Civility Matters

My colleagues at the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community, particularly John Kesler and Jane Holt, have been hosting some significant state-wide work on civility. It is intended to create a more healthy pattern of dialogue at all levels of community and government. It has the backing of several key state and municipal leaders.

A while back I joined one of the evenings of community engagement. A couple of mayors in the Salt Lake Valley spoke to endorse the process. It was a simple format to learn more deeply with one another by sharing story and response to these two questions: 1) Why does civility matter to you? 2) Where have you seen civility at it’s best?

Lovely small groups convened. I love feeling the power of dialogue as the simple exchange helps make more clarity a more broad and rich intelligence. The group I participated in was hosted by another SLCEC colleague, Steve Prather. As I participated, I noticed and harvested the following five principles and practices to improve civility:

  1. Kindness multiplies (kindness attracts kindness).
  2. Brilliance is essential (in these times of intractable challenges and irrepressible dreams). Civility supports this.
  3. Give primary attention and time to what you care about (and do so by frequently asking what is possible).
  4. Ground yourself (incivility is a pattern and can sweep your feet out if you aren’t grounded). Yes, many of us live between worlds.
  5. Remain unquestionably committed to purpose. It is the center, the energetic hearth if you will. What my friend, Toke Moeller calls, “the invisible leader.”

I also harvested in this photo some of what I heard from the 6-8 small groups reporting to the whole group.

Rich learning. Much appreciation with and for these local colleagues.

Tweets of the Weeks

  • Celebrating my son’s 14th birthday today. And noticing Isaac is about a foot taller than last year.
  • 560 miles driving today, Lindon, UT to Missoula, MO. With kids. Glad for a rest now on our way to Canada.
  • Murphy Lake, just south of Roosevelt, the border crossing to Canada.
  • Learning with my 14 year old son — teenaged boys need to be “fueled.” It’s not just “when do we enjoy food?” It is “when do we re-supply?”
  • Lovely reconnecting start to a trip, hearing stories from my Mom about my Dad, who died 35 years ago. In wellness and wholeness.
  • Columbia Lake, headwaters for the Columbia River. From Canal Flats beach and our picnic spot.
  • RT @PeggyHolman: “Taking responsibility for what u love as an act of service, inquiring appreciatively is a game-changing skill.” Spot on.
  • Listening to Stan Rogers while the morning scones are cooking — lovely morning in Fairmont Hot Springs.
  • Making fire with Isaac. On a full moon night. 🙂
  • What I like at the beach.
  • Morning gelato in Invermere with Isaac. Clear blue skies. Shorts. Flip flops. Summer space.
  • Flathead Lake, Montana. On the way south. Skipping stones and stretching our legs.
  • Friend Art Park on core story in Art of Hosting: “There is an innate drive within all Life to return to Oneness.”
  • Watching 6 year-old Elijah at his first soccer practice. Eight Saturday games coming.
  • A slow traffic, eating sunflower seeds, trip on I-5 from Seattle to Vancouver, Washington with Teresa. Gift of time.
  • Morning hike near Mt. Hood and the Zigzag River. Refreshment of a full forest and valley.
  • Got to tag along to Taholah with colleagues Sono, Teresa, John to host Quinault Indian Nation in next steps of their strategic plan.
  • A hike today from Sol Duc Falls to Deer Lake in Olympic National Park. So much that is beautiful.
  • Ferry ride from Kingston to Edmonds. Striking. Beautiful.
  • A view on the “house of cards” that is the financial sector:

On Listening…

With appreciation to my friends Jerry Nagel and Michelle Murton for sharing these two gems on the Art of Hosting Listserve. They are a couple that I want to share with my kids too!

“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”

– Peter Senge

If You Really Pay Attention

When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, “You remember what he said, honey girl?”  I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.

And he did this all the time.

Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street.  And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.

Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl.  He’s pretty interesting.”  And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.

Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim.  I knew them all by heart.

And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that.  But did you hear his heart?”  And I thought, what?  So I went around for days with my ear to people’s chest trying to hear their hearts.

Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper.  He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines.”

I thought, “Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words.”

So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words.  My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, “Yes.  He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories.”

It just came out of me.  In other words, my heart echoed his heart.

And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.

Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation

Quantum Leadership

Yes, I continue to learn much from the quantum paradigm and world view. At one level, there is a way in which I feel I can relax my certainty of gaze into feeling the fluidness of invoking energy into material form. So many more choices that become available. For me, it is more like stepping into the playground and being able to feel it. The learning is about how to work with it. What to do with it.

At another level, it is about beginning to see difference. I appreciate some of the comparisons: linear to complex, Newtonian to quantum. These themselves have limits, of course. That is what language does. It reveals and it conceals. Sometimes even tricks us into an old energy pattern. Reifies a form that is just another guess of what is happening. But the language creates invitation to see differently. I find if I don’t get stuck on the words, or even the concept of words (if that makes sense), the field of seeing becomes much larger.

Here’s a few of those comparisons that I just saw from a colleague, Howard Mason in Kentucky. I met he and his colleague a few years back at an Art of Hosting training.

-Atomistic (focus on functional parts)
-Abosolute (assumes certainty and predictability; emphasis on control)
-Reductive (the whole is the sum of the parts; parts exist independently and are interchangeable; coordination must be imposed)
-Either / Or (selective and exclusionary; there is only one truth and one best way; there is inescapable tension between the individual and the group)
-Certainty (focus on here and now, facts, actuality; values ignored)
-Subject / Object Split (leader is detached from people of the organization; the world is out there)

-Holistic (focus on relationships and integration)
-Indeterminate (value in uncertainty and ambiguity; requires trust and intuition; nurtures emergence)
-Emergent, Self-Organizing (whole is greater than the sum of its parts; each part is defined by relationships with other parts; order or patterning emerges spontaneously)
-Both / And (inclusive and synergistic; individual and the group are mutually defining in dialogue with experience)
-Possibility (focus is on creating; thinking outside the box; exploring unknown, potential; value are central)
-Participatory Universe (leader is “in the world;” both are mutually defined)

From the world view, the leadership capacities become more clear.