By kate, December 01st, 2010
In 1992 I had an experience of group decision making that has inspired me ever since.
The Findhorn Foundation staff group had gathered in the pale peach living room of Cullerne House, a grand and gracious mansion built from huge blocks of highland granite. Fifty plus of us sat in a ring of chairs interspersed with pillows on the floor.
Our purpose was to make the best possible decision about a highly contentious issue: Should associate members of the wider community be represented on “Core Group” — the precious inner sanctum of the community?
The group was split. About half felt strongly that the Foundation had become inclusive enough, that associate members hadn’t invested sufficient time or money the way members had, and that the meaning and privilege of membership should not be diluted further.
The other half believed that it was time to open up: some associates were more dedicated and committed than many members; not everyone had the financial and lifestyle freedom to be members (e.g. people with families); the Foundation was evolving and Core Group needed to reflect the new realities.
People felt strongly on both sides. We took time so that everyone who wanted to speak had a chance to be heard. Faces were often red with emotion.
After two hours it was clear that we had gone as far as we could at the personality level, and a respected elder staff member, trusted to be neutral, led us in a brief visualization.
We sat in silence together, with a very few words guiding us to have an inner knowing about what served the highest for all concerned.
After the meditation, the elder suggested we share the bottom line — simply saying “Yes” or “No” to including associate members on core group.
I will never forget the energy in the room as we spoke, one after the other, all around the circle.
With each “Yes” the room got “soupier”, and in the end our decision was completely unanimous.
The unity was beautiful, profound, clean, unequivocal, and resonate. It was momentus and miraculous. We had stepped into a new way to be together, and everyone knew there was no going back.
While such unity in a group is extremely rare, it is also profoundly important. It indicates what is possible, and shows powerful ways forward.
What happened that Fall day? Why was such a profound shift possible?
Here are a few key factors:
- We knew each other well.
- There was strong shared purpose: We all wanted what was best for the community as a whole.
- We’d all been part of the community for 2 or more years.
- Everyone trusted guided visualization as a way to make decisions.
Perhaps the most important difference, though, was that each of us had experienced the difference between what happened when small “s” self was in the driver’s seat, and when we were wise enough to be guided by big “S” Self. We had a kind of maturity — to be able to surrender what we wanted at the personality level when this didn’t line up with insights from within.
This “difference that makes the difference” is huge, and is the impetus for the body of work called Make Light Work.
By kate, November 10th, 2010
Yesterday I had a Skype call with a friend who spoke about working really hard to get rid of all her baggage so that she would be ready for the partnership of her dreams. A participant at a book talk last month said the same thing, almost verbatim.
This is inner work run amok. It’s ass backwards.
When you focus on clearing away “all the baggage”, you end up having more baggage to clear — endless amounts. Kinda like the “War on Poverty/Crime/Terrorists”. We get more of what we focus on….
The only baggage you need to clear is what comes up on your way as you move forward.
Here’s a simple visual, thanks to some training I had in Psychosynthesis. (I don’t know how to get my computer to include the images directly in the blog….)
The upper triangle represents our higher self/potential, the lower triangle represents current reality, including our baggage.
As we move toward our potential, the two triangles start to overlap, and we are called to deal with issues — starting with just the tip of the lower triangle.
The more we achieve our potential, the more we must deal with issues. But we don’t have to deal with everything. There are big parts of the lower triangle that don’t need to be cleared for us to embody our potential.
Both our potential, and our baggage are infinite. Optimum health is represented by a six pointed star that gets bigger and bigger. Our humanity means we all, always, have baggage.
I’m appreciating the reminder myself: Only clear what comes up on your way to what you want.
By kate, October 26th, 2010
The other day, I was sitting outside at a local cafe, visiting with my friend and web designer Barbara Breuner on sunny afternoon so warm I had stripped off two sweaters and was down to a tank top. (I am usually cold, so this was glorious!)
Barbara asked me how my newsletter was going, having designed a header, but not having heard a peep.
I answered that I was stuck — trying to figure out how to balance blogging, doing a newsletter, and writing the next book — and that I’d been thinking of basing the newsletter on the blog. This was the first time I’d said the idea aloud. Bingo! YES!!!
Then in the magic of the conversation, I realized that I could blog my ideas for the book — to bring three pieces into one. WOW! What had felt like a burden suddenly became clear and joyous.
I also love how blogging allows the way I write my second book to line up with what I’m writing about. I.e. my title is Make Light Work in Groups, so it needs to be, at least in part, a group effort.
I hope you will join in the conversation!
Here is a first kick at the can.
Why is it important to write Make Light Work in Groups? What is the purpose?
My goal is to share inner work tools that can help groups be more effective. With the pace of change and the growing complexity of the challenges we face, we need ways of working that allow us to set direction, build rapport, and respond to ever changing circumstances quickly and effectively.
We need ways of taking our thinking, ‘beingness”, social structures, cultures, and collective action to new levels, because as Vaclav Havel writes:
“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”
Put another way, I love how Al Gore updates a famous African proverb by adding a line:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
We need to go very far, very fast.
The old trade offs don’t work any more: Us vs. them, economy vs. environment, now vs. then. The realization of our interconnectedness means we must find win-win-win-win-win ways of being and doing, and fast.
I believe wholeheartedly that the gift of our current situation is that it is the wake up call we’ve needed to achieve the fullness of our human potential.
At the same time, we need ways to stay true to what is best in us no matter how stormy things get. It IS true that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (Roosevelt) Fundamentalism and fascism are natural responses to the fears and loss of control associated with rapid change and social transition.
I believe inner work approaches have a great deal to contribute on all these fronts: inner work has potential to radically upgrade how humans function in groups, and therefore in society.
So far I’ve shared tools that work for individuals. Now I want to share the same and complementary tools for doing inner work in groups.
That said, I know that even my most potent experiences are just scratching the surface of what is possible. I’d like to connect with others in a learning community to deepen our practice, and to quicken the process of disseminating these ways of working.
Stay tuned for the story of the highlight of my three years at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland — an intentional community that is pioneering governance models and organizational approaches based in collective wisdom and spiritual principles.
By kate, September 23rd, 2010
A couple of years ago, a new neighbour and I got talking at a block party. We both loved growing food, but I didn’t have much land, and she had her hands full with a new baby. In the magical way that conversations can open up possibilities, Julia and I wondered if others in our neighbourhood might be in the same boat: wanting to grow more food but needing something to get going.
I pay attention when a conversation sparkles. I figure its an outer expression of inner alignment: something with my name on it; something I should be paying attention to.
So in joyous collaboration with my new friend, we nurtured the seed of the Two Block Diet — a group of neighbours from the block where Julia lives, and the block immediately to the North where I live. (You can read how we did it here.)
The inner orientation has been pure “make light work”: Everything we need is already here, and many hands make work fun, effective, and wonderfully fulfilling — just like the barn-raisings and quilting bees of old.
Change doesn’t have to be huge or grandiose to be effective. Ours is more organic and garden like: planting seeds that take root and spread. And spreading it is, thanks especially to a great front page story in today’s Vancouver Sun.
(As a side note, the Vancouver Sun article came about thanks to a referral from a Village Vancouver member. Connecting different circles in our communities is another powerful way to “make light work”.)