Notes from the Field

January 2010 / Notes from the Field

Authentic Leadership in Action-Europe Conference
January 10-16, 2010, Elspeet, Netherlands
by Emil Moller

Emil Moller

I’d like to start this review with the notion of courage and trust.

The reason is that the morning I left the venue for my wife and children, there was an option to take the 10 am shuttle service and stay around for an elaborate breakfast. This would have been comfortable and cozy. Longing to see my family as soon as possible, I ventured into the woods, open to what transportation might come along. After ¾ of an hour walk I bumped into a bus stop, where the 1st (hourly service) bus of that day would arrive in 4 minutes. At the train station, the train arrived in 5 minutes. This brought me home some 3 hours sooner.

This seemingly insignificant personal experience indicates to me a phenomenon of great importance: by letting go of acquired tastes regarding comfort and a trust in a basic tendency in the world for goodness for those who are open to it, we can make great strides towards a society based on love, on any scale. This touches upon the only relevant choice we can make: the one between love and fear.

In the ALIA conference ‘courage’ was one of the options for a theme group in addition to ‘transcendence’ and ‘relationships’, which were designed to interweave attendees in different modules. Courage seemed to me to be an important thread: courage to be vulnerable, to move through space publicly in unorthodox ways, to realize that we don’t know, that our certainties tend to be sticky and even imprisoning, to speak out, to speak truth to power, to face that the path we’re following is not the path of our hearth, to face that our hobby horse is one amongst many, that others have deeper and broader knowledge on the subjects you consider yourself an expert in, that we’re unable to absorb all the qualities on offer in the various modules and other events.

Modules

The Art of Hosting Transformational Change with Toke Paludan Møller, Monica Nissén, and Phil Cass

Embodied Leadership with Wendy Palmer

An Integral Practice for Evolutionary Leadership and Change with Peter Merry and Dylan Newcomb

Practicing Fearlessness in Times of Fear with Margaret Wheatley and Jerry Granelli

Solving Tough Problems: Co-creating New Realities in Complex Systems with Adam Kahane, LeAnne Grillo, and Mustafa Suleyman

At other seminars I was privileged to attend the content of the program, the teachers, the participants, and the venue were also outstanding. A description will take up too much space and attention here. To me this is not what really matters. What really matters is to what extent these seminars are an asset for societal renewal—timely renewal, at a sufficient scale to mitigate the suffering now happening and the suffering on the horizon, when we project current trends.

This perspective was explored in the conversations I joined and was expressed in public gatherings at times. This is indicative of where we stand as a society: we know, we are able to be aware it, focus on it, have clues of how to address it. But we are immersed in myriad ways of busyness. In various ways we think and hope that in some aggregate way our doing our best within our daily lives will turn the tide. To me this is a line of thinking I feel increasingly drawn and pushed towards.

‘Drawn’, since it would mean that I would come to terms with the inevitable, be more relaxed in how I relate and communicate with others. Invite others into my perspective, rather than dragging them by their hair. Explore their perspective. And through this detour, create a short cut towards effective change. Paradoxes indeed help the activist become effective, in spite of himself.

‘Pushed’, since the behavioral patterns in me (or any activist for that matter) to push through resistance to change, proves not to work. With me these patterns dissolve slowly, also because of their positive overtones of achievement on an ego level.

This would to quite an extend coincide with Adam Kahane’s latest book (which he presented during the seminar), in which he addressed the tension between power and love. He pleads for an optimization of power. And of love. Oscillate between the two. To act powerfully, from a loving base. To love powerfully. No raw power, no mushy touchy feely. An idea whose time has come.

alia

In the daily workshop by Dylan Newcomb and Peter Merry, this polarity was further explored through what I experienced as Tai Chi style dancing from beige to turquoise, through a U (see, dylannewcomb.com for details; recommended).

In this workshop Peter showed the concept of ‘meshworks’. This appealed to me strongly, since it operationalizes the healing forces on our planet in a way that fits the ways we have arranged our society. It has proved a model in Brazil and Copenhagen able to attract people with the desire to contribute to a better world. (see 2020climatesolutions.org for details, recommended).

To the extent that this model/online tool is filled with capacities, resources and knowledge relevant for others desiring to make a contribution, this is a powerful format for and of synergy. Renaissance2, the meeting which I described in a previous review, also uses this concept.

I hope that this seminar, this peak experience in what people can be, will prove infectious.

ALiA-Europe: http://www.aliainstitute.org/programs/2010europe/home.html

About the Author

Emil Moller is a consultant on sustainability and working with large systems change. Based in the Netherlands, he is aposter at the European Tribune and a speaker and researcher at Beyond the Walls. Contact: oneevatatime@gmail.com

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