Speaking and practicing the truth on behalf of the whole

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Speaking our truth on behalf of the system we intend to serve. Bridging the individual needs of authenticity and being mindfully present (being fully ourselves) as a pre-condition to all the other practices. What do I (we) need to practice to show up in the world in a way that makes us “warriors” that serve our hearts and serve the world?  Reflections from a leadership journey in Zagreb, Warrior of the Heart training, May 25-27, 2012.

::Before Arriving::
The desire to be part of a “Warrior of the Heart” training had been in my mind for a long while. I named 2012 the year of personal transformations, so I committed to go on journey of deep exploration and conducive to bring up authentic conversations for self- and collective discovery.

How beautiful to be in a place that serves the purpose of being mindful, detached from the whirl of events happening out there, and at the same time deeply connected to one another. The place where we all arrived on Friday afternoon is a lovely monastery with rose gardens and a passage through the lawns, secular trees and a path that brings to a small pond populated by restless frogs (really, they were  taking night shifts). The welcoming circle brought us all together in the same place and the opening circle spoke of courage in showing up in the world like a warrior –but in a sense that serves the world and uses wholeheartedness as spirit of service as their primal sword.
I arrived to the training with a great sense of trust in the trainers (I know Toke since 2010; I have met Martin last December) and this makes me realize how important trust has become for me in every training. More in general, today I don’t go to any training unless I either know personally the trainers or I got word from my close community of peer learners about the quality of their work and that can be relevant for me. This  helped me because the WOH training is a bit unusual in its concept for me: some of the Aikido concepts that we practiced seemed to me a bit on a meta-level kind of training, which is something I am not entirely used to. It is my trust in the trainers and the fact that I can make the teachings relevant in my daily life that helps me to embrace the learning with curiosity and openness.

::Saturday afternoon, Flow Game::
I really like the concept and the design of the Flow Game (more at this link). Everyone placed at the center a very personal question which, through this dialogic card game, was explored through conversations with peers. My question was “What is my deep gladness, that serves both myself and the world?” Most of the learning I got from the game is very personal but what I think I can share is some of the patterns that emerged through our dialogues with my fellow players at the table.
We have been talking in a circle addressing questions around what nourishes us and motivators in life. It is amazing to notice, as a meta-pattern, how often meaningful relationships came up as important to crate motivation and pre-conditions to happiness.

::Sunday, Open Space::
On Sunday we moved into Open Space. I called the question “How to combine the Social Engineer and the Poet in me”. I felt gratitude towards the conveners who initially helped me with the clarification question “which of the two do I need to work on more?”, for I don’t have a clear answer on that yet.
My question, reframed, to me means: How to be most impactful in the world doing something I am passionate about that at the same time creates a potentially big (and good) difference in the world? A crucial learning for me was the confirmation that the two (the inspired and the skillful, the grounded and the intellectual) don’t need to be seen as separated. Perhaps it all starts with the quality of one’s inner condition. (Scharmer got it right when he quoted “The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener”?) A participant told me the story of a man in a circle who challenged the negative energy that was present in that moment in the circle. This wise man, speaking from a place of courage and authenticity, named the negative energy in a way that let the system see itself in a new, unpredicted way.
This brought me to a deeper reflection about presence, social / emotional intelligence, and courage. When being in a place where meaningful conversations are called forth, it is everyone’s responsibility to speak their truth and operate from a place of authenticity; even if that might compromise a desired sense of wholeness and unity, for there is no unity without truth. Such truth, from a bigger system perspective, may help the system see itself, which to me is related to the question about how to create conditions conducive to a positive impact in a system.

Find out more:
Warrior of the Heart in Zagreb
Art of Hosting events.


Leadership journey in the Deep End

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No matter at which stage of my life I have been, I have always been longing for exploring my purpose and going deep into conversations around my role in the world.
Over the past five years I have been immersed in an incredible environment where stimulating conversations happened all the time. Lucky to be around the MSLS community, people who connect with their purpose and push you on those conversations. I have also learned a lot via co-organizing the Leadership Thread of the MSLS course.

The majority of the world’s population is young. Everywhere I ask, it seems that the educational system needs to adapt fast enough to meet the expectations of this generation to be conscious citizens of the world. Education shall be seen a service to give back to society (Schumacher posited in Small is Beautiful, 1973). All this has made me desire to call for a leadership course that would provide an opportunity for youngsters to have a potentially “transformational” experience to deeply investigate their purpose and their contribution onto the world.

