Shadow and Light

Written by Ingrid Richter

I want to talk about confronting the shadow side with courage.

In a leadership program that I co-facilitate we ask people to reflect on what they are a “force for” in their leadership work. This means reaching deeply inside to find and name the part of us that fiercely stands up for what we believe in. It means giving voice to it, rising to meet it, embracing the power of it, and using it courageously.
When people begin to discover what they are a “force for,” they often feel vulnerable, because it is usually experiences of pain and brokenness which have given rise to their inner passion and force. There is also an enormous sense of wonder that enters the room when someone has the courage to revisit the difficult, often scarring experiences, and in the sharing there is a release of hidden, walled-in power which crackles and flares into a warmth-giving fire.

One early December afternoon, when the fields were lightly covered with snow, a group of 25 of us listened intently as a senior police officer in his early 40’s shared his story about being a force for certainty .


welcome to the edge

Written by Ingrid Richter

The best questions and insights are available from the edges of our experience. Our

perceptions depend on shadows and light. Our insights and impressions are composed of shadows and light. This space is intended as a place to share and explore what we see in our work, and the dynamics of the shadow and light we experience there. This is a small invocation:

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong…




Boundary-Crossing: Using Tradition to Support Change

Written by Ingrid Richter

Here in the countryside of Southeastern Ontario, boundaries between properties are defined in various ways. We see lots of barbed wire fences, some ditches, lines of trees, and less frequently, zigzags of old split rail fences built over a hundred years ago. Even where there are no fences, people are aware of where their property lines are, physically, and legally. When we take a leisurely walk and cross from one property to another, we take care not to tramp through someone’s alfalfa or hayfield. We cross the boundaries, but respect them.


The Mountain and The Plain

Written by Ray Gordezky

Here in Southern Ontario the landscape is fairly flat. Rolling hills are as high as it gets, except for the occasional outcrop along the Niagara Escarpment. This is far different from the landscape of Southern California where rugged mountains were very much part of my life and perspective when I was growing up.

Recently I was thinking about the differences in these landscapes and the way they speak to how organizations perform and are led. Until relatively recently, organizations were run from the mountain top, so to speak, where individual wizards or a small bands of arbiters carefully crafted strategy and gave direction they expected others to follow. Whether or not renowned leaders from the past worked in such a manner, the predominant mindset of organizational performance was the mountain. A plain, in contrast, brings to mind a ‘level playing field,’ one where unobstructed sight lines invite open collaboration and communication between diverse perspectives.


from the plains can you imagine mountains?

Written by Ingrid Richter

One evening, a few months ago, I was sitting on the sheltered roof of a campement in the Dogon Country, Mali, on the edge of the great Sahara desert. As the thick (and still burning hot) night descended, my African companions began to quiz me about Canada and Canadian ways of life. Finally one asked: “I have often wondered, what is it like to drive through snow? Isn’t it sort of like driving through the drifting sands we have here?”


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