Identify Networks of Hope – The Power of a Prompt

‘Identify Networks of Hope’ – The Power of a Prompt

[IFF Prompt – 14 Nov 2017]

Hope is a big part of my daily interactions with folk… mostly the hope that my (usually email) communication will find its recipients well, and in fine fettle Hope this finds you well But a recent communication from the International Futures Forum ‘prompted’ me to reflect more directly on the hope I regularly ‘hope’ for.

The IFF helpfully (and hopefully?) circulates a new prompt weekly, selected at random from a ‘deck’ of prompt-cards, developed as short pithy statements informed by the Forum’s work, ‘to prompt us to recall our own learning’: “These ‘IFF prompts’ (have) proved very effective in opening up new perspectives on familiar material and in promoting better thinking and action appropriate for the conditions of the modern world”.

The November 17, 2017 prompt was ‘identify networks of hope’, triggering my noticing that hope was very much ‘on my radar’ at the time… especially after the Nov 2017 Edinburgh IFF breakfast session, where Graham Leicester, the IFF Director, had reported on his ’Tools for Hope’ experience, at the Association of Professional Futurists conference. He had noticed some sentiment around the importance of a shared iconic vision of the future, to collectively draw us forward… a serviceable dream perhaps, such as that in a burgeoning bud about to bloom flourishingly forth. I noticed that hope seems to readily ‘team’ with dream – and possibly also with blind faith in a world worth growing into… through ‘networks of hope’.

All this triggered a deeper and wider recall of previous engagements with ‘hope’ that seem to have stayed with me, and are probably still at work within me, in my own work in the world… but it’s not really ‘stuff’ that I get to ‘out’ often – except when wonderfully ‘prompted’ like this.

What came up included an early inspiration to represent ‘hopes and dreams’ as the ‘stuff’ of planning (my professional field for four decades) from a 2000 presentation. I recall feeling that this was a somewhat risqué perspective to be advancing then – to fellow professionals at least, but not necessarily for informed lay-persons – my main audience at the time.

But, zeroing in more on hope (rather than hopes), and trying to get at its essence, I remain fundamentally impressed by some diagramming in a 1970s book by an early mentor of sorts, John Friedmann, and his ‘Retracking America’. In a chapter on ‘the uses of the future’ he closed with a fascinating conjunction of the (near) future, hope (historical future), and faith (a-historical future) (see image of diagram here). It seems to me that one doesn’t see those (future~hope~faith) on the same page very often; they are mostly different strokes/takes for different folks/professions? But ripe for some ‘networking’ perhaps, some meshing, some meshworking. For example, what might be the weight of hope and faith in H3 (Three Horizons) future consciousness? How might they be more consciously ‘admitted’? Is there an ‘intermediating’ role for hope, between future and faith?

And then there has been the inspiration in the work and words of Eric Trist who helped me to a formative sense of my planning back then, as ‘the organization of hope’, fuelling later encouragement to my students to cast themselves as ‘hope-organizers’. Trist was at work in me in my early forays into professional planning, most notably through offerings such as his New Directions of Hope (Recent innovations interconnecting organizational, industrial, community and personal development). These ideas were first presented in Glasgow in 1978.

“Hope, in the hypothesis I am making, comes from the outside, below, the        middle and across. The degree of hope is greatest when it comes from all        four directions, for these form an interdependent set” (p. 1979, 440)

An interdependent set… a network? … laying out ‘the directions of innovation’ (Table 1, 440)):

Outside – Periphery, not centre;

Below – Bottom up, not top down;

Middle – Community, not national level;

Across – Network leverage, not formal channels.

Trist was very much emphasising networks back then, as:

“…the channels mediated by individuals which cross organizational      boundaries… networks are unbounded systems, complementary to organizations. In organizations people act in roles; in networks they act as themselves. People who have the same concerns, who share the same values, have the knack of finding each other wherever they may be so that very rapidly the interactions resonate through the ‘extended social field’, which is a complementary aspect of society to organization life. As networks form in an extended social field, they are apt to induce changes in formal organizations, as regards policies or even structures, which would otherwise be impossible” (1979, p.441)

Networks as vehicles of hope, as organizers of hope? Trist, speaking in 1978, went on to note:

