Being centred is being in a physical, mental and emotional state of choice. We are centred when our body, mind and emotions are in a state where we can choose our actions. When we are not in a state to choose our actions, we are ‘off-centre’; our reactions and tendencies choose for us. We cannot blend when we are off-centre. In centring, we attain complete balance and focus regardless of our situations.

  • Our mind is alert, and we are connected to what we care about and we are free of distracting mental chatter.
  • Our mood is serene and open to the current situation.
  • Our physical state is dynamically relaxed, alert, balanced around our centre of gravity and ready for action.

These three aspects are mutually connected. We can centre ourselves by starting with any one; the other two will follow. Centring is the skill to put yourself in a state of choice rather than be in reaction when a challenging moment demands your leadership. The centred state is proactive and mindful.

  • From the body perspective, centre is 2 inches below the belly button.
  • From the language perspective, centre is silence.
  • From the emotion perspective, centre is acceptance.
  • Centring is an embodied commitment to self-knowing*.


Conversation is the interaction of human beings that creates action, meaning, listening, moods and emotions and the future.

Conversations are not just words, but whole body reactions that are provoked when we interact in language or when we interact and language is provoked.

Conversations include language, moods and emotions, body reactions and experiences and the listening that is based on the history of the people in the conversation. Conversations are shaped in linguistic and cultural practices**.

Conversation for Action

We coordinate our actions towards bringing about something specific in the future by clarifying and making certain who is committed to doing what by when. We make promises for specific actions to specific people in specific time frames. We make requests of specific people for specific actions in specific time frames.

The conversation for action involves two parties, the customer and the performer, who work together to negotiate COS to which both will commit. The customer is a person who makes a request, and the performer is the one who makes a commitment. The key milestones in the conversation are as follows:

  • Request: The customer makes a request along with the COS to the performer.
  • Negotiation: The performer does one of four things: accepts, declines, counter-offers or commits to commit (defer).
  • In the event of a counter-offer that the performer makes to the customer—the customer has the same four choices of accept, decline, counter-offer or commit to commit.
  • Promise: After the negotiation, the performer makes a promise to perform.
  • Execution: Performer performs.
  • Declaration of Completion: Performer declares ‘complete’ to the customer.
  • Declaration of Satisfaction: Customer declares satisfaction (or dissatisfaction).
  • Revoke/Cancel: During this process, the customer can revoke the request, or the performer can cancel the promise.

Conversation for Possibility

Conversations for possibilities shape the way you see the future, and the actions that you take today. Conversations for possibility generate ideas for possible action. This conversation is conducted in a mood of speculation, identifying possible future actions without judging them or committing to them. Its purpose is to generate a range of possible outcomes, especially including many that are not obvious in habitual frameworks and current constraints. To maintain the mood of speculation and generate the richest set of possibilities, the speakers wilfully refrain from making feasibility assessments or commitment. An example is a ‘what if’ conversation requested by a team member to explore a proposal. Another example is a group brainstorming session that designs goals or ways around obstacles.

The structure for conversations for possibilities includes the following elements:

  1. Listen
  2. Speculate
  3. Choose
  4. Declare

Conversations for possibilities culminate with the declaration of a new future of design.

Conversation for Relationship

To get meaningful and productive results with other people, the first conversation you need to have is a conversation for relationship. Conversations for relationship create a foundation of workability in which people are free to express their concerns, make open requests and even decline requests. Participants in this conversation relate to each other as a function of their commitments, instead of relating to each other based on the assessments, interpretations and feelings they have about each other. Rather than resigning themselves to patterns of defensive behaviour, resentment or cynicism, they focus on building relationships and opening possibilities through their speaking and listening.

The objective of this conversation is to discover the basis for collaboration between individuals. For the conversation for relationship to be effective, you discover the following in your conversation:

  • Shared interest
  • Shared care or concern
  • Shared commitment

*Richard Strozzi-Heckler, The Leadership Dojo: Build Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader (California: Frog. Ltd, 2007).

**This distinction of ‘conversation’ has been created for IGL by Bob Dunham.

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