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For the last 30 years the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) has been offering the gold-standard in coach training and leadership development for individuals and organizations. Now we are creating a new language of leadership. Let's do this together. 

Embracing Humanity: A message from CTI's CEO, Carey Baker

heart that displays pain and tragedy

I am heartbroken by what has happened and continues to happen in Israel and Gaza. Like many of you, I am grappling with the devastating images of violence and loss of life and what it all means.   

It has been challenging to speak into the space each time a crisis or conflict has erupted and revealed the shadow side of our humanity. This moment is particularly challenging for me because it impacts me directly as a Jewish person. I have been terrified to give my voice to this moment — afraid of my responsibility as a Jew, of how revealing this aspect of my identity may be perceived or used against me as CEO of CTI, and of the downstream impact on Co-Active of that truth. Over the last several weeks, I have been paying attention, staying in conversation, listening, and being with all the discomfort and pain, so that I could find my way to lead in this moment and recover to love and leadership over fear.  

This is a challenging conversation to be in for most people, given the level of conflict and complexity. In times like these, we must remember that everyone is in a reality that is based on their historical experiences and identities. This means we are in different places and seeing different things. My first call to action is for all of us to be kind and compassionate to each other and to seek understanding even if you do not accept what is happening from your personal experience.   

As I step forward to give my voice to this crisis, my intent is to be a stand both for minimizing the suffering and pain for the most people possible and for the heart, potential, and promise of Co-Active in these moments.  

What happened on October 7 by any definition was an atrocity and a tragedy. There was no way for the people of Israel to experience this other than an assault that was historically reminiscent of other assaults that Jews have experienced throughout history. With that said, the heart I have for Israelis and Jews who are experiencing trauma and devastation that is unfathomable for most is the same heart that doesn’t want to stay silent as we watch the mass destruction of the Palestinian population in Gaza. It is this heart that knows if my freedom is predicated on someone else’s oppression, then none of us are really free. Love is not an either/or — it is a both/and. This is why my heart goes out to everyone who is suffering, has been harmed, has experienced loss, and is traumatized by these ongoing events. 

Some of us are losing the thread of humanity and hope as we face this level of shock, devastation, and violence. So, while it might feel a bit insensitive or potentially insufficient to talk about Co-Active in the face of all that is unfolding, I feel like unless we can have Co-Active conversations in moments like these, we will lose the possibility of peace for everyone everywhere.  

Co-Active invites us into a different kind of conversation than the ones I am witnessing. The predominant dynamic I see is a binary approach that has us trading off pain and asking people to make a simple choice about an extraordinarily complex history and reality. This is the kind of thinking that perpetuates cycles of vengeance and divergence to continue and grow.  

One of the ways we can disrupt patterns of systemic oppression that benefit from having us at war within ourselves and with each other is by having conversations that inspire more responsibility and create more wholeness. While reacting to the pain of the moment is a reasonable response, and a necessary part of the process, in order to find solutions that create liberation for everyone, we need to build the capacity to stay with our feelings and be with the depth of an experience so we can transform our pain into action that inspires integrity and humanity. The capacity to move from a reaction to a creative action lives in the ability to be responsible for our world. 

Being responsible for our world is at the heart of our coaching and leadership models and frameworks. It’s the belief that we are both creating our world and being created by our world. This orientation alone reveals that we are not separate from anything. Rather, we are a part of everything. And when we realize we are a part of everything, then we are awakened to the kind of creative potential that just by transforming yourself, you can transform your world. The hard truth to face here is that this implies we all have and are playing a part in what is unfolding in Israel and Gaza. But once we face this truth and make the conscious choice to claim the power of this process, the paradigm of blame fades away and a world of integrity and trust emerges.  

Co-Active principles, cornerstones, contexts, and skills all call us into a dynamic human-centered conversation with the intention of deepening our self-examination and empowering authorship of our lives and the world around us. This means that if you are a Co-Active coach or leader, you are actively engaged in changing the nature of how we relate in this moment and the moments to follow. You are supporting people, whether they are your clients, your friends and family, or community members, in staying with their feelings long enough to realize something, examining their beliefs creatively so they can open to something, evaluating their choices and encouraging commitment, calling them forth into courageous action and the greatest potential of themselves and their world. You are modeling what acceptance looks like even in the face of disagreement, so that we can get more respectful and sophisticated at solving our conflicts with words and relationship instead of weapons and war. You are reminding people of their humanity and the larger truth that we are in this together. This is one of the most powerful antidotes to our individual and collective suffering.  

All of these conversations matter. In fact, they are critical — more critical than ever. You are the people trained for these moments. You are the people to inspire a new way to move forward for our humanity, one person at a time. Keep going. Keep talking and keep listening. Keep grappling with the tension between the polarities. Keep being a stand for our innate abilities as humans to find our way together. This is how you will keep hope alive. Keep throwing your heart out over the fences and walls we have built inside ourselves and at our borders — so that we can, together, courageously transform hate into acceptance, terror into peace, and fear into love one conversation at a time. 

Of all the coaches and leaders in our community, I want to acknowledge our faculty, partners, and alumni in this region of the world whose hearts are breaking and whose lives are threatened. Those who are courageously living their lives despite the war and continuing to find ways to apply their Co-Active skills to serve their communities and countries in finding peace. Let us stand by them wholeheartedly in the same commitment so that together we can create a new paradigm of life. May we promise to be responsible to this moment, to not look away, to deeply feel what there is to feel, and to be forever changed by what we are experiencing. And together, may we source reformation.  

We create our world together. Every day. In every moment. 

Carey BakerPhoto
Written By

Carey Baker, CEO of CTI

Carey Baker is the CEO of the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI). She is on a mission to transform the way the world relates through the philosophy, principles and practices of Co-Active. Carey believes that Co-Active leadership is for everyone, and that fostering deep, integral relationship with ourselves, each other and our systems creates a world alive with wholeness, responsibility and love.   Carey will write and talk about Co-Active relationship, partnership and wholeness, as well as the incredible leadership opportunities she see existing at the intersection of legacy, strategy and equity.

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