Over the past few months we have read the book “Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future” by Margaret j. Wheatley. This book focused on how, by just communicating, we can make the world a better place. In part three of the book labeled ‘Conversation Starters’ Wheatley highlights twelve questions to be used as conversation starters essentially for us or anyone as servant-leaders. We would like to highlight three of these questions Wheatley poses, not the three most important, but three that we felt the need to reflect on or go over again.
What is the relationship I want with the earth?
Wheatley talks about this question in a very open matter, first talking about consciousness “we create our own set of rules rather than submitting to the laws of nature that govern all life” (pg. 108). I question how we can live with our consciousness in this state and how we want to relate to our earth? Are we of lesser, equal, or more value than it? Wheatley seems to put that question to rest with a quote from E.O. Wilson, a biologist who says, “If all humanity disappeared, the rest of life (except for pets and house plants) would benefit enormously” (pg. 110). Let that sink in. Isn’t it strange to think about how the earth would be so much better off without us, and yet Wheatley talks about how if ants disappeared there would be “major extinctions of other species and probably a partial collapse of some ecosystems” (pg.110)? Maybe next time we should think twice before stepping on an anthill. Now this doesn’t mean we need not to exist on earth, but that we should take examples from our earth to form the way we live and look into protecting our earth, and therefore we are protecting ourselves.
Am I willing to reclaim time to think?
In this section Wheatley talks about how, as human beings, we are curious and want to know the typical ‘who, what, when, where, and how,’ or as Wheatley states it, “We think about what’s past, we dream forward to the future. We create what we want rather than just accept what is. So far, we’re the only species we know that does this” (pg. 100). Instead of thinking and processing information we just want answers. Wheatley challenges us to slow things down and talks about how we need to take the time to think for ourselves because nobody is going to give it to us. Sometimes the best things come out of thinking and allow us to be better, or as Wheatley says, “We need time to develop clarity and courage” (pg. 103). This relates to one of my favorite quotes: “Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.” –Brene Brown
Can I be fearless?
Wheatley defines fearlessness as “It’s not being free of fear, for fear is part of our human journey” (pg. 152). I struggle with this question because I feel my answer is ‘I don’t know.’ But the more I think about it, I believe that there are different types of fearlessness and as servant-leader we must possess a type of fearlessness. A fearlessness to ‘think out of the box’ and rise above others in leadership, but rising above I don’t necessarily mean taking control but persevering through the situation in the light of others, and so that we can make it better. As a servant-leader we need to be fearless of the negative ‘what if?’ questions we face so that we can be confident in our decision-making and the decision-making of the group as a whole. I challenge us as servant-leaders to be fearless in some part of our lives so that we can enlighten those around us. As FDR says in his famous first Inaugural Address, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Mata Agre and Donte Curtis
Wheatley, Margaret J. Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009. Print.