a rising global movement?

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Friday i had an interesting experience in denmark. i gave a talk at the occasion of the Danish translation of the book Theory U. it turned out that the room was packed with 500 or so people. many of them, i was told, had read Theory U or parts of it. since most of the time i focus on applied project work i do not happen to give that many public speeches. so it was really interesting to see what would happen with such a group. when i entered the room you could feel an elevated field of joyful anticipation of the moment and the moments to come. just about everyone was relaxed and joyful. it was SO BEAUTIFUL to watch all these great people, from all strands of live (business, academia, artists, consultants, students, educators, journalists, NGO change makers, government people) coming together in order to celebrate the moment—and to jointly attend to new ways of learning and leading that are more personal, practical, relational, and collectively creative.  SOMETHING is drawing all of us together here. what is it? a sense that we could create a future that is different from the past.

seeing these people just moments before the talk was a truly inspiring moment. it reminded me of other smaller moments like this in several other countries. it feels as if this might be part of a beginning global movement. a global movement of renewing society from the roots: renewing learning and living, regenerating business and the economy and deepening the democratic system.

what on earth would happen if we managed to figure out how to actualize this emerging potential–this heightened awareness and willingness to collectively create an entirely different social field?

it feels as if there is a growing potential that so far is largely unseen and unutilized…


16 Comments to a rising global movement?

Ligia Buzan
February 10, 2009


What you have seen in that room in Denmark is a prefiguration of new times to come.

Here’s what Theory U did for me: it got me to start healing the split between spirit and mind—it became essential to bring my soul to work in business, and it became imperative to speak from a higher place of integrity; I saw how business (as any other endeavor) can be a spiritual practice, but only as strong as one’s inner spirit (the “inner condition of the intervener” changes everything); the book created a language acceptable to the business world– the kind of language that encoded realms of magic and still took cash flow into account. To me it was a language that called for the re-enchantment of the world—

I increased my “Let it come!” practice on the right upside of the U. Unexplainable synchronicities happened no different from what Joseph Campbell described in the Journey of the Hero… “There’s the sense of the potential that opens out before you. And you have no idea how to achieve it; you start out into the dark. Then, strange little help-mates come along, frequently represented by little dark fairy spirits or the little gnomes, who just give you clues, and these open out. Then there is the sense of danger you always run into — really deep peril — because no one has gone this way before. And the winds blow, and you’re in a forest of darkness very often and terror strikes you. ..Well, mythology tells us that where you stumble, there your treasure is.”

Everyday heroes are born in the harrowing challenges of the present moment. Intuitively we know how to connect heart, will and vision. Enough people are now able to function at “level 4” to break small cracks into the older structures—so many great opportunities. I find myself shape shifting.

The poet David Whyte wrote extensively on soulful work. Here’s an excerpt from a poem that– I think—illustrates our U work:

Tilicho Lake

In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Michael Bischoff
February 10, 2009

Thank you, Otto, for giving words to this emerging movement. Last night I was at a gathering of politicians here in Minnesota (U.S.), who were speaking about the spiritual grounding of politics. In that gathering (http://www.nspmn.org) we also talked about our sense of a global movement that was, as you said, “creating an entirely different social field.” The principles that we were talking about at the gathering were “leading from the heart, recognizing our oneness, and governing with generosity.” Keith Ellison, the U.S. Congressperson from our district, was one of the speakers, and he passionately affirmed and illustrated each of these principles. I see these principles as closely connected with the Theory U approach.

I think that Paul Hawken (http://www.blessedunrest.com/) has captured some dimensions of this emerging global movement–and I think that your work, Otto, adds another layer of “how” to the picture, in language that can span many sectors and worldviews.

