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Less Domination, More Tea: A Mini-Festo

by Marissa Bracke in Live Resonantly

Less domination, more tea

I don’t really have any urge to dominate the world.

Domination’s great, as long as you’re the dominator. But in order to dominate, there has to be someone being dominated. There is no dominator without a corresponding subordinate. Me Conqueror, You Subject. That isn’t how I approach my business or my life. Domination is an “I win, you lose, I command, you obey” proposition. It’s counter to my core values. I don’t want to feed an ethos of power struggle, scarcity or battling.

Not even metaphorically. Words matter.

I’m also not particularly interested in crushing anything. Or killing it. Or destroying, pummeling, punishing or beating. I don’t feel the need to bring violence upon something, even metaphorically, in order to have a good day, be productive or be successful.

★ Here’s what I am interested in: Conversing. Engaging. Exploring & being really curious. Practicing. Expanding. Enhancing. Liberating. Awakening. Supporting. Adapting. Discovering. Understanding. Collaboration. Completion (begetting new beginning, begetting new completion…). Creation. Realization. Stretching. Making strides. Covering ground. Adventuring. Noticing. Acting, taking stock, realigning & acting again. Journeying. And being okay with not being the emperor.

And drinking tea.

Perhaps that’s my ethos: Less domination, more tea.

I’ll sip to that.

★ Pull up a chair, help yourself to a cup of tea & tell me: What are you interested in?

Image Credit: Luz Bratcher | CC License

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Yes! Yes! Less domination, more tea.

Words do matter – that’s why I stopped cussing. I would never have expected the huge benefits from changing my words, but I feel calmer, am more able to deal with stress, and generally chilled out.

And I see it becoming all-invasive in my life. Instead of playfully telling my son “I’ll slap you silly!”, I’m re-wording to be playful without violent words (even when I didn’t intend any actual violence).

And it’s making a difference in my heart. I feel more peaceful already.

Thank you for posting this. Good call.


I (mostly) stopped cussing too, a few years back. I still throw in a swear here and there, but it’s not my default response to pain or anger, and it really does make a difference. I find I diffuse the situation much faster if I’m not using inflammatory language, even in my own head.

Words do matter.

chris zydel

Dearest Marissa,

I just LOVE this post and the simple yet powerful clarity of your “Mini-Festo”. I , too, am pretty much over the whole ass-kicking, dominator mode of making your way through life.

For one thing… it’s way too much work and incredibly exhausting! And I’m all for ease and flow. And I know from experience that my greatest successes come from inclusion, creating community, opening my heart … AND seeing the world as one big playground of potential collaboration!!

Thank you for your courage and your wisdom and the invitation to take tea together as we begin the shift into this new more playful way of being.


“One big playground of potential collaboration” paints a lovely mental image.

Meet you on the monkey bars? :)

Gwen Bell


Have you read What We Say Matters (http://www.amazon.com/What-Say-Matters-Practicing-Communication/dp/1930485247) by Judith Hanson & Ike Lasater? I can’t recommend it highly enough.


No, I haven’t read that yet–I will, though. I’m moving it to the top of my to-read list since it sounds like it will fit in well with where my thought processes are at right now. I’ve enjoyed Judith’s Living Your Yoga and Year of Living Your Yoga books, so I have no doubt I will like this one too.

Thank you for the recommendation!

David Cohen

I’ll sip to that too! Great stuff Marissa! It’s a nice reminder that there are more ways than one to define leadership and more paths than one to success. I love that you’re finding the one that speaks to you. :)


Finding… and sharing, which challenges me as much sometimes as the finding part. Thanks for the encouragement on that journey.

Ryah Albatros

‘I’m also not particularly interested in crushing anything. Or killing it.’

That made me spit my tea! Until you wrote it like that though, I didn’t understand just why I was no good with all those phrases. Now I do – I’m like you, I don’t need to beat everything into submission.

Less domination, more tea. I’ll certainly sip to that too!


Well, my apologies for the spit tea… I do hope it wasn’t too much of a mess. ;-)

I can’t hear “crush” without thinking aluminum cans before recycling (and that aluminum-being-smooshed sound), and it’s such an odd mental picture relative to anything business- or person- related!


i’m SO glad Gwen RT’d your tweet to this link because i couldn’t agree more. i’m for empowerment (of everyone) and when i hear “domination” i think of having power over others. words do matter and i try to choose mine carefully most of the time AND it’s a continual process for all of us as we learn new ways of engaging with each other in new paradigms. beautifully said.


A continual process–so true. When it stops being a process, a journey, it starts being a power struggle. I much prefer the journey! Thanks, Marilyn.

Patty K

Hear! Hear!

Thank you for this, I couldn’t agree more. I have no interest in fighting or conquering anything either. I’ve noticed for some time how use of violent language and descriptions by others has turned me off. After reading this, I’m aware that I have used some of these words and phrases myself – mainly turned inwards: battling demons, breaking through fear, things like that. I’m going to look for some gentler phrases, more in line with my values.


