There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Chiefs (At Least Not on the Team)

Well, hello!You’re back! That must mean you’re interested in my theories about the save-the-world Team. Whether you’re right on my wavelength, or merely fascinated by what you see as the deterioration of my sanity, I’m so pleased you’re here.

You may recall that in my last post, I hypothesized there are certain people who are born with the natural tendencies of shamans, and who feel somewhat lost and misplaced in modern society. Furthermore, these shaman-types (whom I call the Team) are feeling more and more compelled to facilitate a transformation in the way humans think and live, since without some such transformation, humans will continue to destroy the planet’s ecosystems until we’re all crispy little bits of toast. The way for Team members to be happy, I claimed, is to live in whatever way feels most joyful, since shaman-types are finely tuned to be miserable when we’re not fulfilling our life missions.

In this post I want to elaborate on what I think Team members will end up doing as we live more and more joyfully. It’s all very well to say “Follow your bliss, child!” But how does that translate into pragmatic action? How do we pay the mortgage, especially in these officially Troubled Times? How should we actually make our way in the world, let alone change it, with whatever tiny personal influence we possess?

I’ve spent my whole career helping individuals answer these questions. What I’ve found is that for Team members to live optimally, we must do three things, to wit:


  1. Internally (that is, in terms of our energy, thinking, and world view) we must be perpetually creative, receptive, and communicative, so that new ways of living can be expressed through our ordinary, everyday existence.
  2. Socially (in interpersonal interactions and any life situation that involves social structures of any kind) we must be leaders. Part of the obligation inherent in charting new territory is being willing—and able—to lead.
  3. Economically, Team members typically end up being paid to do steps 1 and 2.  Shamans are always – brace yourselves for this one – entrepreneurs.  The word “entrepreneur” comes from the French entre and prendre, and means “one who takes [something] into [somewhere].”  Leading your own life by thinking and behaving in total harmony with your inner nature is your full-time job.  People will pay you to do it, though how you deliver it will be unique.  However this happens, I doubt you can fit it in around a 40-hour week doing something you loathe.

My self-help work to this point has been about individual life strategies: “Finding Your Own North Star,” “Steering By Starlight,” and so on. In this and future blog posts, I’ll be covering points 2 and 3: how to lead your life, rather than following exiting patterns in any situation; and how to make a living taking (prendre) a new way of thinking into (entre) the world.So today’s topic, Team mates, is Leadership 101.

You Have to Become a Leader in a Flat World

Leadership has become a hot topic in business and economics these days, because as the 21st century gets well under way, new social forms are emerging from the proliferation of unprecedented communication technologies.

If you’ve read Thomas Freidman’s Pulitzer-Prize winning economic analysis The World Is Flat, you know that computer technology, particularly the Internet, has created a “level playing field” beyond anything previous generations could imagine. A genius who happens to be born in a small village in Malawi or Bangladesh has a pretty good chance at somehow getting access to a Web-enabled computer, which means that instead of living and dying as a really smart villager, that genius has access to virtually all human knowledge.  He or she can access the Human Genome Project just like, say, the Queen of England.


The same technological surge has “de-geographized” the earth’s human groups: that same wired-up Mawali villager not only has access to knowledge, but to the company of like-minded people everywhere in the world. That’s why, according to business guru Seth Godin, social analyst Malcolm Gladwell, and utopian theorist Daniel Quinn (among others) today’s most influential human groups are forming in cyber-space, among interested groups of equals.People were once limited to knowing the few people they might meet in a world where the fastest form of transportation and long-distance communication was the sailboat.

In Godin’s book Tribes:We Need You to Lead Us, the author points out the key role leadership plays in this new socioeconomic environment. The way to make money, Godin says, is to connect with one’s “tribe” through all available forms of communication, and step into the role of leader—the one providing new ideas and information to unite, entertain, comfort, guide, and inspire the tribe.


Exhibits A and B: Yours Truly, and You

As you’ve no doubt noticed, this blog post is part of the very social transformation it’s describing. Here we are, you and me and the rest of the Team, visiting my particular cyber-village (website). We’re here to discuss our common desire to find our right lives, to meet one another, to help heal the earth and its people.And, to my own astonishment, I am…uhm…yes, I suppose so…I am the leader of this particular conversation.

Now, the very last thing I ever thought I’d do is lead for a living.Quite the contrary: I had a difficult start in life (though not nearly as difficult as many people’s), then had to cope with chronic disabling disease, a rough departure from my childhood religious community, as well as having a child who was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.I thought I’d figure out how to cope with all that, and then get a job.

