The subtle here is a reference to what is underneath. It is true to me that there are some basics. Maps. Methodologies. Models. These are very important. And, if I did not speak about what is below, I would not be being totally honest. I often use the language of hosting. Or convening. Below is some of what I believe we are really hosting and cultivating when working with groups and in ourselves. It is what leads to more sustainable change, better teams, better meetings, etc.
Hosting what? Hosting consciousness. Rather, I believe, what happens is that we are hosting a field of consciousness. Consciousness at the next level. Shared consciousness that stimulates meaningful action.
Though “conversations that matter,” “conversational leadership,”
“participative leadership,” “stakeholder engagement”
and anything else we want to call it are powerful,
they become transformative when
next level of consciousness arrives.
In individuals and in the group. My grandmother used to tell me as a young boy that most humans use only 3% of their brain cells (this might have been gentle chastising for something I did that was dumb, but I remember it as insight). Next level consciousness kicks in when we use more of those brain cells, and heart cells, and intuitive cells. It is the point when individuals and teams shift from stuck points into immense choices of possibility.
Hosting what? Hosting wellness. As colleague and friend, Meg Wheatley reminds me, “if you want a system to be healthy, connect it to more of itself.” Conversations create connection. Stories create connection. Questions create connection. And even more significantly, they all create wellness. It isn’t a stretch to compare wellness in individuals to wellness in systems. When we are well individually, we have more capacity. If I am not well physically, or emotionally, or spiritually, everything changes. Oh, and yes, I get that wellness is a process, an experience — not a destination. I would also go one step further on wellness. It comes from invitations to deliberately create together. We’ve all been with teams before where the “problem” has become so monstrous that it can’t be unravelled any further. Frustration. Anger. Fear. Withdrawal. Apathy. Trying to see precise cause in such feels like a dead end. However,
to invite a team to focus on creating —
creating what they care about,
yes with awareness and witnessing of the past —
this is one of the best ways I know to encourage wellness.
Hosting what? Hosting wholeness. This builds on hosting wellness. In many spiritual traditions, the fundamental need for human beings is to return to wholeness. Release the world view, paradigm, and unconscious habit of separateness. Reclaim, or remember, the fundamental identity of together, of no-separation. In organizations this is often reintegrating from silo departments or functions to a holistic view of shared information and collaboration. It is the daring shift from an imposed neat-and-tidy world view of linear relations, to a more messy, yet flourishing experience of collaboration and collective action. Messy, yet real. Whole. I’ve heard many people at Art of Hosting trainings, as well as in client meetings say, with astonishment and appreciation, “this group process feels like therapy.” They speak it a bit hesitantly — we’re not supposed to be here for therapy. It isn’t offered as therapy. Not planned. Not delivered that way. But it is what arises. It is what emerges. Not group therapy. That is not my interest, nor my expertise. But group wellness and wholeness that emerges from simple process.
Hosting what? Resonance. In 2009, my partner Teresa Posakony and I led several interactive processes at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) Bi-Annual International Conference. One was following Edgar Mitchell, former Apollo Astronaut and founder of IONS. He said something that sticks with me. “Resonance is nature’s way of transferring information.” Resonance. Vibrancy. Frequency. Not limited to words. It is to most an invisible quality. An invisible measure. In a measurement culture largely defined by “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count.” Thankfully, to the IONS community in particular, there is significant research helping to make resonance visible and what we naturally turn to.