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Weaving Circles of Leadership

The day is a mandala of light, shadow, song.

I have been thinking about leadership, particularly when it comes to conservation and community care. My perspective of this subject is influenced by having lived most of my life in a small country where there are only two degrees of separation between most people, and where we are blessed to house a mix of family-centred cultures. Individuals do not tend to stand out because our focus is on working together. We also are good at acknowledging all members of a team. Coalition is now the norm in our politics, and co-operation and harmony have great value in our shared community.

The cult of individualism which prevails in the north-west of the world (what is generally known as Western Civilisation) means that certain people are selected for admiration with little acknowledgement of the community effort which invariably supports great acts. Even when a person rushes into danger to save another, where is the appreciation for their family who raised them to such decency and courage? When a sportsperson makes an amazing win, where is the praise for their coach? In Aotearoa, we are somewhat more inclined to a wider view, perhaps because we are still a relatively young and cosy nation, or perhaps due to the Pacific and Asian influences here, although most probably both.

I believe we will never solve our problems, especially those of conservation and community health, if we focus our attention on individual leaders. We must work together, valuing the efforts of everyone and believing that even the smallest of us can make a difference. You may not be able to speak at an international forum on climate change, but you can pick up rubbish as you walk along the beach. Both things are important. The international speaker probably doesn't have much opportunity for beach-cleaning, after all, and the job needs doing just as urgently as speech-making. These two acts ought to be celebrated equally, and connected in our social consciousness not as individual acts but as strands of the whole movement towards healing nature.

You may never have the opportunity to rush into a crashed train or a burning building, but every single day you encounter people, and your words, even your smile, absolutely might save the spirit or life of someone who is struggling with problems you never know about. The power of community is endless and vitally important.

Someone I count as a guide in this way is Lesley Austin, who offers the Wisteria & Sunshine online community. Lesley has always lived an authentic earthwise life, and has much wisdom to share. But she does so as a weaver, her hands and heart always open to new threads from others; she facilitates communities so that the wisdom of all can be heard and honoured. I believe this is what a modern form of leadership should look like. It is, of course, a very very old form of it, dating back to when women were equal to men, because consensus is the natural feminine way.

Infact, consensus is the natural way of life.

As I finished writing this, I learned that Ursula le Guin has died. She was another beloved guide for me, and I was particularly blessed to have read her book Always Coming Home. I wish her much joy and wonder on her journey forward, and thank her for all she gave the world.


  1. it is odd to me how competition and ranking replaced cooperation and consensus in so much of the world, and odd too what difficulty people have seeing their way back to cooperation and consensus as a viable way forward. if we look around, the world is indeed full of it---it is, as you say, the nature of life...

    how sad to hear of le guin's passing. one of my very favourite authors. she will be missed!

  2. Really interesting and thought provoking post.
    "certain people are selected for admiration with little acknowledgement of the community effort which invariably supports great acts."
    What a good point. The putting on a pedestal of certain favoured individuals over everyone else is unhealthy for both them and the rest of us.

    Thanks also for sharing Wisteria and Sunshine too. What a beautiful, quiet spot.

    I'm also sad to hear of Ursula le Guin's passing. Her books are among my favourites.


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