, the future is not some place we are going, but a place we are creating, and that our individual and collective future is being born in the webs of conversation that are alive and breathing right now? This includes the conversations within TEA Party rallies and those taking place in Wall Street boardrooms, and those taking place in your living room. Then the future will be the integrated sum of all these.

What we need are those leaders who can create ways for us to enter conversations around questions that address our shared meanings and values and that honor all participants. Modern communication technologies provide excellent tools for creating the conversations we need to be having. These include Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space Technologies.

The World Café
The approach to facilitating conversation I have used most extensively is represented by The World Café. Originally developed and stewarded by Dr. Juanita Brown and David Isaacs and their associates, is a nonprofit, community-owned venture that is a “conversational process based on a set of integrated design principles that reveal a deeper living network pattern through which we co-evolve our collective future.”
The café model represents an innovative yet simple methodology for gathering groups of 12 or more people together to create conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work or community. As a process, The World Café can evoke and make visible the collective intelligence of any group, thus increasing people’s capacity for effective action in pursuit of common aims.
The deceptively simple principles of café groups are nevertheless powerful. Often when groups get together they are dominated by the talkative people with loud voices, individuality tends to be seen as an impediment, people are busy trying to one-up, recruit, convince, or debate others in the group. Now consider the different kinds of things that can happen when people follow the guidelines of the “Café Etiquette:”

Learn More

Listen to a stimulating discussion between myself and The World Café co-founder, Dr. Juanita Brown on Healing Times Radio . The World Café website provides complete information that will allow you to apply powerful tools for intentionally harnessing the power of conversation for any purpose, business or social. You will discover useful guidance – ways to foster authentic dialogue in which the goal is thinking together to bring forth collective wisdom and create actionable knowledge. And it is free.
At their website, you will also find a way to begin to network with the thousands of other people, groups and organizations who are exploring ways to evoke collective intelligence and link it to effective action in pursuit of common aims.

We Are All Neurons in the Global Brain
In a very real sense, we are all neurons in a global living system, a global brain – and the communications technology we have, from our cell phones to our internet connections forms the axons that connect us across the world with others. Personal computing is giving way to interpersonal computing. Now we can reach across geographic boundaries and access community knowledge bases, including the resource bank of each person’s unique contributions, interests and areas of expertise. In keeping with this, the members of the World Café are currently involved in a pioneering use of a variety of experimental platforms to create the optimal conditions for holding meaningful conversation in an online environment.
Of course, The World Cafe is just one of a number of different approaches to addressing the living network of conversations that is continually evolving as we explore questions that matter with our family, friends, colleagues and community. These invisible webs of dialogue and personal relationships can enable us to learn, create shared purpose, and shape life-affirming futures together. Others include Conversation Cafes , and Open Space . Younger networkers will find Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) and Global Youth Action Network quite stimulating. An excellent example of how a community has transformed itself using the principles we are exploring here is revealed at .
We will explore more on leadership and good conversation in future articles here.

______________________________

More Information:

Listen to Dr. Miller and Juanita Brown Ph.D. in conversation on Healing Times Radio!

Video Introduction to The World Cafe , by Emmett Miller MD

Find me in the World Cafe Online Community at: http://www.theworldcafecommunity.org/profile/EmmettMillerMD

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Conversations that Matter – Dr. Miller and Juanita Brown on Healing Times Radio

Listen to this interview at the end of this article.


As you probably know from my recent book, Our Culture On The Couch – Seven Steps to Global Healing , I believe the only way out of our current mess is for us to stop being controlled by our world, but to bring forth the leadership potential within each of us.

So, this month we will focus on awakening this leader, on the power of the New Paradigm, and explore the potential of conversation as a transformative tool to leverage personal wisdom and spirit.

Juanita Brown Ph.D. with her partner, David Isaacs is the co-originator of The World Café, a pioneering approach to large scale dialogue and collaborative inquiry being used in corporate, community, government, education, and multi-stakeholder settings around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of people on six continents have experienced the World Café to foster sustainable development, responsible business futures, conflict resol…ution, democratic leadership, and local community engagement around critical issues. Her award-winning book, The World Café: Shaping our Futures through Conversations that Matter, co-authored with her partner David Isaacs and the World Café Community has been translated into 10 languages, and has recently been released in mainland China.

Juanita developed her belief in the power of conversation and community to shape the future through her early years at the Na-Bolom Institute, a center for dialogue and action on indigenous issues and rainforest preservation in Chiapas, Mexico. Juanita was also a key architect in large-scale community development and outreach work with Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement. She has applied her discoveries about the principles for building engaged communities to the co-evolution of the World Café as social innovation––using both living systems approaches and community development sensibilities to engage a growing global network of multi-generational hosts committed to creating collaborative dialogue and committed action around critical local, national and global issues.

