Friday, September 12th, 2008 | Uncategorized

i just returned from some coaching and consulting work. i am struck by the similarity of experience that todays leaders face across companies, industries and even across sectors. as a leader today, you find yourself in NO-WHERE-LAND. on the one side you have all the tools that you learned from consultants, business schools and other sources of conventional management wisdom. on the other side you have a huge leadership challenge that you currently face. and inbetween these two things, there is a HUGE GAP. a NOWHERE-LAND. and you find yourself right in the middle of that NOWHERE-ZONE. alone.

the only thing that you can rely on in situations like this is your self-knowing. the deepening of your SELF-knowing. the deepening of your awareness. THAT is, what presencing is all about. to provide a method to collectively CREATE from that NOWHERE-ZONE.

but that technology does not work if you use it with a mindset that belongs to the old toolkit (“problemsolving”). it requires a new mindset. a mindset that is acutely aware of that NOWHERE-ZONE right in front of us, right within us. the awareness of that GAP right NOW right HERE provides a crack where the window to an heightened awareness opens up. without that window open, we cannot cross the distance from self to Self—from no-where to now-here.


9 Comments to The NOWHERE-ZONE

Marigo Raftopoulos
September 14, 2008

Dear Otto

First of all, I’d like to say that I love your work and thank you for bringing these concepts into the consciousness of mainstream business, government and community. In this reading however there is always much bias towards the “great leaders” that we have learned from. I’d like to add that there are many everyday people doing these very same things without recognition and accolades. We have much to learn from ordinary people that do extraordinary things. I think that this is an important step towards understanding how to make this material more accessible to a wider audience, and thereby achieving the shift in collective consciousness required to achieve meaningful and sustainable change.


Ralf Lippold
September 14, 2008

Dear Otto –

The step moving out of NOWHERE-Zone is for most people frightening, as they are stuck in old thinking (all too comfortable).

Being part of a World Café a few days ago in Dresden I could see and hear that people are struggling with leaving their own comfort zone and often ask for some help from the outside without daring to take the “FIRST STEP” outside the NOWHERE-Zone.

How long to keep the process until the change emerges collectively?

Sometimes it really takes outside that makes people switch directions and rethink reality (=NOWHERE-Zone).

Best regards


September 16, 2008

Dear Otto,
I know what you are talking about. I guess most of the leaders and facilitators experience this ‘NOWHERE-Zone’. While reaching for ‘SELF-knowing’, I have experienced the challenge lies in differenciating between the ‘trusted mental models/ tools’ and ‘Deeper often-unconscious wisdom of emerging whole’. I feel its like putting your hand in your old bad (self) to get right pebble (wisdom). But the bag has 2 or more pockets, a shallow one (mental models) which is easier to reach & deeper ones (Presencing). But often we dont reach deep enough or wait long enough to get the pebble needed by the moment and start believing that the one we got is the One needed.

Here, when I look at NOWHERE zone once again… it presents itself as NOW HERE zone!

George Por
September 19, 2008

hi Ralf,

I love your questions:

> How long to keep the process until the change emerges collectively?

I love it because it’s damn important and it points to the answer: until the (pattern of} change emerges from the collective. It also points to the resolution of something that feels like a dilemma in Otto’s blog entry. What happens when you hold the “alone” and “collectively,” together, in the statements below? Is there a road between them?

“and you find yourself right in the middle of that NOWHERE-ZONE. alone.”

“the only thing that you can rely on in situations like this is your self-knowing. the deepening of your SELF-knowing. the deepening of your awareness. THAT is, what presencing is all about. to provide a method to collectively CREATE from that NOWHERE-ZONE.”

That’s right, from the NOWHERE-ZONE, we can only create collectively. Finding our mates, the ones dedicated equally to transformation in self, organizations, and social systems, seems the first step right after deepening our SELF-knowing… If one of those three perspectives is missing, the chances of sustainable transformation lessen…

Thomas Brackett
October 10, 2008

Thank you, Otto, for speaking from your heart about this “Nowhere Zone.” I have developed this habit of reading Theory U before going to sleep, each night. It has become a ritual and so hopeful. I fall asleep with such hope and so full of commitment to all that is emerging around me. BUT! Then I wake up (usually around 1:30 AM, EST) dreading what our world will be like if we don’t catch on, if we do not wake up. Sometimes the dread is so palpable that I have to stand up and walk it off. Lately though, I’ve begun gathering around myself the faces of all of the Wise Ones I’m gifted to know. I surround myself with our aggregate courage and hopefulness and realize that I am NOT alone and that there are many of us that are leaning into what is possible.

I offer this as an example of the ways in which your writing has changed me as a human being.

I’ll always be grateful.


D'Arcy Mackenzie
October 16, 2008

Nowhere zone is a good description for many in the financial world. Of course my perspective is limited to what I see and read – working at an investment company in Toronto. There has been innovation but it is of a rather narrow nature – a way to maximize ones balance sheet. I sense that there is very little appreciation for the tools – systems thinking, presencing, etc – in the financial world or in financial regulation. There is the common phrase “we are in unchartered territory” where we don’t know where the future will emerge, although we suspect there is more trouble ahead – indeed it is implausible that there wont be more trouble. On the positive side, this may be a perfect opportunity to work in new way, using these tools, given that we are in “uncharted territory.”

October 22, 2008

D’arcy, you are dead on. yes. we do need a new financial sector. one that is serving the whole, rather than…. (you already said it).

that would be something very interesting. i personally think that the Transformation of Capitalism is one of the most important challenges and themes of the next two decades…

October 22, 2008

Tom, yes. you are not alone. we are not alone. when you track the word root of presencing (presence) you come to the same wordroot that means “real truth” in both old india (satya) and old german (sunjis) where it also means: “those that are surrounding us…”

Tim Jantzie
January 9, 2009

Hi Otto
Rejoined the global site yesterday. As I began to explore the site your blog post on the NOWHERE zone really jumped out at me.

The NOWHERE ZONE describes my recent experience and noticing in Alberta. I assume that what you describe is universal.

Agree with you that once aware of the zone, the crack appears and with it the opportunity for heightened awareness. My metaphor was to describe the crack as a beam of light. The light symbolizes the new choices and possibilities available at that specific moment.

Understanding that you are in the zone and alone is crucial enabling the new future possibilities to emerge – not sure why or how it works. Yet in my experience it is quite real.

A challenge is accepting that there are realities beyond your own experience and trusting that the engagement process will tease them out. Assume that we have long been in uncharted territory and only recently began to realize the map was flawed.

Dialogue skills very important as the window closes quickly (although it can be temporary) If you try to drive or steer the conversations or “sell ideas” too much.

As you point out , the problem-solving mindset or tool kit is an impediment (major impediment) to new futures . A problem-solving mindset seems to be the foundation of most business and policy processes in Alberta. Is this your experience elsewhere? Beyond theory U what are the alternatives?

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