Life is complex. During the legal struggles over baby Charlie, I heard an English conservative journalist condemn American conservative journalists. She said that our conservative press was totally ignoring the facts of the case and just using the most superficial elements as an occasion to lash out against socialized medicine. Well excuse me, when you care more about your position than about how you treat evidence and inference, that is what happens. I'll bet on many other issues that were not as close to her, the British journalist operated in exactly the same way. Life is complex. To make sense of an issue, you have to look at a lot of evidence and closely monitor your ladder of inference. Here's another example. I have always been an admirer of Robert E. Lee. He had a tough choice to make, whether to stay with his country or stay true to his state. He decided differently than I would, but he lived in different time than I. Other than fighting for the wrong side, he was
This blog has so far been spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting a following. I suspect it is because I am not using any of the right key words. I'm not pro-Trump or anti-Trump, I am not liberal or conservative, I am not using key words that would let people find in me someone to support or someone to rail at about their favorite "hot button" issues. Instead I am talking about how to come together, how to stop pulling apart and start pulling together, how to stop unbalancing our country with positions and instead start sharing our considerations, concerns, and constraints so that we can bring opposing forces into balance. There are no lasting solutions, only a constant balancing act. But people don't want to hear that. They want to continue to harangue for their side. I am reminded of something that Joseph Campbell said about religion. Remember that Campbell defined religion as "Mythology misunderstood." And when you fail to understand that religion
On July 16, I preached a sermon at my church, the first in just over a year. Now before all you non- and anti-religious readers click off, let me hasten to say I am not a minister, I am a lay preacher, and then hasten once again to add that you are not likely to ever encounter a lay preacher who is a bigger atheist than I. But atheist is a relative term. I recently concluded the epilogue to a major rewrite of one of my early books, Seeking God, with this advice: "J ust because you can’t believe in someone else’s god doesn’t mean you can’t believe in something. Go and seek your own God." I don't believe in the anthropomorphic benign puppet master deity that is the bread and butter of Abrahamic religious communities. What I do believe in is the Word of God. My definition of God is the source of the Word of God. To me the word of God has many layers. The first layer is the quantum laws that say our Universe was inevitable and therefore it happened. The second layer is the
I'm back. I apologize to all my loyal followers for having missed a week. Two weeks ago I talked about getting participants involved in taking responsibility for process in addition to content. That is not just a good way to get them to take ownership of what the group is doing, it may be the best way to get them to leave their positions and focus on concerns, considerations, and constraints. This month is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Training Laboratory which later became the international organization known as the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science. In the summer of 1946, Kurt Lewin and a group of colleagues were doing academic research on a collaborative approach known as Action Research . In an action research effort, the actors in a situation are enlisted in jointly planning a study of their situation, jointly collecting data and processing the data collected, jointly interpreting the research results and jointly formulating recommendations
I have run out of the blog posts that I write ahead. I have no idea which direction to take this blog next. But I have found that, when you don't know how to say something, you don't know where to start, the best thing to do is to talk about your stuckness, or about your confusion, or about how difficult the topic is to broach. If you don't know where to start, talk about not knowing where to start. Is that a process? I think so. In writing, doing that with your audience is inviting them to tacitly wait while you work through issues. But in facilitation, it is even more important. It is inviting the participants to take a role not only in shaping the content but in shaping the process. It is inviting them to share the facilitator's role. I used to be active in the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), even serving for a time on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT), what the IAF calls their board of directors. I was serving during the time that the IAF ca
This month we are looking at process in some areas besides collaborative work. We are looking at other fields where you have a choice to focus on content or focus on process, to see if valuing process works in those fields. This week we are looking at cooking. I am not a professional chef. There was one break point in my career when I might have taken that route. I was recently widowed, disillusioned with my job, and looking for a new direction. I consulted a career coach who administered the Strong Interest Survey. It had one question on cooking: “Do you enjoy experimenting with recipes?” I answered “no.” I don’t play with recipes. Recipes are about content. My cooking is all about process. But because I answered “no” to the only cooking question, the career coach did not recommend that I become a chef. My stepdaughter bakes with a food scale. She doesn’t measure ingredients, she weighs them. It is a much faster and more accurate way of cooking, and it allows her to keep up
This month we are looking at process in some areas besides collaborative work. We are looking at other fields where you have a choice to focus on content or focus on process, to see if valuing process works in those fields. This week we are looking at prayer. Praying seems to be almost ubiquitous. Even Buddhists, who don’t believe in a deity who is a being, pray. Who are they praying to? No one. Then why are they praying? Carl Jung says that there is a part of the psyche that needs to deal with the spiritual, the divine, the ineffable. “It doesn’t matter whether God created that part of the psyche or that part of the psyche created God, we ignore that part or our psyche at the risk of our mental and emotional health.” Prayer is the process of paying attention to that part of our psyche. The content of the prayer perhaps doesn’t matter. If you believe in a deity that has a physical reality and is capable of affecting physical reality, you may pray certain content, for ph