“Networks have special importance at the present time because individuals are changing faster than organizations. The values likely to shape the future are emerging in individuals. In groups and temporary systems arising from the networks formed by future-oriented individuals lies the greatest leverage for change. This is especially so when these networks, operating in the periphery, coming up from the grass roots and concerned with a particular domain, form a voluntary organization, which contains a number of imaginative people, among whom there are natural leaders – to address the unresolved issues and take action on new lines” (1979, p.441)

Networks like IFF, organizing hope, in service to a better future. Or networks like those now being forged in U Lab contexts (such as U Lab Scotland) , spinning off the application of U Theory by the Presencing Institute ; here I am also finding prominent themes around ‘extended social fields’, being led ‘from the emergent future’. And the ‘creative integrities’ emerging from the IFF work on Three Horizons and Transformative Innovation. Networks of hope – identified. Such is the power in a prompt…

U@Work: Your ‘You’ at Work – Explorations in the application of U Theory

In recent years the Scottish Government has supported a FireStarter Festival, in part as a follow-up to U Lab Scotland  involvement in a ‘mooc’ (a massive open online course) delivered through the MIT EdX platform and Otto Scharmer’s Presencing Institute . I have now participated in three iterations of this course, and in the latest one (Fall 2017) my focus was on ‘presencing awareness’, especially awareness by professionals of what they profess – their ‘prof-essence’.

The 2018 FireStarter Festival provided an opportunity to ‘trial’ an experiential workshop – a ‘prototype’, exploring an application of U Theory in support of professional praxis-making… ‘praxis’ being positioned beyond one’s normal ‘practice’, involving a much deeper presencing of what’s being professed – one’s professing essence. The workshop content and process is presented here U@Work Falkland Feb2018 UPD RED Final .

The February 1, 2018 workshop, staged at The Stables on Falkland Estate, was a half-day/afternoon affair, that attracted eight participants, mainly public service professionals – from different sectors. They engaged with the material presented, in a range of activities to connect with their own experience: some role-playing, guided journaling, small group-story telling (all involving an interest in ‘self-authoring’), and some fortune-telling origami – that was more ‘future-telling’, of the kind of professional they wanted to emerge, as elements of their intended professional ‘praxis’.

I was assisted in delivering the workshop by Alastair Wyllie  who facilitated the various activities, and Caren Gilbert – who provided a closing poetic reflection on the workshop: The Journey – FireStarter Falkland  [More on Caren here ]

Iain Shaw, Media Education  was a significant part-sponsor; valuable initial feedback was provided by Joyce Matthews ; and the Edinburgh College U Lab ‘learning hub’, hosted by Valerie Jackman, afforded a congenial environment for developing elements of the prototype.

It is too early to tell if a ‘fire’ has been ‘started’; the burning desire would be to ‘fire up’ a new approach to professional development – among Scottish public service professionals especially – embodying the presencing at the heart of U Theory. This would feature more concern for ‘professional-self design’ (rather than conventional ‘professional development’), and for engendering a ‘fiery spirit’ within, to bolster the courage required – on the outside – for the constructive disruption of all problematic aspects of the ‘status-quo’.

This is expected to require more than simply individuals with a new personal praxis (the focus of this particular workshop), but dedicated ‘collectivities of individuals’ (co-created integrities; professional communities of practice) with a shared praxis – an ethos – delivering compounded benefits, through an uncommon synergy of co-presencing. A future complementary experiential workshop is envisaged, focusing on such ethos-making: Us@Work: Co-Presencing our Professional-Self.


Contributed by Ian Wight PhD FCIP GTB, Senior Scholar, City Planning, University of Manitoba – in his capacity as the workshop developer. Now retired, but re-firing, in his native land – Scotland, inspired by the likes of U Lab Scotland and the FireStarter Festival. He also takes an interest in the work of The University of the Third Horizon, the International Futures Forum, and in a range of day conferences sponsored by the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace.

Presencing Awareness 1. Into Our Wilds ; 2. Being Game

I am working on ‘presencing awareness’ as a prototyping focus in the current iteration of U Lab. Hosting a recent session of the Edinburgh College U Lab Hub I offered some framings around the notion of The Territory Beyond, discovered in the 2016 Rosamund Zander book, Pathways to Possibility.  It was in two parts.