Zulma Sofia
February 10, 2009

These feelings of global movements inspire me and frighten me.
I feel very inspired by your work and very grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the presence institute community. I am also aware that the great majority of the citizens of the world will have a difficult time being part of this community simply because they don’t have access to the internet.
I also think it is very peculiar that there are so many Danish people in the community compared to other countries (and considering the size of Denmark as a country compared to the rest of the world), and when I hear you talking about a global movement based on the enthusiasm of 500 Danes I feel a bit confused.
I too would like to see the renewing of learning and living, the regeneration of business and the economy and the deepening the democratic system, in Colombia, in Denmark, in the rest of the world. I get a bit concerned that this ‘global movement’ could lose the ability to be self reflective falls in the trap of believing that it is THE universal answer…
My comment’s intention is not to attack U, but to express my own personal feelings and explore the questions and confusion I experienced when reading your post.
I would like more people in the part of the world where I come from to be inspired and reflect and engage in creating an entirely different social field, and still this idea of global movement inspires me and frightens me…

Jarda Dokoupil
February 11, 2009

Dear Otto and everyone,

thank you for this discussion and for bringing your insights. I love your words Otto : a sense that we could create a future that is different from the past.

Over this weekend I was part of a discussion about Barack Obama and his role in the world, I believe the questions was Can he change the world? It was an interesting discussion which lead me to 2 insights.

First, I was exploring a question of what context did it enable for Obama to succeed in what he has done? His message of hope and change needed such context to be heard, understood abd to become so effective. And as the response was so overwhelming, it proves for me that the world is in fact in a state where we realize very clearly that something big needs to shift and it is hungry for new questions to be posed and new answers to be found.

The second insight was around a question : what does it mean for ME in MY context that Barack Obama is now a US president? How do I answer his call for acknowledging what’s so and moving decisivelly towards future possibilities for all of us? How do I answer the call for co-creation, colaboration across boundaries set by old paradigms, how do I bring this to my context, my community, my life?

I work in a consulting and leadership development industry and often I see separate entities competing for the same piece of work with beautiful intentions yet at the same time making the final impact on individual, collective and system level much smaller because only one group of incredibly talented people has a chance to do what they intend. And I am thinking, is there a way how we can collectivelly committ to the highest purpose of ourselves and our actions and from this place then choose who will be the people making the transformation happen? Are we able to collaborate and grow together rather than make ourselves smaller? Are we able to find a common purpose that will make all the quarels look small and insignificant? Is there a way where we can all do justice to what we sense is possible?

This is just consulting industry. There are many others that would benefit from leaving asside the endless battles and being able to satisfy individual needs while at the same time being in harmony with the entire system. Imagine this would be possible for entire industries, across sectors, across nations.

I do feel a global movement emerging and I echo what Sofia points out, there needs to be a way how we all collectively transcend the boundaries of divisions and engage in the co-creation of the new future which is not dependent on where we are and what access to resources we have. This works on all levels from individuals all the way to national states. And the U-process can be applied on all these levels to find the answers we are looking for.

I believe this journey will start with individuals, because it is in everyday little moments where the crucial game is played. Do I include and co-create or do I block and destroy. One moment, simple choice. In many shapes or forms, across geographical and cultural boundaries, yet the same choice. First or second. If we are able to find a way how to shift the second to the first all around the world, all the above things will become possible as all the systems we have created as humanity are just a sum of individual choices that created them.

Thank you for reading this, it got a bit long :)


February 11, 2009

I really appreciate Legia’s comparison to Campbell, and I wonder if the entire planet is in the dark night of the hero’s quest. I for one find all of this chaos to be the source for a great deal of hope. Like a giant alarm clock to wake us from a long slumber.

Zulma, I feel I can relate to what you’re sharing. I for one believe that there will be and are many loosely coupled global movements. Otto’s leadership is fundamental in this community, and he’s earned that with his brilliant work. It’s natural for him to focus primarily on this movement. Rest assured there are many other brilliant leaders who are driving change… including shaman in remote villages who connect to this global understanding via a much older and non-electrical technology.

Thanks Otto for creating a container for these rich explorations.

