There is never a time when we are not a participant in this world. Our mere presence in any place makes us a participant. So rule number one is “there is no outside.”
In fact I think the very idea that we can somehow be separate from what is going on around is is actually a delusion and it causes great problems. It blinds us to our own influence in a field and it actually hides our own gifts and brilliance and denies them from being used as people find their way.
In most indigenous cultures work with, there is no outside. Elders do not stand apart from the groups they are working with. They insert themselves and hold space from within. They are never shy to share what they know, and their awareness of their presence and its power is a gift to the community.
To me this is as it should be. Indigenous science is about discovering the connections between things, rather than isolating something and trying to understand it free from the externalities that tie it to everything else. I think this is why the kind of leadership we all are discovering is most valuable in indigenous communities: it gives us a way of looking at and thinking about the world that encourages us to dive in, connect and put relationships to use. In this way the path of hosting as we are discovering in the AoH community of practice is very different from standard business practices of facilitation and mediation, where the facilitator stands apart from the group and tries not to influence the outcomes. I personally could never understand how that is even possible, let alone the impulse to withhold useful insights and perspectives from a group that is struggling.
At any rate, all I would encourage you to do is admit that you ARE in the field, that the field is influenced by your being there and that your first job is of course to host yourself well, so that with consciousness, you can play a part in the whole that is beneficial and serves the life that wants to emerge in the field. This is not easy, which is why it is an art. And it is a practice of constant, sharpened awareness.
In Anishnaabemowin, the language of Anishnaabe people, the word is Dinewemaganig means “all my relations” or more precisely “I belong to everything.” That is the first principle. From there, leadership takes on a very different face.