Books & Resources

Being with Others: curses, spells and scintillations

"Being human is not easy. The capabilities and qualities we have acquired in our long evolution are both a blessing and a curse. Our ability to think and remember, and our propensity to care for each other and make sophisticated civilisations, can work against us. And so we become cursed by consciousness, by our memories, our own character, our family and by our culture. "

"This book explores how these five curses are cast into and influence our lives, and uncovers the spells we hope will break them. It shows that our most trusted spell -- the belief that a special Other can heal, protect and save us -- does not work. Which invites the question, if being with Others does not free us from our curses, what, if anything, will? "

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Beyond Threat

"In this beautifully written and humane book, we learn how we become the stories we tell about ourselves and how, by re-authoring our sense of self, we can address our demons and lead more fulfilling lives"

Jules Goddard - Fellow, London Business School

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The New Principles & Leadership in Business podcast series #166

"Concious leadership in business is about becoming more aware of all the unconscious forces that motivate most of our choices and decisions."

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DS Review - Leadership Insights - January 2021

Characterful Leadership

How well do you know and lead your inner team?

Most of us can identify one or two inner voices that contribute to our internal dialogues or ‘self-talk’. A very common voice is that of our critic who, to different degrees, warns, drives, reprimands and punishes us. The inner critic and other voices – many of whom we pay little attention to – can be understood as characters who represent our different and often conflicting needs, desires and yearnings.

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DS Review - Leadership Insights - January 2021

Perception Practices

Notice, Receive, Inquire, Imagine

"Four practices to re-direct our attention, stimulate our right brain capability and enable us to work effectively with uncertainty, conflict and complexity."

"Stretching and expanding our consciousness – what we are aware of or perceive – is how we acquire greater maturity and wisdom and how we can learn to respond effectively to the conflicts and uncertainties that are part of being human. "

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DS Review - Leadership Insights - April 2020

The rise of the introvert

An opportunity to turn from toxic drive to reflective innovation

"Extravert characteristics and capabilities are valued and encouraged in Western cultures. Talking a lot, executing, getting things done, risk taking, quick decision making and the preference for high levels of stimulation are common habits of extraverts and we see these habits thrive in competitive, evaluative cultures dominated by toxic drive. Organisational culture is increasingly defined by such behaviours."

"The recent state of lock down triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has seen most people grounded at home without opportunities to socialise, go to work, engage in taken-for-granted pastimes or to distract themselves in busy routines. The opportunities for extraversion have reduced. Instead we have been forced in on ourselves with time and uncertainty as our new companions."

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DS Review - Leadership Insights - April 2017

Self Compassion in a VUCA world

"Most of our problems in and beyond the workplace arise because our body and mind is over exposed to real or imagined threat. Leaders need to support their employees to notice, understand and regulate their threat response in order to stay centred when experiencing, for example, work load pressure, performance anxiety, disruptive global trends, team conflict and rapid change. Research shows that self compassion triggers neurological activity in our ‘safe brain’ that regulates threat and restores emotional equilibrium. By cultivating our safe brain we increase individual and group resilience and with it, the potential to thrive and succeed in todays VUCA environments."

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Other Voices

Our work is informed by many brilliant thinkers, researchers and practitioners. Here are some of our favourite.

In Beyond Threat, The Dialogue Space founder, Dr Nelisha Wickremasinghe, describes how the synthesis and application of insights from neurobiology, psychotherapy, social sciences and the arts can lead to profound change and new experiences.

“The fateful question for the human race seems to be whether, and to what extent, the development of its civilisation will manage to overcome the disturbance of communal life caused by the human drive for aggression and self-destruction. Perhaps in this context, the present age is worthy of special interest. Human beings have made such strides in controlling the forces of nature that, with the help of these forces, they will have no difficulty exterminating one another, down to the last man. They know this, and it is this knowledge that accounts for much of their present disquiet, unhappiness and anxiety.”

Sigmund Freud
Civilisation and its discontents, 1930

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy… these are undoubtedly great virtues. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself - that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness - that I myself am the enemy who must be loved - what then?”

C G Jung
Memories, Dreams and Reflections, 1963

“To work at ourselves becomes not only the prime moral obligation, but, at the same time, in a very real sense, the prime moral privilege. To the extent that we take our growth seriously, it will be because of our own desire to so. And as we lose the neurotic obsession with self, as we become free to grow ourselves, we also free ourselves to love and to feel concern for other people.”

Karen Horney
Neurosis and Human Growth, 1950

“The psychological state may be likened to that of a computer that, once programmed, produces its results automatically whenever activated. Provided the programme is the one required, all is well. Should an error have crept in, however, its correction not only demands skilled attention but may prove troublesome and slow to achieve...the task of changing an overlearned programme of action and/or of appraisal is enormously exacerbated when….a person finds himself unable to review the representational models he has built of his attachement figures because to do so would infringe a long learned rule that it is against one or both his parents wishes that he study them, and their behaviour towards him, objectively.”

John Bowlby
Loss (sadness and depression), 1980

“Sometimes I ask myself whether it will ever be possible for us to grasp the extent of the loneliness and desertion to which we were exposed as children.”