Since 1974, Juanita has collaborated as a strategic thinking partner with senior corporate executives as well as non-profit leaders in the U.S., Latin America, Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim, advising on large scale change intiatives and creating innovative forums for strategic dialogue around critical organizational and societal issues. Juanita is a Fellow of the World Business Academy and has served as a Senior Affiliate with both the MIT Center for Organizational Learning (now the Society for Organizational Learning) and the Institute for the Future. Her greatest joy, however, is when she finds herself alone in nature on the shores of Tomales Bay, California listening to the loons and seeing the white pelicans floating quietly through the mist.

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Stages of American National Grief

Stages of American National Grief
The progression of stages of national grief is:

  1. Denial < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial > – “The country is fine.”; “Signs of decline are overblown by unpatriotic people.”
  2. Denial is usually only a temporary defense but while it is operative it is filled with rhetoric like, “Let’s take our country back to the way it was” which is largely a mythological construct of something that never was – a Norman Rockwell view of nationhood.
  3. Anger < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anger > – “Why us? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to us?”; “We are the greatest nation ever.” “Who is to blame?”
  4. Once in the second stage, the citizen recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the nation is very difficult to care for, think clearly about or to make plans for its future due to feelings of rage. Looking for scapegoats becomes a preoccupation.
  5. Bargaining < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bargaining > – “I will do anything to bring back the memory of what is an ‘exceptional’ nation. “God has established it with a unique destiny and surely he won’t let it die.” “I will pray to the Almighty who founded this country to rescue it from those who are out to destroy it.”
  6. The third stage involves the hope that the demise of the national identity can somehow be postponed or delayed. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life of that which has been known is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed and ideological pure state. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand that the nation as it has been constructed is dying, but if I could just have more time to live the way it was…”
  7. Depression < > – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The nation as I know it is going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss so much the American myths of a country that used to be, why go on?”
  8. During the fourth stage, the individual begins to understand the certainty of death of the national idea. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse to associate with others or read the paper or keep up with the news and spend much of the time grieving. This process allows the person to disconnect oneself from attachments and affection for the underlying myths of what s/he believed to be his or her homeland.
  9. Acceptance < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance > – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
  10. In this last stage, the citizen begins to come to terms with the mortality of not the nation but the national idea as it has been and begins to think of how the nation might be if it was less absorbed with itself and its excessive individualistic mythology and more concerned with using its assets to fully serve by participating in an international, global understanding of its role. It is the beginning of creativity and new opportunity.

But for now, it seems, we are stuck between rage (TEA Partiers) and helplessness (Liberals)

thanks to Bruce Vincent for this clever bit

Middle Way Health Experience a stimulating conversation between myself and Mary Claybon on her show Middle Way Health on BlogTalkRadio.com

What is Middle Way Health?

Mary Claybon has a passion for health, healing and holistic wellness. She also has a passion for life and living it to the fullest. With over 35 years as a nurse, health educator and wellness coach, Mary offers stimulating conversation about a variety of topics that promote health to individuals, groups, and businesses . Her guests are best selling authors, speakers, and interesting people from all over the globe. Grab a cup of tea or your favorite beverage and join the conversation. Hopefully you will be a little more enlightened at the end of the show. Visit Mary’s website www.themiddlewayhealth.com and sign up for her free newsletter to stay in touch.

In this show ‘Global Healing with Emmett Miller MD, Our Culture on the Couch,’ Mary and I discuss the Seven Steps to Global Healing, how to awaken the the leader within and transform our lives and our world. I hope you enjoy!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/middle-way-health/2010/08/06/web-based-global-healing-with-emmett-miller-md

The Dark Force and New Leadership (video excerpt)

This video is an excerpt from Dr. Miller’s Workshop/Lecture Series, Healing Yourself Is Healing the Planet, Seven Steps to Personal and Community Transformation.  To find out more and to register for Sessions 2 & 3 visit DrMillerEvents.com .

What is the matter with the people in this world? Why can’t they see the very obvious truth, that each of us has value, and that what we share in common with each other is so much greater in importance than the ways we happen to differ? With so many people pointing the way, why don’t they listen, and act accordingly?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had thoughts like those. Eventually it began to dawn on me – the world has been blinded by the propaganda advanced by their so-called leaders. As a result of this blindness we remain ignorant of truths lying right in front of us. [1]

Obama as Antichrist

The current domestic political situation is instructive. If there was ever a time to diligently search for solutions that will benefit us all, it is now. Who in their right mind would aim us in the direction of confusion and misinformation?

Yet there are a significant number of us who choose to believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim and a Nazi: that he wasn’t born in this country, and that he wants to pass a law mandating “death panels.” But this is just a single example of the nonsensical perspective that is nurtured by a certain segment of the media and then becomes a deep belief of all those who cannot see the distortion. But this is just one example.

