Perseverance

Margaret Wheatley (Author) | Asante Salaam (Author)

Publication date: 09/27/2010

Perseverance

Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can maintain our focus, direction, and energy in the face of adversity

  • By the bestselling author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another

  • Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can carry on with joy despite difficulties, challenges, and disappointments

  • Illuminated by both beautiful original paintings and by poems and quotations from a variety of traditions and cultures

In this inspiring and beautifully illustrated book, bestselling author Margaret Wheatley offers guidance to people everywhere for how to persevere through challenges in their personal lives, with their families, at their workplaces, in their communities, and in their struggles to make a better world. She provides hope, wisdom, and perspective for learning the discipline of perseverance.

Wheatley does not offer the usual feel-good, rah-rah messages. Instead, she focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to lose heart or lose our way. Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up. We have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them. And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize we've made a small difference.

In a series of concise and compassionate essays Wheately names a behavior or dynamic-such as fearlessness, guilt, joy, jealousy-that supports or impedes our efforts to persevere. She puts each in a broader human or timeless perspective, offering ways to either live by or transcend each one. These essays are self-contained-you can thumb through the book and find what attracts you in the moment. Perseverance helps you to see yourself and your situation clearly and assume responsibility for changing a situation or our reaction to it if it's one that troubles us. There deliberately are no examples of other people or their experiences. You are the example-your personal experiences are the basis for change.

In addition to Wheatley's graceful essays there are poems and quotations drawn from traditions and cultures around the world and throughout history. The book is deeply grounded spiritually, accessing human experience and wisdom from many sources. This grounding and inclusiveness support the essential message-human being throughout time have persevered. We're just the most recent ones to face these challenges, and we can meet them as those who came before us did. As Wheatley quotes the elders of the Hopi Nation: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

  • By the bestselling author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another

  • Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can carry on with joy despite difficulties, challenges, and disappointments

  • Illuminated by both beautiful original paintings and by poems and quotations from a variety of traditions and cultures

 

In this inspiring and beautifully illustrated book, bestselling author Margaret Wheatley offers guidance to people everywhere for how to persevere through challenges in their personal lives, with their families, at their workplaces, in their communities, and in their struggles to make a better world.  She provides hope, wisdom, and perspective for learning the discipline of perseverance.

Wheatley does not offer the usual feel-good, rah-rah messages.  Instead, she focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to lose heart or lose our way.  Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up.  We have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them.  And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize weve made a small difference. 

In a series of concise and compassionate essays Wheately names a behavior or dynamicsuch as fearlessness, guilt, joy, jealousythat supports or impedes our efforts to persevere. She puts each in a broader human or timeless perspective, offering ways to either live by or transcend each one. These essays are self-containedyou can thumb through the book and find what attracts you in the moment.   Perseverance helps you to see yourself and your situation clearly and assume responsibility for changing a situation or our reaction to it if its one that troubles us. There deliberately are no examples of other people or their experiences. You are the exampleyour personal experiences are the basis for change.

In addition to Wheatleys graceful essays there are poems and quotations drawn from traditions and cultures around the world and throughout history.  The book is deeply grounded spiritually, accessing human experience and wisdom from many sources. This grounding and inclusiveness support the essential messagehuman being throughout time have persevered.  Were just the most recent ones to face these challenges, and we can meet them as those who came before us did. As Wheatley quotes the elders of the Hopi Nation: We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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Overview

Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can maintain our focus, direction, and energy in the face of adversity

  • By the bestselling author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another

  • Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can carry on with joy despite difficulties, challenges, and disappointments

  • Illuminated by both beautiful original paintings and by poems and quotations from a variety of traditions and cultures

In this inspiring and beautifully illustrated book, bestselling author Margaret Wheatley offers guidance to people everywhere for how to persevere through challenges in their personal lives, with their families, at their workplaces, in their communities, and in their struggles to make a better world. She provides hope, wisdom, and perspective for learning the discipline of perseverance.

