You know how there are times in your life when you return to what seemed a previous chapter of old stuff, and find in that old chapter, a newness that feels powerfully poignant now? I’m in one of those with the above diagram. I’m in one of those times as I continue to seek a simplicity of framing and invitation for so much of what I do as a facilitator, meeting designer, consultant, and guide. I’m finding this powerful as orientation to invite depth in the groups I work with.
In the early 2000s Toke Moeller and I talked about these. We named some of what it takes to create good learning together. Since then, I’ve given much thought and practice to developing a wider view of inspired learning spaces. What I love about it is that it looks beyond conversational leadership. Often, from the lineage of The Art of Hosting, there is much focus on conversation as a modality. This is important. It is one of the ways that we humans connect with each other. It is a direct challenge to command and control systems that tend to offer more mandates and dictates, more marching orders than invitations to explore.
As important as the conversations are, and the methodologies that support this, I have always felt that there is more that we must attend too. What are the other ways that we find connection with each other? What are other modalities that help a group over time? What is important to help better weave different learning styles or personality types into the room?
For me it is important to name that I’m not looking for a bag of party tricks here. When I use any of the activities in this photo, I’m not looking for ice-breakers that are cute to start a meeting. I’m looking for other modalities that help the people in the room connect more with each other and connect more with the multiple layers of purpose that are present among them.
So, here’s to the framings that any of us offer that can simplify the purpose, yet hold much, much complexity in learning and practice.
Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate exponentially Toke’s commitment to peace, to simplicity, to offering good into the world, be that through doing or through being.
I also appreciate the way Toke talks about his mother and grandmother. I’ve had those people in my life also, that have oriented me to continuous learning, which remains some of the most important grounding that I’ve experienced.
These words, shared from ten years ago, and again, reshared recently, from someone who has shaped much of my heart in this work of hosting. It’s Toke Moeller. His reflections speak to some of the process of stewarding and being stewarded.
Toke Moeller has been a friend and colleague now for 20+ years. We’ve co-hosted trainings together in North America, Europe, and Africa. We’ve walked rain forest together in Zimbabwe that left all of us massively soaked. We’ve conjured questions together that insist on the human heart being present. We’ve grown — the way that friends and colleagues do — in interesting configuration. An ongoing appreciation that I have in all of this with Toke has been his combo of wise sage / young boy (in the body of a now 70s ish human). I keep learning about how to trust all of that within me.
Toke offered a snippet of story a few months back, some of his relating to his commitment to the Tao.
I confess that there is nothing to teach: no religion, no science no information which will lead your mind back to the Tao.
Today I speak in this fashion, tomorrow in another, but always the Integral Way is beyond words and beyond mind.
Simply be aware of the oneness of things.
Now I love these words that point to the simple. They point to a keenness of awareness and presence. They point to a story behind a story behind a story. I would suggest such attentiveness to layered story gives us much broader set of choices for how we be in the first layer stories that so many of us live in — jobs, tasks, teams, accountabilities.
Now I’m the kind of human, and professional, that tends to think in questions. When I hear / read / see a passage like Toke’s above, I can almost immediately see a few questions to engage a group. To create further connection and learning. I see these questions in a way that is akin to Ron Heifetz, Harvard Scholar known often for his work on “adaptive leadership,” who shares — “One can lead with no more than a question.”
My three questions to go with Toke’s Tao:
What is the bigger story (for you, this team, this community, this family)?
What have we forgotten about that bigger story?
What is important now to do / be to reclaim this story?
There is a ton of leadership available in a story and three questions. I’m glad for that. And 20+ year friendships / colleagueships that grow in interesting and surprising configuration.