The only problem—if you can call it that—was that the more I figured out how to be happy, the more people kept paying me just to talk about that. Just wrestling my way through a classic set of shaman-struggles led me to my “tribe,” and became my career.

My professional story adheres to the pattern of new social organizations chronicled by Friedman, Gladwell, Godin, and their peers. My “company” isn’t a pyramid structure, with me at the top, middle managers glued to their offices, and a spreading base of low-paid cubicle dwellers cranking out more product under my lash.  This is how a classic corporation or government looks:

This is not the business model that will probably suit you best.  Though I train and work with other coaches, I consider them (you?) my professional equals, leaders of their own “tribes.” We aren’t a corporate pyramid, but a loose confederation of entrepreneurs, overlapping circular groups who can optimize each other’s value by working together in a variety of ways.  This is how our business model looks (especially after you’ve eaten your special mushrooms):

This means that none of us has to remain in the childish role of employee. We don’t have to answer to the huge, stable corporate Mommy And Daddy, who pay us an allowance for doing the chores they demand. Instead, we’re all free thinkers.Instead of looking to etiquette books, the nearest religion, or corporate policy for instructions on how to live, we guide our social and professional actions by asking and answering a two-part question:“Who are my people and how can I serve them?”

This question is itself the path to the answer a Team member should ask when confronting any other social or economic dilemma:

(What should I do to make a living?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(How much time should I give to family versus work?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(How do I create a marketable product or service?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(Which emails should I answer first?Which should I ignore?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(I want to write a novel—is it worth the effort?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(How can I market the fabulous things I’ve created?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

(What should I do today?)+(Who are my people, and how can I serve them?)=ANSWER

This is, obviously, the question of a servant.It is also the question of a leader. When I tell my newly-trained life coaches, “Welcome to the Tribe,” I mean a tribe of servant-leaders, a term coined by Robert Greenleaf and popularized by many other authors. Because I also insist that my coaches learn to be happy themselves (live it to give it), you yourself are necessarily one of “your people,” and serving them means serving yourself as well. As Richard Bolles puts it in What Color Is Your Parachute?, “Your mission in life is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

The Leadership of Humility, the Humility of Leadership

Another thing my coaches know is that leadership requires placing yourself below your followers, not above them.“All rivers flow to the sea,” says Lao Tzu, “because it is lower than they are.Humility gives it its power.”

Being “lower” than those we lead doesn’t require that we demean ourselves, only that we always remain responsive to what others tell us they need, rather than deciding we know what’s best for them.It doesn’t require groveling, only the willingness—the eagerness—to be kindly told that we are wrong when we are wrong.  This is how elected offices are designed—to respond to the needs of those being led—even though so many elected officials are actually ego-driven, and therefore not really leaders at all.

Now we’re getting to the part where many English-speakers become confused. The nature of leadership is so counterintuitive, the word so laden with contradictory and often harmful meanings, that it behooves every Team member to clarify the concept and practice of leadership as soon as possible. I find it useful to consider the three possible directions of leadership: leading up, leading across, and leading down.

The Three Directions of Leadership

We typically think of leadership as a “superior” dominating the behavior of an “inferior.” That is not the kind of leadership that will help the Team, or save the world.Part of the transformation of human consciousness is understanding that we can lead from any social or economic position, if we access our power to direct our own thinking, make our own choices, and respond to our own sense of right and wrong.

We may do this from a classic “leadership” position, such as boss or parent dealing with our employees or our children.I call this “leading down,” since the followers are assumed to have lower authority than the leader. “Leading across” means owning your individual power in a relationship with a socioeconomic equal, such as your spouse or partner, your friends, or business associates (my interactions with fellow coaches require all of us to “lead across”). Finally, “leading up” means exercising leadership power in situations where you are seen as a socioeconomic “inferior”—when you are the employee or the child, when the people around you seem to have more power or authority than you do.

I’ll be tackling each of the three directions of leadership in future posts. Right now, what I want you Teammates to know is this: No matter what your social or economic position, you can only fulfill your life’s mission by leading, and you can only lead by generating the energy of pure compassion.

I’m not just getting touchy-feely here; that last clause is empirically testable. If you’ve attended my speeches or workshops, I’ve probably made you try a move from aikido, a Japanese martial art that literally means “the way of harmonious energy” (the word “harmonious” can also be translated “compassionate”) It’s really simple.  The instructions are below, and if you want to see me doing the exercise (with someone from Barnes &, check out this link:

Step One: Pair off with a buddy, and have your buddy hold out his/her hands as if about to clap.

Step Two: Ask Buddy to keep hands apart as you try to push his/her hands together.Struggle against one another to test your relative muscle strength.

