Uncertainty is a very healthy place to dwell….

The future is no more uncertain than the present.”

– Walt Whitman Poet

Some people despair about the darkening direction of the world today. Others are excited by the possibilities for creativity and new ways of living they see emerging out of the darkness. Rather than thinking one perspective is preferable to the other, let’s notice that both are somewhat dangerous. Either position, optimism or pessimism, keeps us from fully engaging with the complexity of this time. If we see only troubles, or only opportunities, in both cases we are blinded by our need for certainty, our need to know what’s going on, to figure things out so we can be useful.

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“Fall down 53 times. Get up 54” – Zen slogan

Failure is unavoidable. There’s no way to avoid times of crushing defeat, great loss, terrible regret. We might like to think that “failure is not an option,” but it’s guaranteed to appear and reappear throughout our lives. This is just how life works. It helps to know this ahead of time. Or to learn it very quickly. What’s essential is how we work with failure, what we do once its ugly face appears.



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Have we confused control with order?

Our organizations are strong complicated structures that are resistant to change, fearful of the future and we have built them that way deliberately. We built them that way to hold back the forces that seem to threaten their very existence. We are afraid of what would happen if we lose our grip. If we let the elements of our organizations recombine or reconfigure or even to speak truthfully to one another, we are afraid that things will fall apart. We do not trust that this is a world of growth, rejuvenation and process. We believe we must provide the energy to hold it together. By sheer force of will, we have resisted destruction. And if we let go, the world will dis- integrate.

awesome nature


Yet, throughout the universe, things work very well without us. Wherever we look, we see a landscape of movement and complexity, of forms that come and go, of structures that are not from organizational charts or job descriptions, but from impulses arriving out of deep natural processes of growth and of self-renewal. In our desire to control our organizations, we have detached ourselves from the forces that create order in the universe. All these years we have confused control with order. So what if we reframed the search? What if we stop looking for control and begin the search for order, which we can see everywhere around us in living dynamic systems?

It is time, I believe, to become a community of inquirers, serious explorers seeking to discover the essence of order-order we will find even in the heart of chaos. It is time to relinquish the limits we have placed on our organizations, time to release our defenses and fear. Time to take up new lenses and explore beyond our known boundaries. It is time to become full participants in this universe of emergent order.

– Margaret Wheatley