Circle is humanity’s oldest way to find wise next steps for oneself and the collective – from organisations to communities to families. Some applications include:
One of the key roles of leaders is to offer conditions in which a team/group of people can think well together – to sense collectively into the future they want to co-create.
Circle invites us to go beyond our conditioned ways of thinking by becoming aware of the deep-rooted assumptions, beliefs and judgments that limit the collective sphere of possibility. By slowing down, the group goes beyond the usual opinionating, polarasing, and pressuring conclusions – making room for fresh insights and ideas that no one individually previously thought possible. Circle can thus be helpful for idea, service, or community development: collectively sensing into something new that wants to be born from the center.
Rushing from one project to another, in businesses, organizations, communities and families alike, interpersonal bonds are often neglected. Even though this fast pace of working seems highly efficient, it has its hidden costs: no shared purpose, lack of clarity/information, sinking motivation, broken relationships – which ultimately results in less (instead of more) efficiency. Slowing down to talk about how we are doing as individuals and collectives can be a regular practice for enhancing the vitality of the collective (team, family, organisation), for strengthening deep human bonds that are the basis for any collaboration or co-living, or for repairing broken relationships before it is too late (and too expensive emotionally and materially). It can also be a place where every individual is seen in their highest potential, as well as for the unique gifts they bring to the collective.
Learning by sharing our stories
This ancient practice – to gather in circle to share stories – has been successfully transplanted to contemporary organizational and family settings. Storytelling is a way of making sense of the past; to guide us into the future we deeply long for. The circle structure provides a safe space for the stories to unfold, as well as a framework to harvest the key insights that can inform future actions.
Naming what has not been spoken
Consciously slow down to give voice to that which has not been named (within a group, team, extended family, nature allies …) can bring relief, closure of unhealed past, and openings into the new.
This ancient way of relating offers a beautiful format for meaningful conversations in times of major transitions (birth, death, marriage, divorce, adulthood, eldership …): to honour the past; to grieve after a major loss; to listen to the larger stories that are calling us; to celebrate the gifts that we have received
Stories from practice:
Post-trauma conflict held, heard and partly healed in circle
At an international gathering in Japan two years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, two women – who had been in a conflict over the impact of the accident on Japanese land and people – met in Bohmian Dialogue. One was a scientist, working in Fukushima area, claiming that the soil was safe to grow food on – and the land safe for people to live on. The other, a seasoned anti-nuclear activist who had been spreading awareness of environmental and human risks around nuclear plants for years, was engaged in providing retreats outside of Japan for the Fukushima children to re-gain resilience and health. The circle provided space for them to hear each other while being held by the larger community, also affected by the accident. Through the circle, the women were able to reconnect and regain trust; to later proceed sharing and learning from one another in one-on-on dialogue.
To get to collective clarity of purpose, slow down
During a strategic workshop on a digitalization service created by the by one of Slovenian government bodies, the participants (government officials) came to an impasse as to the ultimate purpose of the service (that would then serve as a guideline for project decisions). A lot of opinions, words and emotions were expressed – yet no alignment around the purpose. The facilitators called for a short break; removed all the tables, and asked participants to sit in circle. The invitation was to slow down, dive deep, and find an optimal purpose of the project. After a silent reflection, they turned to two neighbors, to together reach for the purpose. The energy shifted immensely – from cacophonous voices before the break to deep, generative listening. Marjeta as co-facilitator then asked: “Has any group to an elegant solution – a clear and compelling purpose?” One of the small groups calmly offered their suggestion; and the circle responded with quiet nods. Another small group added some minor improvements. It soon perspired that half of the group came to the same solution – while the other half was willing to support what was offered. After the circle, the tables were brought back, and project planning flowed easily from there on.
Alternative divorce ceremony
After an abrupt breakup of a long-time personal and professional partnership, a circle-based divorce ceremony helped the couple mark the endings and the beginnings while witnessed by the larger community of friends who were invited to hear stories, express gratitude and grief, and bless the ex-couple’s separate futures.