Dream big with David Gurteen

Dream big with David Gurteen

(#17 of our Together-Ensemble series)

In this conversation, our purpose was to continue the discussion initiated with Emmanuelle Duez and Stéphane Baillie-Gee. This time, we talked challenging beliefs, the polarisation of the world, the impact of trust as well as the knowledge delusion.

During the session, David Gurteen gave us this quote from Marianne Williamson. I am keen to share it here as introduction to another powerful debate on the conditions for a better Europe, and ultimately a better world. And if this was all starting with learning to have better conversations?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.


“I believe we can deal better with this complexity by taking responsibility for the changes we wish to see in the world and by transforming the way we “interact and converse with each other” – by becoming Conversational Leaders.” David Gurteen

Watch the full conversation below


The workshop, which followed, allowed colleagues to reflect on the main ideas presented by our guest. 70 colleagues had registered for this session; of whom 30 attended the live discussion and took part in the workshop.

  • Tips for great conversations: Peace and sufficiency. The Why? Return to our values. Prioritizing. Prompt for a future learning from more democratic discussions and decisions. Encouraging critical mind-set to have useful conversations. Advocates of the commons (first seek common ground). Appreciating the contradictions. Try to have conversations instead of debates. Don’t try to control the message. Knowledge is not an illusion, it is there … we need to engage ourselves more. Conversational leadership as a game. Ask powerful questions. For a great conversation, listen more than you speak. You have two ears and one mouth. Be more aware of our impact on others – let’s not spread the negativity. Talk about the solutions, the options for change, the alternatives. If you are discussing with for example extreme right, racists, extremists etc. Show them respect, that’s key.
  • Barriers to conversations: We need a “set of rules” for living together in harmony, not just for conversations. It is very difficult to discuss with illiterate people, who cannot read a normal article, or are not aware of the topic for instance. Too much voice to particular interests, not enough to commons. Focusing is difficult when discussing. Take away: we do not have real freedom of speech, we are not allowed to discuss religion and faith. It is being separated and not allowed. Too much political correctness is an enemy of a good, honest conversation Unfortunately, many people are unable to make the difference between people and their opinions. Politicians not careful of their language are damaging trust. Using bad language to a person is worse than committing a murder. Thinking that research is an exact science, it’s not. Nor is the virus, for example. There are many kinds of knowledge and we need to listen more to them.
  • Why opening up: Convening conversations that might not otherwise happen. Talk more to stakemovers rather than only stakeholders. For example, to discuss perspective of future, we need to discuss with the youth. We need to discuss with the victims of planetary emergency. With people who are not on official lists (eg electoral role). Homeless, undocumented migrants,…
  • Some conversations we need to have: Does the EU need to redefine itself or to go about “saving the world”? What types of conversation could help us to move away from fossil fuel subsidies? Global warming is the result of profitable activities: How to address planetary emergency to survive as humanity? How do you see now the conversation risk between 2 persons basing their beliefs and arguments on social media information that was targeted to them. How to open the eyes of users of such media to critical thinking? How to involve citizens not represented by groups? How will human beings live and develop?

Related links:

My next article will be a report from the session we held with Stephen Quest and Dave Snowden, in which we discussed leadership of the future, complexity and the EU field guide.

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