An Adventure in Power and Love

As I pPower and LOve group shotrepare to get out of here next week for a trip to a family reunion in in Manitoba, Canada, I have been thinking about the learning I value most from my work with the “House of I” this last month: the relationship of Power and Love.

I was inspired by Adam Kahane’s book, Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Chang  to think about the balanced use and of Power and Love in leadership and management. A light went on for me when I did. Of course! As a manager (or for that matter a parent, a friend, or a spouse, etc.) I don’t need to be just loving, or just a task master, I can, and need to be both at the same time! Using love only is confusing when there is a job to be done. Using power only when we are dealing with tender human beings, alienates and discourages engagement.

Yin yangThat they do go together is certain. It is not one or the other, but ‘both/and’. Together, they are a force for change; the yin and yang of inspiring a difference, of getting things done with heart.

And so, a short workshop with a collaborator, Lyle Povah, was born.  It opened with drums and conversation designed to help the leaders of an organisation we are working with in China to move beyond their struggle with the chaos of being a start up.  The drums brought everyone into connection in body and rhythm, first individually as each sought to find and express their unique loving contribution, and then by playing together as a group to experience the power (discipline) and love (individual expression) of being en-trained in a community of united purpose. In this way, we ‘felt’ our way into knowing that setting up the early layers of order and authority are necessary to organisational function. In the workshop, we went on to explore how to set boundaries, and hold people accountable to agreements in a loving, compassionate way.

Power and loveIn contrast, we all have experienced the exercise of one without the other, have we not? We have been bruised by the raw exercise of power without love or compassion. So much of contemporary institutional or corporate action has this indifference. We have also experienced the vacuum of loving leadership. Without the under-girding of structure and accountability of power, like a parent who sets no boundaries, love alone confuses us. Martin Luther King said very well I think, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” No wonder we find joy in our workplace, when the balance of love and power is just right!

I am still sorting out my own relationship to power and love. It seems I rarely have the balance just right in my own life. There seems to be a stickiness in me that interferes with the smooth flow back and forth. I seem to end up doling out too much love or too much power.  But I have a new awareness and appreciation, and permission to be both. Just another work in progress,  I guess!

Posted in Uncategorized

“How would you play the game?”

“How would you play the game?”, came a question from one of the group members, not so much a challenge really, though he clearly wanted the facilitator to stop facilitating,  and share his own perspective!

It was 10 pm,  the workshop had technically finished a half hour ago, and no one was making any moves to head into the night. SureLifeDaringAdvetureWorkshop enough, one or two were nodding off in their floor chairs, but they seemed more content to doze up right in the company of the group, then head for a bed. And so it was for me, too.  My brain was a bit fuzzy from being in high output for the last three hours, and I was so pleased by the group’s lingering curiosity I was happy to remain in the group’s embrace. The workshop had been about: Captaincy, Course, Courage – Life is a Daring Adventure or …….Nothing

So I jumped into the question, like one would jump into a well: not sure where the bottom is, but reckless, enough to find out.  “I would like to think I would  play the game like my life depended on it.  I think this is the point of the whole workshop – to engage every moment of life as fully and deeply as we can. Its a choice we can bring to every moment of our lives if we are living as response-ability warriors. I so appreciate your question”  Mercifully, water levels in the well were high, I had made a small splash, and climbed back out.

Sometimes with a group things just gel, and sometimes they do not. I had had both experiences this week. I realize working as a facilitator, and workshop leader, I become bonded with with every group, whether they are with me or not. When things go really well, my energy is returned in equal measure, but usually, I wake the next day tender and vulnerable.  In conversation with a friend this week, I realized this is my time for receiving, not something I do very well. Taking a page from my own book, I spent the day recharging and making contact, doing my best to refill my heart; preparing to lead and love another day. Another workshop, another daring adventure!


Posted in Uncategorized



photo Janaina Brognoli Jiiva Prema

Bali – I was mugged!

It was a set up with four people on two motor bikes. I had just turned off the main road onto the road that took me to the lodging I was sharing with Lyle. It was about 11 pm and I was walking along, alone, texting. The first motor bike came a alongside and the woman on the back started touching me and propositioning me. I shooed her and her driver off, then the second motor bike came alongside me and started the same thing. Suddenly, thepassenger on the second bike reached over and very quickly and expertly snatched the phone from my hand and the bike took off all at the same time it seemed. I chased them on foot, but could not run fast enough. I turned around and the first bike was gone. And that was that. They had my phone and I was left standing on the street cursing them. Bewildered, and angry.

