gather for her
During this global pandemic, the need for leaders who can operate within a different framework and capabilities is clear. Leading through global impact requires an up-level of perspective, a responsive set of skills and a clear process to make the best decisions possible.
How do we lead during an impact?
Gather for Her - is a conversation series to highlight elevated skills to lead as we wake-up to them, develop and implement them in this unprecedented time calling for our humanity in both stillness and action.
Leaders face right-now, real-time situations, standing on yesterday’s foundation, to lead decisively and directly with practical hope into the unknown of tomorrow. Collectively our choices carve a path forward, consciously or unconsciously for future generations of leaders.
This series and the conversations found within our impact media platform, programs and gatherings is our offering to the collective wisdom gathered here as the Story of Us.
Welcome to Gather for HER.
Reclaiming our Humanity #4 A Gather for HER Conversation with Christina Benty, Charlene SanJenko, and Tina Overbury
THE BRAID OF WHOLENESS
What does it mean to reclaim our human spirit? This is our theme for this month’s series of conversations as we prepare for our upcoming FireCircle 2020 Virtual Leadership Intensive happening April 29/May 1st.
Our fourth gathering welcomed: Christina Benty, a Systems Engineer and Strategist, retired politician, facilitator, governance coach, athlete and jazz singer. Christina’s focus is human systems within governance and organizational systems. She is a passionate advocate for differentiated leadership and the courageous candor that is needed to embark on community-wide discussions about collective responsibility and long-term sustainable service delivery. Her call is to advise and inspire leaders to filter their decisions through the lens of seven generation thinking while maintaining their conscious connection to those they currently serve. ‘Stay in the room’ she says, ‘even when you are squirming because that is when your leadership matters.’
Our moderator and host Charlene SanJenko is the founder of PowHERhouse. She is a mobilizer of brave, whole, healthy leaders who are ready to make a world-class Impact both Locally + Globally. As an Indigenous Founder, Charlene is a bridge between two cultures. She is from the Splatsin tribe, the most southern tribe of the Shuswap Nation in British Columbia and now resides on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, the traditional territory of the Squamish (skwxwú7mesh) First Nations. Charlene builds strong women who lead.
Our story tracker is core-communication specialist Tina Overbury. Tina works with individuals and organizations called for global impact. She works in story, guiding and collaborating with leaders to bring their compelling and authentic narrative to the surface. She is a sacred-listener in a divisive time, cultivating safe containers for real change-based conversation. To Tina, communication is a spiritual practice.
Our graphic recorder is Sharon Marshall. She is an Indigenous Entrepreneur, Online Business Manager, Systems Specialist, and the founder of Cree8iv Collaboration Inc. Sharon is a mentor who speaks and leads from the heart, always working with the highest integrity to make a meaningful difference. Sharon is most passionate about helping Indigenous women to find their voice.
Charlene Sanjenko CSJ: I want to acknowledge with gratitude, I am coming to you from the traditional lands of the Squamish Nation. I encourage each of us to take a deep breath, get comfortable, and take a moment to acknowledge the lands of which you call home.
Gather for Her is an opportunity we developed in response to what we felt was needed. This is how PowHERhouse operates. We respond and support women leaders who are leading, coping, being, thriving, surviving right now, through these uncertain times.
Christina, I am going to kick it off to you:
Christina Benty CB: Good morning everyone and happy earth day. Never before has earth day meant so much and so I want to pause and recognize this day and the fact that we’re having a global experience across the earth right now.
These conversations are collaborative in nature and we never really know where they are going to go. We always start with what it means to reclaim our human spirit and then we follow the trail and that’s the magic of what takes place. I want to start today by asking both Charlene and Tina what does the human spirit actually mean to you? And what is the human spirit? Char?
CSJ: I’m curious about your definition as well Christina! All of this is unrehearsed and off the cuff, as you know as we explore the fullest capacity of why we are here and what we are here to do. This has always been my biggest question and exploration ever since I can remember.
- I think our human spirit is absolutely untapped. We have explored our physicality and we definitely nailed human ‘doing’. We know sport, health and science. We know every single molecule, muscle, ligament, tendon and how to get the very most out of ourselves using nutrition, health and training, but there’s a whole other piece.
- It dances with our physicality and it’s our spirit. We try to push it aside because we can’t put our finger on it. We tell ourselves maybe it doesn’t exist.
- We hold ourselves back from our fullest experience of what it means to be a human being. We deny ourselves the exploration because we can’t see it.
