Purpose Moment


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Purpose Moment

A Leader Looks to Retain Top Talent: A Client Success Story

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Rachel Harris

In a periodic series, Heartland Group shares illuminating case studies of change management successes. The current installment focuses on a client who had come to a cross-roads and knew the status quo was no longer an option. Our client is a Human Resources Vice President who sought to resolve an employee retention problem, but found roadblocks in navigating a much more complex situation in the company culture. She hired Heartland Group to apply Convening methodology and map a path forward.

Coming to the realization that her smartest, most talented staff were underperforming or leaving, a Vice President of Human Resources knew a change was needed. After assessing employee needs and emphasizing talent retention, she discovered that company culture was impacting performance.  

She contacted Conversational Intelligence-trained coach Patricia Neal and initiated a plan of action. Together they focused on retaining top female talent in the male-dominated engineering company and re-energizing the workforce through a special interest group (SIG). What began as a staffing retention issue had morphed into a culture change initiative.  This is where the project got exciting!

This SIG met to re-focus the mission and vision, design a kick-off meeting and receive Art of Convening training.  The group relaunched successfully in March with over 70 people in attendance - double the expected turnout!  Their success evolved from executive coaching and training on more effective meetings.  Now that the SIG is up and running, they have requested a quarterly tune-up on designing effective meetings for inclusion. The quarterly trainings and monthly coaching have enabled middle managers to create a culture of inclusion, develop staff buy-in and transform their leadership. Excellent outcomes!

We love to work with leaders who are ready to move beyond the status quo.Center for Purposeful Leadership: Connect. Engage. Collaborate. Give us a jingle. #612-920-3039.

Sept: The AoC Book Launch in Denmark!

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

September 24-27 2012 | Copenhagen, Denmark   --The Art of Convening Book Launch, Programs, and Trainings   

via heartlandcircle.blogs.com

Convening and the Digital Native

photo Credit: Craig Neal

photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Cindy Wold

via heartlandcircle.blogs.com


photo credit: Craig neal

photo credit: Craig neal

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon.  It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know.  That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.
~ William Stafford ~

Nature. Beauty. Gratitude

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

If you are not one of the the 63,977 people who've seen it on YouTube, or even if you are - I receommend a daily viewing of this video from Louie Schwartzenberg on Nature, Beauty, and Gratitude. You'll be charmed by Louie Schwartzberg's time-lapse photography and and inspired by the articulate, heartful narration of David Steindl-Rast. Steindl-Rast says that cultivating gratitude for each day is like "life-giving water if you will only open your heart and drink".

via www.beautydialogues.com

When We Listen

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

When We Listen

When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness.

Our listening creates a sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.

That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and by others.

That which is hidden.

In this culture, the soul and the heart too often go homeless.

Listening creates a holy silence.

When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time.

And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone.

Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.

Rachel Naomi Remen

Convening and Judgment

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Have you ever been judged? I know the answer to that, because we've all been judged. We're judged every time we walk among others. For the very same behavior or characteristic we can be judged positively (especially by our moms!) or negatively (as by our arch nemesis if we have one).

My own judgments are both involuntary and continuous - like breathing. Sometimes those judgments help me make sense of the world, but more often than I would like, if I have the opportunity to test the judgments I make, they can be amazingly wrong. That is, unless I have triggered the "self-fulfilling prophesy" kind of judgment.

We are all multifaceted human beings, and as such could display characteristics that show us to be shallow barbarians one minute and deep, thoughtful geniuses the next. People judge me (and others) using all kinds of criteria - by the expression on our faces, by the shoes we wear, by the condition or color of our hair, or perhaps by a blog entry. A momentary lapse of manners may be judged as refreshingly real by one person and as unnecessarily crude by another.

A challenge I struggle with sometimes when I convene or participate in a group is setting aside my judgment. A key principle in the Art of Convening for the Aspect of Hearing All the Voices is to suspend our judgment. But my brain is constantly making conscious and unconscious evaluations of the people I am with - and others often seem to be doing the same thing. Like a frisky puppy, judgment chews on my hand and vies for my attention, becoming more stealthy and present as I struggle to banish it.

"Judgment is not necessarily a bad thing, I've learned. I want to have and continue to nurture good judgment in my life."

So, rather than fight with my judgment and try to get rid of it, I have decided to treat it like a puppy I've brought along, but is not participating. I take the time to train her to sit quietly at my feet or under my chair, until my meeting or conversation is over - then I take her away with me somewhat better behaved, more informed and matured in some way.

Judgment is not necessarily a bad thing, I've learned. I want to have and continue to nurture good judgment in my life. But I do myself a disservice when I allow my judgment to be a barrier to relationship with others in my gathering. I notice that the Art of Convening principle asks me to "suspend" my judgment, not to eliminate it. My objective is to be present in my gathering as a place of "charitable interpretation" and openness to being surprised.

