Reconnected and Swimming in the Muck

April 1, 2003

In this issue:

Newsbrief: John Offers Corporate Keynote on “Conscious Leadership”
April Editorial: Reconnected and Swimming in the Muck
Newsbrief: Willis Harman Spirit at Work Awards
Next Month: Where Do We Go From Here?
John Offers Corporate Keynote on “Conscious Leadership”

Based on his writings, John offers a new keynote speech which focuses on leadership from a place of consciousness instead of what he calls “bogus leadership;” updated from his talks late last year, the new presentation addresses the challenges and contexts for leading in the current climate of sagging economy and global conflict; to see more about John’s keynotes go to “Featured Speaker” on his homepage.



This is the first editorial I have written just as the newsletter is going out to my subscribers. I usually create early drafts weeks in advance and maybe polish them up a bit just before sending it out. But yesterday I had a profound experience and wanted to share it with you immediately.

For those of you who have been regular readers for some time, you’ve no doubt noticed that my topics for the past several months have included matters to do with America’s position in the world and the seeming adolescence we are acting out with the rest of humanity. This has been because I started feeling more and more like a stranger in my own country. Even though I am a fourth generation American, a former G.I., and a native Californian, I have felt like my country was turning into something quite “foreign” from what I was taught and how I was raised in the 1940s and 1950s. I had become disconnected from “the powers that be” who are supposedly representing me to the rest of the world, who are speaking on my behalf, and who are carrying out a foreign policy I could not support or condone through silence.

This personal disconnection has been a part of my motivation to provoke, implore, beseech, and even beg for alternative worldviews to be considered in my recent writings and speeches.

Then, last month, we did the unthinkable. My country actually invaded another country – something I knew Americans would never do – and we thumbed our nose at the rest of the world in doing it. Up until we actually moved into Iraq, I held the possibility that this war could be averted. I did not go to that place of resignation – thinking that war was inevitable – something millions (including the media) seemed to do. But, it did happen, and I have been bummed ever since.

On top of this, anyone against the invasion felt the pressure to stop criticizing our policies once the war began because it would demoralize our troops – and what patriot wants to do that? Now I was not only feeling disconnected but conflicted in my patriotism.

Yesterday something changed for me. I share my experience in case any of you have also been feeling disconnected and conflicted.

During lunch with a friend, I found myself carried to a place that was new for me. I was telling my friend the story of the caterpillar and the butterfly that evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris tells (and has been repeated often by my friend Lynne Twist). It goes something like this:

In the stage of transforming from a caterpillar to a butterfly, the chrysalis contains a ‘soup’ that resembles neither. This soup is a mass of molasses-like semi-liquid that seems to sit patiently while the transformation process is underway. People attempting to speed up the process and force open the chrysalis in order to “free” the butterfly are disappointed to find just this muck.

Elisabet tells us that this soup consists of “imaginal cells” each playing its part in the transition – the creation of a beautiful butterfly from this God-awful mess (see Better Future News #55). Each cell is part of the creative process and this magical result eventually blossoms.

As I paraphrased Elisabet and explained this phenomenon to my friend, I started having a profound experience. My sense of disconnection was diminishing and I began feeling like I was connected to the whole world, including our nation’s leaders. I felt connected to everyone and everything. I could see no separateness between me and those other ‘cells’ which weren’t behaving the way I thought they should. I felt connected to all the adolescence I’m witnessing in our leaders and the media and other leaders and other cultures. After all, adolescence is part of growing up and every family has to put up with it sometime.

Some people seem to mature with less drama and incident that others do. Some teenagers get in lots of trouble, cause horrible harm, and are sources of grief for anyone who cares for them. Others grow up less dramatically. But it’s all part of life.

Despite the “misbehavior” of some of my fellow ‘cells’ I now feel connected to the human family like never before.

Who would have thought that the events of the past year would have led me to this experience? Who would have guessed that any good could come out of so much violence, disrespect, arrogance and ego?

I can report to you that today I am a different man than I was yesterday morning. I am back connected to everyone, good and bad, mature and immature, violent and peaceful, passive or proactive, intelligent or stupid, fundamentalist or not. I am again part of the human family but much more compassionate and engaged than ever before.

Now, let’s create that butterfly!


Willis Harman Spirit at Work Awards

During the Spirit in Business World Conference in San Francisco June 8-10, the honorees for the second annual Willis Harman Spirit at Work Awards will be handed out to selected companies who explicitly nurture spirit in their workplaces; last month was the deadline for nominations for this year’s Awards and the selection committee is presently evaluating nominees; the Awards are sponsored by three organizations – the Association for Spirit at Work, the World Business Academy, and Spirit in Business; the dinner and ceremony will be held the evening of Monday, June 9, at the Palace Hotel Grand Ballroom.

About John Renesch

Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John Renesch, a San Francisco writer, business futurist, and consultant/executive coach.

His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing. For a list of all the SERVICES John offers, go to Services.

Join ASAW Today!

Come Join Us! The Association of Spirit at Work is a membership organization with a vision to make a difference in the world by expanding the role of businesses, groups and organizations in transforming society. Memberships start at $39/year for students; John serves on the Association’s Board of Directors; see for details and how to join.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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