- I think we are operating at only 15% of what we are truly capable of. Diving deep into what our human spirit truly means could unlock the other 85% just waiting for us.
CB: So what keeps us from doing that?
CSJ: Our own limiting beliefs. We need to see something in front of our own two eyes to believe it’s real. Anything that doesn’t meet that criteria is put into a category called woo woo and saved for those who judge as not taking life seriously. So you’re put in one camp or the other and I’m saying, to be strong, the most solid, grounded, effective, and powerful leader marching into the future, we need to marry the two so there is no longer a divide between the physical and the spiritual.
Limiting beliefs sees us operating at only 15% of our potential.
CB: I am going to put Tina on the spot now. Tina you are a story tracker, a listener, your work is immersive as you listen for clues, and just what is being said, but what is not being said. You think about the role of story and mythology. Can you talk about the role story plays in how we can connect with our human spirit?
TinaO TO: That is a really tender and beautiful question. When I was thinking about what Human Spirit means to me, I kept coming back to something I always say:
- What we get for free, is all we’re called to be. That’s it, that’s our only assignment. We came into the world with full potential and reclaiming our human spirit is living with full permission to bring our whole game to this life of ours.
- When we get beyond our thinking, that’s when we’re actually in the land of story, when our human spirit which is what we got for free can live in full story mode, and that's where myth comes in.
- Story is spirit. Story doesn’t define itself as right or wrong. Story is full. Story is the expression of how a word, a phrase, or an exchange lands today. It’s why we read sacred text because every time we read it, something else speaks to us.I listen for the spirit of us within words.
- How might we lead if we trusted our human spirit and led from there? What did you get for free? This goes back to Char’s 15% point.
What you get for free is who you’re meant to be.
CB: How might we lead if we led with what we got for free? This is such an interesting question. What I got for free is enthusiasm and energy, so when I lead, I immerse myself into the experience. Interestingly enough, leading like this brings on a bit of shame for me, particularly as a woman. I can’t appear too enthusiastic or have too much energy because I won’t be taken seriously. The way I’ve attempted to cover that up is with intellectual rigour. I just keep diving into academic learning. I still bring it on with enthusiasm and energy, and try to lead fully that way. That's a good question.
When I think of reclaiming our human spirit I think of a question I ask people:
- What do people thank you for? Write it down. What do people actually say thank you to you for. It’s often things like kindness or listening, or truth telling, or enthusiasm and energy, or seeing right through the garbage and getting to the gold, right? The diamond.
- Digging into the fact we each have an intrinsic divine spark that lives in each one of us, that’s what reclaiming our human spirit means to me.
- It’s our diamond, our gold, and regardless of who we are dealing with and what may be covering it up, they have a diamond too, and when we see it the gold emerges, that diamond. We can look at one another, with the vision of seeing the diamond of each person’s soul.
I was thinking about how we think we need each other right now and we do, but we are actually going to need each other more moving forward. As someone who is passionate about human systems within our made systems, I was thinking about how do we make sure that no one is left behind?
It’s really easy to surround ourselves with most people, but what about those who are angry, or irritating us, or are just prickly? How do we make sure that we have that same vision of the diamond for them? I think this is going to be really necessary moving forward.
See the diamond in each person’s soul so no one is left behind.
CSJ: This ties into our focus today which is wellness. I was listening to a conversation yesterday from Charles Einstein about sacred economics and one of the things that he touches on is how we define success, and what growth really means to us as we move forward. He asks: What would be the beautiful thing you would do if you didn’t always tie it back to money?
The choice is really up to us. When we dig in to wellness, at our essence it starts with the freedom to be ourselves. I’d love to throw back to you guys because this is wellness at its core. What if we approached life and how we lead from a place of fundamental wholeness? From a place of being whole and acting from our gifts or ‘what we got for free’.
- How might that look for us as we move forward?
- How do we want to emerge out of this?
- Are we going to try to fix a bunch of broken systems?
- How are we modeling leading?
Because it starts with us and it radiates out from there.
CB: Yes, and coming back to what do I have control over? And how do I hook my energy in that direction? What is mine to deal with? What is the business of others? And what is God’s business? We are all deeply interconnected and we can’t exist alone. We may have control over what we do, but our greatest control is in how we respond and how we conduct ourselves. Our wellness and wholeness is tied up with one another.
How do we lead from a place of fundamental wholeness?
