Art of Hosting Principles — “Values Based Actions”

This post is companion to yesterday’s post. It is more from Jerry Nagel who recently completed his PhD dissertation on Art of Hosting world views. It’s a blurry line between values and principles. I’m fine with that.

As I did yesterday, below are Jerry’s words in red, for which I’ve added a few reflections, particularly when I think of these principles as connoting a kind of action.


  • Conversations matter and conversation is the way we think, make meaning together and build strong relationships that invite real collaboration. Conversation is action. It’s not the only action, but it is action. Many leadership conversations have focused on the results, and in capitalist systems, the returns. Denying conversation as action (“why are we wasting time; we should get to the real work”) is like denying the hike up the mountain as part of the hike. It’s not just about arriving at the peak. Corny as metaphor, but true, no?
  • Meaningful conversations lead to wise actions. We seek to explore what can be done rather than what cannot. See the above. Conversation is just about being nice. And it isn’t just about talking. At it’s best, it is giving attention to shared identity, from which collective, and hopefully more sustainable choices of action can be made.
  • We work from a place of appreciation and not judgment, bringing play and improvisation to imagining new ways to go on together. Again, the appreciation isn’t just about being nice together. That’s too pejorative and condescending. Appreciation is often an act of honesty and humility — pretty good practices for working well together — embedded within a complex environment. It’s easy to blame and oversimplify. That’s too often associated with heroism. Appreciation here is for honest acknowledgement that most of us live in complex environments that require interrupting reductionism.
  • Curiosity and judgment do not live well together. If we are judging we cannot be curious. They actually fight together. And not just like brothers in a tussle. Sometimes like street fighting. Rough. People get hurt. It’s a great value to say, be curious, or to practice no blame. I find what makes that possible is compassion for a person’s choices. I may hate the choices, but I can still honor the fact that someone chose them with deliberateness, consciously or not, to likely fulfill a need. Curiosity is about seeing bigger pictures.
  • Hosting meaningful conversations opens up the space for collective inquiry and finding collective intelligence. We shift from individuals being responsible for decisions to being relationally responsible to each other. Ooh, I love “relationally responsible.” Hearing stories is a learning strategy. Asking questions is a learning strategy. I tell clients that these are two deliberate approaches that we will engage together, so as to give us a better chance of accomplishing what we most long for.
  • We work to co-create in friendship and partnership. It was a long time ago that I heard Chris Corrigan say, “friendship is our business model.” That’s not soft stuff. That’s just real. And, OK, enjoyable and natural.
  • We listen from a place of not knowing so that we “are more open to other(ness), to multiple voices, and to possibilities”. Yup, always. This one needs a particular value attached to it. For me, I’ve lived with ones like these: “there is always more not know that there is known about any given situation; in every statement of truth there is more that is not true about it that there is true about it.” Not knowing is a commitment to being real together.
  • We show up to our work fully present, not distracted, prepared, clear about what is needed and the contributions we have to offer. This is great self work, isn’t it. Freeing ourselves from fears and contractions. Opening ourselves to curiosity, love, and expansions. I love feeling that I have some of this in me, gained over a life of paying attention. It’s a bit humbling, or aggravating even, to realize that all of that present living is tip of the ice berg. I used to feel this when I first learned to speak Korean. I learned it quite well; well enough to know that there was much, much more to learn.
  • The practice is the work. Enough said. This is gold.

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