Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Who Do We Choose To Be? – Reality, Leadership, Sanity

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Who Do We Choose To Be? – Reality, Leadership, Sanity

£ 860.00
Course fees include basic accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. We ask you to arrive between 11:30 - 1 on the first day of your course so that the group can begin the experience by dining together. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details.

With Margaret Wheatley

This course summons 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.It is possible, in this time of profound disruption, for leadership to be a noble profession that contributes to the common good.

It is possible, as we face the fearful complexity of life-destroying problems, to experience recurring moments of grace and joy. It is possible, as leaders of organisations, communities, and families, to discover deep and abiding satisfaction in our work if we choose not to flee or withdraw from reality. It is possible to find a path of contribution and meaning if we turn our attention away from issues beyond our control and focus on the people around us who are yearning for good leadership and engage them in work that is within reach. It is possible to use our influence and power to create islands of sanity in the midst of a raging destructive sea.

Twenty-five years after the publication of Leadership and the New Science (1992), Margaret's newest book (Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality | Claiming Leadership | Restoring Sanity), uses the new science of living systems to explain why we ended up in this harsh, life-destroying world, in spite of our years of efforts to create positive change.  She also tracks our current culture against the very well-defined pattern of collapse as described in the work of several historians and economists. 

There are those who welcome in this time of disruption and chaos as the means to create healthier, more humane and life-affirming ways of living on this planet, (for as long as the planet will have us). But Margaret's work directs our attention to how we need to lead people through the falling-apart stage. We cannot simply leap to new ways of being. First we must prepare for disintegration and collapse and the strong emotions that accompany them.  First we must learn how to use our power and influence as leaders to create islands of sanity, where the best human qualities can be maintained rather than succumbing to fear and aggression.  As leaders, we can respond with sanity and intelligence, using life's organising dynamics to create cohesive teams and communities where people feel motivated to be creative, generous and kind.

Course Content

Who would benefit from attending: formal and informal leaders of all organisations, communities, NGOs

This course will provide a rich and provocative learning environment, with time to explore the dynamics of your own organisations and/or communities; your personal experiences/learnings as leaders; gain greater understanding of the pressures and dynamics of current culture; and learn practices that reintroduce us to the pleasures and possibilities of working well together, no matter what is occurring in the external environment.

Using a variety of practices for inquiry, we will explore multiple perspectives and practices for how to lead an island of sanity, including:

  • Understanding how life's primary organising dynamic, self-organisation around identity, has been corrupted by social media, politicians and terrorist leaders to create our current culture of uncertainty, fear and polarization
  • How these processes of life can still be used in healthy ways to create order without control, evoking dedication, creativity and community in people
  • How life's primary process, learning and adapting, has disappeared from current decision-making, and the terrifying consequences
  • Processes for leaders to reinstitute thinking and reflection to create adaptive capacity, resilience and confidence
  • Personal challenge: What do you stand for?  The need to reclaim ethical behaviour and integrity as the basis for all actions and relationships
  • Personal clarity: Who do you choose to be?  Claiming your role as a leader


"I know it is possible for leaders to use their power and influence, their insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who we are as human beings, to create the conditions for our basic human qualities of generosity, contribution, community, and love to be evoked no matter what. I know it is possible to experience grace and joy in the midst of tragedy and loss. I know it is possible to create islands of sanity in the midst of wildly disruptive seas. I know it is possible because I have worked with leaders over many years in places that knew chaos and breakdown long before this moment. And I have studied enough history to know that such leaders always arise when they are most needed. Now it's our turn."

                                    - Who Do We Choose to Be? by Margaret Wheatley


Margaret (meg) Wheatley, Ed.D

Margaret Wheatley writes, speaks, and teaches how we can accomplish our work, sustain our relationships, and willingly step forward to serve in this troubled time.  She is co-founder and President of The Berkana Institute, an organizational consultant since 1973, a global citizen since her youth, and a prolific writer.  She has authored nine books, including the classic Leadership and the New Science (1992, 2005) and, most recently, Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality| Claiming Leadership| Restoring Sanity (June 2017).  Her other recent books are: How Does Raven Know?: Entering Sacred World | A Meditative Memoir (2014)So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World (October 2012); Perseverance (2010) and Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now (2011) co-authored with Deborah Frieze.  Her numerous articles may be downloaded free at her web site:

She has taught frequently at Schumacher College for many years; she now conducts a one-year program to train Warriors for the Human Spirit at the College.


If you would like to book onto one of our short courses, you will need to create an account. This is a simple process of choosing a username, email address and password. Once you have created an account you will receive a verification email. Please click on the verification link within to have full access to the site and to make your booking. (You may need to check your spam folder if you do not see this email.)  We will email you confirmation of your payment and any further communication about your course application.

A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.


Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.