So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World by Margaret J. WheatleySo Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World by Margaret J. Wheatley

So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World

byMargaret J. Wheatley

Paperback | October 8, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 90 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


I wrote this book for you if you offer your work as a contribution to others, whatever your work might be, and if now you find yourself feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and sometimes despairing even as you paradoxically experience moments of joy, belonging, and greater resolve to do your work.

This book describes how we can do our good work with dedication, energy, discipline, and joy by consciously choosing a new role for ourselves, that of warriors for the human spirit.

This book contains maps of how we ended up in a world nobody wants—overtaken by greed, self-interest, and oppressive power—the very opposite of what we worked so hard to create. These maps look deeply into the darkness of this time so that we can develop the insight we need to contribute in meaningful ways.

This book provides maps for the future, how we can transform our grief, outrage, and frustration into the skills of insight and compassion to serve this dark time with bravery, decency, and gentleness.

As warriors for the human spirit, we discover our right work, work that we know is ours to do no matter what. We engage wholeheartedly, embody values we cherish, let go of outcomes, and carefully attend to relationships. We serve those issues and people we care about, focused not so much on making a difference as on being a difference.
Margaret (Meg) Wheatley writes, speaks, and teaches globally about how we can accomplish our work, sustain our relationships, and willingly step forward to serve in this troubled time. She has been working actively out in the world since 1966. She is the author of six other books.
Title:So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New WorldFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.53 inPublished:October 8, 2012Publisher:Berrett-koehlerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1609945360

ISBN - 13:9781609945367

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 4 out of 5 by from So far from home Great experiences for daily life. How to open ourselves to others.
Date published: 2014-04-14

