David Sibbet | Personal Transformation
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I sustain a keen interest in metaphors and plausible narratives about where we are headed as a society, and frankly, I am worried. I was rocked recently by a close reading of sociobiologist and futurist Rebecca Costa’s0-watchmansrattle 2012 best seller, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse. (She has a new book, also a best seller, called On the Verge, which I haven’t read.) Costa has a long history in Silicon Valley and a polymath’s appetite for large-scale thinking. My reading, in the context of seeing our country spiraling into policy chaos, is that her 2012 message is even more relevant in 2018.

Her “new theory” is that civilizations collapse when complexity outstrips human’s cognitive ability to grasp what is going on. More interestingly, she identifies the symptoms that suggest collapse is beginning. I’m not wanting to believe we are collapsing, as I am much more interested in growth and development and what our field of process consulting and visual practice can do in response. Yet her argument is persuasive.

Let me summarize what she is talking about. Drawing from both evolutionary biology and new findings in neuroscience, Costa describes in detail how the Mayans, Romans, Germans and others expanded and collapsed. Collapse begins with gridlock—simply too many conflicting forces and events compounding—and continues with the substitution of belief for facts.

In most civilizations, Costa observes, there is a balance between untethered beliefs and scientifically or experientially validated knowledge. We use beliefs to deal with the ineffable and non-objective, and we have (at least for the last many hundreds of years) looked to science for help with being objective, particularly regarding the physical world. Yet when complexity begins to overwhelm people’s cognitive abilities, beliefs take over and attention to facts disappears.

For the Mayans facing severe drought, their engineering of cisterns and other water strategies gave way to human sacrifice. For the Germans after World War I, the complexity of their post-war fractured economy gave way to fascism and blame and World War II.  Sound familiar?Read more…

As summer heats up, I’m thinking ahead to the fall and Leading as Sacred Practice (LASP), the week-long conference that Gisela Wendling, Alan Briskin, Holger Scholz and I will be facilitating this October 23-27 (2017) at IONS’ Earthrise Retreat Center in Petaluma, California. Last year’s gathering in Germany was exceptional and some are coming back a second time, so I’m looking forward with anticipation. But it’s taken on some new meaning and urgency.stringofbeads

I began to feel strained several weeks ago supporting the launch of The Grove’s Global Learning & Exchange Network (GLEN) while simultaneously starting a year-long Leading Change Program in Minnesota for a cohort of 20 participants from several agencies in the Metropolitan Council. This last program ended with an inspiring “stringing-of-the-beads”; more on that later.

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Life After Death—The Gift of Consciousness - David SibbetMy life mate of 46 years, Susan Herron Sibbet, passed away three years ago today. She died in my arms, with our children side by side. Our house had become a sanctuary.

Today, amazingly, she lives on in the form of two books that are being published. One, announced today by Sixteen Rivers Press, is called Great Blue and is a compilation of 52 poems from the whole span of Susan’s writing career, lovingly curated by her writing circle. Her friend Carolyn Miller’s painting is on the cover.

Synchronistically, today is also the day Susan’s “imagined memoir” about Henry James’ amanuensis, Theodora Bonsanquet, It’s called The Constant Listener and will be out in the fall.

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For the past six months two seemingly different circumstances have been “working” me. The first is a commitment that Gisela Wendling, Holger Scholtz and I made last summer to organize a special retreat at his family farm, the Beuerhof (in the Vulcan Eifel region of Germany East of Cologne). We are calling it Leading as Sacred Practice. You can infer from the name that this is moving into new territory.

The second circumstance is moving from San Francisco after 40 years!
The Sacred Life of Boxes

 

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