Wheatley does not offer the usual feel-good, rah-rah messages. Instead, she focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to lose heart or lose our way. Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up. We have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them. And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize we've made a small difference.

In a series of concise and compassionate essays Wheately names a behavior or dynamic-such as fearlessness, guilt, joy, jealousy-that supports or impedes our efforts to persevere. She puts each in a broader human or timeless perspective, offering ways to either live by or transcend each one. These essays are self-contained-you can thumb through the book and find what attracts you in the moment. Perseverance helps you to see yourself and your situation clearly and assume responsibility for changing a situation or our reaction to it if it's one that troubles us. There deliberately are no examples of other people or their experiences. You are the example-your personal experiences are the basis for change.

In addition to Wheatley's graceful essays there are poems and quotations drawn from traditions and cultures around the world and throughout history. The book is deeply grounded spiritually, accessing human experience and wisdom from many sources. This grounding and inclusiveness support the essential message-human being throughout time have persevered. We're just the most recent ones to face these challenges, and we can meet them as those who came before us did. As Wheatley quotes the elders of the Hopi Nation: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

  • By the bestselling author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another

  • Thoughtful, compassionate reflections on how we can carry on with joy despite difficulties, challenges, and disappointments

  • Illuminated by both beautiful original paintings and by poems and quotations from a variety of traditions and cultures

 

In this inspiring and beautifully illustrated book, bestselling author Margaret Wheatley offers guidance to people everywhere for how to persevere through challenges in their personal lives, with their families, at their workplaces, in their communities, and in their struggles to make a better world.  She provides hope, wisdom, and perspective for learning the discipline of perseverance.

Wheatley does not offer the usual feel-good, rah-rah messages.  Instead, she focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to lose heart or lose our way.  Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up.  We have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them.  And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize weve made a small difference. 

In a series of concise and compassionate essays Wheately names a behavior or dynamicsuch as fearlessness, guilt, joy, jealousythat supports or impedes our efforts to persevere. She puts each in a broader human or timeless perspective, offering ways to either live by or transcend each one. These essays are self-containedyou can thumb through the book and find what attracts you in the moment.   Perseverance helps you to see yourself and your situation clearly and assume responsibility for changing a situation or our reaction to it if its one that troubles us. There deliberately are no examples of other people or their experiences. You are the exampleyour personal experiences are the basis for change.

In addition to Wheatleys graceful essays there are poems and quotations drawn from traditions and cultures around the world and throughout history.  The book is deeply grounded spiritually, accessing human experience and wisdom from many sources. This grounding and inclusiveness support the essential messagehuman being throughout time have persevered.  Were just the most recent ones to face these challenges, and we can meet them as those who came before us did. As Wheatley quotes the elders of the Hopi Nation: We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Margaret Wheatley

Now in my 70s, I can look back and appreciate what a rich and blessed life I’ve lived. I’ve been able to give my curiosity free rein and to be with extraordinary teachers. I’ve been able to explore a wide range of disciplines and lived in several different cultures. I’ve learned from an incredible diversity of people, from indigenous peoples to the Dalai Lama, from small town ministers to senior government ministers, from leading scientists to National Park rangers, from engaged activists to solitary monastics. This access to so many sources of experience and wisdom, held in the container of friendship, continues to deepen my resolve to bring whatever I’m learning into my books and teachings. For me, privilege is a responsibility, rather than a source of guilt.

Having experienced so much, I want to find the best means to communicate with all of you as we aspire to do meaningful work and be of service to others in this ever-darkening world.

I have been a consultant and speaker since 1973, and have worked, I believe, with almost all types of organizations and people. They range from the head of the U.S. Army to twelve year old Girl Scouts, and include Fortune 50 corporations, government agencies, healthcare institutions, foundations, public schools, colleges, major church denominations, professional associations, and monasteries. I have also worked on all continents (except Antarctica). Invitations to work in so many different places, with all types of people, fed both my curiosity and ability to recognize patterns of behavior common across cultural and institutional differences. And it kept me alert to changing trends in leadership. I am fond of making generalizations, sometimes to the annoyance of others, but they feel genuine and accurate to me because of the scope and depth of my work.

