I live my life and do my work in the shadow of a simple but powerful principle: the way you enter a situation has a lot to do with the way it will turn out.


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Now, of course there are limits to this idea and sometimes it’s just plain wrong. You can enter a situation with a positive attitude and great intentions, and it can still fall apart on you. However, mind-set and behavior-set do influence outcomes. Just head home tonight to your significant other in a foul mood, ready for a fight, and see what happens.

The way your tribe enters a conversation has a lot to do with the outcomes that conversation will yield. The way you direct your collective thinking matters.


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When alchemy-producing tribes enter a conversation about a challenge or opportunity, in the midst of the chaos and ambiguity, they direct their intentions toward insights. They desire to see the raw materials through different frames and organize those ideas and materials into new possibilities. This begins when tribes anticipate insight through their collective vision and conversation.


During times of circling, there are a number of unhealthy alternatives available to tribes. Here are just a few:

• Splintering

• Ambivalence

• Blame

• Distraction


“Less Than” Mindsets

The ambiguity of seeing challenges and opportunities can lead to “less than” mind and behavioral sets. In fact, sometimes it may be impossible to avoid them. We can’t be at our best in every moment of every conversation. However, dysfunctional strategies that emerge during a conversation are often a cue that a tribe needs to reset the direction of its thoughts.


And in what direction do we want the thoughts of the tribe to move during this phase?



You join to uncover insights that can lead to the alchemy of your raw materials. Tribal insight is more likely when it is the explicit desire of the tribe. Remember the principle above? The way a tribe enters a situation (or conversation) has a lot to do with the way it will turn out. It’s likely your tribe knows this principle is important, but it’s quite another matter to practice it in the midst of a seeing-together conversation. Therefore, when your tribe “joins” in the circle, it’s important to set “insight” as your intention before you begin. If you’re all expecting insight (something we will talk more about later), it’s more likely that you will bring your best effort to the circle.


Excerpt taken from, Tribal Alchemy: Turning What You Have Into What You Need. Dave Fleming, 2016. A Tribal Alchemy Resource.