facilitating & hosting

Lessons from an African Safari

One of the awesome people in my life got back from an incredible month-long journey that included an African safari. She shared the lessons she learned from her safari experience, and here they are woven with my perspective on designing and hosting conversations that matter (in italics).

1. It’s all about luck! Maybe you’ll see an animal, maybe you won’t. I think of the quote “Chance favours the prepared mind.” Work on myself and my art, live a “yes and” philosophy and luck just might be around the corner. 

2. Think impossibilities. Put it out there to the universe – I want to see an elephant. For my hosting work, this shows up as “ask what’s possible, not what’s wrong”.  We grow in the direction of the questions we ask.

3. In life you always need a tracker and a driver. It’s a symbiotic relationship and they need each other. If you are diving into whole systems change don’t do this work alone.

4. Teamwork is important. At the watering hole were impala, wildebeest and rhinos – they worked together to warn of predators. Moving from the watering hole to the conference room, we need to invite diversity in the room to work together to find new solutions to our complex challenges. 

5. It’s about mutualism. Like the bird that lives on the giraffe’s back, a helpful cleaner of ticks in return for protection, we depend on each other. The wisdom is in the room, it just needs to be connected. “All of us are angels but with one wing. We just need to embrace each other to fly.”

6. There is an order of power. The impala and the lion know their place. Participatory leadership isn’t about removing power. It’s being aware of power so it can be used well to convene conversations and create space for marginalized voices to step into their power.

7. Timing is everything. If you want to see a leopard it’s helpful to know their morning and evening patterns. The art of hosting conversations that matter is about having the right conversation, at the right time, in the right context. 

8. You never know what you’re going to get. Like a herd of elephants blocking your path, in no hurry to move. Working with complexity means engaging emergence. Or said in the words from an Open Space Technology principle “Be prepared to be surprised”!

Appreciating the sharing of these learnings and the chance to play some hosting jazz with them.

Sunrise Arno Meintjes via Compfight