Step Three: Bring up a memory of being completely connected to another being whom you love with no ambivalence (a baby or pet works well for most people). Breathe deeply, and allow your adoration for your beloved fill your body and mind.

Step Four: Still breathing and communing, have Buddy hold his/her hands apart once more, just as s/he did the first time. Without thinking about Buddy’s hands at all, put your pams on the backs of his/her hands, and bring your hands together.

If you do this without holding back, you’ll find that the other person literally loses the strength, and the desire to resist you.I make audiences do this for themselves, rather than just watching it done, because it works like magic.It’s truly unbelievable to experience the difference in energy. Try switching roles with your buddy, so you can experience it both ways.

Of Mirrors and Magnets

I’m not sure exactly why this works, I only know that it does—over and over and over. Part of it may have to do with newly-discovered parts of the brain called “mirror neurons.”We now know that when we’re looking at another person (or any sentient being), part of our brains literally rearrange themselves to “mirror” that other being. In other words, when I’m looking at you and you’re looking at me, both our brains are physically changing configuration to make us more like one another.

This plays an obvious role in empathy, but it’s also a vein of gold in the quest for leadership. It means that when you deliberately hold your brain-state in the feeling of love and harmony, anyone looking at you is going to find his/her mirror neurons going to the configuration of love and harmony—which means they can’t or won’t resist you as much as they would if you were in a mental state of force and struggle. We all know people who think the whole world is out to get them, and being around these people—who hold onto a brain-state of struggle—actually makes most of us feel more combative and angry.

This means that you can lead by the clever maintenance of a dominant brain-state—but only if that brain state is compassionate. If we maintain brain-states of domination, we’ll create the will to dominate in other people’s brains.

Another factor that may be at work here is the electromagnetic field that’s generated by our nervous systems. Magnetometers can measure this field several feet away from us, and some evidence suggests that our brain waves and heart beats begin to synchronize with people around us.

This might explain why some people “lose themselves” and get swept up in crowd mentality when surrounded by other people who share some strong emotion. I was at the “O You!” conference in San Francisco a few months ago, meeting with thousands of Oprah Magazine readers, when Oprah herself made a surprise appearance. The crowd became so agitated and desperate to see her that it started to feel strangely dangerous—at least it seemed so to me, to several other people I talked to later, and to one young woman who had something like a heart attack (I hope it was just a panic attack) right in front of me. Her heart was hammering its way right out of her chest, she said.I could feel it in my own chest, too; the manic pounding of a heart responding to a crowd that was nearly hysterical in its excitement.

The Mandela Magic

Of course, the audience at the O You! didn’t turn into a bloodthirsty agent of mass destruction. The people just wanted to see their leader, the Amazing O herself. When she walked on stage, she was able to generate so much compassion that the whole frenzied mob gradually calmed down. That, after all, is why they were there in the first place—Oprah is able to put herself in the compassion zone so completely that she’s like a walking power plant. The President of Hearst Magazines, Cathie Black, who is herself incredibly charismatic and intimidates the hell out of me, wrote in her book Basic Black that Oprah’s energy is almost overwhelming. There’s nothing negative about it—on the contrary, it’s extremely positive—but Oprah’s energy is so intense you can feel it surrounding her like a physical wall.

When I talk about the energy of compassion in South Africa, where crime is rampant and people in large cities are legitimately fearful most of the time, most people look at me skeptically.“Okay,” they’re thinking.“ I’m armed with compassion. The bad guys are armed with guns and crystal meth. Guess who’s gonna win that one.” Then I say two words: “Mandela magic.” Suddenly, the skeptical South Africans begin to look thoughtful, open, maybe even hopeful. They’ve felt the energy generated by Nelson Mandela, who led a whole country away from the brink of bloody catastrophe by the sheer force of his compassionate leadership.

I’ll talk more about this in my next post, but I want you to notice that Oprah and Mandela, two of the most influential people alive, began at the bottom of their culture’s unfair socioeconomic pyramids. An illegitimate, abandoned, abused African-American girl born in Mississippi in the 1950s, and a black African born into the most racist political system on earth—the odds of these two babies growing up to be world leaders were slim. Super-model skinny. Emaciated. Practically dead. Oprah and Mandela did not get power from any earthly institutions. They got it from within.

Accessing Your Inner Leader

There’s nothing stopping you from accessing the same power source that made Oprah and Mandela famous leaders—nothing, that is, outside your own skin. If you feel powerless, it’s because you’ve disconnected yourself from your leadership energy by plugging your brain into thoughts that disempower you. You’ve lost what psychologists call your “sense of self-efficacy.”In other words, you believe that for some reason, you can’t lead your own life; that your experience is shaped completely by external forces.