Why would anyone aim to cultivate such fantasies and live by them?

Caution, Unseen Hand at Work

Perhaps Maynard Keynes’s “unseen hand” is at work here – the unseen hand of the marketplace. Fact is, there is money to be made by publishing information that distorts the world and creates suspicion, paranoia, fear, and conflict. The unseen hand caused to appear hungry, aggressive whose raison d’être is to specifically cater to those of us who are thus ignorant of the truth. After all, there is money to be made in the business of keeping people ignorant, and since “greed is good”. . .

We have not been taught to respect the truth, and the media generated distortion results in our never having an opportunity to even see the truth. We have been pumped full with propaganda and pap. (By the way, breaking with tradition, when I use the term media I mean to refer to all the communication tools and weapons aimed at us by the world we live in.) Our Information Universe is heavily impacted by media in many forms, ranging from our schoolbooks, with their stories of brave Columbus, and self-sacrificing Custer, all the way to today’s increasingly politically pitched news media.

This carefully manufactured blindness has resulted in our being ignorant of important facts because they are invisible to us.

Waking Up to the Media

I gradually began to recognize how deeply our culture has been twisted by our media. Our history books and prayer books, our newspapers and television have all systematically distorted the truth. Facts have been distorted and so has the mode of reasoning by which these factoids are examined and evaluated.

The problem is that not only has our global information system failed to give us the truth about ourselves and the world we live in, it has also not given us the tools we need in order to see the actual solutions that abound all around us. We desperately need to acquire and employ those tools that will enable us to be be certain that the decisions we are making are wise decisions.

To feel secure in the correctness and wisdom of our decisions we must examine the truth impartially, with freedom from prejudice, with an eye free from longing. We do not want our desire to see things a certain way to influence how we are seeing things. At least not too much. We need to strive to understand the truth, and to see more than merely projection of our prejudiced fantasy onto the current situation.

Any attachment to the past distorts our view of the present to some degree. It can be on other way – our present will always be colored to some degree by the past, at least until we have reached a stable state of enlightenment. Wisdom decrees that we reduce this distortion to the minimum, accept that some distortion remains, and then to take the transformational step of looking beyond the distortion. We must turn to a deeper intuition (the Force?), to enable us to sense what is deeper, and to set our journey by that deeper, inner standard, by the deeper essence of the situation, rather than just the situation itself.


[1] Sometimes we even go so far as to imprison those who would shed light on the world, as with the fate of poor Galileo, and those Joe McCarthy’s hearings abused.

Air Date: October 1, 2009

Dr. Lorber is an internationally recognized expert and published author on executive coaching, performance management, leadership, teamwork, culture, and developing strategy. He is one of the leading resources worldwide on executive coaching with Chief Executive Officers and Senior Executives. He is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Putting The One Minute Manager To Work , which he created with the renowned management consultant Dr. Ken Blanchard, One Page Management, co-authored with Dr. Riaz Khadem, and Safety 2/7 with Greg Anderson.

Dr. Lorber works with numerous Boards of Directors on Governance and
effective Board participation. Currently he serves as Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis, the UC Davis School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors, and many other corporate and nonprofit boards including Tower Records, The Blanchard Companies, and the Governing Council of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership.

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Personal Responsibility and Leadership

We have voted in an historic election, and many are hoping that “happy days are here again,” as the government starts responding to our needs and requests. Well, with such observations as those of famed financier George Soros , it is beginning to look more and more as if our communities, businesses, practices, and families are going to find themselves even more “on their own.”

The “financial downturn” is looking more and more like our economic Katrina – and like the unfortunate victims of that storm, we cannot expect the government to step in and solve all the problems it is creating. After all, our state and federal governments are beyond flat busted, and the money they borrow or print is going to come out of our future earnings – which themselves are looking pretty shaky.

Perhaps there are important lessons we can learn from Katrina. One, of course, is that we cannot depend on the disaster-responsiveness of the government. Another comes to us by way of certain population groups in New Orleans that found ways to deal successfully with the challenges presented during in the aftermath of the hurricane. The tightly-knit French-American communities were able to organize a response; they quickly pulled together and pooled its resources, and looked for ways to support each other. How different from the “every man for himself” reaction that the news media brought us in such quantity.

Just as nations, banks, cities, and towns are going bankrupt , it is all but certain that there will be breakdowns at the level of our local communities. What will happen to your neighborhood and mine will then depend on the quality of the leadership available. And the time for the right kind of leadership is now, not after the levees break.