It was an expert job. They must have spotted me on the main street then waited until I turned off the main road onto the quieter side street with no sidewalk. Then they moved in, working together for maximum effect – putting me off balance by touching me and propositioning me, all friendly and stuff. Then, bamm, striking like a snake. Motorcyle theft is pretty common in Asia, purses get snatched peoples shoulders all the time.

I felt violated for about 24 hours, and I am still pissed with myself for not seeing it coming. Evil people do live amongst us, even it seems in beautiful Bali. We ought never to forget that, yet we do not want to go through life guarded. What a shame it would be to close off. I have enjoyed all the wonderful people I have met this week in Bali and am working to remain open and warm with these people.

Other than that, I had a great time doing yoga everyday Ubud, sometimes twice a day. I am quite a bit stronger and stiffer too!

It seems now, I am either stiff from exercising, or stiff from not exercising. As my dear old Dad once said, “You got to be tough to be old!”

Posted in Uncategorized

Bali, sooth my soul

Letting go. Dropping down. Surrender. Bali is a place to recover your wa, chill the stress from your bones, reconnect with yourself and your humanity. The Balinese are open for you, if you can be present to them.


This week I am back here, and ohhhhh what a pleasure. Over the last 10 years I have been here half a dozen times, because it is my favourite place on the planet for people. The Balinese are happy people, they inhabit their happy lives of Hinduism, family values, and self-sustaining life styles. Perhaps they are happy because they don’t make much money, perhaps because they have simple lives of ceremony, and community that goes all the way down, or perhaps it is the felt sense of knowing who they are – if, indeed, they ever feel the need to ask this question.

And they are here for you. They want to meet you and look after your tired stressed western psyche. Just for the pleasure of it. Sure they make a living, some of them, from it, but they do it with such grace and authentic good will, you will beg them to do so.

Case in point? Lyle, my travel mate, was saying to Dudek our guest house host, how much he would like a chance to pray in a temple. Within minutes, he and then I were on the back of his scouter in traditional attire, bound for the local temple where we blessed the full moon and the abundance of life and nature with rice, flowers and incense. In the short ceremony, we were thrilled to be included and blessed by the priest so seamlessly a part of it.

I have everything to learn from these fine people about how to live with purpose, passion and meaning.

Posted in Uncategorized

Finding your own rythm

One drum circelof the great things about being here in Jackson Hole is making music. Lyle is our dauntless leader in this, patiently and energetically lifting even the most unpracticed, and perhaps even the least talented, to truly make music. We bang away at the guitar, thump on drums, sing and rap a dozen intricate and soulful chimes, bells and bowls. In the end, we all more or less stay in beat under his steady drummers lead and sing our souls out. Our Sunday evening ‘chants’ are my favorite. Smudging, candles, and sitting loosely around the room in the semi dark, we take turns leading as the spirit moves us. We all do it differently, every time. There are no expectations, no judgement, just space for everyone to play and connect.

20150623_110228Today as I limped down a nearby mountain slope, retreating from an attempt to reach a far peak, I was disappointed. My back hurt terribly and I had left Bill with my water to carry on, while I hobbled down the hill. As I took my ease coming down, I reflected on what I was going to share in an upcoming workshop and soon my back hurt less. Lyle and I are planning to open our session with a drum circle and then transition into a dialogue on finding one’s own rhythm in life. And in work. It seems to me that there is a natural tension in life between playing our own rythm and playing in the circle with others with whom we share our lives. I see it in our Sunday evening chant sessions and I see it Lyles drumming circles. When we are entrained as a group making music and joined in a single beat, there is a magic that opens up the heart and soul of us all around the circle. We meet at this common place and connect deeply. Living in China, I judge that this culture here values this connectivity and unity more than our own. There is great strength and heart in this ‘connectedness’, but also a great struggle. It’s a struggle to reconcile living and aligning with the collective beat, on the one hand, and learning and expressing one’s own rhythm on the other. How do we do this?

I believe it starts with seeing the value of both the collective and the individual. If I might borrow from this culture, I would say that it’s a bit of Yin and Yang. The Yin of the collective and the Yang of the individual make the whole, the complete, and the universal. This doesn’t answer the question how to reconcile the two, but it does provide a powerful context for seeing the value of having both equally strong and joined, not a choice between one or the other. Its about recognizing the whole requires combining both.

