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Democracy and Dominant Culture: Our Stand on the Events in the United States on January 6, 2021

Posted on January 10, 2021

As much of the world is well aware, on January 6, 2021, the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was attacked amid the U.S. Congress’s attempt to certify the electoral vote and ratify the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  

In this blog post, we want to outline the position that we, the Co-Presidents and Chair of CTI’s Board, are taking as we look at what occurred through the lens of Co-Active. Because we believe everyone is a leader, and leaders are those who both create their world and are created by their world, this is a moment in history that we can shape and be shaped by, if we are willing to be in the conversation. We are using our voice in this way as a call to action. 

First, we would like to address our global community. As a diverse collective of Co-Active coaches and leaders, we know the events and aftermath of January 6 are affecting everyone differently. We feel it is critical that we all activate our leadership around the shared contexts that are presenting themselves. Those of you who live in the United States are solemnly witnessing this threat to your democracy and due process. It is a deeply significant and, for many, a terrifying moment in your social and political history. For those of you in the United States of marginalized identities, we know these events speak volumes about your place and safety in the current social and political landscape of your country. Further, this threat extends directly to your daily lived experience. For those living outside the United States, seeing one of the pillars of global democracy being so fundamentally shaken can be very unsettling if you believe in the underpinnings of democratic ideals and process.

What we are witnessing is not just an attempt to obstruct a symbolic and sacred democratic process. It is also evidence of a much more powerful and historic construct rooted in white privilege, racism and violence. We are seeing a deep-seated fear of a more equitable and inclusive future create extreme reactions and deeper divides. Sadly, this dynamic, although playing out differently in various parts of the world, is not unique to the United States. This is not the kind of relationship, or action, we will support, nor the kind of world that Co-Active exists to create. 

Co-Active articulates the irrevocable, interdependent relationship between being and doing — between who we are (Co) and what we do (Active). The hyphen is the literal and symbolic representation of the dynamic interplay between the Co and Active. It shows that the quality of relationship we foster with ourselves, each other and the systems we are a part of shapes the nature and impact of the action we take. Co-Active is a commitment and stand for a world alive with wholeness, responsibility and love. This world includes and requires divergent points of view and the willingness to deeply disagree to create the future we want and need.  We insist that leaders hold this divergence of people and beliefs as vital inputs for intentional innovation and evolution versus obstacles to disprove, remove or dominate. 

We cannot stand with those who are so righteous in their points of view that they incite violence, propagate fear, inflict harm and desecrate property.  

Not only does this violence and destruction oppose the vision we have for our world, but it also leads back to systems and structures of overt oppression and fear-based dominance that many countries around the world have experienced over the last 100 years and continue to experience today. This is a moment for us to stand up together to create a new way forward.

We condemn the actions leading up to and resulting in the violence and desecration of property and process on January 6, and we remain open and willing to enter into a Co-Active relationship with those who feel so harmed that they would take such action.

We have to find another way. Our existence depends on it.

Despite the chaotic disruptions, the U.S. Congress was able to come together and certify the election process. Additionally, on the same day, the nation rallied to make history with some monumental Senate appointments in the state of Georgia. These efforts demonstrate a will to lead through this moment and make real a promise to create a world of radical inclusion and right relationship. 

We believe this is an inflection point in the history of humanity that is calling on change in the system of self and the system itself. This means the days and months ahead are likely to continue to be rife with unrest as we all endure the pandemic and experience the nature of emergence. We encourage you to find your voice, your vote, your vigor in an effort to support systemic and institutional change. We also implore you to open up to the understanding of how what lives in the larger systems (political, social, economic) also lives in you. Become familiar with the concepts like dominant culture and the characteristics of white supremacy culture as a way to deepen your journey and commitment as a Co-Active leader and take emboldened action.  

At CTI, we are currently in the process of understanding our own orientation and contributions to dominant culture norms and white supremacy culture. We are partnered with the Dignitas Agency to help us see into and effect change by evolving our people, products and systems to actively create the world we envision in ways we haven’t before. For more information on what we’re up to, please visit our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page.  

The moment is now for us to truly see what is unfolding and present in the systems and structures so many of us inhabit. We must take steps together into this uncertain future and co-create a world we believe is wanted by all — a world that is more just, equitable and responsible to all people and the planet we share. We thank you for your courage, resolve and heart to take a stand for what wants to emerge, and we commit to meeting you on the path.