If you think you aren’t the leader of your life, you’re wrong. Except that, since you actually are the leader of your life, you’ll make yourself right. When you dictate “I am powerless!” your life will obediently comply with your policies.You’ll get stuck in one dead-end job, relationship, and lifestyle after another. You’ll be victimized and betrayed by those you see as powerful. You’ll try to fight them, and occasionally become the victor. But there’s a reason they say, “To the victor go the spoils.”Everything you take through victory over others means you’ve made them your victims, and that spoils everything. The flip side of victor is victim. The way to get out of the victim/victor paradigm is to lead yourself and others to a place of cooperative mutual advantage.

Again, this sounds simplistic, and we’ll get into a more detailed explanation in future posts, but here’s a quick example to show you what I mean. I was talking to a friend in Africa about the Team, and the new way of thinking that will be necessary if we are to save the world.I showed her the aikido trick I just described to you. At a certain point, she said, “Yes, there’s a time when even if a lion is looking at you, thinking, “I want to eat you,” the right kind of energy can give you power.”

“Exactly!” I said.“Because—“

“Because the lion will be afraid you’re going to eat him,” said my friend.

“No, that’s not it,” I said.“The lion decides not to eat you because lions are social predators who hunt in prides. If you can project leadership to the lion, he’ll decide that having you as part of his pride will be more advantageous in the long run than just eating you.”

“Hmmm…” said my friend, doubtfully.

“Mandela magic,” I said.

Her face cleared.“You’re right,” she said.“I get it.”


The leadership we must use in our everyday lives and social situations—everything from chatting with our spouses to waiting tables to running for office—is the energy of compassionate servant-leadership. The power of that position is truly unbelievable to those who don’t believe in supposedly fluffy concepts like the projection of personal energy.But the fact is, we’re all sources of leadership. Those of us on the Team have been given experiences that I believe were meant to teach us how to clear the lines in our minds that open us to the energy of compassion.  The clearer we get, the happier we are—and the more the magic flows through us to others.

Homework for all Teammates

Before my next post, I hope you’ll try this little experiment.Get yourself into a mental state of compassion, relaxation, and peace by simply holding a memory of deep love in your mind, temporarily releasing all other thoughts.

  1. Go into a place that’s buzzing with the hustle-bustle energy of the holidays.
  2. Sit or stand still, breathe calmly, and become aware of the energy in this place. You’ll probably pick up a ton of anxiety and frustration from the crowd—these are people who are already too busy, trying to fit in a million holiday activities.
  3. Choose to detach from the crowd energy by continuing to breathe deeply (breathing patterns are very tightly connected to brain states) and going back to your positive memory.
  4. Silently ask this question:“How can I serve these people?” You may feel inclined to do something, but in the majority of cases, you’ll feel that the best thing you can do is become a calm, relaxed presence.
  5. Interact with someone (buy a cup of coffee or a holiday gift, say hello to a coworker, touch your baby, nod to the next person in line at the post office) while in a state of relaxed compassion. Make sure the compassion is directed at yourself, as well as others (otherwise, your’e not leading, you’re groveling).
  6. Feel what happens to the other person’s energy.

If this sounds weird, do it anyway. If you’ve never been aware that you “feel what happens to the other person’s energy,” you may be surprised that the effect is quite clear and observable. If you’re used to feeling others’ energy, but have never thought of yourself as a leader, the surprise will be how powerful you become when you hold the internal condition of compassion.

As the mission of the Team revs up (and it is revving, though I still don’t know exactly what it is) you need to step into your power as a leader. You’ll realize that it’s always your responsibility to hold that compassionate energy, to refrain from petulance and violence, to clean up the mess in your own head so that you can serve your people with clarity. The more you do this, the more you’ll find your mission in life presenting itself to you, along with ways to solve your personal problems, find nourishing relationships, make a living.In this tribe, we’re all chiefs—which means we all serve one another.The more we all develop our leadership power, the better served we’ll be.


27 replies
  1. Maryann
    Maryann says:

    This is absolutely fascinating! I’m looking forward to future posts on this topic.

    I did the akido move in my mind as I read that section of today’s post. As I was unfolding the instructions, I was also thinking about the “your body doesn’t lie” test and how another person has a tough time moving someone who is aligned with truthful thoughts. I was thinking I was going to fail this test because as soon as I thought of my dog, I saw how easily my hands would just fold instead of remain in place. It was a good surprise to find out that is what was supposed to happen and a great way to start the day, I might add!

    I really, really relate to “energy” what I bring and what I receive. Looking forward to more MB!