Okay, okay, to the question then: How we go about learning and expressing our own rhythm yet remain a part of the circle? Well I think we already have the first step: recognizing it’s not either or, but and. If we come to believe that we need both the full individual and the collective to attain fully, we can give ourselves permission to do so.

d5aa9-14_frenchpolynesiaThe second step is elevate the value of experience and ‘play’ as the primary avenue to discovering one’s unique rhythm. When everyone learns everything from the same textbook, with no room to play and experiment and learn to express one’s own way, everyone may play in unison, but the music lacks heart. It is wrote. Flat. To soar, individual players need time and space to practice and experiment with how they can best give voice to their drum. The greater their freedom to roam in exploration, the greater the richness of their discovery. How I do it best, will be different from how you do it best. When each person comes back to the circle with a strong and clear sense their contribution, the beat is imbued with new energy and vitality. The tension between the individual and the collective is now stronger, hence the music is richer.

The third step, in synergy with the second, is to build the strength of each individual more generally. Full self-responsibility – a kind of ferocious intent to take on the job to inhabit our own rhythm – is foundational. Experience breeds self-responsibility, self-responsibility supports experimentation, experimentation uncovers our rhythm.

I am home, but even now Bill is still up the mountain, luck guy, sinking into his own rhythm.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Big Switch

Move Out From Blogger to WordPress in Six Easy StepsWell, this is the first post on in the new location – That is, the Sail7Cs Blog has been moved from its old location at ( to its new location in WordPress right on my  website ( My web advisors have recommended this to improve ‘search engine optimization’, amongst other things. And we know, The Great and Powerful GOOGLE must be appeased. Ironically, it means moving my blog from Google owned Blogspot to be hosted locally in WordPress, a different technology  – That means “Its all  MINNNNNE!!!. We’re free, thank god almighty, free at last!

Posted in Uncategorized

Captains On Deck!

“There is something oddly familiar about this visage”, I thought, “but for the life of me, I cannot think what it is”. From the cockpit of Conversations, I was watching Captain M scooting across the anchorage in his dingy at a very good clip, bound for the town pier. He was standing in his dingy, looking squarely forward, his belly poking out, his shoulders back, his chin leading the way. He had the dingy painter in his right hand, like a leash, and in his left hand, he held tightly to a tubular extension to his outboard motor arm behind his back. He was nearly as tall as his dingy was long. But I would swear he was captaining a 300 foot frigate.

Captain M is one of about 10 cruising skippers we had been sailing across the Indian Ocean with. Our small armada of cruising boats sail together in an informal way, usually meeting up in each port down the line as we complete the shorter passages between islands. In each port we spend happy evenings over beer and wine, full of wind, comparing notes on the last passage, giving and getting advice on the next passage. And everyone is as free with their help and spare parts as they are with their opinions. It’s an endless conversation and my crew protests over the monotony of such ‘boat talk’. But to me who loves all boats, it’s a brotherhood of ease. And of course, it is of inestimable value in getting our own little craft home safely. Irena and I often jest, “It’s easier to get boat help and spare parts in the furthest reaches of the tropics than it is in downtown Vancouver!” These comrades were especially welcome in that part of the world, as sailing the Indian Ocean was, shall we say, “robust”.

I had grown particularly fond of Captain M. Like many cruising skippers, he has the gift of being thoroughly who he is, comfortably, playfully, doing the sailing around the world thing with an ease that belies the challenges. He was full of stories of misadventure, opinions and points of view that have been honed to a fine point from years of telling. In his company, I know he will tell me exactly what he thinks no matter how contrary it might be to the ‘right’ thing to say in the moment. And I think he has earned the right, no matter what others might think, from a lifetime of bold experience, beginning with his tour in Viet Nam as a helicopter gunship pilot. So I like to be in the presence of his confidence and I like to bump up against his strength, though not always to my profit. When I complained the other day of having to dance around our oversized wheel in the cockpit, Captain M proclaimed “I bet my wheel is bigger than your wheel!” I rose to the challenge.

It was a foolish bet. Disturbed from my slumbers the very next morning, I poked my head out of the companionway to see him striding away down the quay, tape measure in hand. In truth, I had hoped he had forgotten the well lubricated challenge of the evening before. Later he claimed, and I had to submit, that he didn’t even need his tape measure to make his win. “What were you thinking!” he chided. It hurt, especially as I don’t ever pay to drink Johnny Walker Black for myself. And neither does he, he says, the rascal. And, he said with a grand smile as he received my package, “But my wife does!” And so it goes.