I have served as full-time graduate management faculty at two institutions, Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and The Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. I’ve been a formal advisor for leadership programs in England, Croatia, Denmark, Australia and the United States and, in Berkana, with leadership initiatives in India, Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Canada and Europe. For the past nine years, I have had a formal appointment (President approved) to serve the National Parks as one of twelve citizen advisors on their National Advisory Board. My portfolio has been leadership and culture change within the system of 400+ national parks. This work has been among the most rewarding of my career, both because of the mission of National Parks and the dedicated and smart people who work to fulfill this mission under increasingly difficult circumstances.

I am co-founder and President of The Berkana Institute, a global non-profit founded in 1991. Berkana has been a leader in experimenting with new organizational forms based on a coherent theory of how living systems adapt and change. Berkana has worked in partnership with a rich diversity of people around the world who strengthen their communities by working with the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions and environment. These pioneers do not deny or flee from our global crisis; they respond by moving courageously into the future now, experimenting with many different solutions. Berkana’s newest work is to train Warriors for the Human Spirit, leaders from around the world who engage together, learning-in-community, training with discipline and dedication to develop a stable mind and skillful means. These spiritual warriors do their work with compassion and insight, vowing to refrain from using aggression and fear to accomplish their ends. www.berkana.org.

My newest book is: Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity

(June 2017, Berrett-Koehler). This book is born of my desire to summon us to be leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humaneness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil by creating Islands of Sanity.

Each of my books has been an invitation to explore new ways of being and thinking based on wisdom drawn from new science, history, and spiritual traditions. Leadership and the New Science (1992, 1999, 2006, in 18 languages), is a voyage of discovery into an orderly universe where relationships are the basis of everything, a world that organizes itself according to unchanging laws that modern humans ignore. A Simpler Way (1996) continued that journey, asking whether we could organize following life’s example so that our lives and work would be less difficult, more delightful.

In Turning to One Another (2002, 2009), I invited readers to explore the power of conversations to create strong relationships and meaningful change. Finding Our Way (2005) offered a variety of roadmaps for how to navigate the different aspects of our lives, from nations to organizations to family, as the world grows more uncertain. When I observed how difficult it was for good leaders to not lose their way, I wrote Perseverance (2010) as a daily guide for maintaining our commitment, presence and energy no matter how hard the work is. Walk Out Walk On (2011), co-authored with Deborah Frieze, described the work of communities daring to live the future now, in conditions much harsher than ours, bright beacons illuminating what’s possible when we humans commit to working together. In 2012, I offered So Far From Home where I detailed the dynamics of global society that have emerged to create a world far distant from the one we were working so hard to create. I strongly encouraged us to notice what’s going on, and to counter this downward spiral by standing up as Warriors for the Human Spirit.

In 2014, I wrote How Does Raven Know? Entering Sacred World, A Meditative Memoir. Unlike my previous seven books, How Does Raven Know? invites you to see the world anew informed not by science but by sacred wisdom–a world we modern ones have dismissed or ignored, but still held for us in the ancient wisdom traditions of most cultures. It is not a call to action, but to relationship with forgotten companions and animate Earth which, in my own experience, willingly offer us support, encouragement, and consolation.

My articles appear in a wide range of professional publications and magazines, and can be downloaded free from my website, www.margaretwheatley.com. On the website, you can order DVDs and CDs that I’ve produced on topics ranging from personal to organizational.

I was raised on the East Coast of the U.S., first in the New York City area, and then lived in Boston for 15 years. In 1989, my family and I moved west to the mountains and red rock canyons of Utah. I have two adult sons and have raised five stepchildren, all seven from the same father. There are now 21 grandchildren (and counting) and three great-grandchildren. My family, friends and work bring me joy, and so does the time I spend in the true quiet of wilderness or wandering deep into the red rock canyons of Utah.