TO: I want to challenge you a bit. I think we have a bit of an addiction to the word ‘over’ as in ‘having control over.’ I want to circle it back to the piece about wholeness. Wholeness doesn’t happen within dominance. When I respond from wholeness, do I need control over? Wholeness doesn’t have an over, it has something else...
CSJ: It has a with. This basically goes back to reclaiming our human spirit. When I wake up in the morning, I can either decide that I’m going to try to have control over my day, (and we all know how that goes) or I can co-create with my day, with my day. My only job is to enter into my day with values, my beliefs, my deepest sense of purpose, and with all of my physicalities turned on. I engage my senses and follow whatever shows up in co-creation. Game on!
CB: Yes! And while we can’t necessarily control our outward circumstances, what is the story I want to tell about what wants to happen? What do I want? I can’t necessarily control my outward circumstances but I can believe I am capable of doing hard things. Right? I can pay attention to my whole self and identify what I need right now to do those hard things?
Do I need a cup of tea? A drink of water? A walk? Do I need to move?
When I am in co-creation with myself, what do I need in this moment to show up? We have control over the good questions we can ask ourselves. We get to be a scientist in our own life by becoming curious about our experience. We can get curious about our own experience and then model that. We do that with each other? We reach out with voice messages. We ask: What do you need right now? Do you need to go? Do you need a blanket? Do you need a cry? A run? A vent? What do you need?
TO: Here we are, the three of us, and we’re friends. We have a circle of trust. We have built it over time. We are women of influence and we own our own power and impact. We refer to ourselves as a braid and I want to name that because we have it and some people leading right now don’t have a braid. This goes back to systems. Having a ‘braid’ is part of the system of leading. We are held together by it and with it, we can have this freedom we talked about earlier. It’s lovely to hear ‘go wrap yourself up in a blanket’, but what if you don’t have an established braid like we have in your life? Who asks you: What do you need?
Christina, as a two-term Mayor, in your highest impact moments, what do you remember regarding being well as a leader? How might things be different now that you have this braid in your life?
CB: If I were Mayor now, quite a few things would be different. I recognize now, the need for a tribe. I would need people around me who held me to account and had my back. These people would ground me when I couldn’t round myself. We can’t do it alone and as I said earlier, it’s about making sure no one is left behind.
Coming back to our systems conversations, this is going to be one of the biggest challenges our government will face. Right now, during the pandemic, our government has never been so nimble in terms of providing. It’s been all hands on deck within a chaotic system. In systems theory, one of the aspects of a chaotic system is high ‘reaction’ instead of a response. Within a chaotic system, reaction mode is the only way we can meet the needs of those around us during an emergency. When this emergency has subsided it will be interesting to see how we move forward. We don’t want to saddle future generations with our reactions which keep us on an unsustainable course.
We are aware the way we’ve been stewarding our water and our air is not sustainable and yet with that awareness we’ve kept on doing what we always do. The situation we’re in has given us an opportunity to stop. We may be nimble while we’re in reaction mode because we have to, but how do we respond in the aftermath. That’s where we need to look at how our existing systems serve people and serve the earth. What needs to be different?
CSJ: It’s interesting, one of the reasons we are digging into this conversation today is the purpose of our upcoming FireCircle Gathering with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders next week.
One of our panelists kicking off the conversation is Dianne Whelan, a filmmaker who has been biking, hiking, cycling and padding the Trans Canada Trail for the past five years. She’s been walking and talking with Indigenous people, doing a lot of healing work along the journey for the murdered and missing Indigenous women. When I touched base with her, she brought up something very simple, and I feel like she’s earned the right to talk about this because you can’t be more in touch with your country on a day to day level than her. She is literally walking across the country. The system she talked about and encourages us to think about is what can we learn from the ‘system of nature’?
And the three points she brought up is:
- Nature is constantly adapting. It reminds us to
- Not become rigid and lastly, to
- Never give in to the shadow.
There’s the human spirit popping up. When we do go through a dark time, we have to remember we ultimately come from a place of wholeness and nature constantly adapts, regenerates, restores, and recreates. We as humans can’t become too rigid in this process. We have to learn from nature, and most importantly, keep hopeful and positive and not give in to the shadow. We can learn from it, but not give into it. Amazing and simple thoughts from someone who has been surrounded not only by indigenous wisdom but also nature for many many days.
I am so excited to have her be part of the FireCircle conversation next week. Any thoughts around that? What is the system of nature trying to say to us right now?
