Roma is full of illusions.

Some of them are optical.

Have you seen it?

Perhaps the largest and most famous optical illusion is in Piazza San Pietro. Have you seen it? If you stand at a particular point, the 4 rows of Bernini’s colonnade line up. As if to appear as one.  It is only at this precise point. A few steps in any direction and you won’t get the same effect.

It leads you to wonder. Perhaps we could see them as pillars of our own life. Health, love, work, spirituality and learning for instance. Maybe everything is aligned. And everything is happening perfectly. We just have to be in the right position to perceive it as such.  Or it may trigger us to think that maybe nothing ever is where it should be. That we are fooling ourselves to believe otherwise.  We may muse that if we get to that point where everything is in alignment, we will find ourselves non-plussed. And be restless to move on. Or perhaps we will be urged on by an external force.

Roots in play

Illusions, delusions and collusions. All have their etymological root in the Latin word ludere, to play.   We can be swept up by them.   And yet they may serve us in many ways. They can help us to be creative. To develop new hypotheses and ideas. They can provide comfort, hope, distraction, safety and escape.   And of course, they can be our undoing.

Organisational awareness

In working with clients, Organisational Development consultant Peter Hawkins encourages us to question ourselves regularly as to whether we know our areas of illusion, delusion and collusion.   In the world of consultancy, this could be where you have wrongly perceived an approach for one group or region can be rolled-out to another. You may have deluded yourself about your firm’s ability and capacity to undertake a particular piece of work. Or you may have found yourself agreeing with your client’s illusions and delusions. And therefore hold back from challenging them only for fear of losing the account.

What are your areas of illusion, delusion and collusion?

It is indeed a useful question to ask whatever work we do.

And it is, of course, a pertinent question in our private lives.



  • Extract from by David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order and Creativity
  • Question from Peter Hawkins, Coaching Supervision Course at Lane4 (2009).    Hawkins, P. and Smith, N (2006) Coaching, Mentoring and Organisational Consultancy: Supervision and Development


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