Trustwork

That was the web address sending confirmation of my acceptance into the Community Consulting Project in 2007…”Trustwork@aol.com”. It struck me then as the most basic level of group process for actual collaboration, creativity and change… Trustwork. ‘What would that look like in the CCP program?’, I thought. I was excited. I was not disappointed either. CCP gave practice to process work, getting people to engage in systems design work together, from goals, to planning, to implementing and celebrating, always tending to trust.Six year later, I am working with a new group of people who are working together to start up a Transition Initiative in Portland Maine. The group are working as facilitators and I find myself reflecting on CCP a bunch. The group settled in three core values this week, Trust, Empowerment and Engagement. In this first  post in a series of three, I am exploring Trust and reflecting on the term with dive into my library.

Trust. The opposite is controlling, and what an interesting value for a group of facilitators to hold. Facilitators who shape an agenda and manage the time that a group has to interact around each item.

In the book the Four Fold Way (Arrien,1993) trust is considered in both the Way of the Teacher and the Way of the Warrior chapters. In the way of the Teacher, Trust is explained from the perspective of Native Americans, as the being comfortable states of not knowing. In the time of not knowing it is considered unwise to act. Trying to control the uncontrollable, or being uncomfortable with surprises is a sign of a need for trust. When we trust we go with the flow and we wait.

Arrien suggests that the trickster in indigenous cultures is the mythic figure who “steps through the cracks and flaws of the ordered world or ordinary reality, bringing good luck and bad, profit and loss.” This figure reminds us not to be attached to our expectations, not to become rigid and controlling. In short, the universal trickster teaches us to become more resilient and objective.

Symbols of the trickster are throughout world mythology; Native American, Germanic, Polynesian, Greek and mythologies of ancient India . Think Coyote, Ictinike and Rabbit , Loki, Maui, Hermes and Krishna. each one a master of boundaries and transitions, and presenter of the miraculous and unexpected.

In the Way of the Warrior, trust is built using “judicious communication”. Trustworthiness is explained in terms of walking our talk. The warrior is an artful communicator, extending honor and respect to others by saying what they mean and doing what we say. Without alignment of words and actions we lose power. If we do what we say we will we become trustworthy. If we don’t responsibility with discipline is the appropriate path.  This can be practiced, as the book suggests, simply by our use of the words Yes and No. Arrien explains that in Western cultures, we overlay these words with emotional intent. No becomes, “I am rejecting you or I disagree with you.” Yes, “I like you and I agree with you.”

If we peel back the layers of meaning, and speak Yes or No in terms of boundaries and limits, “No” becomes ‘ this is a limit of mine’, and “Yes”, ‘this is something I will do’. The warrior invites us to honor and respect personal limits as well as the limits and boundaries of others.

What a perfect value to live by and co-create with in a budding Transition Initiative! Greater resilience through trusting the process and trusting the wisdom of the group…..Communicating with respect and honoring personal boundaries…These sentiments, at the heart of a start up have both a powerful resonance with the perennial wisdom of the ancients, and alignment with the idea that Transition suggests, that we can not solve the problems we face alone. We must learn to work together.

I am excited.

Originally published on Cultivating Leadership Blog on 4/13/13

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