  2. Deb Owen
    Deb Owen says:

    There’s definitely a lot of food for thought here!

    When I worked in the corporate environment, seeing the ‘command and control’ type of leadership not only be ineffective, but often result in those ‘below’ become small and less than they could be……never made any sense to me. I’ve had managers who admitted that they thought the best way to get the most out of their people was to scare them. (So this particular manager was constantly starting his own rumors of layoffs, etc.) He killed his people’s morale. They showed up, but they didn’t solve problems. They were made small.

    In contrast, I’ve seen the type of servant-leadership you describe….and watched as employees naturally evolved and became more empowered, more creative, and began to use their natural talents to the betterment of the entire team. They themselves became leaders at their own ‘levels’.

    And if I’m completely honest, I never understood the first type of leadership. I never understood what drove people to lead in that manner or to believe it was effective. I just don’t get it.

    As for the ability to change energy, I heard someone say once that it’s easy to be a thermometer — to just take the temperature of a room. It’s harder to be a thermostat, and to actually *change* the temperature. (But it is possible. I’ve got some practice to do on this one though.)

    All the best!

  3. Emiko
    Emiko says:

    Fabulous. I think I just fell in love a little bit after reading this post! I love the homework assignment. I have actually experienced the result of “holding the space” for others and it is amazing. It requires practice to do it consistently – my tendency has always been toward being too sympathetic with people and I take on their energy (good or bad). It wasn’t until the last year that I learned (I’m borrowing this concept from Eckhart Tolle) to be a transparent body instead of a brick wall when the energy of others came rushing at me. Once I could become transparent and let the energy of others (particularly the icky variety – I don’t mind being flooded with good energy, bring it on!) pass through me instead taking it on, I discovered not only could I hold my own space, but I could also be the space for others. And, it absolutely shifts something in the other person as Martha mentions – it’s like when there’s no resistance to feed the negative energy, it just dies. This works really well on my children, too. Especially handy when one is throwing down a tantrum. Good stuff! After reading Martha’s post and being in the same (cyber) space with my peeps, I am overflowing with good energy 🙂 Looking forward to the next post!

  4. carol
    carol says:

    The truth is that I have been so full of pain in various areas of my life that I have been ‘observing’ and plodding along, watching Oprah, and not really relating to everyones ‘hysteria’, but learning about many different things just observing…..
    I felt ambivalently, but strongly drawn to Martha Beck, because she shares the last name of my oldest sister, who is also gifted, but extraordinarily messed up and MEAN……..
    So I wondered if I was being drawn here for the right reasons for me, or just to become my sisters victum again…..
    I decided to just be….because I really think Martha Beck is something cool, although I dont have a set concept of all that yet, AND I am still so much in pain,etc, that my concern is still how the heck do I heal…….I seem to have gotten here by doing everything ‘right’……compassion, YES< I feel like the more I felt compassion toward others, the more they victumized me…….
    So, I have surrendered, knowing that the mud will clear eventually, and hope in time for me to meet my own giftedness and express it.
    So, ‘who is in charge’ was an issue I had to resolve early on.
    I AM IN CHARGE , of me……. and the path lead to show me exactly how much I am NOT in charge…..Well, duh, I surrendered., sort of……at least to some of ‘it’ all…..
    What has come into my life to help me is EFT emotional freedom technique, and I am practicing that now to free up some of all this ‘mess’ inside of me.
    It is already helping me, and that says a lot…..
    So, if you need a new way of simplifying , and healing quickly, freeing up some energy, and something to pass on to others, go to and give it a try….it is a FREE and downloadable technique, easy to do and memorize.
    It works well with others views, and I think it is the answer to many problems…….It works…..
    A great day is here for you to live.

  5. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Heck yes, I’m back! This is so cool and brilliant! Martha, I love your attitude and your way with words. One of the most thrilling things here for me is the references to “future posts”. I will “marinate” in this post and the next one will show up right on time. Honestly, I am rarely one to gush but so much info out there does not resonate with me and it’s been making me wilt for awhile.
    Me too….I started this life with no support and I’ve been through unbelievable things and am still getting to my feet so I am not as articulate and focused as some others, but oh, the things I’ve learned about being in the places so many others are struggling to get out of now. This makes it all sound fun again, not the drudge march out of our dismal situations. Bless you for what you are doing and being.

  6. Christine
    Christine says:

    I loved this post and look forward to more. I had been feeling uninspired about my purpose in life lately and am now feeling inspired again. I needed a reminder, especially about compassionate energy. Thank you, Martha!