Pro-Action cafe poster
What is sketched from here on is my reflections and notes after the Pro-Action Cafe’ in Copenhagen during the Art of Hosting Learning Village (Dec 2-4, 2011, See my previous post). This is the idea that I brought forward:
“Leadership in the Deep End: A theory U shaped course for youngsters. An individual and collective journey of exploration and connection to the source”.

::What is the Quest behind the question?::
I need to explore “what is needed in the world?” From which source am I operating? I am working from (within) the desire of making inner revolutions happen. (I need to bring more clarity around the intention). Eve Ensler argues: when we give away what we need the most you heal the broken part in ourselves. I have experienced a slow but substantial inner change over the last seven years and I feel ready for the next steps. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity when I was younger to expand my zone of “proximal development” through drama, music, literature and meaningful conversations with friends. All this showed me a doorway to something to aspire to. And lately the environment in which I have been has challenged me gently and decisively to always connect with my purpose and being intentional about how I show up in the world and intend to make a positive contribution. Out of gratitude towards what life has given to me, and out of desire to give back. My own “fire” and passion arises from a desire: I have seen the potential of personal transformation in a relatively short time and I really LOVE to be outsmarted by the people I can help coach / mentor. I have faith in the courage and craving for life of this generation (except for my neighbors upstairs who are wasting their time with a loud party with tasteless music, but alas) and believe they are longing for meaning and positive change in the world.

::What is missing?::
I need to explore more who is this course for. Who is the ideal audience for it? I envision the young.
But wait a minute. Transition from what to what? Martin Luther King puts it in his beautiful rhetoric

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

At what developmental stage are they at? At what level of experience?* Perhaps it is possible to assess at what level or stage are people at by the beginning of the course and plan intentionally with them to stretch them onto a further developmental level.
At whichever point of the spectrum you are the idea would be to broaden the scope of that awareness to reach out towards a positive contribution to the world. The journey shall create some conditions for inner revolutions around the fire happen. A revolution at the personal level that is mirrored by a community revolution.

What are some conditions for inner revolutions and community revolutions to happen? A few that I can think of for now: Trust in the entire group to share deep feelings; Connection with the sense of what’s sacred and trusting oneself;

(*on this I am grateful to Barrett Brown who recommended to me the article “Seven transformations of Leadership” on HBR (opens pdf here) This article posits that it’s possible to assess at what developmental stage are people at.)

::What next steps will I take?::
Connect. There are many amazing courses and leadership journeys already happening out there. One example is Embercombe – I need to connect with them and experience the Journey (Note: I wrote this on my journal in December, but now that I type I have actually gone to Embercombe myself for a leadership journey and was quite fantastic).
– Connect with people who are comfortable with being in nature. I need to reach out to people who are experienced, skilled, rooted in paths of self-development (not necessarily leadership courses).
– It’s time for it! People are ready for it and to deepen their personal leadership journeys. I got the recommendation to consider the masculine and the feminine component of leadership alike, to go beyond labels…
– I was recommended to tap into the power of storytelling skills through the stages of the leadership journey (couldn’t agree more!) And to
– Connect with rituals and ceremonies. Not replicating any but creating meaningful rituals for the group.

::What am I grateful for?::
At the end of the dialogues I felt gratitude towards all the participants for questioning my motivation! It is always a bliss to go deeper into my purpose and question it. I feel gratitude for sitting down with me and sharing their perspectives and wisdom. I also feel grateful for the invitation that has come from some to create this leadership journey together.
Lastly I feel grateful for giving me a sense of support through the simple act of witnessing. Your listening really gave me the strong conviction that the times are ready for this journey and that there is a need out there for such inner revolutions to happen.

Lastly. Please consider this blog post an open invitation for all to create this course together! It is of crucial importance that this idea go out and be co-owned and created by all. You are invited and most welcome in designing this journey.

Open Future Festival, July 2011 – Harvest

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I have been lucky enough to co-host a wonderful festival at the end of this July in Mundekulla, Sweden based on Art of Hosting dialogue style. The aim was to gather around people from the southern part of Sweden and provide an opportunity to share and voice their dreams in new ways, and connecting existing efforts and initiatives. This below is the way my colleagues and I have captured the essence of the conversations and the entire wonderful experience.

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Open Future Festival 2011 Harvest on Prezi

Invite people to something meaningful

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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.

@eccemarco: In a nice cafe’ in #Århus – after a great day with Art of Hosting #AoH practitioners. Profound sense of #gratitude for you all.

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.