Tenneson Woolf, Caitlin Frost and I are snuggled into the attic rooms at the Capitol Hill Mansion B&B in downtown Denver, listening to some jazz, eating some pasta and salad and finishing up a productive design day together. We are preparing to teach the Art of Hosting to 60 leaders from the community at St. John’s in the Wilderness Cathedral in Denver. St. John’s is a high Anglican Gothic Episcopalian cathedral in the heart of Denver. We have been working with the cathedral community over the past couple of years to build the capacity among the 1700 members to be able to host and engage in conversations that matter.
As we’ve done this work, I’m struck at once by how simple it really is and how little space we make for it in our lives. People are busy, rushed and worried about deadlines and results and as a collective society we tend to defer the slow and clear attention to the quality of how we are together. Quality gets sacrificed at the alter of timely outcomes.
And of course this is no more ironic than in the myriad church communities we have been working with over the years, which, at their best, host a place to slow down and consider the nature of the relationship between peoples and to attend to the sacred quality of the spaces in between.
For me there is something in the richness of returning to the simplest way we know of to slow down and host good conversations. This evening as I write by the fire, Caitlin and Tenneson are preparing a simple teaching of Circle practice. Earlier we were thinking about the simplest way we know of to discuss the relationship of our traditional notions of chaos and order.
While I have been diving deep into the nuanced explorations of the Cynefin framework, it is becoming necessary to find ways to invite people easily into the mind shift that complexity requires. In the Art of Hosting community we have, for a long time, been inspired by Dee Hock’s work on chaordic organization. At the simplest level noticing the polarity of chaos and order, and noticing how our reactions to chaos and uncertainty often take us to high levels of control becomes an entry way into a different way to think about strategies for achieving goals in the complex domain.
So tomorrow, I’m looking forward to Tenneson’s leading on the chaordic path, a simple teaching worth returning to.