What People Are Saying

  1. Dear Karen, Carey, Carlo — I appreciate this message of leadership, unity, and being Co-Active in the face of some very traumatizing events. What I’ve learned from being with CTI is also about “paradox” and “STAY”, especially during times like this.
    I’ve been processing so much emotion this week, from high-highs and very low-lows. I’m grateful for what I have learned in my Co-Active coaching and leadership journeys. I’ve thought many times this year about how the Co-Active foundation has helped me see much more than ever before (like, the “third way”) in relationship with myself, others, and our world. I appreciate that you are also staying – in the curiosity, and knowing that we cannot carry this on our own – we need to ask for help and guidance in those areas where we have had blind spots in the past. I’m certainly no exception – also being one who is learning (and UNlearning) how I’ve been complicit in the continuation of very very old and outdated “programming”. May this – as you so aptly point out here – be the moments in which we take a strong stand while we love on each other as we move through the traumatic events we see unfolding.


    1. Thank you Lynn! I know you have the courage, heart and skills for this journey. So grateful you’re a part of the team at CTI. We’re on the road of learning and UN-learning together.


  2. I concur. I will check out the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page. I am in process of enrolling in certification and I am thankful to be involved at this time! I believe the impact influencing these challenges we are facing will contribute to outcomes with clients exponentially. Thank you for your leadership! I appreciate the heart and soul you all place into your thoughtful leadership.


    1. Hi Susan!
      Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and specifically this post. We’re thrilled that you are entering into certification and see that this is an important conversation to be a part of and aware of as you work with your clients. Please keep us posted of any feedback you have on your experience as it relates to this or anything else.
      With Gratitude,


    2. Thank you Susan for joining this conversation and having the courage to take Co-Active into this emerging, new world. Wishing you well on your Certification journey! If you want to stay in the conversation on Co-Active inclusion and equity as your go through CERT, let us know and we can provide a place where you can give us your input along the way. Be well.


  3. This is such an important message. We still live in a world where hierarchy exist. The voices “from the top”, either in government, organizations or even family dynamics have the power to incite action. As leaders in our own worlds, let us be clear about the distinction between our power to influence as opposed to quieting the voices with opposing points views.


  4. What I like about our hyphen is being co-operative and co-llaborative, and we can also apply the Leader in front, Beside, Behind and In the field concepts. Whilst we typically rely on the Leader in Front to guide us to safety, there are tremendous powers for us to be the Leaders Besides and Leaders in the Field. The world needs us and co-active coaches can help process the wound together. In fact, this unique process would really help us to process and co-create. Would you consider that as another brilliant conversation? I’m happy to help.


    1. Hi Elliot,

      Thanks for your response and for pointing to the power and healing that can come from accessing the five dimensions of Co-Active Leadership. As you point out, every dimension brings tremendous value to situations needing this new kind of leadership vs. the old paradigm of Leader on Top (which we saw play out leading up to and on January 6th). I also appreciate how you point out the role Co-Active Coaches can play in helping (clients) process the wounds that have been created. Process coaching is one of the truly unique aspects, or Principles, of Co-Active Coaching when compared to other models. Let’s lean into that way of coaching and being with one another!

      Thanks also for inquiring about a brilliant conversation. We aren’t planning to run any in the near future, and will be sure to communicate when and if we do.

      With appreciation,


  5. I’m glad CTI came out with a statement, but I have three points of disagreement.
    1) This bit–“with those who feel so harmed that they would take such action.” You cannot ask someone to “be with” a person who considers them inferior and thinks they deserve death. The only harm white supremacists have experienced comes from their beliefs. Rights are, in fact, like pie to them. Giving rights to those historically excluded infringes on a white supremacists “right” to feel superior and their expectation to be treated as such. So, strong disagreement here about “harm” felt by white supremacists.
    2) The organization hired an outside consulting firm after so many of your CTI trainees have given feedback over the years that has been ignored. That makes me sad that you want to hear it from an outside organization and not from the people who have loved CTI from in the inside and wanted it to be and do better. History now, but I would suggest that fact inform part of your internal reflections.
    3) The senators in Georgia were ELECTED, not appointed. This distinction matters.
    I appreciate the link to the elements of white supremacy culture and the antidotes. Ideally, a Co-Active approach would already include what they list as the antidotes. Yet, all players need to come in good faith. The behavior of white supremacists/fascist continually shows they do not come to conversations in good faith. (And see point 1.) One should calibrate one’s relationship with them accordingly.


    1. Hi Peg,

      I deeply appreciate your willingness to come forward with the points of dissonance and disagreement.

