I have been to two trainings of the Art of Hosting, and both were absolutely fantastic. In short? It’s about hosting meaningful conversations as a pre-condition to make positive desirable big change happen. The last one was in Århus and someone called for a dojo where to continue practicing the skills and the spirit of the Art of Hosting. Below some reflections from this experience.
Train to Århus, Thursday evening
I am expecting much from the dojo of practitioners in Århus. Thank you T. for making the space for this to happen, and calling it. “Invite people to something meaningful”, as one of my mentors say.
Saturday morning, 11am.
I am writing from a café where there is good music and good cappuccino, and I sat to have some time to write down my impressions from yesterday. I feel very grateful for what happened yesterday. I knew from the beginning that it was a valuable use of time, a way to recharge my energy, to pause and reconnect to my energy. Thank you all.
Arrived at the hostel on Thursday night, the place was okay, a guy was snoring like hell but I managed to sleep decently nevertheless and got outside in time to reach T’s place some half an hour in advance.
D. and M. are hosting the conversation, we start around the same table with an unfolded sheet of paper and markers. D. gives us an overview of the aim of the dojo and a debrief of the last one. In essence is a place for peer-learning, not for teaching; a place to ask high-level questions, but not to practice new methods. We share a reflection about the uniqueness of the Scandinavian context, where many forerunners are practicing new ways of conversations and we seemed to be on the verge of bringing many other people to the next level. We go on with M. asking why we have come here. I have come to recharge my energy, because I trust the circle of conveners, because I want to stop and reflect. Before lunch we collect the questions we have come here with that we’d like to explore and put them in the circle.
#1 How to facilitate the emerging knowledge.
#2 When does the facilitator need to restructure patterns in order to be fully present in the process?
#3 “Have you been fully present, acting from the spirit and skillfully at the same time?” What made it happen?
#1 How to facilitate the emerging knowledge.
Of utmost importance for the facilitator is his consciousness, allowing people to see things. The Facilitator should be conscious of the structure of the process, and will have expectations about some new knowledge to emerge. His expectations may influence the dynamic of the group.
Train back to Copenhagen, Sunday morning.
#2 When do we need to restructure patterns as facilitators to help the dynamics ?
That is to say: when we are there in the fire as facilitators, when do we need to do things differently, restructure our own mental models, or behavioral patterns, in order to be fully present? I have been waiting for this question for a while –it has been with me and gave partial answers every now and then. This weekend I found some answers. The first is that you can and you have to be present, without fear of being judged because is not an attack to your ego. The real ego comes in when you want to be liked by everybody. The second sounds like a paradox to me: exactly by being fully present and giving “personal” examples you achieve the detachment that is necessary to make it objective “It’s not about me”. Example of TM sharing his personal stories with a school of leaders some years ago. Some of the students found him way too hippy and challenged him personally. Half the class left the room. He stood there, continued, and had an amazing workshop with the other half that stayed.
Here an emerging theme from the conversation with C., T. and B. was that we should recognize the line between what is internal (happening in the facilitator) and what is external (happening in the group).
Thinking back about my questions on the way here, I believe they have been addressed mostly. Such a sense of gratitude! And so many wonderful and meaningful conversations, and gems I bring back with me.
On the way back, continued reading “Getting to Maybe” -how the world is changed. Wonderful collection of stories and some high-level reflections about social change and the business of big innovations. The book so far is highly recommendable! Some gems so far:
– Social change works in the gray area of the “emergence” when it comes to planning. It’s not a planning that is totally inspired by the present (forecasting) because the social change business acknowledges that there is something that needs big, transformational changes, of a kind that the forecasting can’t address. It’s a planning that can’t be totally informed by a grand or clear picture of the future either, because the social systems are so complex that is like this wild horse you have to enter into a relationship with and play with what is possible and what is emerging;
– As a guiding light for any social innovation (almost needless to say, but still): the purpose. What is motivating you, where is the flame of this need? Interesting particularly now for me as I am giving my free time to many projects and I may have to prioritize my efforts and energies.