I’ve done many Office Spa Days with Jen Hofmann and that’s one thing she’s particularly good at: gently illuminating the ways we talk about ourselves relative to our stuff. There’s a lot of talk of someone “forcing” herself to clean her desk, or someone else “kicking herself” for not decluttering fast enough, and Jen’s very good at sort of asking, “Is there a different way we could approach it that wouldn’t be so painful?” I’m always amazed at how much that turns the other person’s experience around from one of hard & forced to one of space & flow.

I’ve learned a lot from Jen in that way, to watch how I speak to myself, and I’ve noticed how much that influences how I speak to & react to the outside world.

Kind of fascinating, really!

Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

I love this. I, too, am interested in tea. Lots and lots of tea.

Also interested in: Abundance. Hope. Creativity. Community. Helping one another. Nourishment. Joy. Listening. Trust. And paying attention.


Oh, yes! I love what your interested in. Nourishment has been a big one for me lately–noticing what nourishes, noticing what doesn’t. Noticing how much difference it makes to my creativity and joy and openness when I’m nourishing and when I’m merely consuming (food, energy, information, etc.).

Great words!


Marissa, I just love this. Perfect.

As I read your post, I started thinking…and getting curious. I wonder if we have a classic case of (whisper it!) gender differences here?

Makes me think of my “There’s no such thing as competition” blog post, which was rather strongly disagreed-with by a male colleague.

And I also want to say a big WOOHOO! for the importance of words. They impact people’s experience in such subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways.

So, I’ll drink to less domination and more tea!


The interplay of the masculine & feminine is intriguing. My experience of the domination paradigm is a very masculine one, though my experience of it in practice has not always been lead by men. But even in those instances where a woman was touting a domination-type approach, the energy felt very masculine. It is interesting!


It’s tremendously fascinating. I started studying linguistics and gender differences wayyyyy back (yes, really, WAYYY back!) in my college days. I’ve even taught it from the perspective of corporate politics/corporate survival for women.

Women often feel they need to take on that masculine paradigm in order to succeed. Traditional views of being in business are often phrased – and taught – in language that emphasizes all of the words you’ve called out, and then some.

I’m VERY glad to see that so many small business people, men and women both, are beginning to look at it from a different perspective, and being so much gentler and kinder to ourselves, to our clients, and – by extension – to the world around us.


“I’m VERY glad to see that so many small business people, men and women both, are beginning to look at it from a different perspective, and being so much gentler and kinder to ourselves, to our clients, and – by extension – to the world around us.”

I know you’re not supposed to reply to someone by just saying “yes,” but… Yes. Very yes. ;-)


This is amazing! I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we forget that it’s about community, not domination : )

And the idea of “crushing it” is hilarious.


Thanks, Shenee! “Crushing” is inextricably linked in my head to aluminum cans (as I mentioned upstream) or to superficial infatuation a la “I have a total crush on [current pop icon].” Both of which create amusing & ill-fitting mental images when I apply them to business. ;-)

Kirsty Hall

I’m British, of course I’m all about the tea!

And as someone suffering from a chronic illness, I just don’t have the energy for world domination. When do those people sleep? Do they ever get a minute to play?

Even though I call my business journal my Evil Plans book, I’m much more on the tea, sequins and tiara side of the equation. I prefer noodling around having fun. Lately I’ve been exploring the idea of wayfaring – journeying for the sake of the journey rather than travelling straight to a destination.


Noodling! I’ve sort of rediscovered that word in the past couple of weeks & have been using it quite a bit. It’s just such a good, playful way of approaching pondering.

I also really dig “wayfaring.” I’m going to add that to my lexicon too. I really like the vibe.

Cheers for noodling & wayfaring! (Or noodling about wayfaring, perhaps?)

Christine Martell

I am so with you. When I read the domination language I notice the kind of frantic energy it stirs up in my body. I so do not want to reinforce that being in my life. I’d much rather live with the vibration of collaboration and alliance, greeting differences with curiosity, all in the spirit of service.


“Live with the vibration of collaboration and alliance, greeting differences with curiosity, all in the spirit of service.”

That sounds like poetry, Christine. I appreciate the ease and the vibrance in that. Count me in!

Tami - Teacher Goes Back To School

I’m all about the rest. I’ve even written a rest manifesto!

If you are interested in more of Judith Laster’s books – check out Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times – it’s my bible.


Would that be a mani-resto? ;-) The playing with words… I cannot resist.

I am adding that book to my to-read list right now as well, Tami. Thank you!

Mona - Some Like It Raw

Me too, Me too!

Less domination…more juice. :-)

What I’m interested in is Surrender; doing my best and surrendering the results and knowing that whatever results come are definitely for my best interest. It’s such a beautiful way of living that I’ve made it my theme for 2011.

Last year I had Ease as my focus. It was incredible…and I really experienced a lot more ease. Perfect, right?

