Be a vehicle for the future


Humanity is the living embodiment of crossing over, say Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kauffer in their book, Leading from the Emerging Future, as they reflect on Neitzsche’s reflection of man as a rope, as a bridge, not an end. “At the beginning of the 21st century,, probably for the first time in human history, the living presence of the abyss – that is, the simultaneous existence of one world that is dying and another that is being born – is a widely shared experience for millions of people across cultures, sectors and generations (p. 153).”

The value of Scharmer and Kaufer’s work is in what they name. Here’s a snapshot.

Levels of listening 

These four levels of listening allow us to access increasingly deeper sources of Self by connecting the exterior world outside to our interior world within:

  1. Habitual listening – projecting old judgments
  2. Factual listening – direct the beam of observation onto the world around us
  3. Empathic listening – adopting the other person’s perspective and therefore seeing ourselves through the eyes of the other
  4. Generative listening – listening from the whole and the emerging new, which further turns the beam of observation onto the deep sources of Self

Conditions of possibility

Three conditions allow profound shifts to happen in ourselves as individuals and as collectives:

  1. Bend the beam of observation back onto its source – you and your Source. Listen to Self.
  2. Hold space for embracing the shadow – bending the beam of observation “happens in a social holding space formed by true listening from the heart.”
  3. Going to the edge of letting go – a “willingness to go to the edge of the abyss, to let go, to lean into the unknown – and take the leap.”

As we learn to listen to our Selves, and others Selves, and create the conditions for profound shifts in our learning about the world around and within us, “we are learning how to become a vehicle for what is emerging on the other side of the abyss.”  Our inner and outer work matters because we are the bridge connecting the present we have to the future we want.


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Some friends and I have started a book club to explore Leading from the Emerging Future, Otto Scharmer (Theory U) and Katrin Kaufer’s new book. This is the meaning I made of our circle on Chapter 5. Here’s what came from earlier chapters: Chapter 1 – Life guard; Chapter 2 – The antennae of possibility; Chapter 3 – Prototype social habitats; and Chapter 4 – I’m not a salesperson.

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This post begins a series of posts on Chapter 10 – The Emerging City, offering bits of the book I am working on. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities:


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