January 13.  This evening, we concluded Montreal’s first Art of Hosting event.  I’m exhausted after the three-day event and two days of preparation before that.  But I’m deeply satisfied.  Everything flowed smoothly, despite much complexity, necessarily last-minute preparations, and a challenging venue. The gathering felt important, like a catalytic moment both for the individuals present and for Montreal (and maybe even for Quebec).  Participants showered us with gratitude for the powerful learning and the experience of community.  And I felt proud to have helped offer this to them.

What stands out most for me, though, is the experience of the hosting team – both the eleven local organizers and apprentices and the three international hosts and teachers (Toke Møller, Chris Corriganand Tuesday Ryan-Hart).  We lived something special together.  The normal expression would be that we were like a well-oiled machine.  But it seems more accurate to say that we were like a well oiled organism.  Our work together was much more organic than mechanic.  It was creative, adaptive and emergent.  It was fast-moving and self-organizing.  And the “oil” was deep friendship and trust that began to resemble love.

This first became clear to me on the second afternoon of the event.  I stood near the windows looking across the crowd of over a hundred participants and at the flip charts, markers and cushions that were the artifacts of our gathering.  Somehow apart from all that, I could sense the movements of my teammates within the space.  And I realized that we had created an organization together – a temporary one, but an organization in all senses except the legal one.  And quite an effective organization, it seems.

Now I realize that we had created all the fertile conditions necessary for our organization-as-organism to thrive.  In the consulting framework I taught during the event, I call those conditions Purpose, Passion and Practical Play.

  • Purpose is the powerful shared intention that brings people together – that creates wholeness from parts, like cells in one body.  In the Art of Hosting teachings, this is the call and the work required to respond to it.
  • Passion is the diverse talents of the individuals and their sense of meaningful connection to the call.  It is nurtured in the way people are invited to participate and contribute.
  • And Practical Play is the dynamic pattern of relationships and interactions that weave diverse people into one organism.  Play is the way we collaborate, innovate and learn best.  It is the joyful, curious and trusting way we engage, but it is also the structure and rules of the game and the roles each of us agrees to assume.  In these ways, we see that play can be eminently practical.

What I also realize now is that the experience of the hosting team was everything that we were learning about in the Art of Hosting training.  We danced the chaordic path together.  Indeed, as one participant expressed it, we danced furiously!

There isn’t much in life more nourishing than that.

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