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Episode 46

Coaching from Deep Service in times of Collapse

There are many signs that we are a civilization in collapse. How to be with this time of upheaval? And how can we as coaches contribute in the most meaningful way?

In this conversation with Margaret Wheatley we explore what meaningful work looks like and how coaches can contribute at this time, the roles of presence and despair, individualism and selfless service, and how to foster resilience in the face of collapse.

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What is Meaningful Work in Times of Chaos?

There are many signs at the moment that we are a civilization in collapse. A important capacity in fostering resilience is to allow ourselves to feel our rage and despair without using them as the basis for our actions – this is an important part of being awake to the current global situation. Societal collapse is so well defined by historians that we know what it looks like and all the signs are there. When we recognize where we’re at globally it changes what we think of as meaningful work. It begins with the commitment to say “I want to stay and be of service”. One aspect of defining meaningful work is to prepare ourselves to serve so that we can stay as leaders and support others to do the same and not fall to despair. This requires fostering qualities such as non-aggression, courage, compassion, patience and open-heartedness.

From Individualism to the Collective

Many people are exploring ways of helping themselves “get through” this time at the personal level, but what we need is people who are willing to be involved in collective solutions, and one realization that is probably necessary for this is that we are in a state of “war” or emergency. As coaches we are in a privileged position. We can ask “What is the meaning of my leadership for this time?” and help others explore this as well, so that we can have people in positions of leadership who can embody the highest qualities of humanity and selfless service. So is there hope? Our modern story is that we are always in progress. But this negates the cyclical nature of life. The danger is that we won’t be prepared for the reality of collapse.

Staying Sane in Times of Collapse

Becoming an “island of sanity” is one way of being with this global context in a resilient way; attempting to change large systems is not possible, so the task is to create smaller islands of sanity (high quality of relationship, high level of meaning and high level of actionability). The systems are too large and have their own momentum. It’s too late – we’re past the tipping point and it’s gone in the wrong direction. We need to recognize that and then look for how to be resilient. What we need is faith, not hope, but faith in the human spirit. We need to ensure that we have community with kindred spirits and be willing to be with our despair and most important of all, maintain our sense of humour.

Resources Mentioned:
Warriors for the human spirit training

About Margaret

Margaret Wheatley

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D. has worked globally in many different roles: a speaker, teacher, community worker, consultant, advisor, formal leader. From these deep and varied experiences, she has developed the unshakable conviction that leaders must learn how to evoke people's inherent generosity, creativity, and need for community. As this world tears us apart, sane leadership on behalf of the human spirit is the only way forward. She is a best-selling author of nine books, from the classic Leadership and the New Science to her newest book Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity.


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