  7. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    While I was cooking dinner tonight, I put on a show I’d recorded, “The Universe – Parallel Universes.” (I’m nowhere near being a scientist, but I love to see how much bending my brain can take in one night.) From the flurry of fascinating things, what caught my ear was a discussion about M Theory—”m” for membrane, among other things. M Theory supercedes the previous String Theory, a quantum physics theory that attempts to explain the building blocks of existence. (Stay with me, here!) M Theory postulates that “our universe may be but one in a multiverse, floating like a bubble [membrane!] in an infinite sea of bubble universes, with new universes being created all the time.” (

    Now, go look at the picture of the Team’s business model.

    Mm-hm. Bubbles. Membranes. Multiverses.

    Oh, how I love synchronicity… 🙂 Lead on, Martha! (for now…!)

  8. Emiko
    Emiko says:

    In the spirit of generating compassionate energy, here’s a link to a page that has several secular (free) guided meditations. One is a 15 minute loving-kindness meditation:

    I just did the loving-kindness meditation, it’s very powerful and it certainly got me feeling compassionate toward others and toward myself, too! I think this meditation will be my preparation before completing Martha’s homework assignment!

  9. Betsy
    Betsy says:

    Thank you for blogging, Martha Beck! It’s generous of you. I haves gobbled each of your books as well as your columns and am always thrilled with more. It’s amazing how your messages keep evolving in a sort of spiral.. they are familiar, like your previous writings, and yet “more so.”

  10. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Ok, I am so on the Team and I have known that I’m on the Team since I read Steering by Starlight. I read SBS because I had this overwhelming, gut-level feeling that there was something I’m supposed to do. I had it for about 2-3 years but it (the overwhelming, gut-level feeling) had gotten so bad it was about to render me paralyzed. I literally had to find out what I was supposed to be doing. I have five other of the nine indicators that you listed on the first blog (“ I in team but there’s me”) which also describe me to a tee. I still don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do but it includes life coaching, blogging and an online small group connection resource that it is a seed of an idea in my head. Sounds a little scattered and loony, I know but I’ve gotten some pretty concrete confirmation from the Team Leader (smoke signals) and I’m done worrying whether I look crazy because when I worry about that I’m miserable. I’m still searching but at least I know I’m on the right track.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say Thank You and that I’m on the Team and that I’m so ready.


    During Martha’s Scottsdale seminar in May 2008, I began to see the
    shaman connection that I always knew existed, but had never been
    around so many others who thrived in giving and receiving energy.
    The night before the seminar, I dreamed of African drums (being inside one),
    and I held onto that joyous cadence, feeling like I was dancing inside as
    I entered the seminar room that I quickly realized held the same rhythm
    in my current thoughts as the African drum of my dream. As I am a therapist, I began to wonder if I had finally absorbed the auditory hallucinations of my home tribe, a group of highly gifted people who just happen to have schizophrenia–I was ok with that; I had always been at home with my tribe,
    and I figured I was getting a taste of my clients’ daily priority of living in their inner world, where anything could and did happen, and a lot of it was pleasurable to them; when they reached out to the world I knew, it was on their own terms with the spontaneity of someone who sees connectiveness in everything. I had always longed to know what/how my clients were seeing and processing, and now, it seemed, in a world-renowned life coach’s seminar,
    I was somehow downloading their experience, and I was so grateful. Martha began talking about her experience of seeing her dreams about the adult Adam and penguins alongside elephants in Africa and of how that dream manifested in life. Just then, the drums became so loud in the room, I realized everybody was hearing them, too. I began to laugh so deeply, and felt such
    joy, that I realized that this was how my clients felt when their connections were manifested. And, there was an added bonus: this wasn’t an auditory hallucination–everybody could hear it, and apparently a high school marching
    band was coming through the lobby just as Martha was speaking about the manifestation of her Adam-in-Africa dream. I took that energy and vowed to bring it into joining another tribe I’d longed to help since I’d met their mentor,
    a Vietnam veteran who kept at-risk kids from joining gangs by teaching them to be photographers. I did one of Martha’s “Wildly Impossible Goals” and saw
    the “WIG” manifest just a few months later. On the plane back to Memphis, I had been reading Oprah Magazine (& reading a magazine in one sitting only happened in my busy life when I was on a plane)–I saw Oprah’s contest for a “Big Give” prize in which individuals would be given seed money and an “O” mentor to realize a particular project. I wrote the contest essay; we won. Martha is right: when your joy & purpose is centered in a servant/peer/leader role, the WIGS just keep coming faster than you can think of them. And the drums never stop beating. Please forgive my lack of brevity, but I am happy to have joined this cyber-tribe. Beth Boyett, LCSW-Memphis,TN

  12. Elena
    Elena says:

    This is really good Martha. On so many levels. I lived in the “Pyramid of Corporate Greed” for 11 years (just set myself free this past June) and it is true: the foundation of that grotesque structure is a mix of greed, fear, control and lies. There is nothing open about that type of evironment except the relentless pursuit to the top at the cost of anyone or anything that gets in the way by most of those “team” members.