Read from the Book

SEEING WHAT IS I’m sitting on the banks of the Virgin River in Zion National Park, my favorite place on the planet. The river is confidently, casually flowing through this magnificent canyon that it has been carving out for about two million years. The canyon has created one of Earth’s most sacred places. It has been a dry winter, so the river is low, ambling peacefully along. I’ve been here at other times when it’s fierce, flooding, destructive. Next time I’m back it will be different again. I’ve learned a lot from rivers, starting with the teacher stream I wrote about in Leadership and the New Science. That lovely mountain stream taught me about process structures, things that have clear identity and intention yet constantly adapt to circumstances and conditions, changing their form as needed. Streams take many forms yet never lose their way, which is unerringly to the ocean. Along the way, they create magnificent canyons, wreak terrible destruction, provide sustenance to farms and communities, provide pleasure and pain to those who live along their banks. This is the pattern of life—changing, adapting, creating and destroying. The Hopi Native American elders describe this time—our time—as a river flowing now very fast, great, and swift. They warn us not to hold on to the shore, the place of security and old ways, because those who do “will be torn apart and suffer greatly.” They encourage us to push off into the middle of the river and to keep our heads above water.3 These river images, even the most turbulent ones, no longer describe this time for me. I need a more violent image of disruption and dread to describe what I’m seeing and how I’m feeling. It is Yeats’ dark vision that speaks to me, written in 1919 in the troubled years after the First World War: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; A Confession of Innocence Many of us—certainly I’d describe myself in these terms—were anxiously engaged in “the ceremony of innocence.” We didn’t think we were innocents, but we were. We thought we could change the world. We even believed that, with sufficient will and passion, we could “create a world,” one that embodied our aspirations for justice, equality, opportunity, peace, a world where, in Paulo Freire’s terms, “it would be easier to love.” (The gifted publisher of this and all my books, Berrett-Koehler, aspires “To create a world that works for all.”) This vision, this hope, this possibility motivated me for most of my life. It still occasionally seduces me into contemplating what might be the next project, the next collaboration, the next big idea that could turn this world around. But I’m learning to resist the temptation. This is not a book that contemplates what we might do next, what we’ve learned from all our efforts, where we might put our energy and experience in order to create positive change. I no longer believe that we can save the world. Powerful, life-destroying dynamics have been set in motion that cannot be stopped. We’re on a disastrous course with each other and with the planet. We’ve lost track of our best human qualities and forgotten the real sources of satisfaction, meaning and joy. This book was born from my clarity that greed, self-interest and coercive power are destroying the very life force of this planet. I don’t know whether such destruction is intentional or not, but I observe it happening everywhere. I was hit in the face with this while in South Africa in November 2011. South Africa is the country of my heart, always teaching me about the depths of human experience. I’ve been working there since 1995 and this was my fourteenth visit. In the years of Nelson Mandela, hope was palpable. Everyone seemed to be starting projects to tackle huge social problems, eager to work with others to create the New South Africa. They understood the complexity of all the issues, they knew it was “a long walk to freedom,”4 and they had great faith in their future. But now, for many reasons, hope is hard to find and the good people who have created successful projects and built effective non-government organizations (NGOs) are exhausted and demoralized. They keep doing their work, but it’s now a constant struggle. They struggle for funds, they struggle with inept, corrupt bureaucracy, they struggle with the loss of community and the rise of self-interest, they struggle with the indifference of the newly affluent. The dream of a new nation of possibility, equality, and justice has fallen victim to the self-serving behaviors of those with power. Please do not think this is only true in South Africa. It’s happening everywhere, as you may have noticed. Indestructible Motivation Yet I have not set out to write a book that increases our despair. Quite the contrary. My intention is that we do our work with greater resolve and energy, with more delight and confidence, even as we understand that it won’t turn this world around. Our work is essential; we just have to hold it differently. This was beautifully described by Václav Havel, leader of the Velvet Revolution, the poet-playwright who then became president of the new Czech Republic: “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”5 How do we find this deep confidence that, independent of results, our work is the right work for us to be doing? How do we give up needing hope to be our primary motivator? How do we replace hope of creating change with confidence that we’re doing the right work? Hope is such a dangerous source of motivation. It’s an ambush, because what lies in wait is hope’s ever-present companion, fear: the fear of failing, the despair of disappointment, the bitterness and exhaustion that can overtake us when our best, most promising efforts are rebuked, undone, ignored, destroyed. As someone commented, “Expectation is premeditated disappointment.” My great teachers these days are people who no longer need hope in order to do their work, even though their projects and organizations began with bright, hope-filled dreams. As “the blood-dimmed tide” of greed, fear, and oppression drowns out their voices and washes away their good work, they become more committed to their work, not because it will succeed, but just because it is right for them to be doing it. I watch their inner struggles and bouts with despair, but mostly what I notice is their perseverance and confidence. They see how bad it is, they know it is getting worse, they realize their work won’t create the changes they have worked hard for all these years. Yet they continue to do their work because they know it is theirs to do. Sometimes they say, “I can’t not do this.” Other times they ask, “What else would I be doing if not this?” These brave people are true warriors. Seeing as clearly as they can, hearts as open as they can bear, they keep doing their work. They know how systems of power work and they try to discern wise actions. Though in frequent battles with politicians, leaders and bureaucrats, they strive to keep their hearts open and not to succumb to anger and aggression. Work is filled with constant challenges, and they know there will be many more. Perhaps you see yourself in this description. Or perhaps you still rely on the hope that it’s possible to save the world.

Table of Contents

An Invitation to You as Reader
An Invitation to Warriorship

Part One: New World: Oh Brave New World! That has such people in it!
Ch 1 Seeing What Is
Ch 2 Do You Want to Save the World?
Ch 3 New Maps for Lost People

Part Two: Home: We cannot change the way the world is
Ch 4 Everything Comes from Somewhere
Ch 5 Emergence: Surprised by Newness
Ch 6 Identity: The Logic of Change
Ch 7 Relationships: Endlessly Entangled

Part Three: Lost: Opening to the world as it is
Ch 8 Are We Lost?
Ch 9 All-Consuming Selves
Ch 10 Distracted Beyond Recall
Ch 11 Controlling Complexity

Part Four: Found: Discovering gentleness, decency, bravery
Ch 12 A Prophecy of Warriors
Ch 13 Choosing for the Human Spirit
Ch 14 Warriors at Work
Ch 15 No Hope, No Fear
A Path for Warriors
A Dream of Warriors
About The Author