Visit Author Page - Asante Salaam

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Table of Contents

Part One: Here is a river

Part Two: Let go of the shore


Part Three: Take nothing personally

Part Four: Banish the word struggle

Part Five: For we are the ones

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Excerpt

Perseverance

PART ONE

Here Is a River

Image

TO MY FELLOW SWIMMERS:

Here is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those
who will be afraid, who will try
to hold on to the shore.

They are being torn apart and
will suffer greatly.

We've Been Here Before

I'm making my shoulders strong
for the young to stand upon,
stepping lightly on the backs of those
who hold me up.

It's a chain of life unending,
ever new and ever bending,
grateful is the heart for the chance to be alive.

Susan Osborn
Singer/songwriter

We have never been here before in terms of the global nature of our predicament. For the first time in human history (at least that we know of), we have endangered our home planet. And for the first time, we know what's happening to just about all 7 billion of us humans, the challenges and terrors we endure and the occasional, reaffirming triumphs. Never before have humans been so aware of one another's struggles, pain and perseverance. Never before have we known so many of the consequences of what we do—our thoughtless, violent, heroic and loving actions.

Yet we have been here before. In our long, mysterious history, humans have had to struggle with enormous upheavals, dislocations, famines and fears. We've had to counteract aggression, protect our loved ones and face the end of life as we've known it. Over and over again.

The scale is different now, but the human experience is the same. And so are our human spirits, capable of generosity or abuse, creativity or destruction, survival or extinction. As we face the challenges and struggles of this time, it might help to recall the centuries of solid shoulders we stand on.

And if you reflect on your own life experience, what else have you endured? You're still here—how did you stay here?

How have you come through rough times before?

What from your own personal history gives you now the capacity to get through this time?

What Time Is It?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way. In short, the period
was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted
on its being received, for good or for evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities, 1859

It's Our Turn

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world
all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part
of the world that is within our reach. Any small,
calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul,
to assist some portion of this poor suffering world,
will help immensely.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Writer

Throughout human existence, there have always been people willing to step forward to struggle valiantly in the hope that they might reverse the downward course of events. Some succeeded, some did not. As we face our own time, it's good to remember that we're only the most recent humans who have struggled to change things.

Getting engaged in changing things is quite straightforward. If we have an idea, or want to resolve an injustice, or stop a tragedy, we step forward to serve. Instead of being overwhelmed and withdrawing, we act.

No grand actions are required; we just need to begin speaking up about what we care about. We don't need to spend a lot of time planning or getting senior leaders involved; we don't have to wait for official support. We just need to get started—for whatever issue or person we care about.

When we fail, which of course we often will, we don't have to feel discouraged. Instead, we can look into our mistakes and failures for the valuable learnings they contain. And we can be open to opportunities and help that present themselves, even when they're different from what we thought we needed. We can follow the energy of "Yes! rather than accepting defeat or getting stuck in a plan.

This is how the world always changes. Everyday people not waiting for someone else to fix things or come to their rescue, but simply stepping forward, working together, figuring out how to make things better.

Now it's our turn.

Dwelling in Uncertainty

The future is no more uncertain than the present.

Walt Whitman
Poet

Some people despair about the darkening direction of the world today. Others are excited by the possibilities for creativity and new ways of living they see emerging out of the darkness.

Rather than thinking one perspective is preferable to the other, let's notice that both are somewhat dangerous. Either position, optimism or pessimism, keeps us from fully engaging with the complexity of this time. If we see only troubles, or only opportunities, in both cases we are blinded by our need for certainty, our need to know what's going on, to figure things out so we can be useful.

