B.A., The Evergreen State College, 1982
M.S.W., University of Washington, 1984
I've had the good fortune of following my father's footsteps and practicing organizational development as my primary means of making a living since I earned my master's degree back in 1984. Our work helps workplaces be more sane and productive, and even rubs off into personal lives as people become more emotionally mature and tune in better to important relationships. I almost lost my shirt during the recent Great Depression, and I am thankful for the blessings I've got, and for renewed interest on a global level in what I do.
Latest Publication Title
From the final chapter:
...In his book, the Intimacy Paradox, Williamson outlines five principles for developing personal authority in the family system (PAFS). Modified (by yours truly) with a focus on work relationships, his principles form a solid foundation for mature leadership:
Personal Authority in the Workplace (PAW) includes a high degree of clarity about one’s thoughts, feelings, and desires, as well as the emotional freedom to choose whether or not to express these at any given moment or occasion, regardless of intense social pressures or expectations from bosses, peers, subordinates, or others.
Principal #1 reflects family systems therapist Murray Bowen’s concept of self-differentiation – the ability to distinguish clearly your own internal data (wants, thoughts, and feelings) and not be caught up in reactive behavior. If you don’t say what you think, for fear of how people will respond, that’s reactive. If you say what you think to avoid being controlled by fear, that’s reactive. If your emotional states depend on the emotions of others, that’s reactive. These are but a small sampling of possible examples of reactivity. Think of it as moments when you lose your sense of self and act in a habitual manner in response to others. Close personal relationships–with parents, with spouses, with kids, with peers–are ripe for reactive behavior, as are authority relationships. It’s easy to slip into careful behavior in the presence of one’s boss, or to be against everything an authority figure says or does. Groupthink and nationalism are other examples. At such times, one’s emotions, one’s thoughts, one’s entire sense of identity are defined in relation to others, and other aspects of self may get buried. It’s impossible to be entirely non-reactive, but it is possible to be calmer and clearer about one’s own truth, and to do so a larger percentage of the time, even in the midst of emotional relationships.
PAW includes the ability to value one’s personal judgment consistently and to be able to make decisions and act on one’s own good judgment. This skill assumes the ability to be able, at times, to be an observer and critic of one’s own processes and responses.
This doesn’t mean ignoring others (see principles 4 and 5), or acting without information, but it does mean having enough faith in oneself to “make decisions and act.” Part of that faith is in one’s ability to recover when things don’t go as planned. Many “leaders” are so anxious about how others feel, about reaching “consensus,” or about the possibility that they will fail (which is always possible), that they diminish their ability to move forward. If Columbus had waited for his crew to “reach consensus,” he would never have reached the New World. To lead is to risk, and to calmly deal with what comes.
How did Evergreen help you in your career?
Evergreen took me from the wilderness of 6 years in a hippie free school with almost no academic requirements, to becoming a disciplined and engaged adult learner. Maybe the hippie free school theory that forcing people to learn burns them out worked for me, because when I got to TESC I was scared to death I was hopelessly behind everyone else, and I plunged into my school work. The faculty, the social life (ok...I still partied even though I worked hard), and the multi-disciplinary approach were perfect for me.