Captain M has the gift of proclaiming his place in the world, in his own way, without apology. I appreciate him for it. Perhaps in my association with him, his boldness will rub off on me. And I believe, there is something to be learned from each of the cruising skippers who make up this community. They are all, in their own way, people who, more fully occupy the space in life they were meant to occupy. They stand apart in their fullness. I am sure every skipper has their moments of doubt and shame, but in a valuable way they have clamored over a lifetime of experience to stand in a high level of self-assurance. This seems to me to be the essence of ‘Captaincy’ – to proclaim their right to be and to live as they are meant to, to manifest in their fullness, amidst their internal parade of doubt and uncertainty. ‘Captaincy’ is to be in the place we were born to occupy, even though the world may seek relentlessly for us to be elsewhere. In a way, it is their gift of courage and learning to the world – to be who they are – for in that authentic expression, they are for others a champion of their becoming. It’s a inspirational to be amongst such people.
Posted in Uncategorized


I can scarcely believe tomorrow is the last night aboard Conversations. I have been aboard since September 2014 in Turkey, and Irena since early October. Since leaving Marmaris, on Oct 4th, Irena, ourvarious crew and I have sailed over 13,000 nautical miles. WOW!
In that 7 months we crossed the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Caribbean and a chunk of the Pacific Ocean. Tonight the boat tugs gently at her mooring lines in Kewalo Basin in Honolulu, but at this very nav station, day and night over the past 7 months I have hung on with my knees as we pounded to weather, sweated out the tropical heat of the equator – twice – and passed a 30 day, 4800 mile passage of the clipper ships from Galapagos to Hawaii. In all, over 100 days at sea.
How do I make sense of such a time, of the many, many countries and harbours along the way, the hours and hours alone on night watch, of the many meals and happy hours shared in the cockpit, the expectant departures and the safe landfalls, the storms and the calms, the heat and the cold, the wet and the dry, the breakages and the repairs, the laughter and the tears?
Firstly, it is with gratitude. To make it so far across the wild oceans and customs/immigration tar babies with everyone and everything intact is good fortune indeed. The truth of our survival, notwithstanding all the possible calamities that might have overtaken us, confound my feelings of unworthiness.
Second, it is with wonder. The world is so vast and we are so small. To pass safely over such vast stretches of open water, free and alive in life and will, is most fantastic and incredible.  To experience so much of this magic kingdom has filled me with awe.
Third, it is with humility. In this sail, I have seen up close and personal how we are nurtured and sustained in life by the earth’s thin skin of habitable biosphere. That delicate wisp between land and ocean, surface and sky. I see more now how nothing could ever be more precious to us as living organisms.  Yet, I see how I regarded it once with such indifference. I see how our civilization shows so few signs of waking to this unconsciousness and so many signs of callous disregard. 

Let me take a moment to remember and thank all those wonderful friends and family that shared this journey with us:
Across the Mediterranean: Barb – Irena’s sister and Ellen a good friend – no easier going crew is there to be found anywhere.
Down the African coast to the Canary Islands: Anastasia – Irena’s niece – no more adventurous a spirit has been aboard.
Across the Atlantic from the Canaries to Antiqua: Lyle – my friend and music mentor – no more vigorous or committed a friend; Mitchel– resident music expert – No better music DJ ever sailed with us; Willie – Mr. fix it guy – no more handy a man has ever sailed (remember guys, if the girls don’t find you handsome, they better find you handy!).
Through the Caribbean:
Breanna – my daughter – no more loving and committed traveler has ever sailed with us.
Al and Leona – our dear friends – no more generous people live on the planet.  At the risk of sounding faint of praise – because no land lubber will ever understand – we thank them for their gift of new heads (toilets) forward and aft. They are appreciated daily, even hourly!
Jenn, Anglin and Juna– Irena’s daughter and 2 grandsons. No greater kid energy can be found, for exploring, for learning to snorkel and spit out salt water, for soaking up all the boat ‘terminology and parts’; and no greater determination on Jenn’s part to give her children the experiences of a lifetime.  
Michael and Hane – no more intense, rich and true friends could be found.
Panama to Galapagos: David and Sandey – no more personal and helpful conversationalists have ever sailed with us.
Galapagos to Hawaii: Dennis and Rita – our friends and compatriots in hard sailing and long passages; Trevor – no faster or determined learner ever sailed so far without complaint.

