The Presencing Institute describes itself as an awareness-based action research community for profound societal innovation and change. On June 18th and 19th, 2012, the Presencing Institute held it’s second Presencing Global Forum. A leader of this movement, Otto Scharmer, co-author of Presence and author of Theory U has found a way to encapsulate the work of major change makers in the world, articulate the work that they are doing, and create a scientific method toward creating that ‘profound societal innovation and change’ to share with others. Eileen Fisher is one of those change makers who sees business as a movement that can allow us (humans) to be our best selves.
Throughout my work with the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute, I have been drawing together the pieces that Eileen Fisher inc leadership have so carefully crafted to create the culture of the organization. By bringing together pieces of Theory U, The Circle Way and others, we create a way for young women (teenage girls) to engage with concepts like ‘creativity, confidence, connection’ and we are able to facilitate their growth as leaders in their own lives.
Part of the underlying belief in Theory U is based on the Bill O’Brien quote, “the success of the intervention lies in the interior condition of the intervenor.” Meaning that when we change ourselves, we are changing the world. By connecting with a deep source, and acting from that place individually and collectively, we can co-create the world/societal systems in which we want to live. The Presencing Global Forum brings together the community of people who are engaging with these concepts and figuring out how to apply them.
One of the first things that I notice happening in the two day Forum is a deep, attentive listening. People come and tune in to themselves and each other. During this forum, we literally tuned in with our voices and did collective humming/harmonizing ‘ahhhhhh’ together. It was a beautiful way to hear the voices in the room and get a sense of the whole. The ‘principle’ of this work is to develop a connection. Throughout the forum, we would sit in small groups (3-5 people) to share and hold the attention on what was emerging. For example, in the introduction, we sat with 5 people and met each one of them, learning what they wanted to share about themselves and why they were called to be there. After each talk (on stage) was given, we were asked to turn to each other and have deep dialogue about what the talk evoked in us.
Presencing work takes me to a place of deep feeling. I begin to notice where pieces are broken or stuck – the crack – and start to attend to it. I go deeper into the feeling of it, and by following it, I find the way that it can begin to shift, unblock or find release. It is the same with yoga. For example, when I am in pigeon pose, a deep hip opener, I find the feeling where it feels stuck and attend to it, I breathe deeply into that place within my body and it begins to open and release. The Presencing Global Forum allows people to do that on a collective level. We are collectively opening into finding the cracks in society, sitting with them, and staying with the feeling of it until we can find the release. As we do this, we find new ways to work together. We find the ways that we are being called to initiate change and shift our institutions. I see the alternative to doing this type of work as staying stuck until we break. We do that (stay stuck) on individual level by literally breaking our own bodies and on a collective level by breaking our planet with our need to control it.
The exciting part: there are many ways to do this! Using different tools, we are finding ways to work together to SEE (become aware of) the cracks in the systems that we’ve collectively created. We are finding ways to sit with it, stay with it and MOVE with it. By doing that and by truly accessing things like joy, compassion, love and trust, we are beginning to release the pain, the suffering, and the stuckness.
I have been completely immersed in all of this for the last week and have been invited to stay an extra week in Berlin for Mission: U, a gathering of young change makers who are learning how to implement some of these abstract concepts in the real world. I plan to stay here, write more, process what I’ve learned and somehow help/learn with the Mission U facilitation team (an awesome group of people I have had the pleasure to meet this week!).
More to come on the actual talks, experiences and journey….