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The Continually Evolving Host - dinsdag 10 januari 2012


The Continually Evolving Host
In November the Hub offered its members an Art of Hosting training course. The Art of Hosting aims to support participants in their learning process as hosts and harvesters of strategic and meaningful conversations, in collective spaces, for purposeful action.

Training for practising the Art of Hosting is like training to practise any art, such as martial arts, performance arts, visual arts and music. We learn and experiment in order to be able to fully let go and trust our deepest creative sense and intuition in the moments that we stand in the fire.

It is fascinating to observe the process of evolving and deepening hosting qualities of hosts. Essentially, I discern three phases of growth in our maturing as hosts.
In phase one, the practice of the Art of Hosting comes to us principally through our cognitive senses and responds to a deeper knowing that there exist other ways to interact with the groups, teams and communities that we work with. Many participants who enter this phase are recognisable by their insatiable hunger for new mental models, instruments and tools that are expressions of a different way of working they know is needed to work with the collective intelligence of groups.

The process of learning is a process of surprise, discovery and experimentation. It is like learning how to play an instrument, or like learning how to draw, or how to do karate… You have to know your toolkit, explore possibilities of that toolkit, learn the language and rituals, and acquaint yourself with workable principles that were discovered long before your stepping in the practice.

If ‘the quality of an intervention depends on the interior of the intervenor’ (like the oftenly used quote by Bill O’Brien tells us), then this first stage is all about waking up that interior to the wide array of possibilities. The interventions of the ‘phase 1 host’ therefore tend to build on this initial and overwhelming enthusiasm and express it.

But let us not forget that the concept of ‘intervention’ comesfrom the Latin ‘inter venire’, i.e. to come between, to interrupt. What this tells me is that, again just like learning any other art, the challenge is to reduce to the most our interventions to subtle, precise and well-timed actions that support a natural and intuitive flow, and interrupt as shortly as necessary. Note how lightly a mature piano players touches his keys, how a martial art master reduces his movements to their essence and how (most) painters only put the least necessary number of lines on their canvas.

‘Phase two’ learning as hosts brings in stronger our emotional senses, it opens our hear to truly embracing hosting collective intelligence as an act of doing good. We learn to see how our interventions can really be strategic, meaningful and purposeful. How to deeply resonate with what the people we work with really, really need. From perception to conception.

‘Phase three’ of our maturing as hosts tends to activate our most spiritual senses, our open will, our mastery of subtlety, as each intervention is an expression of how we truly see the world of groups and communities with new eyes. A new paradigm or worldview lives and expresses itself through us. As hosts we have come subjects of that worldview, rather than objects in it. Our learning in this phase is unlearning, it is all about letting go.

Less can certainly be more.

As we evolve as hosts and so with us our hosting practice, we move from ‘doing hosting’, to ‘becoming hosts’ to ‘being hosts’. However, don’t assume this to be too linear. Maybe the highest level of mastery in hosting is the ability to move swiftly and fluidly between the three.

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