I am fortunate enough to belong to many communities, including a beautiful Transformational Facilitation Group (TFG) of women in Vancouver. Our group consists of 11 women at similar points in our career who are all interested in using facilitation as a way of bringing about change. We meet once a month for a potluck dinner and talk about our practice or our business, and we share ways that we can collectively support each other. I was introduced to the group by my friend Erica who works with me at the HiVE and it has already proven to be a powerful reminder as to what happens when you bring passionate women together.

One of our members has been part of ALIA (Authentic Leadership in Action) for years and she invited us to last week’s ALIA West workshop in Vancouver. Leading up to this day, I was stressed with work, life and everything in between. I kept asking myself why I had signed up for a full day workshop in the middle of my busy season. And then I walked into the room.

Appropriately, the ALIA workshop was being held at the Centre for Peace and that is exactly what happened when I arrive – I felt at peace. It helped looking around the room and recognizing faces, either from my TFG or from my other communities of support. It also helped that I was stepping away my emails, my voicemails, my giant pile of To Do’s…and giving myself permission to plant my feet firmly and sink into the moment.

The Changing Face of Leadership: Mindfulness and Wise Action.

“It is our questions, our uncertainty, that leads us deeper. That is the one authentic truth that connects us all – we are all seeking, questioning and yearning for something else, beyond.” Wise words from our host Michael Chender, the Founder of ALIA in Nova Scotia. He went on to state that, “The obstacle is Fear – our confidence that we have the capabilities.”

The workshop was split into chapters, and we were just on the first page. Barbary Bash led us in a group meditation that bonded us on many different levels. We spoke of the challenges we face when trying to slow down our minds – the distractions in the room, in our heads, in our hearts. We opened up to each other, and we opened up to ourselves. ALIA is founded on three guiding principles: Meditation, Skill Learning and Creative Interaction. Well, this 8 hour workshop delivered all three in spades!

After settling into the day, we started exploring the 5 steps of Facilitation, and each presented a new understanding of leadership and wisdom. Barbara Bash led us in her beautiful Big Brush calligraphy as we explored each of the five stages of leadership.

1. ENTERING: This is about the way you enter a space, the way you begin a session. Entering sets the tone for all that is to come. Pause. Feel your body. Recognize your own fear and smile at it! Vulnerability is the only strong position.

2. EXPLORING: Not to be confused with proving pre-conceptions. Exploring is about inviting curiosity. It is about analyzing and understanding the systems at play, but it is also about listening to instinct and intuition, and ultimately recognizing patterns.

3. ACTING: This stage creates a profound energetic shift – clarity emerges and you commit! The path becomes clear and there is often a sense of hesitation…resist the fear and step into it.

4. COMPLETING: Acting sets off a series of consequences, and this stage involves coming back to the original intention. You have disturbed the system, but must not give in to second thoughts. Mistakes become stepping stones.

5. LETTING GO: Mark the occasion, bring ritual into the transition. Letting go does not need to fizzle out – it is about energizing toward the future. Be open and available to what comes next.

At the end of the day, we had stirred our own insecurities and hesitations as leaders, and we had found an approach that spoke to the wholeness of leadership. It was a beautiful, crisp Autumn day and my harvest feast came in the form of ALIA.