    I like the idea of building a Team based on cooperation, openness and leadership from within and throughout. I believe that when each one of us is fulfilling our life’s true purpose we radiate a much vibrant and pure energy which in turn fosters a spirit of cooperation rather than competition. It is especially important for women to give ourselves and each other permission to be leaders. The way our culture socializes us is simply horrendous! I can’t wait to read more about this… Good stuff, Martha. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Chris Flynn
    Chris Flynn says:

    Dearest Team Coach Martha….

    I am speechless which renders me splendiferous silent..
    I am filled with excitement, enthusiasm, and expectancy
    and I am tuned in.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  14. Kris Plachy
    Kris Plachy says:

    Martha… thank you so much for applying your work and your brilliance to leadership… I’ve been working for several months to apply your work and Katie’s to my organization and my team and have found tremendous results and response from the leaders I work with…

    After learning the Akido exercise from you at the O! Mag event, I’ve passed it on to several managers who were feeling particularly resistent or frustrated with either a decision or person they had to work with. It is amazing to observe people as they realize that the resistence they put out is the resistence they will receive in kind. Staying in a space of compassion, is freeing!

    I’m also finding that the awareness I have of the parent/child relationship in a corporate environment is growing… so I am working on my resolve to change that from the inside, versus leaving it behind. We all show up with different experiences that teach us how we think we are supposed to “be” to lead and be successful… I believe that if those of us who are on “the team” continue to model, teach and serve those around us, we can slowly shatter the myths of leadership that have been so ingrained in us as a culture… we can show that you can truly be vested in compassion, growth and service and achieve greater levels of satisifaction and… well… success as well!

    I look forward to your continued work on this… you so eloquently compose words to express what so many of us feeeeel…

    Thank you!

  15. hatt
    hatt says:

    Hi Martha,
    I have read your recent postings with a grateful heart and an interested mind. I am not sure if I am on your team or on another but I feel closely allied to your work. Thank you for all you have written and experienced.
    I also have been working with the concepts of humility and “power under” in leadership and ministry roles. I am a hospital chaplain and have taught chaplaincy in the recent past.

    Below is a statement of my theology. As a chaplain trained in multifaith ministry I use “God” language. If it is more comfortable for you please insert “Universal Love” or “Divine Spirit” instead. I offer this statement to you and your readers as a gift which I hope will open further dialog. Blessings on us all.

    I live my work as a chaplain by relating to others transparently; balancing my authority – which calls me to use my unique spiritual gifts; with humility – which calls me to participate in an interdependent diverse community.

    My theological understanding developed from my lived experiences. Two aspects of my identity are especially important to the process of creating theological meaning from my lived experiences; I am ordained as a meditative minister by the Church of Natural Grace, and I am a feminist Catholic lay woman. My meditative practice helps to liberate me from preconceptions and assumptions about myself and others. It helps me to more fully “show up” transparently and authentically in the present moment. My identity as a Catholic is based on my practice of Franciscan spirituality which requires that I be in relationship with a diverse community. Balancing both aspects of my spiritual identity requires an expression of both authority and humility.

    Early in my development as a chaplain I was deeply influenced by concepts in a book titled The Four-fold Way, by Angeles Arrien, which for me described pastoral ministry. Simplified, the concepts are: to show up; pay attention to heart and meaning; tell the truth without shaming; and be open but not attached to outcome. Sometimes telling the truth without shaming becomes problematic. The emotional responses of another person are not under my control. What I do control is the amount of aggression I utilize while speaking truth. I have no exclusive hold on truth, and so I strive to be open to the other person’s experience of truth by limiting my use of aggression.

    For me there are two spiritual modes in which to experience God – relationally and as Mystery. My relational belief is that God is deeply and personally concerned for me, and for all creation. I have an engaged and vibrant relationship with this aspect of God. I love God and try to express that Love of God in all my relationships. At times I feel frustrated with God concerning the suffering I witness and experience. However, I believe that as we suffer, God suffers. Balancing this belief is my experience of God as a Mystery. In meditation, I observe myself and other persons co-creating the present moment with God. We do this by creating meaning through interpreting our experiences. How we narrate our stories reflects and contributes to our interpersonal relationships, our experience of suffering, and our relationship to the transcendent. The ability to authentically narrate our stories is dependent on our willingness to embrace our authority; to literally “author” our story. My belief in God as Mystery enables me to understand that my personal concept of God is finite and limited. Therefore, it is possible to expand and enrich my understanding of God by being fully present and paying attention to what has heart and meaning in relationship with other people.