This year, Surrender. Love it. And I just breathe so much easier and feel more fulfilled when I realize that’s what my life is about. Not crushing, killing or even ROCKING IT! (Though in moments its fun to excited about rockin’ it and doing great things and that’s part of my doing my best…) but for the most part, I choose to show up with everything I have and then surrender to the outcome and love it no matter what.


Oh, more juice. I will absolutely sip to that as well, Mona! I love fresh juices.

Exploring surrender is brave and beautiful… I picture someone in a big inner tube on a gorgeous, fresh, flowing river, deciding to turn their face to the sun & embrace the ride. May it be a sunny, beautiful adventure for you. :)

(Also, thank you for the great Facebook status updates. An update from you shows up in my newsfeed always at just a moment when I need a little extra sunshine or love in my day!)



Nor do I need an army, no matter how small.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever to some of the fine people for whom that language does work, but I am much more comfortable not using it myself.

Thank you for saying it so beautifully.


I am contentedly army-less as well, Marianne. I’m just more comfortable doing sun salutations than commanding an armed force. :)

Fabeku Fatunmise

Right on, Marissa.

I think this so needs to be said. If nothing else, so people know that there are other options out there.

They don’t have to crush it or dominate or kick ass to be successful. There are other ways to roll.

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that there’s one way to do something. Especially when you see people doing it that way and doing well. But that can get tricksy fast.

Thanks for presenting another option.

And tea! Yes! *raises a glass*


I think I’m a grand master at the “It’s working for [this other person] and therefore must be the right way, the only way, and the best way for me to do it too” comparison game, so long and with such verve have I played it. And I still do, almost reflexively, sometimes. But I notice it now. And I can pause to reassess whether I believe that assumption about someone else’s way being the right / only / best way.

And every once in a while I even muster the courage to publicly say that I see an alternative.

And then, of course, I drink some tea. With friends! (Thank you for the support, my sound-genius friend.) :)

Catherine Caine

Beautifully put, Marissa.

It really can feed into the thought of success as a zero-sum game. I don’t want to win by making other people lose!


Here’s to not winning by (others) losing. A most definitely sip-worthy note!


Spot on!

I’m starting to see the online circles I revolve in as something like a music session where sometimes everyone plays at once, but sometimes everyone listens. Sometimes people respond to your song with one of their own. And sometimes everyone learns your song and starts playing it, even when you’re not around.

There’s plenty of applause to go round.


What a beautiful way of looking at it. I love the idea of everyone jamming together! And I just so dig the metaphor of responding to one person’s song with my own, and them responding back with another… Making music back and forth. I just love it.

Plenty of applause, for sure.

Christina Henderson

I love this. I like some of the world domination/kicking ass people but the thought of doing what they’re doing makes me feel kinda desperate and frantic.

I’m more about exploring than conquering. Curiosity not crushing. I have to keep reminding myself that there’s nothing *wrong* with that.


“Curiosity not crushing” could well be a bumper sticker. I’d totally sport it.

And you’re right–there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll sip to that too. :)

joyce lukaczer

oh y e s …

Naomi Niles


The only time I dominate anything (well, not the ONLY time, but we won’t go there) is during aggressive tae-bo sessions. We’ll just say it’s my own way of releasing frustration, lol.

Personally, I’ve always felt that if I have to make a violent amount of effort to convince myself to succeed at something or be happy, I’m probably going in the wrong direction. Kind of like a fish swimming upstream, right?

Pour me some more tea, please. :)


Whoops – fix my closing tag please? I don’t mean to shout the whole ending. :-) Just the “way” part.


Your mini-festo is wonderful.
I tried reading a book recently by a well-known blogger many of my friends love. I couldn’t get past the beginning because it’s written with so many imperatives based on domination, breaking things, and implied loss if you don’t do everything you want RIGHT NOW. I set the book aside to try to reframe it because I believe the author has good things to say, but the way that he’s saying them make me shut down every time.
Your statement “Not even metaphorically. Words matter.” really helped me realize that maybe I’m just not interested in that whole winner/loser paradigm. Words DO matter. I shall pass the book along to someone who might enjoy it.
Thanks again!


Thanks, Case!

The lifestyle design blog-o-sphere has taken some heat recently for being overrun (and there is some validity to that). But I think this discussion highlights an at least partial response to the criticism: a couple of voices aren’t enough. We need many voices speaking about the topic, because where one voice might resonate powerfully with one group, that same voice is apt to shut out other groups who might resonate with the same principles but from a different perspective.

It is great that you’re giving yourself space to not engage with a paradigm that doesn’t fit you–and to pass along a resource to someone else for whom it might be a great fit. A great win-win solution! :)

Rebecca Leigh

A while ago I noticed a circle of my (male) entrepreneurial friends tweeting #crushit as motivational shorthand for whatever biz stuff they were working on that day. I interjected with some #sprinkleit tweets of my own :) I’m not sure if they totally got it!


#SprinkleIt! I’m loving that so much. I’m making a mental note to use that the next time I get myself in a tailspin over stuff I need to do. Attaching the hashtag “SprinkleIt” to the situation–even just mentally–would immediately make me pause and smile. Awesome.

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