Speaking and practicing the truth on behalf of the whole

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Speaking our truth on behalf of the system we intend to serve. Bridging the individual needs of authenticity and being mindfully present (being fully ourselves) as a pre-condition to all the other practices. What do I (we) need to practice to show up in the world in a way that makes us “warriors” that serve our hearts and serve the world?  Reflections from a leadership journey in Zagreb, Warrior of the Heart training, May 25-27, 2012.

::Before Arriving::
The desire to be part of a “Warrior of the Heart” training had been in my mind for a long while. I named 2012 the year of personal transformations, so I committed to go on journey of deep exploration and conducive to bring up authentic conversations for self- and collective discovery.

How beautiful to be in a place that serves the purpose of being mindful, detached from the whirl of events happening out there, and at the same time deeply connected to one another. The place where we all arrived on Friday afternoon is a lovely monastery with rose gardens and a passage through the lawns, secular trees and a path that brings to a small pond populated by restless frogs (really, they were  taking night shifts). The welcoming circle brought us all together in the same place and the opening circle spoke of courage in showing up in the world like a warrior –but in a sense that serves the world and uses wholeheartedness as spirit of service as their primal sword.
I arrived to the training with a great sense of trust in the trainers (I know Toke since 2010; I have met Martin last December) and this makes me realize how important trust has become for me in every training. More in general, today I don’t go to any training unless I either know personally the trainers or I got word from my close community of peer learners about the quality of their work and that can be relevant for me. This  helped me because the WOH training is a bit unusual in its concept for me: some of the Aikido concepts that we practiced seemed to me a bit on a meta-level kind of training, which is something I am not entirely used to. It is my trust in the trainers and the fact that I can make the teachings relevant in my daily life that helps me to embrace the learning with curiosity and openness.

::Saturday afternoon, Flow Game::
I really like the concept and the design of the Flow Game (more at this link). Everyone placed at the center a very personal question which, through this dialogic card game, was explored through conversations with peers. My question was “What is my deep gladness, that serves both myself and the world?” Most of the learning I got from the game is very personal but what I think I can share is some of the patterns that emerged through our dialogues with my fellow players at the table.
We have been talking in a circle addressing questions around what nourishes us and motivators in life. It is amazing to notice, as a meta-pattern, how often meaningful relationships came up as important to crate motivation and pre-conditions to happiness.

::Sunday, Open Space::
On Sunday we moved into Open Space. I called the question “How to combine the Social Engineer and the Poet in me”. I felt gratitude towards the conveners who initially helped me with the clarification question “which of the two do I need to work on more?”, for I don’t have a clear answer on that yet.
My question, reframed, to me means: How to be most impactful in the world doing something I am passionate about that at the same time creates a potentially big (and good) difference in the world? A crucial learning for me was the confirmation that the two (the inspired and the skillful, the grounded and the intellectual) don’t need to be seen as separated. Perhaps it all starts with the quality of one’s inner condition. (Scharmer got it right when he quoted “The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener”?) A participant told me the story of a man in a circle who challenged the negative energy that was present in that moment in the circle. This wise man, speaking from a place of courage and authenticity, named the negative energy in a way that let the system see itself in a new, unpredicted way.
This brought me to a deeper reflection about presence, social / emotional intelligence, and courage. When being in a place where meaningful conversations are called forth, it is everyone’s responsibility to speak their truth and operate from a place of authenticity; even if that might compromise a desired sense of wholeness and unity, for there is no unity without truth. Such truth, from a bigger system perspective, may help the system see itself, which to me is related to the question about how to create conditions conducive to a positive impact in a system.

Find out more:
Warrior of the Heart in Zagreb
Art of Hosting events.


On the dignity of Man

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[…] You, however, are constrained by no limits, in accordance with your own free will, in whose hand We have placed you, shall ordain for yourself the limits of your nature. We have set you at the world’s center that you may from there more easily see whatever is in the world. We have made you neither of heaven or earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of yourself, you may create yourself in whatever shape you prefer. You shall have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish. You shall have the power, out of your soul’s judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine. […]

Pico della Mirandola –
Horatio De Hominis Dignitate (Oration of the Dignity of Man)

On this note: @eccemarco #

On Prosperity Without Growth and ecological economics

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On the train I was listening to a podcast by Tim Jackson about his latest book “Prosperity without Growth”. I read the book few months ago and found it full of insights and great ideas that are still lingering in my mind. It analyzes the dilemma of “growth” and his linkage with material consumption on a planet that is running out of resources and putting too much carbon into the atmosphere. In the second part shows some possible pathways for a sustainable future where we have “decoupled”, i.e. broken the link between prosperity and material throughput.  I promised myself I would read it again, so a refresh by listening to a podcast on the LSE website was more than welcome.

:: Consumerism ::
During the presentation he shows a graph with two trends over the last years in the UK. One line shows a drastic increase in personal debt; the other shows a sharp decline in household savings.

(Source: graph as shown in the Report Prosperity without Growth, p 22, data from

Jackson explains:  “ So what’s going on here?  People are borrowing more money and liquidating their savings because they have been persuaded that they should spend money they don’t have, on goods they don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last on people who won’t care about it”.

I find it simply superb.


::Ecosystem services and natural capital::

Jackson also suggested an economic model where ecosystem services are taken into account in the model as THE vital component. An estimate of the value of such services and assets tells us that this value exceeds the monetary value of our conventional economy. I believe that Jackson refers to a famous article by Costanza et al 1997, “The value of world’s ecosystem services and natural capital”.

My reflection on Costanza et al. and a follow-up article that came soon after that to clarify some figures: authors of the article provide a monetary value to the world’s ecosystems.  In a later article, they though make very clear that the total absolute value of such services nature provides is infinite. What is the value of services like photosynthesis, water purification, or biodiversity? The argument they use is that we are using such services anyways and the monetary value they have calculated can help us to figure out / calculate some marginal values.

::Putting a price-tag on Nature?::
An intuition that comes to my mind: can we think of a model for pricing such assets and ecosystem services (as upstream as possible) in marginal values up to a certain point, and after that point draw a line with ecological thresholds? What does it mean “in marginal values up to a certain point”? An idea of environmental economics is to give a price tag to the environment in terms of resource extraction, green taxes on pollution, etc. The school of thought of ecological economics argues that such green taxes are good but not enough, because you can still price a scarce resource but use it over the safe threshold (examples can be pollution from fertilizers, extraction of fossil fuels, overharvesting, etc). So the need, for ecological economics, is to draw a line where an ecological constraint is. Still, the idea of the marginal value of ecosystem services can be helpful for it informs us on what does it cost to extract a little bit more of that resource (so here is the idea of the marginal value) always keeping in mind that there is a limit we can’t exceed (absolute values). These limits can be informed by the state-of-the-art research we have with publications like the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA 2005) or the more recent Planetary Boundaries from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.