      I so see what you mean about using the word harm in association with White Supremacists when they are the ones that are defending a world created by the belief that others are so inferior that they don’t have access to life itself and should be stripped of their rights. If I could rewrite that sentence now I think it would be more like this: ” We condemn the actions leading up to and resulting in the violence and desecration of property and process on January 6, and we remain open and willing to enter into a Co-Active relationship with those who responded with such offensive action.”

      Regarding the hiring of an outside firm. Thank you for being a stand for the brilliance and contributions that already exists in our beloved community. Stacy Parsons and Angela Taylor the principles of The Dignitas Agency are a part of our community and are familiar with the Co-Active work. Additionally, we have been tapping the resources of our community in the form of an advisory council since June. AND we have intentions to continue to draw from our community to understand how we become a more equitable organization and community.

      Thank you so much for creating the distinction between appointed and elected. You are right about the use of that language especially in the context of wanting to support the historic event of the first black and first Jewish person being elected in a red state.

      I really appreciate the integrity you are bringing and calling us into. This kind of clear feedback is helping us as individuals and a system heal and learn.

      With deep respect and gratitude,


      1. Thank you Karen for putting out an official CTI statement. It is so needed. I continue to feel proud to have CTI and Co-Activity in my core.
        Thank you Peg for voicing your three points so clearly and cleanly. I too felt a pang of old pain, being one of the earlier minority voice who struggled in the White dominant culture, but didn’t know how to articulate it and eventually left… still wanting to contribute but not invited to the table. It was a glorious time of learning.
        Thank you Carey for receiving Peg’s words so well and honor her contribution. I see Co-Activity is alive and thriving in this whole thread.

        Blessings to everyone. Thank you for being you and for leading.


  6. I appreciate the positive intent behind this statement, and especially I appreciate your attempt to humanize folks coming from different perspectives. I honor that this letter might have been a courageous and important act for you.

    Co-active coaching, from my perspective, is about supporting the client in creating the life they want to live. It’s about asking what they want, helping them confront what they have and also challenging them to be at their best as they define it. This letter, isn’t those things.

    This letter tells instead of asks. Instead of challenging the client in a manner relevant to their goals, it challenges the reader in relation to what the author’s want. I experience the letter as focusing on your story and what you judge the reader’s story should be. The reader is treated as somebody who needs to be fixed or taught, as opposed to someone who is creative, resourceful and whole.


    1. Hi there Chris,

      Thanks very much for your post. You’ve inspired some quality reflection in me, hence my response is a little long. I appreciate the conversation.

      You’re right! This post has the energy, tone and language of a “tell” versus an “ask.” I can see how that’s created an unintended impact on you (and others no doubt) that feels antithetical to Co-Active. Thank you for helping us see this impact.

      The truth is, it was what we were going for. Our orientation was to take a firm stand on what we saw was important in the events of January 6th, and how we (CTI) wanted to declare our intent as well as some values we seek to create from (e.g. equity, responsibility, openness) in the face of these extraordinary times. We continue to stand by our stand, and the strength of our convictions therein. And, I can absolutely appreciate how the strength of the stand has the message feel insistent rather than curious. I’m in your corner on curiosity being a critical orientation as we move forward, and these times call for both asking and telling. I liken it to Co-Active Coaches taking a stand for their clients and their Big A agendas (or life’s purpose, goals, dreams, etc.) and not letting them off the hook. In this case, we see the world as the entity we’re standing for.

      I’m with you in the importance of our cornerstone of Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole. This, as we engage our fellow citizens of the world and create from what is happening now. If we see others different to ourselves as broken, wrong and threatening, we are sunk. And, as I’m learning thanks to our DEIW teachers, we need to really be listening to hear how people’s lived experience has NCRW feel true and available (or not) for them. I’ve learned that accessing this cornerstone of our Co-Active model isn’t something I as a Co-Active coach and leader can take for granted. Working together, we can find a creative path forward.

      Lastly, your post has helped me see how CTI needs to do a better job at sharing what is emerging for us around Co-Active Relationship, which includes attention to the relationship with self, others and the larger systems we co-create and inhabit together. This is in the domain of the levels of listening (1, 2 and 3) as well as the five dimensions of Co-Active Leadership. Working with our fellow human beings on creating a life of meaning and purpose is central to what we believe and teach in Co-Active programs (relationship to self). We also create transformational experiences of human-to-human relationships that are full of respect, authenticity, compassion and love (relationship to other). What’s so clear to us now is that we need to hold, with equal integrity and strength, the truth and importance that we are all in relationship to the larger systems, and planet, we share. I’ve had to take stock of my own life, largely one aligned to my values, purpose and dreams, and see how it’s co-creating systems of abundance and support, as well as systems of harm and in some cases oppression. Not intentionally, but nevertheless, I can’t deny it. This, as a white, straight, able-bodied male living in the white-dominant culture. So bottom-line, co-creating the world we share means looking at all three aspects of relationship equally, and seeing how only operating from one or two of the aspects of relationship doesn’t foster wholeness and balance in our world.