Because we are a democracy, our government is a reflection of the choices we are making. Thus, each one of us bears a certain responsibility, the responsibility to dedicate an appropriate portion of his or her time to seeing to it that the men and women that we allow to take leadership positions in our governments, businesses, and communities are truly leaders – leaders who really understand the true essence of this new paradigm. It is essential to our survival that we go beyond greenwashed temporary fixes. It is your job and mine to make sure that, instead of going for the “fast, fast, fast symptom relief” as offered by our TV commercials, our elected officials will look to the source of these recurring disasters, and treat the system at this deeper level. If we do not do this, we are not being responsible and playing our proper role in the new Distributed Leadership model that coordinates well with New Paradigm thinking.

The Distributed Leadership Meme
Those who understand the concept of Distributed Leadership and are skilled in its application are best equipped to design a new course of action – one that will reflect our shared interests and deeper unity. The goal is to move us toward (whether or not we ever reach it) an “omega point” of harmony and unitive thinking. This process will make available to us the enormous gifts of our collective intelligence and generate momentum toward wholeness and sustainability – survival and “thrival.”

We are now at a time in which we will experience an unprecedented opportunity to select new leadership in all walks of life – government, business, communities – right down to our individual families. It is clear to nearly everyone that it is time for a change, a change that will be reflected at every level of system, from the individual to the global. Our actual survival, and the sustainability of those aspects of our lives that we treasure most, will depend upon our choosing leaders, local and national, who really understand that if we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself – and each time the price goes up.

The Teachings of History
Consider the cost of the Cold War, the Arab Oil Embargo, the suicide bombing of September 11, and now the Financial Meltdown, whose costs are well into the trillions. And the significance of this amount pales in comparison to the human suffering attendant on those events. We are waking up, and none too soon, to the fact that, there is something deeply flawed about how we have organized the dominant institutions on our planet.

September 11 roused us temporarily from our fool’s paradise of “prosperity.” The 3,000 deaths that resulted from those terrorist attacks were tragic, yet no more tragic than the 3,000 babies that starve to death every day, or die from easily curable disease – or the tens of thousands kidnapped into sexual slavery, to die of AIDS after a decade of unthinkable torture. What was different was that these deaths were white Americans, not black or brown Africans or Asians. Suddenly the U.S. began to wake up to the fact that we could no longer believe ourselves as invulnerable as we had once thought. After all, to Americans, bombings had always been something that happened “over there” and that war was just our favorite way of learning geography.

And, after an all-too-brief moment of unity, we watched dumbfounded, as the sense of global oneness and shared tragedy that had New Yorkers smiling at each other degenerated – and we regressed to our unfortunate mean, reverting once again to our usual game of international whack-a-mole – a strategy that history may show us was exactly the wrong one for the time.

I recall my thoughts at the time of the attacks – “What if this vicious act of mass murder was just another symptom of the misguided behavior of our countries and our cultures – simply more recent symptoms of what brought us slavery, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalin, and the Vietnam War?” I decided upon an interesting thought experiment. I would view these behaviors as symptoms, then try to trace them to their deeper source through the application of careful logic and standard scientific procedure.

The Cosmic Healer

So I set out to perform an Einstein-like thought experiment, examining our world from the imagined point of view of an interplanetary physician – a cosmic do-gooder whose job it is to travel through time and space seeking out intelligent life forms that are struggling, like the human community on our own planet, to realize their potential.

There is no question, this patient is suffering physical illness and great anguish. And we are demonstrably headed towards ever more dysfunction and disease as an unavoidable consequence of the dominant ongoing behaviors, thoughts, passions and beliefs held by its most powerful inhabitants. Shouldn’t I want for my planet the same quality of intelligent, wise health care I insist on for my family: shouldn’t our situation to be examined with the honesty, objectivity, and care that would be employed by a physician treating a patient? So, I set out to perform a careful physical and psychological examination of the human culture on this planet. The result is my new book, Culture on the Couch; Seven Steps to Global Healing .

My explorations revealed convincing evidence that the same paradigm Mind-Body practitioners have found vital in producing healing (identity, balance, and integrity) at the individual level also turns out to facilitate healing at the collective level. If you have experienced real healing or a creative breakthrough in your own life, you understand the honesty, faith, and courage it takes. Indications are that we have reached the point at which we need to muster that same kin
d of confidence, commitment, and integrity in our collective behaviors.

The good news is that, collectively, we have all the wisdom and resources we need, and powerful tools for social networking are emerging right now. Accessing them and using them is a wise and powerful thing to do. Such social technologies as The World Café provide powerful methods for creating inviting space, exploring questions that matter, and connecting diverse people and perspectives. Through listening together for patterns and insights, collective knowledge emerges.

Until now, the system that has controlled the information that has been available to us; it has used anxiety and fear to push us to act in ways that are of much more benefit to the rulers, the wealthy, and the party in power, than to the people themselves. But this system actually belongs to us, and if we are willing to use the tools available to us we can begin to discover the incredible possibilities that open up when you begin to develop and evoke personal responsibility.

When we discover how to become truly responsible for our lives, we can choose how we really want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.

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