Andrea Henning
February 12, 2009

Reading your reflections on your experience in Denmark, I recognized that it must be the sensing of the next evolutionary step, described by Barbara Marx Hubbard in her new DVD “humanity ascending”. http://www.humanityascending.com/
It is breathtaking. Also in reaction to the comment by Zulma Sofia, Barbara says that the new human is there a lot earlier than the translation to our systems (translated to new politics, new educational systems e.d.). It is emerging. I experience it in the different kind of conversations I have in organisations with people than 10 years ago, but also in different kind of conversations with friends. Of course I never forget that I am very fortunate in many ways, to be able to have these conversations. They make me very hopeful and happy though. I feel a deep connection to who I really am, to who we really are. What a different energy than we are normally creating and expose each other to. So I see it as my Work to have more and more of these presencing experiences, wherever I can and trust that it will contribute to a tipping point and that one day I will turn on my television and stumble in the middle of such a conversation our government is having about what to do in Iraq. Perhaps I can even join the dialogue in a high tec way, if I feel I have something essential to add.
In the meantime I will see what I can facilitate tonight, when a tiny organisation, who tries to be the voice of poverty in this country for years, is engaging in a deep conversation with some of their boardmembers, about what is emerging and how to be of service in that emerging stream.

Dorthe Rejkjær
February 12, 2009

“The crack” at Copenhagen Business School – CSB – Otto was in town :-)

What a morning. The rest of the day was like flying. I had just left CBS where Otto had held his first guest lecture in Theory-U. Why did I feel like flying? What happened? What is emerging?
I arrived at the business school quite early that morning. I wanted to observe what was happening on that very special day. I was surprised that so many people came that early – there was a kind of unspoken energy of excitement and expectation in the foyer. Every one that I spoke with wanted the best seat in the auditorium  600 people had made a reservation to take part in the lecture and many more were on a “waiting list”. The lecture was planed to start at 10 am. The room was filled to a breaking point at 9.30.
In the mean time I spend some time talking to people that I didn’t know. I asked several of them what had brought them here and what they were doing as professional – very manifold and interesting stories. — Otto entered the auditorium, the energy level increased!
Immediately I felt some kind of joyful relief – a relief that some how is rooted in the importance of what Theory-U can bring the now and future. I was thinking – in this room there is sitting so many important people, leaders, consultants, scientists, students, professors, artists etc. People that are capable to create and transform the social field of collective action in the future that is different from the past.
The same people are dealing with challenges that can not be addressed the same way as we did in the past – they feel it. And YES! — Otto is here today to hold this field. AND HE DID! – and with a deep deep authentic awareness and energy that no one could avoid to be moved by. And that is what it is about. Then I was flying 
When Otto told his story about the fire that took his home as a young boy, and at the scene of the observed the conversation between his grandfather and his father “The only thing you can do now is to look forward” – everything in the room slowed down.
I felt this moment very important. Something I emerging now. “The seed in the soil is getting attention”
Steen Hildebrandt and I have often been talking about – how many in Denmark is inspired by and working with TU in Denmark? – A LOT!
That day at CBS a social and collective field was created. A field from where the future will emerge and innovate across sectors. SOMETHING at CBS was connecting all of us together. A social journey is started.

Love Dorthe Rejkjær Copenhagen 10-02-2009

“Once Goethe met Beethoven, he said he was filled with chaos.
Chaos is the space we need to fly”
All the one winged angels was in the room at CBS

February 16, 2009

Change of Era,

Where many people think that this world operates randomly, there is a refined intelligence behind it that cannot be perceived through science. It’s exposed to us by inner alignment with the present moment, and from there we can move from chaos to khaos. Ultimately it’s all just formplay, so once we’ve awakened we can change this world into a place where this transformation is allowed to happen and indeed create unprecedented peace, love and abundance for all. But it all starts from within :)….an unfolding new earth

Kristiane Ravn Frost
February 21, 2009

To Zulma Sofia
I am a dane – one of those people attending that meeting. I too was flying for quite a while. OK Denmark is a small country, but that also means that if the established businessworld open op to this kind of thinking it spreads pretty fast. And Ottos lecture was arranged by the established businessworld, not just by a group of enthusiastic outsiders. To me that makes a great difference. There might be a real chance that we can create Denmark as a prototype to learn from.

