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My Grandfathers Blessing. Rachel Naomi Remen (Riverhead, 2001)

We Will All Take This Journey.” Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen on illness, loss, and spiritual growth. Shambhala Sun. June 1998.

Commonweal Website

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Pema Chodron (Shambhala Publications, 2000). Also, see several articles by Pema Chodron in Shambhala Sun.

How To think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. Michael Gelb (Dell Paperbacks, 2000)

Dyslexia: The Gift Website

The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can't Read and How They Can Learn. Ron D. Davis (Perigee, 1997)

Birth of The Chaordic Age. Dee Hock (Berrett-Koehler, 1999)

The Chaordic Commons

Narcissus and Goldmund. Herman Hesse (Bantam, reissue 1984)

How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service. Ram Dass (Knopf, 1985)

Think of all the great teams you have ever been on. Remember the wordless harmony that existed between those people. Now, think of everyone you know as a musical note.

Living leadership comes from an individual who hears our unique notes and the space in between our music and other’s and promotes dynamic harmony. They are bridge builders. Their bridges are made of wonder, fused with discipline and freedom. Great bridges inspire through their structural harmony, trust, and movement. They join the disconnected.

Learning requires not knowing. To not know, allows musing. Musing—a state that allows the genie of genius to arise. Learning happens in the space between the data, the mission, and the goal. Live leadership allows not knowing, welcomes the vitality of the question, so that the living greatness, the legacy of the group, can happen.


There is an unsatisfied hunger loose in the world.

It creates a voracity of unsatisfied needs that show up in our homes, communities, and businesses.

We long for leadership that grows out of individuals who love the questions we have. Who encourage our wandering toward the perfect solution through the passion they model.

Leadership isn’t about any method, any organizational plan, any mission specific operational objectives. It’s about orchestrating the desires to be successful that we all have.

Using the talents, the wonder of others, to create a path really allows people to experience the love they long to express for life through all their doing.

We foster the focusing of love and passion in others and ourselves so that we feel good about who we are and what we’re doing.

Learning, leading, and loving are going on all the time.

Just think of the very last thing you made a decision about, regardless of scale.


S l o w – m o t i o n   m o m e n t.

Why did you decide to continue reading?

That decision came out of the unconscious, ongoing action of your learning. What we learn is applied and turns into a direction that looks like leadership.

We lead our selves first, then others, learning all the while.

I’ve often been afraid to learn and lead. Especially when the stakes seem too high, so high that I could lose some comfortable habit that made it easy to understand the story the world wants me to understand.

Learning requires the death of limits, the death of the habits of how I thought something was.

Living requires learning. Leading requires learning.

Learning requires that I let go of what was and allow what will be. Even though learning can occur and often does, at the neural speed of light, there is a brief and critical moment when the question, “Will I survive?” occurs. When survival becomes the predominant modus operandi, everything produced is tainted with fear. Yet, this natural pause, the “Will my beliefs survive?” moment, is built into our basic operating system. We build our beliefs out of what we have learned. They create a brain-friendly architecture for us to live in while we experience our lives. Every bit of our experience can change our neural home.


S l o w – m o t i o n   m o m e n t.

What are you building right now?

Hang on: Neural light speed slowing to the visible spectrum.

The amount of time that something new stays in our land of survival depends on how comfortable we are with our capacity and comfort to not know. When we allow the new to expand into possibility, our neural home correspondingly expands. We are natural builders; we are always renovating our home from which we see the world. From tiny twelve-inch windows, we create a seamless 360-degree panorama that allows us to see all possibilities around us.

How big is your view? How big are the views of those around you?

How does this natural state become an aberration?


Survival based-leading fosters a cannibalistic condition often called “an internal entrepreneurial team” who eat each other and their young.

Understanding the upward flow through survival of all learning and communications is one of the keys that foster real learning.

Remember what it’s like to put a happy face on a dead initiative? The results of this Leader Learning style is a dead Frankenstein—all the right stuff, no electricity. How many times as leaders were we asked to enliven what we knew but lacked the heart and passion necessary for success and life.

The critical moment where possibility can become do-ability is what needs to be understood, honored, and nurtured within others and ourselves.

What is the necessary quotient of not knowing needed to inspire and focus the talents of those around us?

The goal is to shift from think about to do about.

For all the time, enormous human resources, and money spent on promoting leadership and learning, our ROI has been low. Learning requires of us a s l o w-motion understanding of those light-speed steps that promote safety, pause, and application within others and ourselves. In our desire to understand and foster greater intellectual capital, we have overlooked a vital phase of the learning process.

That phase is the survival pause.

It is a moment, perhaps like right now, where, as you have been reading this, your curiosity, your skepticism, your wonder, your tactical mind co-creates a question against what is being said.

Questions create pause. Questions create space, like the space between musical notes.

Without space, there would be no music.

Leadership is more like conducting an orchestra than leading an army.


A visual reference would be a prism. A prism takes white light,  s l o w s  it down, and shows us the spectrum of what is there, but because it was traveling so fast, we could not see it. While learning and leading, we  s l o w  down the light-speed activity around us by applying a prism-like filter to what is going on. Each of us has a prism to  s l o w  high-speed code down.

