The Art of Hosting


I was remembering how strong the theme of fear was in our check-in at the Burren and came across the below in one of my favourite books this morning

(The book is 'Consultants Journey : A Dance of Work and Spirit' by Roger Harrison)

He writes :

'I came to understand the central role of fear as a barrier to conflict resolution, problem solving, and even learning in organisations.  Therefore an important part of our program was its focus on reducing one's own and other's fear of loss. The idea is simple, yet the implications are huge.  When people are operating at high levels of fear they are not very good problem solvers.  Fear narrows the range of alternatives people can consider.  Fear reduces their ability to take in and process information, especially if it is complex.  Fear predisposes them to premature closure and precipitate reactions.  High fear leads people to persevere in tactics and strategies that are not working'

Given the times and context we are in, I think it is usually healthy to name 'fear' and discuss how we deal with it, provided their is enough container to make this reasonably safe.

Mindfulness is clearly relevant, as is anything that builds trust and relationships and anything that helps us distinguish the rational and irrational.

Creating a climate in which people can name their fear can be quite counter-cultural - helping people to talk about the things we don't normally talk about.

I think there was some genuine depth tapped into in that check-in and there may be a seam here that needs more prominence within the AoH whole.

I'd be very interested in any thoughts / reflections others may have ...

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Replies to This Conversation

And now I've found - this extra bit from Roger Harrison re love - 'the opposite of fear'

More of helping people talk about what we don't normally talk about ...

Hi Chris/All, 

Having been accepted into the AOH family I'm now adding the comments here that I sent by email:

I think Chris' raising the 'fear' topic is entirely apt for the times we're in.  Engaging with Executive MBA students last Fall as part of a creativity programme at Burren College of Art it became palpable that there was fear in the air.  They were acutely aware that expectations of career paths with clear reference points were a thing of the past.  With trust in institutions crumbling - church, banks, media - and economic, financial and environmental systems under strain, if not existential threat, fear is a natural and rational response.  What was interesting in working with the students was to surface and acknowledge the fear, recognising that courage is not the absence of fear but a willingness to feel/experience the fear and transform it into creative forward momentum.  Creativity depends after all on being willing to tolerate ambiguity, to hover on the edge of chaos and to midwife the New that is seeking to be born.  
Which brings us to Presencing - that critical part at the bottom of Otto Scharmer's U-process.  This is where the real juice is but it does depend on a willingness to get present to what 'is' which in the current context is often fear-inducing.  Who hasn't been there frequently in this economic downturn; I certainly have, what with banks behaving in a manner 180 degrees different to a few short years ago!.  Letting go of the old, acknowledging loss in its manifold forms and then moving forward to let the new in is easier said than done;  but it's the key part of the journey of renewal.
So I'm totally with Chris in saying let's take fear out of the closet and give it a good airing - by acknowledging it collectively we can support one another on the journey.
Thanks to the AOH team and everyone for the great sharing in the Burren -  I believe the harvest will be abundant!


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