In part 1 the focus was on the theme of The Territory Beyond calling us ‘Into Our Wilds’ Presencing Awareness 1. Into Our Wilds It is part of my effort to explore ‘open will’ territory, via ‘telling soul-stories to our future’ – as part of our crystallizing and prototyping.

In part 2 the envisaged focus, for engaging The Territory Beyond, is by ‘Being Game’, playing ‘the being game’, as ‘playfully’ as possible Presencing Awareness 2. Being Game Both parts draw also on John O’Donohue’s blessing, Axioms for Wildness. This has inspired some speculation around ‘Axioms for Crystallizing’, soul-fully (wonder, desire, service, authenticity, vitality, lightness and courage).

I’m wondering if these offerings might attract some partnering proposals, by others fascinated by the territory of ‘presencing awareness’.

Enlivened Writing – Who am I? What is my work?

The 2017 Edinburgh College U Lab Hub has been exploring different practices and approaches to engaging with the current U Lab course

This has included some reflections on presencing and absencing inspired by some John O’Donohue blessings  and experiments with ‘a pause practice’  to better presence our attentions and intentions, and their relationship.

This practice Enlivened Writing – Who am I? What is my work? around ‘enlivened writing’ is designed to facilitate a deeper inquiry into two particular, foundational, course questions: Who am I? and What is my work? It also includes options to ‘partner’ with John O’Donohue, in a complementary inner dialogue, around more of his blessings – For the Unknown Self, For Work, and For the Senses.

Presence and Absence – John O’Donohue

Some inspiration from John O’Donohue, to resource the U Lab Edinburgh College Learning Hub, October 24th, 2017, which also integrated ‘a pause practice’

Two of his ‘blessings’ from his book, To Bless the Space Between Us, Doubleday, 2008: For Presence and For Absence

[Awakening to the mystery of being here…] 

For Presence ~ John O’Donohue

Awaken to the mystery of being here

and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.


Attending to Our Intending: The Potential in Pause

Guided Reflection ~ The Pause that Refreshes

A Pause Practice – Reflect, Refresh, Reset


[Presencing the absencing….]

For Absence ~ John O’Donohue

May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence,

that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.

May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo.

May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere

Where the presences that have left you dwell.

May you be generous in your embrace of loss.

May the sore well of grief turn into a seamless flow of presence.

May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear from.

May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones.

May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.

May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging.

May you be embraced by That in which dawn and twilight are one.

May your longing inhabit its dreams within the Great Belonging.

A Pause Practice – Reflect, Refresh, Reset

A Pause Practice: Reflect, Refresh, Reset – A peek in your mirror.

[Give yourself a break – for a few minutes… when you notice the need…]

  1. Thinking back, over the last little while (the last hour or so, the last day or so, the last few days or so… take your pick – but make a clear pick and stick to it):

… what has had your attention?

[What have you given your attention to? What have you invested yourself in?]

  1. Reflecting on this a little deeper, 

… what has been your intention behind that attention?

[What has been underlying the attention? What has been underlying that ‘underlying’?]

  1. Looking forward from this pause (but from within ‘the now’…)

… what is now your intention, your underlying intention?

  1. How do you plan on attending to that intention?

[in particular… what will you do that’s new? What is your ‘will’? What do you openly will?]

  1. In the next little while – specifically,

… what do you now plan on giving your attention to?

[What do you intend to consciously invest yourself in?… in the next hour, the next day, the next week? …. whatever initial reference period selected]

  1. What possibility do you sense you have just created… in your pause? 

[What future will you emerge? … a new commissioning of your self/Self]

[Notes by Ian Wight, May 7, 2014; revised October 24, 2017]

Cooperating with Transformation

Living Deeply into – and from – the Emerging Future:        Cooperating with Transformation

My current ‘mooc’ experience is very much focused on transformation. Its title/theme – ‘leading from the emerging future’ – is almost by definition a transformative, transforming perspective. It seems to involve leaving mere change in the dust – via a totally transformed view of change, while ushering in a new future consciousness – a novel consciousness in relation to the future. It targets transformation, anticipating transforming outcomes across the board – self, society, business, organization.