      I’d welcome your further thoughts, and thank you again for helping me see into the impact and dimensions of our message. We’ll include what you share as we create CTI’s messaging and stance going forward.

      With my thanks, and my respect,


    2. Hi Chris.
      I appreciate your distinction between telling and asking.
      It gave me a distinction about the letter… to me the letter was CTI leading not coaching. In leading we get to tell and not ask. There is time for leading and time for coaching. I appreciate the stand that CTI took in the letter to lead us forward. Once the direction is set, then the space is opened up for coaching… making space for us to ask ourselves… how do we see ourselves fitting in this direction? What comes up for us? What do we want? Etc…

      In leading don’t be afraid to TELL.


  7. Love this thread! Thanks so much for kicking it off, Chris! It provides the opportunity to make a clear distinction between Co-Active leading and Co-Active coaching as Mai Vu has done so cleanly above. in the 5 dimensions of Co-Active leadership our post is most oriented toward Leader in Front which is all about direction and connection. So our intent was to take a clear stand and point the conversation, in service of our Co-Active community and generate further conversation and connection. I hope that has been the impact and welcome your further thoughts! Much love,


  8. Indeed. A deeper systemic causality. One that invites leadership at all levels to ponder how they too played a part in the unfolding of these times. It is easy to blabber as we do in our unconscious state to assign blame as if no part was played by the very system that governs. The humans that say they represent the voice of the people. I wonder when those same leaders will look among themselves and wonder how they all co-created the storming of a capitol. How we all co-create it. This wondering is a path of radical responsibility. And those that deem to “govern”… I wonder when you will look to how you govern. And we all… how we “govern” our lives.


  9. Thank you Phillip. ..I love the term “radical responsibility”. ..and I too long for those who govern look to the responsibility they share for the events that have occurred. And like you, I strive for that longing not to blind me to my own governance of myself and my world.

    I am about half way through a wonderful book “The Future We Create: Surviving The Climate Crisis” by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, et al. It is such a hopeful book and emphasizes that co-operation is the only way forward. . . our very survival as a species depends on it. The principles of Co-Active are woven throughout even though I’m don’t imagine that the authors have ever heard of CTI or of Co-Active.

    In the book, the authors put forward the idea of “stubborn optimism” which rests on our capacity to believe firmly and steadfastly in that which has not yet come to pass and indeed, might seem impossible. Even with all the challenges that face us, I reach for this notion of stubborn optimism and strive to stand firm in the belief that collaboration and co-operation are not only possible, they are our most natural state. Whether we WILL break free from the current paradigm of win/lose and greed that grips much of the world today remains to be seen but whether or not we CAN is clear.


    1. That sounds like a good book. Thanks for mentioning it. I agree that cooperation is the best way forward for all the colliding issues, and is one reason I live in a cohousing (intentional) community. My sense is that many ways will continue alongside each other for a long time – including a focus on battling it out, and a focus on cooperative efforts. The full spectrum already exists and they all have big momentum.


  10. Thank you for taking a clear stand and using the elegant co-active lens for coming to terms with this moment. Thank you especially for naming what is particularly hard about this moment for Black people who are scapegoated and targeted by this movement. Some of the rioters attacked a Black police officer and she was let go from her job for defending herself, unlike white police officers busy letting rioters in and taking selfies. That’s just one of millions of injustices to list. Things are scary, especially for Black people who continue to not be protected.
    Again, thank you for taking a stand and please continue to do so. We can’t stand by and pretend all is well.


  11. Completely agree, very well argued!


  12. I would invite you to stand in the perspective of those who felt the anger and rage strong enough to take such a position. Not advocating violence in any form, but there is a voice that is not being heard. To me Jan 6th represented the boiling point of frustrations of those who felt their voice was not being heard. The media had chosen a side and that is all that was spouted to the masses. No serious attempt was made to see if these folks had a legitimate point, it was either swept under the rug or at the very least that was the perception of millions of Americans. That under current of anger is still there. It is largely kept quiet. As professional coaches how do we connect to these very real emotions that so many people are feeling in these tumultuous times?


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