When Your Heart's Work Has Broken Your Heart with Parker Palmer, Ph.D.

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Few things bring as much meaning to our lives as doing work that comes from the heart. But too often our work is thwarted by the institutions for which we work. Schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and certainly our government are often driven by factors far removed from true service. As a result, individuals who set out to do meaningful work become broken hearted as they are forced to compromise their ideals again and again. And yet, that heartbreak may hold the key to transforming our lives, our work, even the institutions within which we serve. As educator and activist Parker Palmer says, “If we know how to hold our heartbreak, the heart breaks open into something larger. This tight little fist of a thing called the heart, by being broken open, now has new capacity to hold our own pain and our own joy, and a new capacity to hold the same in the larger world. What we need is more open-hearted people in every line of work, who aren’t blinking at the fact that there’s pain here, that there’s suffering here, but who are also tapping into the heart’s energies of transformation.” (hosted by Michael Toms)


Parker Palmer, Ph.D. is an educator, activist, and a prolific writer. He is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage and Renewal, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people in the serving professions reclaim integrity and courage in their professional lives. Through the Center, Dr. Palmer offers retreats and workshops to professionals working in education, medicine, religion, business, philanthropy, and social change.

His books include:

To learn more about the work of Parker Palmer go to CourageRenewal.org.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why your broken heart may be the best indicator of great promise unfolding in your life
  • What it takes to be deeply connected to your work and to those you serve
  • What single factor improves the quality of education more than curriculum, money, or teaching skills
  • Why teachers and doctors are unable to infuse their schools and hospitals with their ideals
  • What teachers, doctors, and politicians have in common

Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 2/20/2008      Program Number: 3241

Music Included

From Album: As Is Where Is
Artist: Mohan and David Nugent
2005 Sound Visual Productions #B0009VF2NK
Tracks - It Just Is, Come Into the Circle, One and Only, The Dark Whole of Light