Leader of the Month for December 2005:
Toke Møller's story:
When asked to recount his story, Toke Møller introduces this quotation from Shakespeare: "Oh, learning – what a thing it is!” Toke offers his thoughts on learning below.
A story of letting go…..
It is my assumption that learning is a natural, inherent state of awareness—of being present in the Now, so that we learn from everything in and around us, both individually and collectively. In these times, learning is a much-needed core competence for all human beings. Dialogue, courageous and wise actions, and reflection are practices that cultivate this competence.
If this is learning, what then is unlearning? Or we could say, how do we arrive at a higher level of learning?
To walk away from, to leave behind, to shed some intellectual skin. To suspend or let go of old thought patterns and give up my rights and wrongs. This is important for higher learning to occur.
Letting go opens space for me to take in new perspectives, information, and insights. The journey then goes through the country of my “not knowing,” or chaos if you like. Chaos is uncomfortable because for a while I may lose my known ground, my views of the world as I have seen it.
But I have come to understand chaos as a gift, because it has new order and deeper levels of understanding hidden within. Letting go to be in the state of learning-hidden-inside is a practice, not just a theory.
Do I have the courage to start and continue practicing the art of letting go?
Being in the Now
I have found no more useful and powerful place to be than in the Now. This place is hidden inside me and collectively between us. To be present in the Now takes focus, letting go, courage, heartfelt longing, and a spirit of inquiry.
It is a meeting place for real learners – the students of Life.
Thinking about and explaining the Now will not take us there. Letting go, acceptance of the way life is, and breathing consciously will.
A spirit of inquiry
Being in the Now, having suspended my previous understandings for the sake of learning something new, there is also another wonderful ingredient available to us. We can build in a spirit of inquiry, curiosity, and passion for making meaning of what we see, experience, think, and do.
When we honor this spirit, follow it, and love it, we enter the dance of learning and unlearning, of letting go and taking in the new perspectives and understandings needed to go on living with meaning in my life every moment.
Shifting the mindset
The death of old worldviews and mindsets is a painful and confusing process to begin with, but it always brings greater clarity, purpose, and new direction.
Shifting the mindset every once in a while is not a luxury or intellectual pastime, but a healthy and needed exercise that allows us to keep coping in a complex and confusing world.
A little story of unlearning
Once I was invited by a very good teacher of mine to learn something new. I thought myself to be very clever already and understood very well why I had been invited to this training. I did not speak this to others, of course, knowing—in theory—that humility is the name of the learning game.
At the first session he told me, “If you want to learn anything about this topic, first let go of everything you think you know about it. If you can let go of it, stay. If you cannot—leave now!”
Unlearning and letting go took place in seconds. I wanted to learn more than I wanted to keep up appearances.
I was invited into a great dance, and I accepted. The shift had already happened.
Let go into unlearning, give up being clever, seek what is truly meaningful to you, and enter the beautiful dance of learning and unlearning where life is unfolding.
“On the other side of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I will meet you there.” —Rumi
To see a short video clip about Toke's work, click here.
About Toke Møller
Co-founder and CEO of Interchange
Home: Sejs by Silkeborg in Denmark
Current personal passion: the practice of the art of opening and hosting meaningful and inspired spaces in new and needed places; in addition, practicing being connected to my breath
Dream: that every human being will live in the experience of meaning, courage, dignity and peace
Place in the world you most like to visit: wherever I am invited by love
Tenneson Woolf shares the following about Toke Møller, "Never before have I met such a person as Toke. He is dedicated to purpose, always, and has a unique ability to call others to purpose and possibility. He does so with his commitment, presence, and authenticity, whether working with an individual, a team, or a company. He is the best example I've known of one who carries the energy of both warrior and midwife. He does what good leaders do -- inspires those around him to lead also. That changes the world."
Click here to learn more about the background, experiences, and philosophy of Toke Møller.
Toke Møller and Leadership
Favorite book: Tao Te Ching by Lao Zu because it invites me to reflect on the essence of life and the art of being human.
Books recommended for aspiring leaders:
Tao Te Ching by Lao Zu
Calling the Circle by Christina Baldwin
Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin
Open Space Technology – A Users Guide by Harrison Owen and Barret-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Expanding our now - The Story of Open Space Technology by Barret-Koehler Publishers Inc.
The Spirit of Leadership - Liberating the Leader in Each of Us by Harrison Owen: ISBN 1-57675-056-6
The World Café by Juanita Brown
The Age of the Network by Jessica Lipnack & Jeffrey Stamps
Virtual Teams by Jessica Lipnack & Jeffrey Stamps
Leadership and the New Science by Margaret J. Wheatley
A Simpler Way by Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rodgers: ISBN 1-881052-95-8
Most admired leaders: Prem Rawat and Nelson Mandela because they lead from the heart with strength and compassion.
Traits most important in a leader:
Humility to listen to life beyond the chatter
Courage to meet yourself and others as who we are
Decisiveness to act in the flow of the timing and to serve life rather than yourself
Favorite quotation: from Rumi
If you want what visible reality can give
you are employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish,
but you will be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.
Advice for aspiring leaders:
Be grounded in your own inner strength.
Do not compromise your own integrity for any reason.
Have courage to go through your own fear and confusion.
Lead with others.
Follow and serve Life in all ways.
What and where are the best training programs for leaders? Visit the website for the Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership.
Where to Go for More About Toke Møller
Click here to read the transcript of an interview with Toke.
Visit the following websites:
www.shambhalainstitute.org/Fieldnotes/Issue9/I9_Hartley.pdf (this Adobe document may take a minute to load)
www.devonsp.org.uk/conferencereport2004.pdf (this Adobe document may take a minute to load)