I have been revisiting some of my earlier efforts to ‘get my head around’ transformation, especially vis-à-vis change. This was a particular issue for myself a few years ago, while experiencing being a graduate student again, in a Human Ecology program (then at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland). We were tasked to undertake some ‘action inquiry’ and I – hoping to further my education as an educator – focused, initially, on the question: How can transformation be facilitated intentionally, in a teacher and their teaching, and in their (own) – and their students’ (own) – wider worlds? In the course of my inquiry the question became: What can be learned through ‘living deeply’?[i]

The action inquiry at the time related to the domain of education, and advanced adult/professional education in particular, through an intent to serve those (in mid-life or mid-career especially) with a noticed appetite for specifically transformative learning. My perceived change-agency at the time revolved around personally embodying the necessary transformation and, potentially as part of a wider movement, paving the way for a societal embedding of such transformation-enabling later-life education. The driving vision at the time became ‘enabling an infinity of personal evolutions’.

That ‘Living Deeply’ action inquiry has stayed with me, notably because of my engagement of an inner inquiry into the nature of ‘transformative change-agency’, leading to some still interesting ‘unpacking’ efforts. Drawing on my integral worldview, individual change-agents were reframed as holons – being simultaneously a ‘whole’ and a ‘part’ of a larger whole. This entails that ‘agency’ is always in the context of ‘communion’, and the associated wider/deeper/longer frame of reference. Holons, in addition to the capacities for agency and communion, also have the capacities of self-transcendence and self-immanence[ii]. These extensions – well beyond ‘change-agent’ – seemed better aligned with the notion of transformation addressed in Living Deeply. I found myself gravitating away from an old, rather entrenched, ‘agent of change’ leaning, in favour of an increasingly intriguing ‘facilitating transformation’ stance.

Transformation also appeared to place ‘change’ in perspective. I speculated that:

“Change appears to be something short of transformation, making the notion of ‘transformative change-agency’, for example, somewhat problematic. Transformation encompasses ‘change’ to a new higher, wider, deeper ‘form’, but ‘change’ does not necessarily encompass transformation. Perhaps change is most at home within the status-quo, respecting the existing ‘form’, having a more exterior cast (such as observable behaviour) – in contrast to the more interior cast of transformation”.

I was sensing transformation as directly associated with consciousness – and with core values, world-views and perspectives. It also seemed to engage the spiritual dimension, quite naturally.

Agents of change or transformers of consciousness: what was it to be? Agents of change could be a shallower response, that may have its place en route to a more evolved positioning, such as pushing further into the realms of an ‘agent of transformation’. The analysis would then shift, to consider from what old form, to what new form. And the related consideration of how transformation can be achieved, in oneself, in others, and in society more generally.

Living Deeply (LD) was especially informative on these fronts, beginning with the transformation of one’s own consciousness. You can only directly participate in the transformation of your own consciousness, but in doing so you can then influence – be a contribution to – consciousness transformation on larger scales. William Torbert et al seemed to underline this critical self-transformation ‘end’ for action inquiry – as helping ‘individuals, teams, organizations and even larger institutions become more capable of self-transformation and thus more creative, more aware, more just and more sustainable’ (2004, 1; emphasis added).

What was learned then about transformation, that could be considered transforming? I was immediately inspired by the connection made in a statement in the LD Foreword: “By transforming our consciousness, we participate in the transformation of the world” (Thurman in Living Deeply (LD) vi). Here was an opening to a more participatory paradigm – a passion of mine, but in the context of a very personal project: “Transforming your own consciousness may be the most important thing you can do for yourself and the world” (LD 3). The ‘Who’ of transformation is simultaneously singular and plural; personal and planetary.

Rather than something ‘out there’ to be got or had, I was somewhat taken aback by the representation of transformation as ‘an ongoing natural process that’s available to you right now. It’s something you can cooperate with in ways large and small, every day of your life’ (LD 6 emphasis added). The cooperation context was/is very intriguing – a conditioner of the facilitation I had been entertaining: intentionally facilitating transformation requires actively cooperating with transformation, on the level of abiding consciousness. If personal transformation is a cooperative venture, might collective (consciousness) transformation be a collaboration? The ‘What’ of transformation is realized through cooperation with your always/already consciousness.