    At the heart of my understanding of persons as creatures of God is that life itself is a gift and is expressed in an interdependent living system. Every person is born with gifts that are uniquely theirs to share with the rest of God’s creatures. “Sin” is refusing to share one’s gifts, or denying another person the opportunity to share their gifts with you. To deny another person the chance to share their gifts by excluding them from the table, or by refusing to open oneself to receive, impoverishes all creatures. Every person and every culture has specific spiritual gifts that contribute to the whole of creation’s experiential understanding of God. There is a Franciscan saying, “No one is so poor that they cannot give, nor so rich that they cannot receive.” To be able to share one’s gifts requires one to claim his/her authority. To be open to receive the spiritual gifts from another person requires humility. Human beings are fallible, we often fail in this endeavor and so we require forgiveness from God and from other people. It is often through our failures that we learn the most. Balancing one’s authority with humility on an ongoing basis is a redemptive process.

    I am truly blessed by your work and the work of your team. Thank you.

  16. Maryann Lowry
    Maryann Lowry says:

    As a tribe member, which I know I am, I realized that one of our great teachers, Jesus Christ, practiced upside down leadership. He washed the feet of his followers and he loved with a compassion beyond human reasoning.
    I find that as I become me and love love love being a coach that helping people brings me to a level of pure compassion. it just happens. It’s not a willful decision or even something I do with intention. The feeling washes over me when I’m connecting with another human and realize that my training and life experiences can facilitate an opportunity for my client, friend or acquaintance to discover that there is more to life than accumulating wealth. My true wealth comes from connecting and helping others.

    Jodi Blance, author of “Stop Laughing At Us” noted that adult victims of childhood abuse and/or peer bullying have a shared trait of creativity and leadership. We feel an immense need to make the world a better place for others. Some tribe members just might see their mission in her work. Today, kids, adults, etc. suffer painful treatment for having the desire to be kind and to fight for the rights of the underdog.
    I read her work and realize there is so much work to be done. Martha’s explanation of the tribe is comforting. There are plenty of us, who are waking up, and hearing the call to serve.

  17. Lana
    Lana says:

    I know that I have found my tribe amongst you and those who are gathering around you. Yes, the internet is wonderful. I can be sitting in the middle of the prairie in the middle of Canada yet feel a connection around the world.

  18. Rick Winter
    Rick Winter says:

    Thanks Martha!

    I recently read “The Shallows” about how the Internet is training us to skim virtually everything. Trying to boost the parts of my brain that can still focus, I re-read your post slowly, and I’m glad I did!

    It seems counter-intuitive, when there are so many people actively working against solutions, to face them with calm compassion rather than frustrated anger. But I’m sure you are right, and I’ll work on doing just that.


  19. Kay
    Kay says:

    Enjoyed the post. If you could do one on separating serving, and being a doormat I would appreciate it. I liked the post on idiot compassion. I have sadly found myself in the position of doormat too many times when trying to be helpful.

    I do Aikido. I found the love/compassion reference interesting. I tend to focus on a feeling of extension and connection .

    Cheers, K:)

  20. Margaret Backus
    Margaret Backus says:

    Martha Martha Martha You are amazing…reading your posts is like listening to a great new song that you’ll never tire of or eating a delicious super nutritious meal – I am soooo grateful my sister Kate McGarry shared her passion for your work with me it is life changing affirming motivating etc thank You thank You!!!!

  21. Heba
    Heba says:

    great authentic piece .. like always 😉

    the part that most interest me is the part where u mentioned projecting leadership and the lion story. and how serving and humility is very different from groveling. I my self fall into the trap of projecting groveling energy instead of true serving energy.

    I am truly looking forward to your next posts. and I hope that you talk more about the misconceiving groveling with the humility of a true leader.

    Cheers 😉

  22. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    I have often wondered what changed from when I was in high school to now that has caused me to lose “myself”. This was a key. I have changed my position of leadership. Not sure why or how that happened, but I am going to make changes to bring it back. 🙂

    I’d love to learn more about this!

  23. Kat
    Kat says:

    Amazing stuff! I have felt that I was, I am created to make a difference for a very long time. The truths of leading up have presented itself to me but until I read this post. i couldn’t make sense of it. I look forward to reading the future posts. Sending love and joy your way.

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