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

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


Status message

This event has now passed
Course dates: 
Monday, 22 May, 2017 to Friday, 26 May, 2017

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.


£ 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.