Shifting one’s ‘worldview’ is central in all this: ‘who you are now, and what you have now, contains all you need for a richer, fuller, and more joy-filled life’ (LD 19). Is your worldview large enough? How can it be enlarged? According to Frances Vaughan: ‘It requires inner work and an appreciation for how that connects to being in the world, and the outer work of action and service’ (LD 20). How best to pursue such integrating, and ‘integrated-ness’? Seeking new vistas – the ever-more-elegantly-all-encompassing configuration – has always held a particular attraction for myself, but I recall being jolted with the realization that this needed to be succeeded with a subtle revision: seeing with new eyes.

Paraphrasing Marcel Proust, Rachel Naomi Remen observes that ‘the voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes. The familiar is seen in a completely new way. Nothing changes, yet everything changes’ (LD 20). All the while ‘consciousness is constant – the transformation is in the individual (from the limited self to the whole self… from being limited and small to being whole)… the wholeness (consciousness) never actually goes away’ (Nityananda, in LD 21).

Transformation is about opening to new possibilities (recognizing that your current view is only partial) and seeing with new eyes (LD 22). Might this be the route to enabling an infinity of personal evolutions? New eyes… new ‘I’s… the eye of spirit… from I to We… from I-dentity to We-dentity. The ‘How’ of transformation lies in shifting one’s view, one’s worldview, to inside more than outside… to seeing with new eyes… to entertaining the transpersonal.

As an educator I was struck by the parallels between the notion of education as a drawing out (of what is already within) and of transformation as something that happens naturally, ‘as false selves are shed and buried elements of yourself are retrieved and integrated’ (LD 21). Who you are ‘authentically’ doesn’t change.

In terms of educational strategy: ‘Like the gardener, rather than making transformation happen, we create the ideal conditions for natural transformation to flourish’ (LD 67). Other appealing metaphors included: catalyst and crucible; soul fertilizers; labyrinth guide; and ‘coming home to yourself and your own true nature’ (LD 175). Sensibilities worthy of cultivation included: self-reflexivity, equanimity, creativity, curiosity and compassion. I wondered: What ‘mix’ of soul fertilizer might best serve adult professionals in transformation shift-mode? The ‘Where’ of transformation could be as close as your metaphorical garden.

The ‘integration’ experienced/sampled in this particular action inquiry consisted of ‘living deeply’. Sounds simple; too simple perhaps? Except that ‘living deeply may require nothing less than a complete transformation of the way you view the world and your place in it’ (LD 1). It involves ‘an engagement with life, in all its various complexities. It is a moment-by-moment process … being present for all that life offers isn’t always easy’ (63). Transformation often asks for something to die so that something new can be born (30). It is about becoming… ‘becoming more open, loving, balanced, authentic, kind and generous’ (201). A letting-go – to let come. An emerging future disposition. Cooperating with transformation.


Merry, Peter, 2008 Evolutionary Leadership: Integral Leadership for an Increasingly Complex World. Integral Publishers

Schlitz, Marilyn Mandala, Cassandra Vieten and Tina Amorok 2007 Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life. New Harbinger Publications/IONS

Torbert, William and Associates 2004 Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership. Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco


[i] ‘Living deeply’ refers both to the title of the book that was the main focus of the inquiry (see Schlitz et al, 2007), and to the underlying practice attempted in the course of the inquiry. The book includes some end-of-chapter exercises in ‘experiencing transformation’, and is accompanied by a DVD of nine guided/experiential ‘transformative practices from the world’s wisdom traditions’.

[ii] Based on Ken Wilber’s work on integral theory, Peter Merry (2008, 124) elaborates on the capacities of holons (everything is both a whole in its own right and part of something bigger) as follows:

‘Agency’, the capacity to clarify identity, wholeness and boundaries, and express this in the world;

‘Communion’, the capacity to connect to whatever is outside those boundaries;

‘Self-transcendence’, the capacity to go beyond one’s current stage on the evolutionary path;

‘Self-immanence’, the capacity to hold all one’s parts and past together in the present, healing and integrating past patterns.



Causation vs Pausation – Beyond Cause-Effect




The Transformative Power in Pause-Potential

Some wonderings…. Can you pause – for a moment – that could be potentially transformative?

A pause as a stop, that is actually a movement, in the direction of new possibilities, for some growth, some development – of your consciousness, your self-awareness.

A pause that enables a cessation of your conventional default ‘auto-pilot’ mode… that is actually a creative act, triggering a change in trajectory, a novel perspective.