Know that we could not have made it so easily without your company and the richness you all bring to our lives and to our adventure. Thanks for joining.

Tomorrow is my 60th birthday. I had my 50thbirthday 10 days after we left Vancouver to start this trip. Yes, it’s been over 10 years that Irena and I have been on this adventure. What are the highlights?
Sailing the South Pacific twice – first in our first boat, the Westwind 35 sailing to Australia, then again in the Oyster Lightwave 48, our now “Conversations”.  We LOVE the South Pacific!
Completing a circumnavigation – We didn’t set out to sail around the world, but we did. You might even say it was an ‘accidental circumnavigation’. We set out for Australia in our first boat – that was as far as our plans and our budget would take us. Who would have guessed? (We still have one passage left before we are home to Vancouver, but our circumnavigation is complete).
Working in Asia, based in Singapore – Our professional lives made a giant leap. This is not what we expected while sailing to Australia or around the world. We both now have global professional practices, very different from the Canadian ones we left with, and even though we will be living in Canada for a while, we expect to continue working internationally.
Working and living in Istanbul (Irena) and China (Cress):  Being in Turkey, was the closest to living in Europe that we have had – and it was excellent. The food, the culture, the people were all amazing. Cress in China had an awesome work experience – so great that he is going back for another tour of duty!
Irena – the importance of family and friends – Over the 10 years of being ‘away’, I have grown to appreciate our good friends and family and have missed tremendously. From watching my grand-children, to having Sunday dinner with mum, to sharing meals and intimate conversations with our children and friends. It will be so good to be back home.
Cress – Global consciousness and concern – Exposure to so many countries, cultures, political systems, failing environments, etc. has really cultivated a hunger in me to understand how it works and how I can reconcile a personal life as an individual with my responsibility as a member of this global system. My new curiosity has me reading history, historical anthropology, politics, economics, and science fiction trying to find some answers for our teetering global circumstance.  I persist despite the seeming futility of the challenge 😉
Let me end this blog entry on a thought to this last highlight:
Sailing around the world has been a visceral experience of the one-ness of our circumstance. I believe if we breathe the air and eat the food of this earth, we have a personal responsibility for its care – a ‘duty of care’, if you like. If we are conscious of this truth, the happy coincidence is this: working for the planet is working for our own wellbeing, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. If we are conscious, we will always feel out of integrity if our actions are out of accord with this duty of care. 

So that’s where we start – creating consciousness. (This is probably not a surprise to most of you, but it’s a new learning at a new level for me, from sailing around the world!)
Posted in Uncategorized

A boisterous arrival

Well, the next 24 hours, after the last post were the most rambunctious of the passage. The wind rose with the dawn to over 40 knots. We abandoned our plan to do a sightseeing tour through the islands because of the very high winds that funnel between the islands. And so we ran along under bare poles at 6 knots along the north shore of the big island trying to slow down so we could delay arrival until next morning to make harbour in daylight. By dark, the seas were up to 12 feet and we had reached the corner of Molokai where we tucked south under the west coast to get out of the worst of the waves.  But there was no anchorage. In the end we sailed very slowly across the Kaiwi Channel until midnight, then lay ahull, rolling in the seas with no sails until dawn. And then we had a spectacular sunrise sail past Diamond Head into Honolulu.  A gorgeous finish!

Posted in Uncategorized

Land Ho!

So close we can smell the pineapple!!

After 30 days – we are now 24 hours away from Honolulu and have sighted land – Cress and I spotted Maui’s east coast lighthouse at 4:30 this morning (at Hana Bay!). And now at 6:30 we can see the smudge of the coastline only 10 miles off the port beam under heavy cloud.

The next 24 hours will be spent in great anticipation of making our landfall in Honolulu tomorrow morning. We will have to slow ourselves down a little in order to arrive there in the morning. So we are thinking we will take a bit of a scenic route between Molokai and Maui and then up toward Oahu.

Great to be here – it has been a challenge on many levels and we are looking forward to all the delights of land. It’s going to be a busy 10 days now getting the boat cleaned up and getting ourselves ready for the summer…. Cress in China and me in Canada. Quite a few boat jobs on Cress’s list and prep for leaving our precious ‘Conversations’ for the summer.

All is well with our world!

Irena and Cress

Posted in Uncategorized