“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The third breakthrough for Teal organizations is a wholistic approach to their community life. Members are allowed, even encouraged or expected to bring their whole self into the work place. Masks come off as the division between professional and personal lives softens. Judgement is reduced and trust grows. Dogs show up at work (in non-food production venues!) and daycare centres are opened. Sterile work environments with status markers morph into warm, self-decorated spaces. Conflict resolution is a known and integral part of community life.

It can be scary to be vulnerable and bring more of ourselves out into our own awareness and then into community life. It can be, yet I’ve discovered, once the process begins, life behind the mask, feels so empty, so black and white, so constrained.
Imagine with me, being part of a community where your soul can safely show up, a place where you know you will be welcomed, no mask needed, no role or function required, just you, welcomed as you are, unfinished, imperfect and complete.

I delight in Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures. To my eye they are so beautiful – unfinished, imperfect and yet complete. I often feel like that. My journey into a contemplative life has taught me that I am all of that – unfinished and complete. I live within that paradox. That’s partly why I resonate with Teal communities, for they allow members to be just that – themselves. And they still get work done! Each member agrees to the purpose, the vision and values of the company/community before they enter and then they can join the team moving towards a clear purpose.

unfinished sculpture

Contemplative Fire seeks to create a Christian community, not embedded in the traditions of our faith institutions, but one that has an eye into the society in which it lives, one that is on the edge. We debate frequently what that ‘edge’ actually is, but agree that we are not, what has been and are, what is becoming, in terms of an expression of Christian faith today.
We want to be a community where there is room for you to show up.

Love and prayers
Community Leader Canada


“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it”  ~ Gautama Buddha

A second evolutionary development is the organizations’ relationship to its purpose. The purpose is clear and simple, not only known, but embodied by everyone. The CEO has a responsibility to articulate and live the purpose, but it is also shared within the organization. It is not a plaque on the wall or a line or a business card. It is understood. It is the reason people show up for work, the reason meetings are held and decisions made. It is core to the organization.

Are you ever overwhelmed by the energy of an organization, company or church? Often I find the faith communities I’ve been apart of to be very busy places. Not only is there a lot of activity but it seems to be going in many different directions. There is no cohesive glue that holds it together. If you have energy on an idea and can convince others to join you – start something! As long as people are engaged it is good!

At times I long for something cohesive. I read Barton’s book ‘Pursuing God’s will Together’ lately and it awoke within me that desire again to be part of something simpler, where the leadership team is clear and direct on what they are doing. A team that takes time together, to laugh and know each other, to study and pray, to come to trust each other, to challenge each other. Together they move forward in a shared purpose.


Many years ago I was part of a ministry that had a simple vision statement, one we could articulate, recruit leaders around and implement on a regular basis. We studied and prayed together. We disagreed and reconciled. We were very focused on a simple purpose. I’m also aware it was a very structured, hierarchical ministry. Along with a strong vision statement came a clear organizational model.

Is it possible to be focused in traditional ministry? I’m not sure. The local churches I’ve been a part of are complex, historical, hierarchical organizations. Yes, there is a shared faith, and sharing/growing in faith is what they claim to be about, however there is politics, theatre, history and egoism embedded in community life.

Contemplative Fire is young. People self-select in coming. There is nothing gained socially or culturally around attendance. It was created with a purpose. Over the six years I’ve tended it in Canada it has expanded, contracted and expanded again. We’ve met around many different offerings with small groups emerging, some lasting for years and others ending, teaching times being frequent, then as desired, with unique offerings coming forward each year.

As fluid as it sounds, and is, our members still struggle with articulating our purpose, so we clearly still have a way to go in growing a Teal culture. Sometimes I find our purpose so clear and simple, yet at other times, I want the strong hierarchical structure of my early ministry that compelled us along. It made it easier. We all had our marching orders and they were written in a manual. Teal requires maturity, listening to one another, listening to Spirit. It’s not easy. I hope I’m strong enough to live into it without an organizational hierarchy telling me to do it. Am I? are you? Do you want to live driven by purpose or driven by structure? It’s ‘Leaf-in-the-Wind’ life (John 3.8)

Community Leader Canada


There are three significant changes that Teal organizations embody. The first we’ll think about is self-management. They have taken significant steps away from a strong hierarchical organizational structure and moved toward a flatter one. There may still be a CEO but that person is more a figurehead, one who actively embodies the values and vision. Although actively engaged in projects that are important to them, the CEO is not the key decision maker, for that power has been given to self-managed teams within the organization. There are fewer titles and a fluid movement between roles. Often there is peer evaluation and everyone has input regarding salaries!

