Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality Claiming Leadership Restoring Sanity

by Margaret J Wheatley (Barrett-Koehler publishers, Inc., 2017)

The Future is an Infinite Succession of the Present

I found this book extremely timely. I have read almost all of Margaret J. Wheatley’s books including her classic Leadership and the New Science (1992), where she invites her readers to explore world views that offer very different insights and perspectives, an invitation to see the world with new eyes. She summons us to be leaders for this time of profound disruption.  In this new book, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality Claiming Leadership Restoring Sanity (2017) she writes about reclaiming leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility for all of us in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil.

This book is timely because it offers a path for readers to engage well and sanely with the destructive dynamics of our times. Ms. Wheatley has sound advice for global communities, public and private organizations, and individuals. As you move through your own career journeys, keep in mind Ms. Wheatley’s Invitation to contribute to the common good.

“Many of us feel that we have no choice but to protect ourselves from the increasing harshness and horrors of this world by withdrawing, staying busy with minor tasks, suppressing emotions of despair, grief, powerlessness. Some seek comfort by denial, creating personal bubbles to shut the world out. But the desperate effort that goes into withdrawal, suppression, and denial robs us the very energy we need to be good leaders. The energy now spent on self-protection can be converted into positive energy if we’re willing to encounter reality and see it clearly. Facing reality is in an empowering act – it can liberate our mind and heart to discern how best to use our power and influence in service for this time.” (page 5)

What time is it On the Clock of the World?

Ms. Wheatley opens her book by labeling time on the World Clock as uncertain and chaotic, spinning wildly out of control. She goes on to say that:

“This book is born of my desire to summon us to the leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership is a noble profession that creates possibility and human this in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil.”

Science of Living Systems

The science of living systems is a powerful explanatory of human behavior and the world we inhabit. New science revealed, through decades of experimentation and evidence, that living systems organize using dynamics that include self-organizing based on identity, relationships woven together in complex networks, and inherent order displayed in chaos and complexity, the role of shared meaning to create coherent yet nonpoliced actions among individuals.

Life’s dynamics do not change, however refusing to comply or participate with dominant culture and instead, as leaders, continue to work in partnership with life, restoring sanity whenever we can.

Finally, I liked Margaret Wheatley’s invitation into the dwelling mind. She claims that we rush to fix rather than allow the profound discomfort that arises from difficult information. Yet if we dwell with the increasing uncertainty of this time and not rush to that comfortable place of action, dwelling mind supports the emergence of clarity for our chosen role as leader.

This book may help reader who want to know more about the uncertainty that comes with any career transition including the uncertainty that comes with pre-retirement planning.

I hope you find Margaret Wheatley’s book, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality Claiming Leadership Restoring Sanity helpful.