Leading in Emergence….lessons learned from travelling abroad


That’s “hello” in Turkish.  For the past two weeks, I’ve had occasion to speak this and other Turkish words and phrases – Please, Thank you, Where’s the toilet? Good morning, Good bye, How much? – as we toured from Istanbul through central and western Turkey.  A skim across the surface of this ancient culture and beautiful land, as we floated above the magical terrain of Cappadocia, dove into the cave dwellings at Göreme, walked among the archaeological ruins at Troy, Ephesus and Pamukkale, witnessed the mystical whirling dervishes and their founder’s tomb in Konya, and tasted our way through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Now as I settle back home, and make my way through the nine hour time difference, I’m in that odd, in between space of holding a myriad of new and novel sights, sounds, scents and impressions that filled me to the brim, with the anticipation of co-hosting a second Leading in Emergence learning lab November 6-7, in Sherwood Park, Alberta.  No doubt a side effect of jet lag, I’ve been thinking about how travelling abroad and stepping into a different culture invites me to consider how similar the frames, practices, and competencies are to navigating the slippery terrain of emergence and complexity.

Driving in Istanbul – it’s in the genes I was told.  A pattern emerges, flows and then collapses into the next iteration of chaos, backed up with a cacophony of horns. Cars, taxis, buses…bumper on bumper, stalled for minutes that become hours, apparently irrelevant traffic lights.  Pedestrians seem to intuit the space and pause to nimbly move between, around, across tram tracks, through intersections.  Or, in our case, abandon the taxi caught in a standstill, and walk to our destination.

The call to prayer, five times a day, every day, though NOT at the same time of day, is aMinaret.jpeg significant frame that organizes the comings and goings of people and their systems.  In the morning especially, I would hear the chant start at one minaret, and then a few moments later from another, then another, and another…like a wave that would build in crescendo, and then fade away voice by voice as the summons concluded.


Mesmerized by the “sema,” a  cultural exhibition by the whirling dervish sect of Sufism founded by Rumi, it demonstrated how prayer and moving meditation have been used for centuries to connect with the divine to awaken knowing and wisdom for uncertain times.

Our very experienced tour guide knew to make an early reservation for the hot air balloon ride, given we’d be at the whim of winds and weather.  Unabashed commitment paid off, as seven of us soared with fifty other balloons at sunset over the fairy chimneys while our ambivalent tour mates, not sure they wanted to pay the price, postponed planning to the next day.  It was not to be, as the skilful pilots assessed the winds unfavourable for safe flying.  Know, plan, commit, act are the lessons here.Cappadocia KebapSeduced by aromas of grilled food, we sampled and savoured, only to have our guts protest…an embodied knowing that won’t be denied!




How has travelling to other places opened you to new impressions and insights? What are your stories about emergence and complexity…when you’ve felt uncertain and coped with chaos…sensed and intuited patterns…let go to let come and step into the space of bold action?

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