Forty Transformational Presence graduates from six countries in the Americas and Europe came together last week in Chester, Connecticut for our 2017 Global Leadership Gathering. Some came out of curiosity – they had heard about this event from their colleagues and wanted to experience it themselves. Others came longing for a sense of community and connection as they navigate this uncertain world. Still others came because they had attended this event in previous years and couldn’t wait to be in the physical presence of this community again.

On the first day, one participant said to me, “I can’t not be here.” Another said, “Not coming was not an option.” And another commented, “I’ve been waiting for this day ever since we left here last year.” Previously called the Transformational Presence Global Summit, this was the fifth year for this event – three years in the Netherlands and the last two years in the U.S.

Many were curious about our theme: Leading From Fierce Gentleness and Ferocious Love. We talked a lot about the Great Breaking Open and the new skills and capacities that are essential for effective leadership in today’s rapidly changing world.

Transformational Presence: Shift Happens

Group Exercise at the 2017 Transformational Presence Global Leadership Gathering

Through experiential exercises, we explored the meaning of “fierce gentleness” and “ferocious love” within the context of today’s challenges and opportunities. We practiced embodying Transformational Presence in action as it related to our own projects and visions. We looked at the different “edges” we are facing, both individually and collectively, as we live into who we are called to be and what we are called to do. We took steps forward in crossing those edges. And we grew in our understanding that crossing edges is a process, not necessarily a one-time thing.

We faced fears, challenged assumptions, embraced uncertainty, stepped into potential, and took steps forward. By the end of our three and a half days together, we had all expanded our collaboration networks. Everyone had begun significant conversations and established potent heart and soul connections with colleagues that will continue in the months ahead. And on the last day, everyone asked at least three of their colleagues to support them in specific ways between now and our next Global Gathering.

I am always impressed by the presence and dynamic engagement within this community. Yet this time, the engagement seemed even deeper. Many people commented on the generosity of spirit, the profound presence of many of the participants, the openness we experienced with one another, the relaxed atmosphere, and the tangible support available to all. It was a space where everyone felt safe to learn and grow. There was a focus on the care of the whole group, while at the same time, caring for the whole of the individuals. Just being there and fully participating was already transformative.

Transformational Presence: Shift Happens - 2017 Gathering early morning labyrinth walk

Early morning labyrinth walk

Through our Global Summits and now the Global Gathering, both the Transformational Presence community and the event itself continues to evolve in such an organic way. My original intention for these gatherings was to create a time and place for Transformational Presence graduates to learn from one another, to grow together, to deepen friendships and connections, to inspire and ignite collaborative projects across country borders, and to evolve the work of Transformational Presence in the world. This is what is happening. It is humbling and incredibly gratifying to witness. I am blessed; we are blessed.

Through the 2017 Global Gathering, it became even clearer to me that, at the most fundamental level, our work in Transformational Presence is about lifting up of the human spirit. The ongoing Great Breaking Open all over the world at every level of society is fueled by the breaking open of the human spirit. As the human spirit breaks open, we witness the full range of human emotion – from rage, anger, fear, and despair, to profound hope, courage, compassion, and love. We witness acts of violence and terror as well as acts of service and heroism. It’s a very messy time, yet the human spirit is breaking out of its shell. And it needs every one of us to nurture it, care for it, support it, and lift it up to the light.

There were many, many joyful moments that brought a big smile to my face and occasionally tears to my eyes. However, on the last morning during a discussion about the essential elements of Transformational Presence work, graduate Tom Ellis summed up the power of this approach: Shift happens. That gave us all a great laugh! And yet there it is. That’s what this work is all about. And so, our new slogan:

Transformational Presence: Shift Happens

Thank you to all who were with us for the 2017 Global Gathering as well as to all who are an active part of this community. Together, we are helping to create a world that works.

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