B o o k s
Here are links to my books, some published and in print, some out of print but out there.
The Promise That Changes Everything has just been published! You can find all versions of it through UK book sellers, and on audible world wide.
The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won’t Interrupt You
Penguin Random House
29 October, 2020
‘This is different. Thinking for yourself is different. The conditions are different. The results are different. The attention that produces them is different.’
That’s what I wanted to say after 30 years of experience and research. This is different.
I wondered why, after all this time and four books on the subject, this key point was still a new idea, a shocking thing, a wonderful thing? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not. I guess that the more radical an idea is – the more it uproots – the more fiercely it is unseen. Regardless, I knew that ‘this is different’ was what I wanted to say.
I wanted to write about it. Maybe an essay. Maybe an article. Christopher said, ‘It’s your next book’. I wasn’t so sure.
I fantasised that the piece would be only that one sentence, over and over and over: This is different.
Then Pengin Life invited me to write the next Time To Think book, this one for a wider audience. And including a look at polarisation. How joyous.
To get started, I spent three months searching for the single thing inside the ‘difference’ that made these conditions for thinking so powerful. What exactly, simply, irresistibly, singularly is going on when people are thinking for themselves as breathtakingly as I had seen over these years? I and others had written easily
a million words about it. But in one word, what was it? What one thing was different?
Eventually I saw it, something I had been teaching in a different context for many years. It is a promise. ‘I won’t interrupt you.’ It is the promise, the promise, of no interruption, not just the serendipitous occasion of it.
And why precisely, I wondered for another month, is that promise the key to the difference? Because it changes everything. It changes the quality of our thinking, the quality of all our relationships (including with ourselves), the quality of meetings, of every conversation (including imminently polarising ones), the quality of teaching and learning, of debating and governing, of healing and dying. Everything.
A thinking environment is different. Its results are different. And that promise is why.
This new book is my grateful response to Penguin’s invitation.
The Promise That Changes Everything: I won’t interrupt you.
I hope you enjoy it.
Article in the Sunday Observer (25th October 2020) can be found here
Endorsements for The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won’t Interrupt You
As living and working become more complex, the lessons and practices here will shift a sense of chaos to one of clarity and a mindset of fear to one of hope. It could not have come at a better moment.
Margaret Heffernan, bestselling author of Wilful Blindness
This generous, useful and important book is a delight to read and will fundamentally change the way you interact with people.
Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler, authors of The Communication Book
This timely and persuasive book shows us that the foundation for independent thinking is the promise to actually listen, without interruption, to what others have to say.
Cal Newport, bestselling author of Digital Minimalism
Time To Think: Listening To Ignite The Human Mind
Cassell, Octopus Publishing Group
Fourteenth printing, 1999 - 2019
Christopher and I spent his sabbatical in dreamy San Francisco. And I wrote this book there. We had a gorgeous time in an apartment looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge. Anyone could have written a best seller with that view. Deborah Taylor, my editor at Cassell, wanted the next ‘thinking environment’ book. I wanted that, too. It would capture our almost non-stop insights that had come from working with men and women over those six years since the publication of the first book, especially in Fortune 500’s and other scary, conforming places.
Now 22 consecutive years in print, this book some say is timeless. I hope they’re wrong. Someday I hope it will seem antiquated, a call for a way of being in the world that has become just the way life is.
But for now, it is disarmingly timely.
Book Review on Amazon
A colleague told me about this book and I bought it to read up on the concept. Like all great theories it's so straightforward and obvious you wonder how you could have not realised it before. But since reading about thinking environments I've practiced some of the techniques in conversations with family and at meetings and have found they really make a difference in opening up the conversation. I've also done one structured 'thinking partner' session with my colleague to find the solution to a problem each of us had. We allocated half an hour each and followed the six steps of the 'thinking partner' technique. It was very powerful in releasing all sorts of ideas and more was achieved in that half hour than by weeks of puzzling over the issue. Would highly recommend.
More Time To Think: The Power of Independent Thinking
Cassell, Octopus Publishing Group
Third printing, 2009 - 2018
And then there was more. And More. What we had learned about thinking environments in the ten years since Time To Think was astonishing. I didn’t predict it.
Nature is like that, though. Its depths are likely unplumbable and certainly unpredictable. And I see these conditions for independent thinking as a kind of natural order, one that is forbidden nearly the minute we are born, but is imminently retrievable. I’d say that that is what we are doing with the ‘thinking environment’ – retrieving Nature’s knowledge about independent thinking. Its simplicity belies its complexity, so it keeps showing up with spotlights where we had not been looking. And as with each of these new ‘findings’, the trove grows.
So Rob Brown was right: More Time To Think was the right title.
Book review on Amazon
Nancy Kline's writing style is very accessible so this book is a real pleasure to read. Her Time to Think principles are extremely powerful in bringing about change in individuals or groups. This is one of the most important books for coaches to read.
Living with Time To Think: The Goddaughter Letters
Cassell, Octopus Publishing Group
What do you do when your godchildren ask you questions you can’t answer? What would you do, for example, with these from my three goddaughters?
Given that we all die, how do we find meaning in living?
When I get to be a woman, how can I have a good life?
How can we be happy today?
I said to Hattie, aged 12, in reply to the first question, ‘I’ll have to think about it but I’d love to know what you think.’ She said, ‘Nancy, you are my godmother, and you’re supposed to know about stuff like that’. We giggled. I said I would get back to her.