CB: You know what? I want to pick up on what you said about adaptability. Our government, our healthcare system and our education system is having to rapidly adapt. My offering to this conversation is how do we hold ourselves to account so these systems don’t go back into the rigidity, they’ve historically come from? All of these systems were designed to serve people, they are people-centric. Our collective well being is tied up with one another, and our systems have become dinosaurs with rigid systems, policies and processes which don’t actually serve people but rather the institution of the system. What we’re noticing through this is how everything needs to be able to flex, to be fluid, to respond like nature. In my work, I often say: don’t hide behind a policy. Make sure your policies, procedures and processes serve the people they are designed for.
Everything needs to be able to flex and respond like nature.
TO: Wow there are so many layers to this story we’re in together. It started when Christina dropped in: We don’t want to saddle future generations by our reactions today, and then she showed us the difference between react and respond. Then the next layer was Charlene’s offering of ‘wholeness’ which built upon my piece about leading from ‘what we got for free’. Lastly, we closed on the observation of nature as a system and how she teaches us to adapt.
In brief, our verb is: RESPOND
Our noun is: WHOLENESS
Our theme is: ADAPT LIKE NATURE
To pull it together into the Story of Us today, and the reason we gathered for HER, our collective wisdom lives in the message of:
When we have a sense of wholeness from within, our eyesight changes. We respond from wholeness to wholeness and as wholeness (nature).
Graphic Facilitator and Indigenous Leader Sharon Marshall:
We started by talking about our:
- untapped potential and how we only operate at about 15%, and I agreed with you.
- our limiting beliefs and asked: How might we lead if we led with what we got for free.
- We said we are: a diamond in the rough, and
- Wellness = Freedom with ourselves and when we are misaligned we become broken.
We talked about systems as:
- people centric, and
- we can go back to working from wholeness.
What I get from this, is by living this way we become more earth-centric. As an Indigenous woman, I believe we are all interconnected and that we co-create our day. I see how it helps to have people around you who have your back and can hold you to account, and ground you.
We are living in the awareness of how unsustainable we are and we really need a system shift, and hopefully that’s what this big pause is all about. Let’s make some changes in our thinking to bring us closer together.
Closing Circle Offerings
From Charlene SanJenko - CEO/Founder of PowHERhouse:
The importance of thinking globally but acting locally. I am enjoying building relationships with people and organizations who believe in a well-being economy. This is how PowHERhouse wants to lead and interact, always from a place of wholeness to help build and ignite unity.
From Sharon Marshall - Indigenous Leader and Facilitator:
In order to think globally we have to remember to start with ourselves, so dig deep and spend some time with yourself. Figure out how you feel about this whole thing and hopefully you’ll get some great ideas and find some like-minded people who are with you. Let’s start something really really good, together.
From TinaO - Story Tracker:
For me, it’s the understanding of the braid and wholeness. This goes back to a powHERhouse founding principle of: we can’t do this alone. Cultivating a braid takes risk, vulnerability, and listening, all of which are crucial to wholeness. The braid is what I'm leaving with today.
From Christina Benty - Strategist and Moderator:
I have so many, but what is resonating for me is to dig deep, find your own diamond and when you live and lead with what you got for free, that’s wholeness. Risk intimacy with yourself and those you need around you. You can’t do it alone, and that’s okay. I’m going to close with no one left behind, but don’t leave yourself behind either.
Chi-Miigwech (Big Thank You)
To watch the forty-five minute interview in its entirety click here.
Gather for HER is a series of conversations leading up to this month’s FireCircle 2020 Virtual Leadership Intensive happening April 29/May 1st. Friday night’s attendance is FREE and you can register here. To reserve one of 200 seats for the two-morning virtual conference which is collective in nature, collaborative in-process and consciously strategic for impact, find out more here.
One of the things we could do better is track and gather the wisdom among us. We say it all the time in these small conversations, and in our groups, and with our very best girlfriends but are we saying it and sharing it with each other? That’s what these gatherings are about. - Charlene Sanjenko, CEO and Founder of PowHERhouse, and FireCircle 2020
Today’s conversation was moderated by Christina Benty, Owner of Strategic Leadership Solutions, story tracked by Core Story Specialist Tina Overbury, graphic recorded and Indigenous informed by Sharon Marshall of DEVA, and hosted by PowHERhouse CEO and founder Charlene SanJenko.