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This week, Occupy Heart explores the relationship between wisdom, power and empowerment. 

  1. Tell a brief story of a situation where you felt challenged in balancing the guidance of a leader, teacher or expert with your own inner knowing.
  2. How might you trust and empower your own wisdom in order to collaborate and synergize with others?

How often have you witnessed, or participated in, a spirited discussion over the benefit or detriment of a leader, teacher or "expert"?  There has tended to be a lot of resistance toward leaders and teachers in our Occupy movement, based on fears that "experts" will dominate and drown out the voice of the people.  This is a movement that values its individual voices and "no voice is more important than another."  This is a powerful stand because... it's true!  No human is more valuable than another.  Does this hold true, also, for the words we speak?

One primary reason we are in the predicament we find ourselves today is that we have given our voice and choice away—and there have been people only too happy to take it and dictate what they declare is right—or perhaps simply want.  Is there a better example than the recent passage of the NDAA in the Senate?  How many people, do you suppose, feel good about the "wisdom" of indefinite detention of American citizens without cause or charge "for our own good"?   

And then there are those people we love to quote because their words uplift, inspire and empower us.  Peggy Holman shared some valuable wisdom around leadership on last Monday's Vital Conversations Cafe Call, including this phrase: "take responsibility for what you love as an act of service."   This example demonstrates generative wisdom; wisdom that empowers us.

We'll explore a range of distinctions surrounding wisdom and power so that, perhaps, you can emerge with a more relaxed and clear trust in your own wisdom, power and leadership.

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Hello Jitendra,

Wouldn't it be more inspiring to ask a question that brings participants to do it immediately - create the collective wisdom - and at the end reflect on what they just learned? instad of asking Is this possible? then you get people who say yes, other can say no and not much might happen...

And for the second question: what might be some of the factors that support us in making leaderfull groups and communities?

Thank you for your wisdom, Ria.  I agree with a couple of your points and in fact made some adjustments accordingly.  However, there is a particularly powerful issue regarding leadership and personal power that we're going to unravel a bit before we land in our collective wisdom space.

Each Occupy Heart call is designed to evoke a collective inner experience, though we do this at the end in order to anchor our journey.  We had resounding appreciation for this structure last week.  We'll see how it progresses.

Can you say more on 'this structure' that you were using?

Come experience it. Words won't do.  

Process is sensitive to so many conditions and factors, you can have apparently identical structures yielding dramatically different results.  

Here is the piece I referred to on fMRI studies and the importance of emotions in decision-making: "The Biology of Right and Wrong" in which Peter Saalfield reports on the work of Joshua Greene of Harvard.  An excerpt:

As his subjects considered these variations, they all showed increased activity in brain areas that assign emotional value to items like food and money... Moral decision-making, Greene believes, “involves a whole lot of systems in the brain that are not specifically devoted” to that task alone; his results illustrate that even when humans are considering hypothetical moral scenarios or calculating abstract probabilities, they rely to some extent on emotions for guidance.

Thus rationality, unlike “manual mode” on a camera, cannot function independently of emotion, even in people who tend to be more rational—or utilitarian—decision-makers. “Reason by itself doesn’t have any ends, or goals,” Greene says. “It can tell you what will happen if you do this or that, and whether or not A and B are consistent with each other. But it can’t make the decision for you.”

Yet even though emotions will probably always affect people’s decisions, Greene thinks their input can—and should—be minimized in certain scenarios. By learning more about the neurological mechanisms of moral decision-making, he hopes that people may one day improve the judgments they make. “I think that we are too willing to rely on our automatic settings,” he says. “Our [emotions] are there for a reason and they do a lot of good, but they also get us into trouble in situations that they weren’t designed for.”

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