Are you ‘up’ for intentionally harnessing the power of pause, for exploring what might be generated, by giving pause a chance, to fundamentally change you?

Fortunately, my formal professional practice in recent years has been complemented and enriched by participation in a ‘community of practice’ – more informal, but highly informative – if not occasionally transformative. We hold ‘inquiries’ that interest us as a group; one inquiry a few years ago was around ‘the power of pause’[i].

I am being drawn back into that inquiry now, as I notice the stillness practices gaining prominence in new social learning initiatives, such as the presencing featured in U Lab work; stillness as a protracted pause. The presencing that is enabled in the stillness (at the bottom of the U, in the core of one’s ‘You’) can release incredible potential – that can be literally transforming. Which seems like a rather good fit for a course that is all about transforming… business, society and self [ii].

I’m sensing that there is perhaps a causation of sorts at work here – that is possibly more ‘pausation’. Again, I find I am being given pause – to reflect on its professional development potential, as part of the discernment of one’s ‘prof-essence’ [iii]. For those who might initially resist stillness practices, an invitation to simply pause might garner more attention, in the spirit of some experimentation – not so much in the realm of cause and effect, but more in the field of pause and potential.

I again take heart from my earlier exploration into the power of pause. The inquiry was highly generative, a testament to the value of the dialogue that can be achieved in a community of practice that affords a unique combination of amenity, intimacy and curiosity. Invariably, such inquiries – which often felt like pregnant pauses in my then ‘normal’ professional life – transport me into new realms of experience, which take the form of what I have come to call ‘in-sightings’. These often manifest in, literally, new terms – that attempt to capture the essence of the insights. That particular inquiry had me wondering about the possibility of pause as the root of a phenomenon on a par with causation; namely, pause as linked to pausation (in the same way that cause is linked to causation).

It seems to me that so much of what professionals profess nowadays is based on an appreciation of ‘cause-effect’, rendering much ‘standard’ or ‘conventional’ practice as applied science. This has often felt unduly limited – and limiting – to myself. What about not only the application of science as a frame for our practice, but also the application of art (or the arts), and the application of humanity (or the humanities) … and enacting such multi-dimensional integration by design? Is this cause for pause?

Might pause – and stillness as protracted pause – power such a reframing? Potentially, I would suggest – if pause was associated with pausation, in a world where ‘becoming’ was as privileged as ‘being’, where we take our leadership cue from what is already emerging. Pausation targets what that might be – what might come into being – as much as causation effectively targets what has been, or what is currently. While we obviously must continue to pay homage to the power of ‘cause-effect’, can we also equally credit what I sense is its twin – ‘pause-potential’?

What are the ‘pausatives’ in pausation? The initial inquiry provoked me quite profoundly to confront how I relate with respect to pause, to making it operable in my terms. My ‘pausatives’ emerged as interesting conjunctions – with convention, with creativity, and with transformation [iv]. Part of my sense of pause is associated with a break from convention (an absence of pause) into ‘post-convention’ (pregnant with pausation).

The power of pause initially felt most compelling in the context of programmed experiential personal/professional development activities, with the conscious injection of an opportunity to simply pause – from what was otherwise a normal course of events, or a regular/routine flow of experiencing. No other requirements, or expectations – of the facilitator, or the participants. Just a pause. An opening of sorts, a clearing. A suspension of what might otherwise be the case. A letting-go, with the possibility of a letting-come.

If we think about it, most of our awake existence is characterized by an absence of pause in this respect – we are more likely to be on active, ongoing, busy ‘auto-pilot’, which can also be code for being ‘other-driven’. An actual pause is therefore – almost by definition – out-of-the-ordinary, if not outright extra-ordinary… when we consciously opt to check in with our Self. As such, it is a break with convention, but it is not so much unconventional, as post-conventional – if the underlying intention is effectively to tap the potential in the pause.

To pause, in this sense, is essentially – perhaps without fully ‘knowing’ it – a future-regarding, rather than past-respecting, move – taking it beyond reflection as retrospection, and beyond therapeutic intervention. Indeed, it is less a therapy for what might currently ail us – that we might want to put a stop to, or cease – than an active whole-seeking intervention, in the sense of action with a view to enabling a new envisioning, tapping into the potential, in ever-more-whole-making. In some interpretations, the (pause-potential) intention would be less around what ‘ails’ us, as what ‘wells’ us… what supports/enables our ongoing well-being, by attending to our well-becoming.

