On Circle, Getting Simple

With circle, my friend Meg writes in the forward to this book,

  • “…consummate practicality for how transformed communication can change the way we work together…”
  • “…application that is both deep and transcendent…”

Yup, I relate to that. It’s good and honest translation of something that can feel like high in the sky mystery, brought to realness of mud on the ground.

In my 20+ years of doing / being, I’ve learned that circle is not something you do on the side before you get back to the real work. It is the real work. So often. It is the restoring of choice in how we get to do work. And community. And teams. And family. And organizational culture.

But how?

Here’s the simplified part that I love (from The Circle Way).

  1. “Sit in a circle and take turns speaking and listening so that every voice is heard.”
  2. “Put something in the center of the space that symbolizes purpose and holds group focus.”
  3. “Speak agreements for interaction so everyone knows how to contribute.”
  4. “Check-in and check-out so people name how they arrive, and what they learned as they leave.”

“Circle organizes conversation into collaboration, insight, and collective action.”

Why circle?

It’s not about the method for the method’s sake. It’s about what the attentiveness inherent in the method makes possible and available.

Here’s to the many of us in practice, in learning, and in simplifying that gets us to the essence, deep and transcendent.


Learning The Circle Way — Three Ways September – December

Circle remains for me the most central aspect of how I work with people. It’s the most simple, yet powerful structure I know, to enhance turning to one another. To be smart. To be thoughtful. To be kind. To be innovative.

Circle also remains for me the most implicit agreement of how I like to live with people. Again, most simple and powerful. Again, to add to the richness of connection, turned to one another. Again, to be smart, thoughtful, kind, innovative. And to be, well, momentarily webbed in more blatant wholeness.

Circle remains for me a methodology that initiates and improves quality of connection. Yes. Learn well. And, circle is a methodology that becomes way of being that organizes and integrates more of the depth of who we are and how we are together as people in varied endeavors and settings.

Now, in a society that can so often default to sound bytes and pithy statements, I don’t want to land in the territory of an unintended marketing pitch about circle. And, I also don’t want to be shy about sharing stuff that enriches in uber needed ways.

Upcoming — in September, November, and December — are three formats that I’m involved in to help teach circle, and to help grow circle practitioners. My invitation is to the part of each of us that hunches are way into improving what we know as method, and to deepening what we practice as being.

In chronological order:

  1. The Circle Way Online — A Class to Nuance Understanding and Use of The Circle Way Components Wheel. This one is coming soon. We start September 17th. It runs weekly (skipping September 24th), four times through to October 15th. This is with myself and colleague / friend Amanda Fenton. We’ve completed this class six times now. We have a morning and afternoon class (Mountain Time). Registration is limited to 14 people per class. A few spots remain.
  2. Courageous Meeting — The Circle Way. This one runs November 19-20th. It’s face-to-face at a retreat center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Myself and colleague / friend Quanita Roberson host this one. Quanita and I are committed to depth of practice in varied complex environments. We are explicitly committed to the change and growth that is rooted in inner awareness and awakeness that then translates to practice with people / groups. Courage, with self and other, grows with a bit of structure that is circle. So does honest speaking. So does attentive listening. We anticipate a group of 25-30 participants.
  3. The Circle Way Advanced Practicum. This one is also face to face, running December 5-9, 2019. This one is also at a retreat center, Aldermarsh, located on Whidbey Island, Washington (north and west of Seattle). This is again with Amanda Fenton. People who come to this one have broad and deliberate practice of circle, sometimes from The Circle Way tradition, and sometimes from other circle traditions. Advanced practice is very much about co-learning our way forward as a group into advanced heart, mind, and belly. Yes, there is mystery. Yes, there is applied learning. Yes, there good challenges faced together. We anticipate a group of 14-16 participants.

Pick your favorite why. Mine include “just because” in a way that sounds softer than it is. Just because, for me, often means, “because a sense of deeper intuitive knowing tells me so.” Yes, please lean into that.

Another favorite why for me includes, “because the world is wonky.” That’s rather broad. And I’m glad not the only description of what is real. But also, humans, teams, groups, families, communities — there’s struggle everywhere to reinsert meaningfulness together. And some relational capacity for honesty and brilliance.

Learning The Circle Way — Three Ways. Yes, act now. I / we welcome you in this from your “why,” whether in “just because” or irrepressible longing in the places and spaces you seek community and great work.



Like Home

Hello Marsh House. Located at Aldermarsh Retreat Center. Just off Maxwelton Road. On South Whidbey Island. It’s good to see you again, and spend a week with you.

It’s no secret that place matters when convening in conversations that matter. I’m in one version of that convening. And in one version of “place matters.” This week it is The Circle Way Practicum. There are 14 of us gathered. I’m cohosting with Amanda Fenton and guest co-host, Chantilly Mers Pickett. It’s time for the 14 of us to lean into learning about circle as method, as practice, and as way of being. I’m glad for that. Something feels like home.

It’s now been…, hmmm…, probably near 20 times that I’ve hosted and participated at events in Marsh House. And in this context of The Circle Way, this has been home teaching space for Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin for over 20 years now. There are whispers from the floor, from the open sky light, from the seats where many bodies have huddled together to share story, questions, tears, and cheers.

There is a certain anticipation that I feel in beginning at Aldermarsh. This feeling of home, and that perhaps, when it comes down the to very simple of it all, that we are accompanying each other home. Home within. Home among.

Here we go.


Not Mine, But Ours

For those relaxing a bit more into the thing behind the thing behind the thing, when it comes to circle.

This work is not hard
but it is focussed.

Living as circle is a way of being.
It brings us into a requisite vibration
such that we can now be in relationship
to the heartbeat not mine, but ours

to thinking and feeling not mine, but ours
to grander scale not mine, but ours
to inspired and tangible action not mine, but ours.

Circle is the ultimate amplifier.
We move circle and it moves us.