I’m delighted to be part of this and feel deeply gratefull that Otto has succeeded reaching this part of the world.

Love Kristiane

Gene Toland
February 23, 2009

Otto I just had a similar experience but on a much smaller scale here in Bolivia. I just came from a meeting with the leadership team here at our center in Cochabamba to evaluate a workshop that just ended for 25 emerging leaders from around the continent. The aim of the programs here is to prepare people and organzations to live in a new way as a human community and as church in face of a world marked by social transformations, and new intercultural and gender relationships. The workshop used two “processes” that I had introduced to the team in recent years- the use of scenario building in planning and the steps of the U. The team was excited by how positive the participants responded and in particular noted the absolute key element of integrating the Presencing steps. They sensed that their common thirst for a new way of relating and organizing ourselves is shared by many many more people like them in Bolivia (with all of its frustrations), LA, and the world. While Theory U might not be THE answer, many are finding that it provides the tools to create spaces of creativity and daring to believe that something new is emerging that they can be a part of and contribute to.

Jim McShane
February 26, 2009

I was moved to tears by reading many of the comments above. There is a real “holding of the space” throughout the world as I see it. Your Theory U, Tolle’s The New Earth, Barbar Marx Hubbard’s co-creating and the new humanity all speak to the emergence and the realization of the interconnectedness, the oneness, and the mutual responsibility we all have to align and allow the emergence of what is wanting to be born. Many of us seem to be arriving at the same place at the same time. I find that facinating.
A long time ago I read Tielhard DeChardan and even as a very young adult, the idea of the omega point and the “Jump Time” that Dr. Jean Huston talks about is all converging into this time and space, becomming more aware, and learning how to connect to Source. There is a syncronicity that is evolving and i beleive it is the “dark night of the soul” that Joseph Cambell talks about.
It is a pregnant moment.
It is a time where all of us working in our own context will join hands in “holding the space” so that what is about to be born can manifest. I think with the dimunition of the old structures the world is waiting for somehting new to arrive. It is not a savior or a single person or notion, but the authentic living each of us brings to the world that will light the new way.
I am greatful to all in this community to have found many on the same journey destined to play out for the next level of awareness for human kind. Maybe John Lennons song will be a banner for the next wave of evolution. We are One.

March 7, 2009

wow. what an amazing dialogue. i just read all the above. it really feels uplifting. it makes the “copenhagen-experience” come alive. it is such a gift being part of this evolving community. particularly as the forces of distraction and noise also rise…
lets keep rolling with this dialogue!

Chris Landry
March 8, 2009

Yes, it is happening all over, including here in western Massachusetts.

Week before last I helped host a talk by Jon Young, an animal tracker from California who talks about the importance of nature connection and cultural mentoring (among other things) in building resilient communities (see http://www.jonyoung.org).

We called the talk “The Galvanizing Moment,” a phrase that popped up in our planning process. And we had 200 people turn out, filling the church we’d rented.

I think we are at the galvanizing moment, the time when potential begins to be realized.

Michèle Gundstrup
March 31, 2009

Hi Otto
I attended this seminar in Copenhagen. It was magnificant! I have read your books and used it in my work for some years, but listening to you, showed me some new angels, thoughts came up, started to grow etc. Thank you very much for your energy.

You showed a short video from a concert. That video made me reflect a lot – I would very much like to see that video again. Could you help me with some data on it, so I can search for it?

Again; thanks a lot for the inspiration you gave me that day in Copenhagen!


April 8, 2009

hi michele–send me an email and i (or janice) will send u the order link for the dvd/clip — my mail is scharmer@MIT.EDU

July 11, 2009

Hello Otto;
I am not part of your particular community, but feel myself to be a member of the wider community on our planet opening to the unseen fields of wisdom and intelligence and slowly learning to “listen” to what is being “offerred.”
Thank you for your work and your pioneering heart and soul.

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