Simple conversations to restore hope to the future

Being a learning species means there is no finish line. There is no right way, and we are always building on mistakes. The problem is, we tend to blame each other when we do make mistakes. Margaret Wheatley sees that this holds us from our best potential, each other. Her remedy? Talk with one another. Listen to each other.

At the turn of the millennium she assembled a book of essays, filtered by “the beliefs that motivate my actions these days.” These beliefs included “We humans want to be together,” “We become hopeful when somebody tells the truth,” and “The cure for despair is not hope. It’s discovering what we want to do about something we care about.”

The cure for despair is not hope. It’s discovering what we want to do. Thank you, Margaret. Your vantage and stories are so helpful.

From the book:

Before there were meetings, planning processes, or any other – people sitting around interested in each other, talking together. When we think about beginning a conversation, we can take courage from the fact that this is a process we all know how to do. We are reawakening an ancient practice, a way of being together that all humans remember.

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It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgements about each other that do.

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Conversation is the natural way we humans think together.

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As we work together to restore hope to the future, we need to include a new and strange ally – our willingness to be disturbed. Our willingness to have our beliefs and ideas challenged by what others think. No one person or perspective can give us the answers we need to the problems of today. Paradoxically, we can only find those answers by admitting we don’t know.

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One of the easiest human acts is also the most healing. Listening to someone. Simply listening. Not advising or coaching, but silently and fully listening.

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“We are different so that we can know our need of one another, for no one is ultimately self-sufficient. A completely self-sufficient person would be sub-human.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Life will continue to teach us that we can’t make up our own rules. There’s only one way to run this planet, and life is pushing back forcefully right now, insisting that we learn this. We are experiencing dramatic and frightening climate changes all around the globe, destructive floods, more deserts and barren soil, new diseases and pandemics. We can’t continue to pretend that our modern ways of relating to life are working.

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The future doesn’t take form irrationally, even though it feels that way. The future comes from where we are now. It materializes from the actions, values, and beliefs we are practicing now. We’re creating the future everyday, by what we choose to do. If we want a different future, we have to take responsibility for what we are doing in the present.

Turning to one another
Simple conversations to restore hope to the future
Margaret Wheatley
Barrett-Koehler
2002, 158 pages

Available from Amazon.

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