What Grows in Rocks

Last weekend I took a solo hike and overnight camp to Stewart Falls. It is near Sundance, Utah in the Wasatch Mountains. The hike is about 2 miles in and well worth it — the hike itself and the 200 foot falls. After a good sleep underneath the stars, I spent most of the next day sitting quite still. In meditation. In appreciation. And, in the way that only happens when I sit long enough, noticing things that have always been there but that I haven’t seen in the same way.

This time is was noticing the amazing amount of growth in what feels like solid mountain. Beautiful flowers. Beautiful greens. On the sides of cliff walls. Tucked in to little crannies. It really captured my attention and awe. Amazing beauty that grows out of rocks. Seeminginly impossible or improbable. Gloriously beautiful.

I found myself thinking about that voice I’ve heard from some clients (and that I know in myself). It is the voice that says “this is all really great, but _____ (insert name of person who doesn’t get the work we are trying) will never go for this.” Or “can’t do this.” Or “will never change.” It is that voice that comes from a desire for doing good communally and in cooperation, but knows the strength of pattern and personality that can block the very collaboration we want. More and more when I hear this voice, I speak of and invite all of us to be willing to be surprised. Just like those flowers and such that grow out of seemingly impossible conditions, people too, when in community, grow and flourish. From seemingly impossible and improbable to gloriously beautiful.

Here are a few additional photos from that day of things growing in rocks. Enjoy. And here are a few other photos from the falls and surrounding area. Enjoy again.

And here’s one from Peggy Dunn, a friend who I met several years ago. She shared this photo in response to the above.

Learning Edge is the Center

Earlier this week was in a good skype call and video with friend Chris Corrigan. The beauty of skype video — seeing Chris’s deck, yard, garden and sharing a bit of the duck ponds out my window. I loved our exploring. As is always / often the case, much shows up in our interaction that feels like a gift.

One was the sense of “learning edge” being at the center. Quite often in our work together we encourage ourselves and others to go to the learning edge. Most often I think of this as something “out there,” something that is far away. In fact, I’d asked Chris something about what was the most “far out” learning that he felt he was in. He shared some of his. I shared some of mine. And then we began to notice some of what makes things feel far out. Uncertainty. And in particular, uncertainty when it has implications on the lives of the ones we love. Such is life indeed — an invitation to many uncertains. And such is the process of being awake or alert — an invitation to go to those uncertains. It can take us to what feels like an edge, often marked by such things as “conventional wisdom” or “majority perspective.”

That conversation helped us both realize something anew. It is the process of coming to have radical trust in our own wisdom. Or in the wisdom that is not as apparent in “conventional wisdom.” And then this gem — that to come to have radical trust in our own wisdom is to come to trust our own core. To shift the learning edge is to shift the identity at the core of who we are. To be at the learning edge is to live into the very center of who we see ourselves to be.

Interesting to think of the invitation that this provides for any of us and our clients. Go to your learning edge. OK. Go deep into your center to recognize what is at the core. Be willing to recognize what might be audacious in your belief or action, and dare to find at the learning edge, the very center from which “unconventional wisdom” is trying to be born.

A good one to play with. A gift of another way of seeing it.

Labour Educators — Closing Reflections

A few reflections from Labour Educators at an Art of Hosting in May. I love what shows up in closing reflections as participants are making sense of their experience together. A closing poem and a participant feedback also below.

Closing Circle Reflections, Intentions
See also:

– Implementing hosting in IDEW and CAW training
– Specific direction
– Inner peace of mind
– Excitement about changes I can make at home
– Meeting other union labour educators – I haven’t done this for a long time
– We can do more in the collective than we can alone
– Enthusiasm and confidence to use these skills
– A respectful process for me to integrate
– I’m so full I’m leaking!
– Taking away a community
– Worked on a real-life planning event
– I don’t always need the answer
– A sense of caring
– Plans and ideas for an international postal conference
– What might a world café look like without words
– Quickly put ideas in place
– Renewed and increased respect for crafting friendship
– Human rights planning program
– Going away with a lot of work!
– Stable enough to be sustainable; creative enough to deserve the name of life
– I go away with the feeling I have when I dance – humming, soaring, electricity
– Aware of an invisible presence in this country
– I’ve got a heart going – yippee!
– Bringing the right people together for getting to answers
– This has transformational powers
– I feel like I won something
– Group wisdom
– Accomplished a lot in a few days

What in your life is calling you?
The Terma Collective

What I you life is calling you?
When all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls at your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats
hides a summons.
Do you hear it?

Name it, if you must,
or leave it forever nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?

Participant Feedback

“This learning circle was like the force of gravity that shoots a spaceship around the moon. I had no idea the power of joy that would be created. I feel hopeful, renewed, rewoven into a community, and surprised. I needed this filling.”

Hosting Defined

There are many definitions of hosting that my colleagues and I are evolving into. I laugh when I remember back to an event earlier this year, where, at the start Chris Corrigan offered a definition and named it as one of 87 that we would offer in the coming three days together. He laughed. I laughed. We all did. What makes humor funny is it’s truth.

Here’s a definition that I like from the Community of Practice in Upper Arlington, Columbus, Ohio:

“Hosting is an emerging set of practices for facilitating group conversations of all sizes, supported by principles that:

– maximize collective intelligence;
– welcome and listen to diverse viewpoints;
– maximize participation and civility;
– and transform conflict into creative cooperation.”

What I like about this is that it comes from many years now of work in the area around conversational leadership. I also like that it names as practice in form and in value of some very basic things that most systems want. It’s good, direct language.

I also would add a bit further through another lens. Hosting is what we do to create basic conditions so that the energy of people in the room can co-mingle and entangle. Co-mingle is to mix, to invite a shared wholeness and creation. To entangle is to become a new entitity and remain as such in some manner. It is an emergent entity. I heard Edgar Mitchell, founder of IONS speak this recently, “resonance is nature’s way of transfering information.” Hosting, from this view, is about giving us access to each other’s resonance. It is often in the form of conversational practices that are deliberately focused on particular questions. However, it is more — the silence, the play, the shared inquiry, the poetry, the agreements, the listening, and the like — each creates additional ways to come into a shared resonance. From the living systems view of “people support what they create” this means that hosting is about creating conditions so that this resonance sharing can happen, and thus support of what is created.

Hard to find words for it. But I sense it is what is happening and what is most promising when I think of how we respond to the challenges of this day. Or when I try to make sense of why so many past AoHs have gone so well — in client systems and in open-enrollment learnings.