I did, six years later. In the form of a collection of letters to her to celebrate her first year at university.
With Meghan, asking when she was 10 years old, and Kimberley aged 5, I replied with a similarly celebratory collection of letters to each, years later.
Eventually others who read them said they would make a compelling three-part book, and we four agreed. My agent, Sheila Crowley, noticed that all three collections exhort the girls to do their own thinking and that the book was naturally next in the ‘Time To Think series’.
We called it: Living With Time To Think: The Goddaughter Letters.
I cherish these young women and their fine minds.
I think you will, too.
Book Review on Amazon
This book is a joy.
Each chapter in Nancy Kline’s new book is similar to enjoying an exquisite meal. There are so many insightful thoughts and observations that stopped me in my tracks to consider the implications of a phrase, a sentence or a whole paragraph. This is not a book to rush but to return to frequently to savour yet another provocation written in Nancy’s inimitable style of being light, compelling and with warmth and humour.
As with all her work, Nancy models the principles of the Thinking Environment and leadership that powerfully yet softly prompt a complete rethink of the familiar issues of our time. This book is for everyone, goddaughters and godsons, women and men.
I didn’t want it to end.
Women and Power: how far can we go?
This book was a pioneer. It was the first about the ‘thinking environment’. When I wrote it, the question, ‘What does it take for people to think for themselves?’ had been the sole focus of my work for only seven years. I was working almost exclusively with women then. Gradually, we were noticing that the best of both gender cultures would lie at the heart of fine leadership. And that would require 'the ten components of a thinking environment' to become the dominant leadership culture.
I wanted to communicate these findings. The BBC wanted to publish it. So Women and Power was born.
The three other books discussed above followed over the subsequent 27 years of research with people of every age and with organisations of every description.
If you can find this book (it is out there floating around!), I hope you will enjoy these earliest understandings of the thinking environment and their attempt to shape the kind of leadership our world desperately needs.
Apologies for the hairdo on the cover. What were we thinking in 1993?
At Least a Hundred Principles of Love
Christopher Spence & Nancy Kline
Sage Hunt, London Lighthouse
For three years Christopher and I had been thinking about love, both its expression in our relationship, and as a force in the world. During one of our fortnights together, (in year 3 of what became a 7-year transatlantic courtship, now a 30-year marriage!) on an apple farm near Canterbury, we wrote down what we thought was important about love. They were ‘principles’, 101 of them. Christopher suggested we call the collection, ‘At Least a Hundred Principles of Love’. Just in case more showed up. That was prescient.
We also noticed that the principles fell into three clusters which became sections: ‘Loving Ourselves’, ‘Loving Each Other’ and ‘Loving the World’. We added an introduction that was a little manifesto about making the world better.
Not sure who might ever read this lovely thing, we told colleagues and friends about it, and Sage-Hunt printed it. We also distributed it in our workshops.
Before we knew it, we had gone through 20,000 copies. People were giving them as wedding presents, bereavement presents, birthday, Bar Mitzvah, and anniversary presents. They were placing them strategically in their offices, their waiting rooms, their sitting rooms, by their beds, and in their loos. They even were required reading for an American university course. Something was going on.
In 1993 the London Lighthouse published it as a booklet, raising funds for that flagship HIV and AIDS project, Christopher’s creation.
It is now out of print but pops up here and there online. Maybe you will find it.
Don’t worry. It’s not sentimental. Hallmark will never pick it up, thank goodness.
Enjoying the Arts: Dance
Richards Rosen Press, NY
This is the first book I wrote by myself (except for that Nancy Drew look-alike when I was eight). Like the book with Peter Kline four years earlier (see blurb below), it was ‘specialist’. That’s book-speak for don’t count on lots of readers, or any. I mean, how many people were ever going to want to read about eight choreographers’ famous creations as seen through the lens of ‘nothing is ever still’?
But Richards Rosen did, bless them, and the book took its place next to PHYSICAL MOVEMENT on the shelves of libraries and schools, thrilling me. Privately I hoped it would inspire at least one young person to become a dancer.
I loved writing it. For one thing, I got to go to New York to research it. In magnificent libraries I watched (on microfiche!) the choreographers I idolised. I analysed, frame by frame, the nature and meaning of their movement. Not even a hundred words for ‘happy’ could capture those days for me. Sadly, the internet has all but wiped out adventures like that, those head-down hours in deep stacks of real libraries, cranking a projector with one hand, taking notes with the other, in awe.
Anyway, I hope you can locate this book more easily than the first one, and take some pleasure in its gentle look at the fiery talent of these iconic shapers of Modern Dance. They still lift me.
Physical Movement for the Theater
Nancy Meadors (Kline) & Peter Kline
Richards Rosen Press, NY
This was my first published book. I wrote it with Peter Kline. Peter was my first boss, Head of the English and Drama Departments of a new Quaker school. I was a new teacher, of English and Modern Dance. We were teaching drama students what they needed to know about physical movement in order to act well.
At the end of the year Peter thought we knew enough to write a book about it all. His publisher, Richards Rosen (New York), thought so, too. And Peter believed in me. So we wrote it. Hal Isen illustrated it (with photographs, one of which is of my legs from the knees down demonstrating Relevé). And soon the book found its way into, well, lots of libraries and schools. Not a thrilling story, I know, but for me a life-changer. I was no longer a kid writer trying to be Carolyn Keene.
Super niche as it is, you still can find the book in WorldCat and other committed preserver websites. Regardless, I had to mention it. It was really exciting at the time.