Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Co-Active Summit Experience

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 by International Coach Federation

  • How do we connect, together, to create collective action in the face of our perilous global situation?
  • What's calling you, right now?
  • What moves you, personally, to make a bolder commitment?
Last month, I had the delicious opportunity to present a session at CTI’s Co-Active Summit, on Marco Island, Florida. As a long-term student of designed learning, I got to play in, and contribute to, a most elegant design. Many factors combined to make this event sing. Here are a few:

• The Summit was designed as a whole to directly engage a relevant question for the many of us who see the pickle that we as a species have gotten ourselves into: “What is my piece?” Many people I know see the problems, but feel overwhelmed, or have difficulty discerning how they can be part of the solution. This process engaged us collaboratively and creatively in the question; doing so is in itself part of the solution.

• The community process began months ago with proposals that were voted on by the community (my own proposal was solicited and eventually selected.) So, before we even arrived at the venue, the community had a stake in the agenda, and shaped it in significant ways.

• Top notch keynoters Kevin Cashman (his comments about presence as a "meta-competency” were music to my ears; this is what I’ve been teaching for years) and Lynne Twist (“we have less than 4 years to change the trajectory of civilization. You’re part of it. GO!”) were compelling and provided incisive input on the themes.

• A central participatory experience provided an overarching metaphor to which all other components of the design connected. The image of a transformational leap, taken with preparation and rigor, and with unknowable results, served the process well. Assembling, with 450 people, a giant jigsaw puzzle in about 15 minutes (get it? “What’s your piece?”) was both fun and powerful.

• Concurrent sessions ("Pathways" sessions, including mine) had been selected by the community, and arranged consistently with the metaphor. These sessions provided a strong personal developmental stream within an overall community context.

• The two remaining co-founders of CTI, Karen and Henry Kimsey-House, were conspicuous on stage, both in convening and holding the space for the event. They also raised the stakes by declaring that the future trajectory of the CTI organization would be significantly shaped by the unfolding process that everyone was creating together. ("Hey! This is for real!")

My own experience was significant. The new half-day workshop I developed and presented strongly validated a somatically-based approach to experiencing ourselves in an evolutionary context. And, I am newly committed to aligning my work more explicitly and directly to the context of the accelerating environmental/spiritual/social crisis that is unfolding on our earth.

More broadly, this event is a bold response to the moral imperative for us, as change agents, to engage ourselves and our clients in these crucial questions, and to contextualize our work in the broadest possible frame.

Without judgment, I found myself pondering the incongruity of convening a conversation about responding to our environmental crisis in a high-end Florida venue, accompanied by a certain sense of indulgence and a high carbon footprint. This may well be necessary, for now, but illuminates the necessity of learning how to initiate and sustain our conversations and resulting actions through forms that are themselves sustainable.

Doug Silsbee, PCC
The real value of the event, and the long term payoff for the environmental cost, lies not in the delicious experience itself but in what it catalyzes in terms of on-going action. How will the CTI community/organization be shaped by this? What actions will the 450 participants take as a result? And, how will I translate my three days of inspiration into years of committed action?

We can't fully know the answers to these questions, but I'm optimistic about all three. And, something has come alive in me... I'm listening.

Posted by Doug Silsbee, PCC, author of The Mindful Coach, and leader of the ICF-approved Presence-Based Coaching training program. For other posts, or to comment on this one, visit http://www.dougsilsbee.com/blog/summit.

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