Cutting Back to Move Forward
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Cutting Back
to Move Forward

Cutting Back to Move Forward ~ jen ayres

On my kitchen windowsill is one of my grandmother’s orchids. I brought it home after she passed away earlier this year as it wasn’t faring so well without her particular care and attention – I understood how it felt. Although I’m still a newbie gardener and have zero experience with orchids, it started to revive and I felt the joy of her presence again.

Bypassing my normal learning approach – hitting the internet hard – I felt that if I loved this plant as much as I loved my grandmother, all would be well. And it was… until the day I realised I’d neglected to properly train the stem. About to flower, I knew the weight would be too much for it to bear. With a long exhale, I gently tried to clip the stem into a weight-bearing position and… it snapped. I felt bereft.

This time I dove into the internet and the advice was clear: cut the stem at the base. Yet, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it, to be set so far back from it flowering again. I made the cut just under the break and hoped this little orchid would defy the odds.

It didn’t.

Very soon it started to rot, top down and I had to cut at the base otherwise I’d kill the whole plant. Even then I still left an inch, I couldn’t quite let it go completely. The old stem base hardened and a few weeks ago, a brand new stem started to emerge. It’s growing fast and will have a much stricter training regime this time!

During Keishin (intensive online Zen training) last month, Ginny reminded us of the power of nature to guide us. My orchid is a daily reminder to look at what I’m holding onto that needs to be released. Where are we trying to keep something going when, if we’re honest, we know we’re misplacing our time, energy and hopes. Imagine what we could achieve if our efforts were planted in a different patch of earth.

As we move into winter, I certainly have a tendency to hunker down, shut the door on my backyard and wait for the warmer weather. Instead, this year I shall be heading out into the cold and damp and preparing my garden for a more prosperous 2022.

Jen Ayres first attended a Zen Leadership program in 2018, which had an immediate and major impact on her life during a very difficult time. She’s (slowly) breathing into Zen practice, gradually understanding just how beneficial this practice is and sharing her journey with all of us.

[Incident Command. Logistics/Collaborator; Planning/Visionary; Operations/Driver; Commander. Missing: Admin & Finance/Organizer]

FEBI and emergency response leadership
~ Nathan weed

In the Zen Leader courses we invest some time working with the FEBI (i.e., Focus Energy Balance Indicator) and exploring how those energies can be applied as we connect with others and enter into the challenges of our work and lives. Over the past couple of years, we’ve all seen public health, health care, and emergency response organizations working to control the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and prevent the serious outcomes that disease can cause. Organizing and leading these response efforts is part science, part art, and part application of best practices. Almost all of the organizations that do this work rely on federal funding for most of their emergency preparedness activities. With this funding, comes requirements these organizations must meet, including use of the Incident Command System (or a variation) to organize their response efforts. The Incident Command System is based on a paramilitary structure and general principles which, at first glance (maybe even after fifty glances) seem paradoxical to collaborative leadership. During the last Zen Leader 2 training, we took a fresh look at the Incident Command System through the lens of the FEBI and saw how it contained the elements of a collaborative and balanced approach.

In its basic configuration, the Incident Command System relies on a single incident commander to lead four organizational components: the operations section, the logistics section, the planning section, and the administrative and finance section. According to the rationale for this system, these sections represent key functions that almost all organizations must fulfill. Energetically these four functions are closely aligned with the four energy patterns of the FEBI – Driver, Collaborator, Visionary, and Organizer, respectively.

From the FEBI perspective, the leadership of these organizations becomes more about understanding and effectively applying all four of those energies to create conditions where safety can emerge in crisis. Additionally, this perspective opens many opportunities for collaborative leadership in structures that may otherwise seem too rigid and hierarchical.

Nate Weed is a public health leader, incident command trainer and aikido instructor.

2022 Fundraising campaign

Greene Roshi on why he is a board member and supports the institute:

“There is a common perception that leaders are born and not made. I disagree. I’ve seen countless people grow into leadership through conscious effort and the hard work that IZL programs demand. The hardest work is to get people to fully inhabit their bodies and not just their heads. With all senses at play, with energy free to flow within one’s body, with emotions faced, a person is much more attuned to all the forces that surround them. When this is present, leadership becomes the work of recognizing what is true. IZL excels at developing this ability. And I want to be there when this is happening.” ~ Gordon Greene Roshi


In last year’s campaign we focused on the slow and steady of one small donation at a time coming in month after month. As a result we had 14 people sign up for recurring donations to IZL. That was a great start – but we need to double that this year! 

So, while we welcome and appreciate your one-time donations and big checks are always deeply appreciated, would you please consider a reasonable monthly donation toward the work of IZL? What is the work of IZL? It’s the work of…

What we ALL know is that our time is like no other and we must be resourced for the work!

Here is our recurring donation mascot from last year – may he inspire you to add that slow and steady donation today!

2022 programs scheduled through june

You’ve got to see this: our most robust and flexible line-up of programs celebrating the launch of our 10th year.  Pick the program you’d like to protect on your schedule and register now at the best price. Or select a certification pathway that will make 2022 a profound and pivotal year and receive even deeper discounts on a program series.

TOPSHOT – This long-exposure photograph shows the Milky Way in the sky above Taungdwingyi, March 10, 2019. (Photo by YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images) AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

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