What are your experiences with judgment and The Art of Convening? Is your judgment like a puppy too? Do you have some tips for the rest of us?

Cynthia Wold, Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"

NOTE: In the original post, Judgement was spelled with an "e" after the g. Both spellings are correct, but I was persuaded to change to the more popular Judgment.

"Merriam-Webster prefers judgment and lists judgement as a variant."

Convening and The Truth

Photo Credit: Craig neal

Photo Credit: Craig neal

This article was first posted on the AoC Book blog

Someone asked me today what I imagined would make the biggest difference in improving the quality of an upcoming conversation. I thought about it a bit and said that it would be telling the truth.

I don't think the people intentionally lie, but I think all of us like to manage our persona and make a good impression. We want to get along with others and may unconsciously utter clichés instead of offering thoughtful, relevant talk. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, but I am sometimes in exchanges where that kind of thing is practiced to an extreme - and it wears me out! Also, it is impossible for me to develop a sense of trust in my conversations when I believe that truth is not forthcoming.

Most of us are not privy to knowing what THE TRUTH in capital letters is, but we do know what we are experiencing and thinking in the moment. It is more uncomfortable for me to openly share my genuine experiences and thoughts when others are not doing the same - much like the feeling of being watched from behind a one-way glass.  That doesn't mean we have to bare our souls and tell all, or expound fully on our areas of expertise, but it does mean that we have to be real. 

In The Art of Convening, authentic engagement is defined as simply the genuine expression of what is true for us, and an attentive listening to what is true for others. It's not entertaining, persuading or manipulating, but it is very energizing. Using the principles and practices of the Art of Convening make it much more likely that participants in a conversation or gathering will authentically engage - which means telling the truth.

What is your experience of truth-telling and the Art of Convening?

Cynthia Wold, Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"

Beginners Mind as Bridge

In the Japanese tradition of Zen, there is reference to what is called Beginner's Mind by Master Shunryu Suzuki. When we "suspend certainty" we automatically ignite the energetic of Beginner's Mind which in turn opens us up to new possibilities and very likely will produce results in our meetings that might seem impossible to achieve. When we unwind our solidified certainties and beliefs, and simply take a moment to identify how they came to be, we shift our potential to co-create.

Read More

Each Voice as Key

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

P R I N C I P L E:

Each voice is needed to reveal the authentic wisdom in our engagement.


We often refer to this principle as letting go and let come. We let go of our preconceptions of who the others are in the gathering and we let come the truth, quality, and essence of each. We suspend judgment (certainty) so that we are open to the possibilities of others. We must know, internally, that we, and all the others who are here, belong here. Each is needed and is here to contribute to the potential wisdom and creativity that we want in order to allow for the best possible outcome. There are no mistakes or outisiders in the universe, or in our gathering.

We must know, internally, that we, and all the others who are here, belong here. Each is needed and is here to contribute to the potential wisdom and creativity that we want in order to allow for the best possible outcome. There are no mistakes or outsiders in the universe, or in our gathering.

When we acknowledge that each voice is needed, we recognize that we are gathering the parts of something, just as a gardener gathers tools, seeds, and soil in the creation of a garden. As in a garden, where these necessary elements come togather, it is so in our gatherings: every person contributes by coming together to create something new. We orchestrate the opportunity for each individual to participate, producing a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. When all of the voices are heard, everyone sees and is seen by one another. Authentic engagement has begun, and an organic whole begins to emerge. (93)

This principle lays the foundation for maximizing the capacity for possible outcomes that may surprise even the most savvy and creative facilitator (convener) or manager (way-shower, guide). What has been missing in most meetings is simply this very recognition. Coming at our Team meetings and interactions on a regular basis with colleagues, how can we ignite that spark that dissolves the "I" and bridges to the "We"? Once we let our self-interests and expectations down, it is amazing what happens in the Boardrooms and meeting spaces. A new capacity forms. Granted, there will be moments of noodling through the currents of control, ego, and multiple opinions and views. This is all well and good and can be deftly navigated when the convener and the convening circle is coming from this space of understanding--the understanding that All Voices are Key.

Enjoy a copy of The Art of Convening for 30% off list price! (Offer ends April 7th 2011)

Here's to Hearing All the Voices!


Craig and Patricia

A Blessing for the New Year

Photo credit: craig neal

Photo credit: craig neal


A Blessing for the New Year

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.


And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.


When the fiber frays
in the canvas boat of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.


May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


~ John O'Donohue ~

A Call for Presence

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal


John O'Donahue bring beauty and grace to a core convener practice of presence with this poem.

For Presence

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)