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29 Jun 2006

Meg Wheatley – The Power of Chaos – reconstructed from my cack-handed notes…

meg**Meg Wheatley** spoke at Dartington’s Barn Cinema on Wednesday 14th June as part of Dartington Arts’ Arts and Ecology Lecture series. I attempted to take notes as best I could but she spoke quite fast and so these notes are intended to provide just an overview of what she covered. Any mistakes here are entirely my fault. If you would like to watch the film of the talk you can download it [here](http://www.captainw.com/opentalk.htm”Megmp3″), but only until Friday. After that you will be able to buy copies of the DVD of the talk [here](http://www.captainw.com/webvidm.htm”DVDs”). After her talk she did a questions and answers session in the bar which was very illuminating, but which no-one recorded unfortunately. Anyway, here’s Meg.

“My work has focused on what I call ‘ethical leadership’, that is how organisations and leaders maintain both effectiveness and leadership. Chaos is a topic that lends light to ecology, art and to leadership. It is an ancient figure/topic/sensibility, which exists in all traditions. Chaos and Gaia both embody the creative principle. Gaia pulled life from chaos and gave it form, it is a fundamental part of life. Nowadays we are not willing to embrace chaos, yet we need that abyss, we have to face the emptiness and chaos before anything new can emerge, it is a partner in the creative process. There are three ways in which we experience chaos;

**1. Being Plunged into Chaos**.

We all know about chaos. We have all experienced times when life is fine, all going on OK, when an unexpected event tips our equilibrium. We are cruising along, all is well, when something happens which tips us into chaos. Although the chaos can feel like pure darkness and meaninglessness, we usually reorganise and find new ways forward. We either emerge or we don’t. We can use the chaos. Medicine can be used to medicate it, yet in spiritual traditions it is seen as the Dark Night of the Soul, a spiritual transition.

When we emerge from this where do we find ourselves compared to where we were before we entered the period of chaos? Higher or lower than before (“Higher!

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4 Comments

Mark
30 Jun 12:40pm

i think a big problem in our society is how centralised it has become, because of this perceived need of control. People are made afraid of being confused and living in uncertain times and facing a less than comfortable life. So we give over our freedom, we let it be taken from us, because we’ve always been told not to trust ourselves, our communities, our neighbours.

Gareth_Doutch
30 Jun 3:16pm

In case anyone is interested, that island in Greece is Santorini. Stunning.

cinnamon twist
1 Jul 8:52am

Cool. Thanks for this. I wonder if Meg Wheatley knows about Burning Man, and how it operates. Just a few simple rules, or guidelines. burningman.com

BTW, you all may be interested to follow my blogging about the situation with the South Central Farm here in LA, a super-important urban farming struggle. twist.blogsource.com, or southcentralfarmers.org.

PS — I linked to your review of CPULs!

nancy
3 Jul 6:20am

Take care of yourself. Take care of others.
Take care of this place.

The greatest leadership challenge is trusting others to take care of others.