NOTE: The remaining pages are written by Margaret and her team to give a greater sense of the approaches taken on the programme.
Life-affirming Leaders, or “Warriors for the Human Spirit”, are leaders, activists, and citizens who want to make a meaningful contribution in this time of increasing assaults on the human spirit and all life. To serve well, to be effective with their energy and influence, they train to refrain from fear and aggression and to embody the best human qualities of generosity, insight, and compassion. They are leaders who have already developed many skills in community engagement, productive workplaces and systems thinking. Yet these hard-won skills and valuable experiences are not sufficient; a different category of skills and capacities is needed if they are to act wisely, persevere, and use their influence and power to offer sane, life-affirming responses as challenges to people and planet intensify.
1.1 Who is a Warrior for the Human Spirit?
Warriors are people who focus their lives and work on making a difference. They respond to a sense of service that gives meaning to their lives beyond petty definitions of happiness and self-satisfaction. They are of all ages, faiths, professions, and cultures. Depending on their age, they have contributed in many different ways or are aspiring to contribute.
We step into this role of contribution and service, learning to assess what is possible and what is not. We are broken-hearted in witnessing what is being lost. We are exhausted from efforts that can no longer bear fruit. Yet we have abiding faith in the human spirit, in the capacity of people to be generous, creative, kind and compassionate–no matter what. It is our faith in the human spirit that inspires us to undertake the discipline of training to be of service for this time.
Humans have a responsibility to their own time, not as if they could seem to stand outside it and donate various spiritual and material benefits to it from a position of compassionate distance. Humans have a responsibility to find themselves where they are, in their own proper time and place, in the history to which they belong and to which they must inevitably contribute either their response or their evasions, either truth and act, or mere slogan and gesture.Thomas Merton, Catholic monk, writer, activist
1.2 What is the Work of Warriors?
Wherever we are, whatever our work, Warriors train to offer ourselves in two essential ways:
- We strive to embody the best human qualities of compassion, generosity, and clear seeing. Our presence serves as a reminder and role model for others for who they are.
- With our leadership, we bravely stand in contrast to the current practices and dynamics of this age. We know what must be created and preserved to create good human lives and societies, and we embody this wisdom in our work.
As leaders, we train in the skillful means to:
- Refrain from using fear and aggression to accomplish our ends
- Maintain a stable mind even in situations of contention and conflict
- Use direct perception to see more clearly so we may act more wisely
- Stay aware of our biases, judgments, and triggers in order to diminish their influence on us
- Focus our efforts on the work that needs doing, not the work we want to do
- Endeavor to create Islands of Sanity wherever possible
- Maintain a keen sense of humor
- Rely on moments of grace and joy
- Offer and receive support from the community of Persevering Leaders
1.3 How Warriors Train
We train in these key areas:
- Identity formation. We consciously take on the role of a Life-Affirming Leader, a Warrior for the Human Spirit, taking our place in the long history of those few people who always commit to serving others by developing the capacities and skillful means to act wisely and to persevere through challenges and setbacks
- Stable Mind. Through meditation and contemplative practices, we learn to know and work with our minds. We develop heightened levels of awareness so that we can act consciously rather than compulsively, responsively rather than reactively. We develop the skill of being present in any situation, seeing it as it is, without our personal biases.
- Direct Perception. Our actions are impeded by confused and clouded vision that springs from personal needs and biases. Blinded by our ‘self’ we can’t notice all the information that is so easily available in any situation. As we open to the world as it is, without trying to mold it to our liking, we recognise that the world is our ally, a source of information that gives us the capacity to see clearly and act skillfully. We learn to think systemically as a natural way of observing the complex, interconnected nature of this world.
- Mind-Body Integration. We suffer from many disconnections, believing that heart and mind are separate, or that body and mind are not one integrated whole. With physical practices we discover capacities of balance, energy, presence, and letting go. We develop a reliable body-mind memory of what true presence and balance feel like.
- Community. So many of our relationships contain our earnest attempts to help, fix, heal. Yet healthy relationships are hindered by these desires. One of the Warrior slogans is: “Don’t fix, don’t flee, just stay present.” As a community of people devoted to exploring what it means to be a Life-Affirming Leader, we learn to practice this as we encounter the very real challenges, fears, and joys of our communal exploration.
1.4 Programme Description
The programme will consist of the following:
- Jan/Feb 2020: Personal Contemplations to prepare for training. In January and then again in February you will receive a video contemplation from Meg in preparation for the March retreat.
- 2 to 6 March 2020: In-person Residential Retreat
- April to Sept 2020: Community support to come together online to deepen our understanding and practice
- Oct/Nov 2020: to come together in person for a day to continue supporting each other as a community. Meg will join us via Zoom for part of the day.
Murrayshall Hotel, Scone, Perth, PH2 7PH (https://www.murrayshall.co.uk/)
Arrival is by 10:00 on Monday 2 March 2020, departure is by 15:00 on Fri 6 March 2020. You must be present for the entire training.
A variety of processes are used to encourage learning, reflection, and community. And we delight in the opportunity to be together as we learn and explore this new leadership role in perseverance.
These programme elements are taught and practiced each day:
- Meditation Practice and Instruction: morning and evening
- The Identity and work of Life-Affirming Leaders: formal teachings
- Practical Applications: Leadership practices
- Mind-Body Physical Practices
- Personal Reflection and Contemplation
- Community Engagement
5-day residential programme including accommodation and meals: £1,800
Please note you will be invoiced but your place isn’t secure until we have received payment. In the event of cancellation we can refund you only if we find another person to take the place.
Monthly Zoom online calls between April and Sept, and a day meetup in Oct/Nov 2020: costs covered by Workforce Scotland Collective Leadership.
About Margaret Wheatley
Margaret (Meg) Wheatley is the author of nine books, from the ground-breaking Leadership and the New Science (1992) to Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality| Claiming Leadership| Restoring Sanity (2017). Her career spans five decades as a teacher, consultant, advisor, professor, formal leader, and author. She has worked in nearly every type of organization, at all levels, and on all continents (except Antarctica). Since 2015 she has dedicated her work to training Warriors for the Human Spirit, now a thriving community of Warriors from more than 27 countries. www.margaretwheatley.com.
If you are intrigued by these descriptions, click below to proceed through a series of contemplations to discern your own view on where we are in the cycle of a civilization.