Etymologically, the root of ‘well’ is ‘whole’. Pause represents a potential whole-making place, dissolving divides, effecting integration – in service of our evolution (with ‘our’ defined in the best, broadest sense of the word). Consider that to ‘evolve’ is to become ‘ever-more-whole’. The invocation to pause can thus also be extended to embrace all dimensions of our selves – not simply body and mind. Pause can intrinsically invoke the intelligence in one’s heart and soul, and spirit; the potential in pause, pause-potential, is potentially infinite. ‘Prof-essence’ thus becomes an inner place for evolving what you profess, in the moment – an awareness of your awareness arising.

[i] A longer commentary on this particular inquiry, held in 2012, may be found here:

[ii] See:

[iii] For more on the notion of ‘prof-essence’

[iv] See Endnote 1, above, for more discussion of these conjunctions.

Presencing Prof-Essence

Learning Journey u.lab 2016: September 15, 2016: Presencing Prof-Essence

Although I’m now retired (but actually re-firing!) the past week or so has found me in ‘back-to-school’ mode, re-engaging with an extraordinary ‘mooc’ – a massive open online course

I first engaged with this course in its previous iteration, last Fall, while in Scotland. This course is a very big deal in Scotland right now (there is a discrete  U Lab Scotland ‘supplement’ to the main course – delivered by MIT through edX). This Fall my experience of the course will be from Canada, from my current home base in North Saanich, BC. I hope to focus more on this particualr experience in future posts – as I sense into the new course ‘field’ that I expect to be tilling in coming weeks and months. For now I will simply indicate that….

I am particularly interested in the course because of the focus on transformation – especially in relation to my ongoing interest in transformational professional learning. I have already set an intention of sorts for myself in relation to the course, building on the presencing that is central to the U Theory that underlies the course (NB while the focus is on presencing the course is equally concerned with its counter-point, absencing). Because of my ‘professional’ learning interests, my intention revolves around ‘enabling the presencing of prof-essence via professional-self design’. This would be one’s ‘professional essence-in-action’, borne out of one’s heightened awareness of this potential dimension in anyone who identifies as ‘professional’.

Such ‘prof-essence’ is for aware individuals to design themselves – and with like-minded, like-hearted, and like-willing others – as an engine of transformation, as a manifestation of their transformency, as their leadership in action. The u.lab involves experimenting with development of capacity for ‘leadership from the emerging future’. The professional-self design I have in mind would seek to ‘source’ the requisite leadership to help actualize the wellbeing that WE – the highest achievable collective – seek to will into existence. Not simply through the work of our minds, but also – and perhaps moreso – from the centre of our hearts and the depths of our souls.

I am conceiving ‘prof-essence’ as three professional ‘makings’ at work, each encompassing a key transformation: praxis (personal – from ‘me’ to ‘I’, from small self to large Self); ethos (interpersonal – from ‘I’ to ‘We’); and poiesis (trans-personal – from ‘We’ to ‘All of Us (beyond ‘them and us’)’. The associated ‘self-design’ engages several elements, each of which might be perceived to contribute to one’s ‘prof-essence’. The elements include consideration of various ‘pairings’, ‘standings’, ‘settings’ and ‘transformings’ – which I will seek to address at greater length in the course of the course. For now I will simply mention that the ‘pairings’ entail an effort to cultivate particular awareness of, and a particular intent to align: self and service; soul and role; spirit and purpose (one more ‘inner’; the other more ‘outer’).

These ‘makings’ are further conceived as part of a larger ‘whole-making’ endeavour, aligning with a wellbeing imperative – as the bottom-line, and highest aspiration – closing the divides, in greater integrations of integrated-ness – on our insides, and integration-ability – on our outsides. The ensuing wholeness may be envisaged as an integration of the classic virtues – goodness, truth and beauty, in a movement devoted to ‘ever-more-whole-making’. The emerging future I am willing – as our existential ‘pull’ – might therefore be an infinitely compounding G.T.B. … perhaps G~T~Bn ….

[If you are curious about the course, check it out at:

And for a quick ‘taste’, sample the short mini-course designed for curious u.lab ‘newbies’: The latter can be completed in around two hours]