In the Fall of 2014 I headed off to Bowen Island to attend Beyond the Basics knowing that I was seeking something professionally; a broader network, new teachers and more tools to add to my convening and consulting practice. What I did not expect was to be so personally challenged and professionally stimulated.
As a convener, consultant and coach I have design, hosted and collaborated in community engagement and social change initiatives for over 20 years. At this stage in my practice I was sitting with questions around the best role for me, where I could have the biggest impact and what would deepen my practice.
The theme of Beyond the Basics: Depth, Breadth, Friendship and Power were initially conceptual and intellectual for me. By the end of the first evening I was already diving deep in reflection and feeling challenged to unpack and reorganize my perspectives.
Deepened my personal leadership perspective:
How do I show up for this transformative work? What role does my own healing, learning and development play in holding space and hosting community conversations? What do I need to lean into further to deepen my practice and broaden the reach of my role and impact?
These are the questions that surfaced quickly in both exciting and terrifying ways for me in the first day of Beyond the Basics. The questions the co-hosting team asked, the stories they shared and the level of vulnerability present in the training team evoked these questions. The process we journeyed through over the 3 days provided the needed container for me to drop down into exploring these questions and the conversations with my colleagues invited a new level of accountability I was clearly hungry for. I was called to look at integrating more in my own practice and leadership the very tools and processes I ask of my clients and communities.
Expanded my perspective on the impact of breadth:
What does it mean to scale up in this social change and innovation work? What is the value and does it really have impact? What would it look like to have breadth vs scale? Who needs to lead us in to breadth?
Throughout of 3 day learning journey we strategically moved in and out of convening practices, “teachings” and dialogue that provided me with the personal opportunity to experience the impact of breadth within my work. We did not just theoretically talk about the seductive nature of scale we explored the power of graduating in process that provide breadth; breadth of experience, perspective, contribution and of transformation. I left with clarity around my own role in creating space and designing processes that both challenge scaling and invite us to be more intentional and strategic in moving into breadth in this social change work.
Reconfirming my commitment to relationship:
What is important about my co-hosting relationships? How do I cultivate and nurture these relationships? What value do I place on this aspect of the work? What stops me from going deeper here?
The relationships I have with my colleagues, partners and the community members are key to the overall success and sustainability of the social change and innovation work. I knew this and had placed value and time here throughout the years. What I had not yet experienced is seeing that mirrored so powerful back by a co-hosting team and my colleagues. Chris, Caitlin, Tuesday and Tim did more than just talk about this key element of the work, they shared personal stories and modeled this in how they were with each other throughout the 3 day learning journey. I left more committed to deepening my practices here and to speak more openly about this in all my client initiatives. My mantra, “it is not what we do but how we do it that has the greatest impact.”
Grounded my relationship with the presence of power:
How do I engage in and surface conversations around the presence of power in this work? How can I influence power in my relationship and within partnerships? What do I need to own and shift within myself to hold space for power in groups and communities?
This is a conversation that often evokes so much fear and shame. What was so transformative for me was witnessing the role of grace and friendship in negotiating and navigating the presence of power in our own learning community at Beyond the Basics. The co-hosting team held such a respectful, accountable and loving space for us all to explore our role and relationship to power. They dropped down deep into their own vulnerable leadership to mirror processes for staying in the conversation together, allowing room for learning and practice and the role of naming power dynamics at play. I left with permission to call in deeper conversations around my own power and with my co-collaborators.
Sitting here a year later I have greater appreciation for the gifts of this learning journey and am excited to expand further in attending Beyond the Basics in Ontario in October. I look forward to sharing in this learning journey with you all and trust you will leave with a deeper sense of clarity and commitment around your own work and practice.