Nuggets From Our Recent Laddership Circle
--Bijan Khazai
6 minute read
Sep 22, 2019

Earlier this month, seventeen of us concluded a Laddership Circle.

There were so many highlights. Over the 6 week journey together, it was inspiring to see how the simple organizing principle of an intent to design for inner transformation can convene "love warriors" across six countries to deeply practice "being the change" in our communities, while holding questions and paradoxes of leading with love across a wide spectrum of topics.

Here's a few soundbyte nuggets of some of the collective wisdom that emerged, in no particular order:
  • On Motivations: A community builder in our circle asked: "How do I shift from building something to feed my own ego, to being a vessel for the community’s values and needs to flow through?" Another week, an artist genuinely observed: "I'm still sorting out my own web of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations. I supposed we all carry a mix of it." Reflecting on the deluge of social media, a former lawyer offered her filtering criteria for posting anything online, prompted by a meditation teacher's question: "Are you proving or sharing?" Along those lines, a teacher asked: "How to shift from validation to inspiration?"
  • Efficiency of Caring: An example of the many paradoxes held, Carol reflected: "Caring is multi-dimensional and can be messy and vulnerable at times. Efficiency on the surface, individual level does not allow for messiness or vulnerability. However, caring actually creates efficiency on the collective level."
  • On Extra-Ordinary Days: As part of one of his homework assignments, Ram had a moving conversation with an elderly lady, who told him, "My life is very simple: things that happen every day are better than dreams."
  • On Scarcity vs. Abundance: James wrote: "How do we define our needs? Does it stop at knowing we have food for the next month, knowing our bills and rent are paid for the month, knowing we have healthcare covered for the year, believing we should be able to take vacations, or beyond that."
  • On Building Bridges: We need to "move from individual stories to a more humble, interconnected story: It entails learning to see ourselves as ‘a part of’ rather than ‘apart from’," Samantha observed. "We have a negativity bias in our brains -- so our minds do go to the critical. Can we love instead of judge? What does it take to assume the best instead of the worst?" Vicky asked.
  • On Me to We: “When I go on social media, like Facebook, and see other people's achievement I used to feel like, 'Oh I’m not doing enough,' but now I see 'Oh that person did that on my behalf! They did that for me, in a way -- the doctors are doing my cause and the teachers are doing my cause and I’m doing their cause and so it's all, we're just doing what we're naturally good at.' This way of viewing brings a lot of relief to the change agents around the world, where often there is an attitude that one needs to do it all. And burnout happens. But then if we just have that perspective - 'oh other good people are doing things for me already! I can just sleep tonight, and then when I wake up, I take on the baton and do a little bit of what I can.”
  • On Invisible Value: Kathrin recounted an incident she witnessed: Some friends have been gifting small hearts around. At a gathering, a friend entered the room and gave out hearts to everyone. People asked, "What is this thing with the heart? You didn't even explain!" And the friend replied: "You know, we are so used that we only get something when we do something, but I just like to have you here and your presence."
A month into the circle, we had a breakout call on multiple forms of capital designs, where Jane summed it up for all of us:

"We’re all united, in this form of radical gentleness. … There’s nothing more powerful than gentleness. What does the world look like when we have a critical mass of people engaging in that gentleness?"

That quality of gentleness became an undercurrent in our circle, collectively and in our various corners of the globe. One week, a circle member was hospitalized. Jane suggested we each send an encouraging email to him. Jasky piggy-backed on that idea and galvanized us all into a get-well photo-collage -- where each person in the circle took a selfie with a letter and we collectively spelled out: "Quick Recovery!" to that member of our circle.

In our own communities, our eyes became acclimated to expressions of love, and every encounter became an opportunity to nurture those blooms. Paul stopped to befriend a stranger when he noticed himself rushing to a meeting. Vasudha observed how simply listening to a friend with no agenda relieved her of the tendency problem-solve. Ulli and Kathrin prioritized love for Kathrin's grandfather over their philosophy of permaculture, and revamped grandpa's garden to his liking, just to make his day. On a summer road trip, Peter found opportunities for kindness everywhere -- from gifting a heart pin to a truck driver who let him in the lane in horrendous traffic to practicing deep listening with those closest to him. Roshan remembered a man who anonymously posts inspiring messages on a handmade billboard in the Spanish island of Tenerife.

We held project questions of time and money, scale and sustainability -- yet somehow the urgency behind those questions dissolved as we lived into the ever-evolving answers.

On top of the experiments that unfolded and insights that surfaced -- it was exciting to serve alongside an incredible crew of volunteers whose invisible labor-of-love efforts boosted our circle in unfathomable ways. Jane jumped on a call directly after off-boarding a flight in Italy, which was scheduled before our circle dates were confirmed. While simultaneously serving long days as a volunteer at a Buddhist monastery in the UK, Liam ventured into parks and friend's homes to serve the circle virtually while honoring noble silence and limited wifi in areas of the monastery. After a full week of work and motherhood duties in California, Daniela would be up into wee late-night hours the day before our calls, reading and commenting on everyone's reflections!

In gratitude for it all, here's a collective compilation of quotes (thanks to Liam's documenting!) from each fellow in our circle:

“Don’t box up pain, let it dissipate in the Ocean of Mind”
- Carol

"Quality of life is the sum of how much I love, how much I serve, how much I connect to all beings."
- Kathrin

"My intention now is to have a much more balanced, integrated approach to social change, much more inner transformation driven, having a plan, but being open to emergence. Trying to go with the flow of nature and synchronicity, as oppose to forcing and pushing too much. Enjoying the process, trusting and allowing and nurturing noble friendships."
- Vicky

Before making a post on social media, asking myself, "Am I sharing or proving?"
- Samantha

“It is in spontaneous, unplanned moments, when we are open and receptive, that significant events occur.”
- Peter

"The multi-dimensional web of relationships and responsibilities is like a rainforest. There is a shared value; an invisible dance. The tall rainforest trees give what they can, and that's the same with every species and it is how rainforests stand the test of time."
- Ram

"How do I keep reminding myself about moving towards what really matters, without being too concerned about 'sustaining change'?"
- Roshan

“Jasky! Why are you practicing? You started to practice ten years ago because you want to transfer all your merits and blessings to [a family member]. Now, continue to expand this compassion to all living beings, without any boundaries."
- Jasky

“I admire those of you who lead with trust and are willing to be exemplars and beacons that stretch what people consider viable and thus broaden the person to person possibilities even within a system which often does not recognize, support, or value what you are doing. I am unsure I will ever get there, or actually if I even want to, but I am amazed by your commitment to and trust in humanity.”
- James

"Wealth can be what we make of it."
- Vasudha

"Human beings have a spirit. Our spiritual capacity is infinite."
- Paul


Posted by Bijan Khazai on Sep 22, 2019

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