My favourite Peter Block quotes

Peter Block really does give good guru.

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  • ‘How do we do this over a long period of time?’ ‘Stay healthy’
  • ‘How do we sustain this over a long period of time?’ ‘Exactly. Join us and we’ll see.
  • A church in Cincinnati is proud of feeding 5,000 people every week, but they don’t know any of them. If you ask those 5,000 people what they’re good at, you know what they’re good at? Cooking.
  • All advice, all ‘help’, is an act of colonialism.
  • All marketing’s pornography
  • All projects with a clear specification, good funding and the ambition to scale are doomed to failure
  • All self-development is an act of violence (implying ‘I’m not enough’)
  • All transformation is linguistic – we can measure transformation by ‘are they speaking into a different world?’
  • All you have to hear is from four people and you’ve heard the room.
  • Always rearrange the room. At the very least, it will show everyone how they do everything.
  • Another protocol that’s even more radical is – don’t be helpful.
  • Ask questions that are ambiguous, and personal, and anxiety-provoking. And don’t let people be helpful. All help is a form of colonialism, all development is a form of colonialism.
  • Ask questions that are ambiguous, and personal, and anxiety-provoking. And don’t let people be helpful.
  • Be with people you know less
  • Build connections before anything else (allow people to fall in love with each other)’
  • Community – don’t wait to be chosen and don’t be helpful.
  • Community, built by confronting people with their gifts (in small groups, close, without judgment and asking uncomfortable intimate questions) – we’re very nervous about gifts – it’s too easy to speak about needs and wants…
  • Construct an experience of freedom and accountability. Community is an alternative to development.
  • Dead spaces create lousy outcomes
  • Don’t ever tell anyone what you did at their age – whatever you did, it’s not successful cos look at you now…
  • Don’t let people make speeches. ‘Hey – have you said this before?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Well, how long does it take?’
  • Don’t let the small groups go on too long. They fall in love, they think they’re the best.
  • Don’t talk about ‘truth’ – ‘I’m speaking truth to power’ – oh, really?
  • Don’t ask people what they want from an event. Their expectations are too small. Ask questions. For example, “What’s the yes that you no longer mean?”
  • Don’t think about scaling. Think about aggregating people and getting them to talk to each other. The fastest thing we can do is invest time and money to innovate. You don’t innovate through legislation. You innovate through experience.
  • Fallibility is recognised in community – not fixed.
  • Have a meeting with only one rule: ‘no complaining’
  • How does democracy exist if we don’t trust each other?
  • I cannot serve and help anybody who I haven’t met. The idea that you can help someone who you haven’t met is the most colonial thing that I know.
  • Instead, be curious
  • In community building, rather than focusing on our deficiencies and weaknesses, which will most likely not go away, we gain more leverage when we focus on the gifts we bring, and seek ways to capitalize on them.
  • It’ll always be flawed – so what?
  • It’s a cry out against help, against charity, against philanthropy – all a form of colonialism
  • Making the world a better place will be caught up in something concrete. Cleaning up the neighborhood or feeding the hungry.
  • Many tragedies are born from the absence of community, and the colonizing of communities.
  • Methodology is too small a god to worship
  • Never facilitate it. Let them be.
  • Never facilitate, because if it goes well, people think they need a facilitator
  • Never help: (all fixing people is a form of colonialism)
  • Never solve problems: same thing; create new possibilities instead
  • Never take photos or write up notes – you suck all the life out of them.
  • Our democracy is at risk not because we have differences but because we are caught up in certainty.
  • People don’t trust each other. That’s why you build community.
  • Performance appraisals – ‘the ultimate patriarchal ritual – a once-a-year reminder that ‘I own you, and you’re insufficient’.”
  • Public leaders should be conveners, not problem solvers.
  • Sit nine inches away, and if you are from a culture where that’s not appropriate, sit 9.5 inches apart
  • Small groups with strangers are the quickest way to be surprised, and to create change.
  • Ten minute of context and then break them into small groups.
  • The antidote to helpfulness is curiosity – ‘why does that matter to you?’
  • The biggest thing you can do is restore the commons.
  • The only reason to come together is to recreate the world.
  • The tragedy of the dominant narrative is we’re waiting for someone else’s transformation
  • Tomorrow distinct from today
  • We should never ask ‘could we do better’ – we have weaknesses but can’t gain anything by working on them.
  • ‘We’re inviting people into the wilderness – with no visible means of support – that’s why it’s a tough sell’.
  • We’ve been looking for deficiencies – the gap – problem solving. I’m no longer interested in solving problems – it’s too small of a god to worship
  • What promise are you willing to make without any expectation of return?
  • What’s the crossroads? What’s the promise? What’s the doubt?
  • Why do we feel we need to leave the meeting with a list?
  • You and I right now are creating the world we want to inhabit
  • You don’t build trust by talking about trust.

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