Alice Miller
The Drama of Being a Child, 1979

“The argument for the view that man has no freedom to choose the better as against the worse is to some considerable extent based on the fact that one looks usually at the last decision in a chain of events and not the first or second ones.”

Eric Fromm
The Heart of Man, 1964

“The tragic bind that main is peculiarly in – the basis paradox of his existence – is that unlike other animals he has an awareness of himself as a unique individual on the one hand and on the other he is the only animal in nature who knows he will die… he is an emergent life that does not seem to have any more meaning that a non-emergent life..and so despair and the death of meaning are carried by man in the basic condition of his humanity.”

Ernest Becker
The Denial of Death, 1973

“If more than half the marriages in America end in divorce; if most of the not yet divorced marriages one sees are not, to say the least, wonderful; and if most of the relationships around you are falling apart or haunted, boring or miserable, then clearly the fundamental cause can’t be individual. If it’s happening (as it is) across every level of class, ethnicity and region, then the cause can’t be found solely in the study of families either... Thus your family is just one wrinkle of a collective event, important for you to know perhaps but not to be confused or treated as a cause.”

James Hillman
We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world’s getting worse, 1993

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change, until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

R.D. Laing
Knots, 1971

“The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to coexist on this small planet. Therefore the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interest, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.”

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Forum 2000, Prague.

“For the most part, our 'obvious' preferences and 'natural' ways of looking at things are mere hand-me-downs. They become routine and 'right' because we hold back from even imagining the opposite. Where people lack imagination it is always because they are afraid even to play with the possibility of something different from the matter-of-fact to which they cling to for dear life. The ability to achieve and maintain an interested impartiality between imagined opposites, however absurd one side might seem, is essential for any new creative solution of problems.”

Fritz Perls et al.
Gestalt Therapy

“Understanding the circumstances in which conscious minds emerged in the history of life, and specifically how they developed in human history, allows us to judge perhaps more wisely than before the quality of knowledge and advice those conscious minds provide. Is the knowledge reliable? Is the advice sound?”

Antonio Damasio
Self Comes to Mind, 2010

“But feel what happens in the soul when you imagine children saying to their parents, ‘what you gave me first of all wasn’t the right thing and secondly, it wasn’t enough. You still owe me.’ What do children have from their parents when they feel that way? Nothing. And what do the parents have from their children? Also nothing. Such children cannot separate from their parents. Their accusations and demands tie them to their parents so that, although they are bound to their parents, the children have no parents. They then feel empty, needy and weak. This is the second order of love. That children take what their parents give in addition to life as it comes.”

Bert Hellinger
Loves Hidden Symmetry

“The disaster that has overtaken the modern world is the complete splitting off of the conscious mind from its roots in the unconscious. All the forms of interaction that nourished our ancestors – dreams, vision, ritual and religious experience – are largely lost to us, dismissed by the modern mind as primitive or superstitious. Thus in our pride and hubris, our faith in our unassailable reason, we have cut ourselves off from our origins in the unconscious and from the deepest parts of ourselves.”

Robert Johnson
Inner Work, 1989

“Why do I write?
I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive, to find the distances in my own recesses and bring them forward and give them colour. And I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I’ll ever have.”

Natalie Goldberg
Writing Down the Bones, 1986

“Integration is the key mechanism beneath both absence of illness and the presence of well being. Integration – the linkage of differentiated elements of a system – illuminates a direct pathway towards health. It’s the way we avoid dull, boring, rigidity on the one hand, or explosive chaos on the other.”

Dan Siegel
Mindsight, 2010

“The insight and knowledge that characterises a gifted mind is more than the regurgitation of facts..real intelligence requires a synthesis between facts, context and meaning that encompasses far more than efficient responding.”

Susan Greenfield
Mind Change, 2014

“If people are to cooperate they have to be able to creaate something in common, something that takes shape in their mutual discussions and actions, rather than something that is conveyed from one person who acts as an authority to the others, who act as passive instruments of this authority... it is clear that if we are to live in harmony with ourselves and with nature, we need to be able to communicate freely in a creative movement in which no one permanently holds to or otherwise defends his ideas.”

David Bohm
On Dialogue, 1996

“Being present in the moment doesn't mean that we act without intention or flow directionless through life without any plans. But we would do better to attend more carefully to the process by which we create our plans and intentions. We need to see these plans, standards, organisation charts not as objects we complete but as processes that enable a group to keep clarifying its intent and strengthening its connections to new people and new information. Healthy processes create better relationships among us, more clarity about who we are and more information about what's going on around us. With these new connections we grow healthier. We develop greater capacity to know what to do. We weave together an organisation as resilient and flexible as a spider's web.”

Margaret Wheatley
Leadership and the New Science, Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, 1999.

“If life beyond the bubble is really about coming home to our humanness, the flourishing it promises is unlikely so long as we hold that humans are somehow separate and superior to the rest of life.”

Peter Senge
The Necessary Revolution, 2008

“Over my life time as I’ve met wolves I have tried to puzzle out how they live, for the most part, in such harmony. So here, ten wolf rules for living wild and free. For those who are struggling begin with number ten.

1, Eat
2, rest,
3, rove in between
4, render loyalty
5, love the children
6, cavil in the moonlight
7, tune your ears
8, attend to the bones
9, make love
10, howl”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Women who run with the wolves