Certainty is a very effective way of defending ourselves from the irresolvable nature of life. If we're certain, we don't have to immerse ourselves in the strange puzzling paradoxes that always characterize a time of upheaval:

-the potential for new beginnings born from the loss of treasured pasts,

-the grief of dreams dying with the exhilaration of what now might be,

-the impotence and rage of failed ideals and the power of new aspirations,

-the horrors inflicted on so many innocents that call us to greater compassion.

The challenge is to refuse to categorize ourselves. We don't have to take sides or define ourselves as either optimists or pessimists. Much better to dwell in uncertainty, hold the paradoxes, live in the complexities and contradictions without needing them to resolve.

This is what uncertainty feels like and it's a very healthy place to dwell.

Finding Our Place

Humans have a responsibility to their own time,
not as if they could seem to stand outside it
and donate various spiritual and material benefit
sto 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

History Chooses You

How did I get so lucky
to have my heart awakened
to others and their suffering?
Pema ChĦdrĦn
Buddist teacher

It is strange but familiar to hear people who are now wellknown activists and respected workers for noble causes describe themselves as "accidental activists.

They tell how a compulsion entered them, a clarity that they had to do this work. They say: "I couldn't not do it or "If I didn't do something, I felt I would go crazy or "Before I even realized what I was doing, I was doing it.

In every case, they saw an injustice or tragedy or possibility when others weren't aware of a thing. They heard a thundering call that nobody else noticed.

Why this happens is a puzzlement, but it seems that issues choose us. They summon us to pay attention while others stay oblivious. They prompt us to act while others stay asleep. They offer us dreams of bold new futures that others will never see.

We are both blessed and cursed when history chooses us.

But once chosen, we can't not do it.

The Right Thing

I was grounded in that moral fiber of
wanting to do the right thing. I was so
sure that this was the right thing because
it was so obvious and even those who
were persecuting me knew, and I knew
they knew...I was doing the right thing.
But they didn't want me to do it
because it was inconveniencing them,
and I knew that.
Wangari Maathai
Noble Peace Laureate 2004

Naming Myself

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique. And if you block it,
it will never exist through any other
medium and it will be lost...
Martha Graham
Dancer/choreographer

We often choose a name that seems accurate for us, but that isn't big enough to contain our entire life. Often such names describe who or where we've been, but not where we're going. Names such as: "cancer survivor, "victim of war, "displaced person, "child of a dysfunctional family.

What is a name that calls you into your future life?

What is a name that can sustain you for the challenges you will inevitably face? A name that supports you to encounter life's difficulties, not as a victim, but as one who grows stronger and wiser?

What is a name that calls you to be fearless?

The term "spiritual warrior is one such name. This is not a traditional warrior, but one of a very different type. Spiritual warriors are "those who are brave. Most importantly, spiritual warriors never use aggression or violence to accomplish their work.

The skills that give them power are compassion and insight. It takes years of practice and discipline to cultivate these. And a strong commitment that these are the skills most needed.

Those who devote the time and exert the discipline to acquire these skills trust themselves to be of service to this troubled time.

Never Too Late

It becomes a dark time when
we lose faith in each other and thus lack courage.
ChĦgyam Trungpa
Buddist teacher

Bravery is a choice. It is a decision to enter into the fray no matter how illogical and crazy things are. Even as our friends, family and common sense recommend that we stay away.

In our life, we are surrounded by people, events, circumstances that offer continuous proof of how bad things are, including bad people who don't seem worth struggling for.

We did not plan to live in such a crazed world. Very few of us have been prepared by life circumstances to deal with the levels of fear, aggression and insanity we now encounter daily

When we were being trained to think, to plan, to lead, the world was portrayed as rational, predictable, logical.

But now? Ever present insanity, illogic, injustice, illusion.

This is just the way it is and will continue to be.

We can't restore sanity to the world, but we can still remain sane and available.

We can still aspire to be of service wherever need summons us.

We can still focus our energy on working for good people and good causes.

It is never too late to be brave.

Only Don't Know

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
T. S. Eliot
Poet

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