How do we find our way to somewhere we’ve never been before?

Individually, we each long to create a life that brings us into ever more wholeness. As lovers and families, we aim to love each other fully and create possibilities beyond what we’ve known. As teams and organizations, we want to birth impactful new collaborations, structures, and products that are inevitably further than what we’ve experienced. Collectively, millions of us around the world wish to change our social patterns and ecological trajectory toward a future of freedom and flourishing for all life on Earth.

What is Wayfinding

In it’s most specific reference, wayfinding is a staggeringly gorgeous voyaging skill developed by Polynesians several thousand years ago (estimated between 3000–1000 BCE) that I will do my best to describe from an outsider’s perspective. (*If you, friend, are more informed than I, please contact me with corrections.) Wayfinding synthesizes exquisite and complex relational pattern tracking of the stars, moon, sun, winds, weather, currents, birds, ocean beings, waves, islands, and self as a wayfinder as all of the needed information for orientating and navigating. It’s based on the understanding that all we need to navigate living systems is present in ourselves and the systems we live in. So our task is to observe, track the patterns, and be in ongoing dynamic relationship, recognizing that we are an interconnected, influencing part of the whole.

Hōkūle’a, the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s first voyaging canoe
  • From a post-indigenous, modern Western perspective (*all Europeans were indigenous at one point), wayfinding has a feeling of pioneering an inanimate, objectified space from intellect and will. From this viewpoint humans are not nature. We are regarded as separate and either better or worse than nature, which I see as a cultural illusion and an ecological falsehood. (More on this later).
Photo: Jeremy Bishop

Recognizing Disconnect (or How I Came to Wayfinding Part 1)

Born and raised by Barbara and Louis Conte and younger sister to Marc Conte — three intensely curious and loving souls — I grew up in Maryland and Massachusetts in a home culture of delighting in curiosity, family, food, people, nature, and diverse expressions of the human spirit.

Left to right: Barbara, Marc, Louis, and Larissa Conte
Louis Robert Conte, 1935–2004

Practicing Reconnection (or How I Came to Wayfinding Part 2)

Realizing I was raised in a culture that was primarily informed by disconnection, I longed to know what it felt like to live in a culture more deeply based in a worldview of connection. (*I experience the expanse of connection-disconnection worldviews as a spectrum, not a binary)

Puma gifts
Waterfall at Stow Lake (*my fall site is above frame)

Embodying Vitality (or How I Came to Wayfinding Part 3)

On January 10, 2011, I was sitting watching sunrise from the top of a waterfall in Golden Gate Park when I stood up to go, but evidently I stood too quickly. I had a low blood pressure moment, blacked out, lost my balance, and fell ~8–10', regaining consciousness immediately before bouncing on a boulder four times. Upon impact, a part of my awareness registered that this was the most painful thing I’d ever experienced as I felt something inside of me tear open and release a howling river. I didn’t have my ID or phone and I lost sense of time, plunged into endless screaming.

The map I designed for my 10-year anniversary. Added to article in 2021.

Wayfinding for Heart-Centered Leaders

Here’s my map of the core interconnected scales of vitality that I’ve explored over the past 17 years that encompass my approach to wayfinding and how I support heart-centered leaders to lead from aliveness and become systems healers.

The 5 scales of Wayfinding
  • The gating factors to addressing root causes to blockage in human systems are caused by power dynamics and our egos — two places that hold great charge and can instill fear, but that soften and flower into incredible beauty when engaged in the right way.
  • The antidote to blockage is encoded in the blockage itself and can be brought forth when we orient our power to that aim. We discover the keys to repair and incredible aliveness on any scale by listening into longing, desires, dissonance, and trauma. This is a simple, but uncomfortable task, because we are unpracticed in sensing and being with big feelings.

Notes

If you’re interested to learn more about examples of wayfinding traditions from around the world, see Wade Davis’s The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Founder @Wayfinding // Aliveness, Leadership evolution, and Power that serves the whole