In what way have you encountered these ideals in your place of work or church community?

The Contemplative Fire Companions that met shared stories of when we have encountered the walls of hierarchy; at times in our life, having a chain of command felt safe and secure. At other times it was restrictive and inhibiting. Have you encountered those walls? Where? What was your response?

We share awareness that Contemplative Fire has some structure, but its founding DNA is community engagement and its vision is for diversification with small local based communities, woven together by a shared Rhythm of Life and shared Vision/Values. We have a lot of Teal within us. We want to deepen that way of being in the world.

Rather than walls, Teal organizations have doors, open doors, lots of them, reflecting the organic nature of their life. Information flows. Things are always changing. Ideas, filtered through the purpose/vision/values of the organization, come in and out. Trust is a thread that joins the members.

I delighted in reading about for-profit companies that work with this model! It deepens my hope for our world. Some are truly trying to live a different way.

Can you, with me, imagine your company, community, church functioning this way? I think it smells like Jesus. Can you imagine with me our world moving in this direction?

Love and prayers


Contemplative Fire Community Leader (Canada)

What is ‘teal’?

As some Companions in Contemplative Fire gathered to explore Laloux’s ideas, we called our times together, ‘Teal Talks’.

‘Teal’ describes an evolutionary stage of human consciousness in relation to social organizations. Just as humans mature through emotional stages of development, Laloux describes the evolutionary development of our social organizations from small bands, to tribes, chiefdoms, nation states, and corporations. Within the later stages he describes corporations or organizations that are hierarchical, achievement oriented, and pluralistic. Each stage is allocated a colour – magenta (bands), red (impulsive chiefdoms), amber (conformist tribes/states, organizations), orange  (achievement nation states/corporations), and green  (pluralistic groups/organizations). Finally, he sees evidence of the most current level of our human consciousness in some organizations which are ‘teal’. These communities or companies have let go of much of their hierarchy along with the supporting structures and practices. They embody the three hallmarks of teal or evolutionary growth: purpose driven, self-managed and value a wholistic approach to life and business.

How do you respond to this simple description of Teal? If curious for more, search www.reinventingorganizations.com

We met and we talked. We talked ‘teal’ and that led us to speak of our experiences in life. Our times became rich and meaningful. It felt like to me, the way life was meant to be lived.  We discovered more of who we are individually and as a community. We spoke of becoming more of who we are, both individually and as a community. More. Not more in a BIG sense but more in completeness.

Can you, with me, imagine your company, community, church functioning this way? I think it smells like Jesus. Can you imagine with me our world moving in this direction?

Love and prayers


Community Leader Canada



Again and again I think I’m going somewhere and then BAM I hit a wall. I spin a bit, need to turn slightly and get on my way again. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a maze as I continue to try to find my way forward. I think I’ve found the way and I have, then BAM, a wall appears again.

A year ago Philip from the UK Contemplative Fire community suggested we read Frederic LaLoux’s book ‘Reinventing Organizations’. The author describes it as guide to creating organizations inspired by the next stage in human consciousness. Many of us within our community felt like we’d found a way forward. This book described us, both as individuals and as a community. The evolutionary principles within it were ones we were attracted to and which under-girds Contemplative Fire’s community life. Yes, a way forward! Someone else, beyond our world, beyond church-land was describing a wonderful way to live – enlivened by purpose, self-managing and holistic in relationship.

We began to meet for ‘Teal Talk’. People came and went, staying for as long as it was significant to them. We met as often as we wanted, usually every few months and we talked about what we wanted to as inspired by the ideas within the book, our lived experience and our longings.

Although the idea of a blog had been percolating within me for about a year, it was one of our ‘Teal Talk’ times that brought it together. One member said, ‘We need to share these ideas with others in the community.’ Of course we do. My desire to find a contemplative pathway through this chaotic world is infected by my desire to grow individually, as a community leader, and as a member of a community that seeks to be ‘teal’ in a very ‘orange’ world.

I know the colour words can be strange. We’ll tease those apart in weeks to come. Right now some questions to get us started.

Do you ever feel you hit a wall of hierarchy? A wall of the traditionalism? A wall of competition? A wall of strategy, planning and budgets? Maybe you’re a bit ‘teal’ too and living in an ‘orange’ world.

I’m finding my way and I hope you’ll join me. I trust our journey will expose some walls and help us find a new way forward. A whole new way – it’s a way of Peaceful Power.

Love and prayers


Community Leader Canada