On the 20th February we were lucky enough to have Peter Senge join us at Art of Hosting Karlskrona, a facilitation training I co-organised for 90 young leaders collaboration for change.

Peter Senge has always been a leading thinker and leadership guide for me, so it was hugely inspiring to talk with him by web conference and to have him sound so many valuable notes around  leadership, intergenerational dialogue, community and collective change.

Here are some of my highlights:

Youth leadership, the future and intergenerational dialogue

  • We have a long-term loss of connection with the future. This is enhanced by modern society excluding the voices of children and young people. An emotional connection with the future is so critical to the profound changes that are required in the world.
  • People are predisposed to listen to young people’s voices – they hit us in the heart and have an unexpected authority and influence from young people’s voices. Just think of the contrast between hearing about an issue and looking at a trendline, and looking into the face of a child.
  • Young people doing community building are agents for profound change
  • “I know of no quicker way to bring the future into the present than to bring in children and young people.”
  • We need networks of mentors that span generations.
  • Look for commonality – there is so much! But commonality is not revealed when you focus on one controversial issue – this puts people into opposition mode and simplistic polarisation.

Change

  • ‘Change’ is a problematic idea
  • People don’t resist change, they resist being changed!
  • How do you evoke wanting to change? How do we create spaces where people can connect to their aspirations?
  • Don’t get caught up in opposing the status quo. Be a force for the future without reinforcing polarisation.
  • Span the issues. Suspend the rigidity of your views, which is an expression of our fears.
  • Speak to our potential and the possibility of the future
  • Start with the people who are most predisposed and invite others who are less disposed in to join you
  • So many of our views and assumptions are informed by a view of humanity at our worst. Let’s work from the basis of humans at our best, and use the natural energy of our desire to be who we really are and can be, and our genuine desire to help one another.
  • We don’t need to solve all the problems, or have a plan in place, we just need to make some progress and use this momentum to drive further changes. Do one of two things and the momentum will grow!
  • There is no ‘answer’. Let go of their being an answer, and don’t worry about solving all the big problems. Focus on the quality of relationships, small steps, and gain momentum.

Collective leadership

  • Leadership must be catalytic, rather than an end unto itself
  • Respect is a cornerstone of effective process – people need to feel respected
  • A powerful act is simply to get people (including children, young people and older people) together, host them well, and reveal collective wisdom.
  • Collaboration is the human face of systems thinking.

Community

  • Everything we do is to build networks of relationships
  • Communities are a synonym for microcosms of the world
  • Community forces you to embrace diversity
  • Communities must be geographic or at least able to meet face to face. Web-based communities are a compliment for face-to-face communities.

Motivation

  • Find your deepest source of aspiration
  • See with your heart – this is literally the meaning of ‘courage’
  • ‘Enlightenment’ = open heart
  • The oldest Chinese symbol for mind is heart
  • As humans we have a knowing of the heart
  • Let go of the attachment to the mind and intelligence. Pay much more attention to your deepest feelings.
  • Just keep doing the work!
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