Survival has gotten a bad rap. This necessary primal pause that we’ve worked diligently to step over is actually the key to our learning and leading skills. The survival pause is the threshold opening into the skills and tools we were born with, but sometimes we forget to use. Each of us has a  s l o w-motion filter. Dead Frankenstein formulas get in the way of what we most naturally are.

Living formulas, that take us into the gloriously uncharted or to the edge from which we can leap, are the only ones worth keeping.

Because we are alive, we know the difference between alive and dead.


We edit when we should activate all the perception tools, all the learning tools we were born with. This is not learning about doing more. It is about learning to trust that we already have the tools needed to learn and lead perfectly.

Some of the most important learning is unlearning.

Living leadership allows the best in others to arise, be applied on-goingly so that the needed and the unexpected genius can coexist.

Leading and learning are joined at the hip—like knowing and not knowing.

I can’t lead if I don’t allow learning in myself and all those around me.

Learning happens in the empty spaces, not the full ones.

Not knowing is an empty not a full.

How do we create value and safety in not knowing?

Organizations are organisms. The creativity, inventive agility, passions, majestic complexity that makes up a company, are always in flux.

In welding, flux is a catalytic chemical that allows a synergistic condition. Flux is required for the joining of very different kinds of metals.

Flux is a chemical that allows something to come together that otherwise never would have.

Without flux’s presence, the two very different pieces of material that need to be joined would never come together.

Wonder is perfect flux.

The conversations that live within the walls of the company, the ones that happen outside the meeting rooms, are the voices that produce the fluxing process.

The folks that make up a company carry the creative intention, the future, the success, or failure of the corporation.

Cooperation between each individual’s creative power and the company mission is the space where flux is most needed. These passing conversations are the life-blood of any project, indeed, any company.

Evolutionary leadership, the kind we long for and aspire to, understands this fluxing process. It can bring together disparate factions to inspire the joining of talents and skills, hopes and visions, to foster movement and evolution where just raw materials, raw talent were latent.


w e s h a l l o v e r c o m e
can function without spaces in the right places.

Living leadership knows where the spaces belong and orchestrates the pause that allows the music of the team to flow.

Here success, completion, or failure occur.


Why is it that new initiatives, new products seem to stall at about the 90% point, where there seems to be the need for an exponential dose of management initiatives? One of the organizing principles of us—we humans—is that we come together to learn how to be at peace while creating the new with others. In organizations, this same principle exists. It is the unspoken rallying call; the mundane need of some management initiatives. We come together because we like to create—yes even the lone wolves—as a group. We want a future we can feel connected to, proud of, and that we know is a legacy that is alive and working.

We shall overcome.


I have been a producer of complex photo-illustrations, trade shows, and educational websites. I hired bright, disciplined teams to take the vision from concept to reality. People loved their part of the process. I learned over time to pick people whose talents and approach to creating would be complementary. We always had a clear deadline, budget, and communication agenda. As my projects became larger, I noticed that we would ‘lose it’ when what we were bringing to life was almost alive, when the story was almost told. This was a humbling and expensive management problem. As a team, we were good at doing  s l o w-motion on our habits and the creative process we were engaged in. We learned this because we stumbled and could catch one another and we operated within the design principle of perfect discipline, perfect freedom.

One sunny, Thursday afternoon, with a deadline looming, we went outside because we had to walk away, because we were stumbling over and stepping on the new life and the story we were creating. Why were we falling down when we needed to be graceful? We looked at one another, quietly, and within the flood of awareness, the clarity, one resounding connecting nod of understanding passed between us. Even though we were professionals, even though we knew the deadline, we suddenly understood how much we loved not knowing and creating a solution together. We did not want that creative process to end. We discovered that each of us was sabotaging so that we could continue our inventive mission together. This was the pause between the notes, where the music we were creating was heard, and we understood that we were afraid ‘it’ might not happen again. There indeed would be sadness when we finished, inextricably mixed with the joy coming from the success we produced.

As a team, we discovered the necessary value of grieving the moment of creation. We discovered that without this necessary pause, our next project would begin with a limp instead of a leap. I had never understood that grieving the moment of completion was a critical component of having all of our resources available to us so that we could create, allow, and promote our next great creative solutions.


allowing the question
promoted the solution we needed.

I was led by the stumble. Not the grace.
Our stumbling is more graceful than we realize.
Allowing revelation requires us to be off-balance.

What is balance anyway?

Constant adjustment to sustain dynamic verticality.

Congratulations and blessings for stumbling forward and enlivening our lives!

David MacKenzie is a medical intuitive and founder of Camp Leonardo. He has been a welder, a college design professor, and a professional photographer. He believes in perfect discipline-perfect freedom. Wonder has saved his life more that once as it mends leaking dreams. Fostering wonder in others is his mission and passion. He cares deeply about the world and the people in this world. Question with him at

The author would like to recognize the special help of Susan Cantwell and Dianne Devenyi for making this article possible.



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