What a Community of Practitioners Makes Possible

CommunityThree months ago, Creating the Future started an online community for practicing Catalytic Thinking. Since that time, the facilitators of that group have been talking about the potential this community has for furthering Creating the Future’s mission – a whole community of people bringing out the best in themselves and each other. 

The following is a summary of the first of these conversations.

Catalytic Thinking uses causality to create conditions that bring out the best in people. Because every action we take will affect many people in many different ways, we are mindful when we are considering any action, to ask questions of possibility and causality, rooted in a deep sense of compassion. 

If every action we take will create the future is, what future will we aim at? What do we want our actions to accomplish? And for whom?

During our first meeting on January 3, 2017, those are the questions we considered.

What are we hoping this community will make possible? For whom?
The most important part of that question is, “For whom?” This acknowledges that there will be effects on many people. To be mindful about those effects, we must be mindful of who will be affected!

If we are mindful of the effect on all people whose lives might be touched by the group in some way, we can be mindful to discover otherwise “unintended consequences” before they happen. And we can also be mindful to create as much benefit as possible for those individuals and groups – not because they are our “target audience,” but because whether we are mindful or not, they will be impacted by the actions we take.

To that end, we listed:
– Participants, present and future – people who are curious about ways to bring out the best in themselves and others.
– Ripples – the lives touched by the participants
– Facilitators
– Creating the Future’s mission (because every program we run is intended to help accomplish our mission!)

What could this community make possible for the participants (current and future)?
The answers seemed to fall into 3 themes:

Learning and practicing
– A place to practice and learn
– Adding more reflection into their lives and the systems they work in
– Seeing examples modeled of Catalytic Thinking in Action
    – Language
    – Questions
    – Approaches / thinking
– Increase the possibility of “shift” due to new go-to’s
– Seeing / feeling / experiencing that Catalytic Thinking works
– Celebrating small shifts, seeing how those fit into context of the whole, and seeing the importance of it, even if it feels small.
– Encouragement to experiment. “What would it take for you to feel confident to experiment?”

A sense of belonging and connection
– A place where they will feel welcomed, honored and valued for who they are
– A place where they can learn from what others are learning
– A safe place / safety net
    – to absorb new information
    – to practice new ways of being
    – a steady presence (participants are steady, Catalytic Thinking as a steady centering)
– A place of global connection, with people of different perspectives.
– A place for courageous conversations (and learning how to have those conversations)
– A place to feel comfortable participating however suits them. Meeting people where they are
– Systems that honor and bring out the best in quiet participants – “People who aren’t spending their time thinking about what they’re going to say next.” (Jane Garthson)
– Feeling like “I found my people”
     – Not alone / sense of belonging / joy
     – Normalizing: I’m not crazy after all!
– A lifeline. If you have something urgent, there will be people there for you.
– A place to share sadness, receive comfort, relief. To feel nurtured, supported, whole. A place to cry together, human-to-human. A virtual hug.

Normalizing both what’s “broken” and what’s possible
– Seeing how many current systems bring out the worst in people
– “Individuals will go where systems lead them.” (Pollyanna Principles, Hildy)
– The aha that we can create new systems, new norms / normal. Modeling new rituals, rhythms, systems.
     – Creates hope
     – Strips away limitations
– Shift in perspectives / points of view / ideas / thought processes / language
– Regain their humanity in a group setting.
– A place to come back to the why.
– The ability to celebrate causality in action

What could those new systems / rituals / rhythms make possible?
– rituals and traditions help people know what to expect.
– Feel the “hug” of Catalytic Thinking
– Ability to deconstruct why it feels different
     – Learning / modeling Catalytic Thinking, so that individuals can take that out into the world.
     – Ripples

What could this community make possible for the facilitators of the group?
Virtually all the answers for participants were the same for the facilitators, because the facilitators are also participants, co-creating the space with everyone else.

The following were noted specifically:
– Deepening their practice
– More deeply get to know people
– Practice and learning in the ongoing development of systems

What could this community make possible for Creating the Future’s mission?
The answer here was simple: the ripples, as people take what they are learning and practicing, and bring it out in to their lives and their world.

By being explicit about what is working and why, people will understand that they can create change, simply by changing the questions they ask. The ripples of that, out into the world, are our mission in action.

The Power of Stories
Woven throughout this conversation was the topic of “stories” as a significant condition for success of these outcomes.

What stories make possible:
– Provide evidence
– Increase confidence and competence
     – Others have changed their systems. I can therefore change the ones I’m in.
– Bring people together
     – release serotonin in our brains
     – help us feel connected
     – legitimize our choices, even / especially if our choices aren’t mainstream
     – create opportunities for relationships, growth, appreciation, knowledge

During upcoming meetings, we will determine the conditions that would lead to these results. What would people need to have, know, understand, feel, believe, be assured of?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

If you would like to join the community we’ve been talking about in this post, click here and join the conversation!

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