A shared inquiry

For many years now, my friend and colleague Holger Scholz and I have been in conversation about our shared practice of groupwork. Together, we have a combined 50+ years at it. We are concerned with leading edge practice. We are continually finding new ways to awaken participation. We are walking the edges of how personal practice changes the nature of how we host others and facilitate groups who want to do good work together.

What makes things fly?

One day, sitting outside looking into the forest in Germany, we asked ourselves what is at the heart of successful work and life. We wanted to know -- not only what makes things take off, but what makes things take off with heart and meaning? What is the simplicity on the other side of complexity? We looked into our practice and we thought about the thousands of people we've met and how they do their work in the world.

The 5 Powers

When we thought about the essence of being successful, we came up with The 5 Powers. Five simple steps that support leadership and community to arise anywhere. Each of The 5 Powers are supported by three simple practices you can work with immediately. Together, they are grounded in a foundation of personal practice. Committing to being a practitioner in your life means every moment is an opportunity to master new learning. 

Together we reflected on what we observed as the fundamental skills for life and work. We asked ourselves: “What are the most essential things people need to focus on to be successful?”. Out of this came The 5 Powers, simple practices that create community and support everyone to step into their leadership. The 5 Powers are very simple, but like everything that appears simple, it takes commitment to become masterful in using them. Each power includes three practices to bring it to life. We use the old Celtic practice of remembering them by using the knuckles on the hand, each finger standing for a different power and each knuckle for a different practice.

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1. Appreciation

Gratitude is the attitude that determines your altitude

Appreciation is a powerful attractor. It begins to pattern the space for people to show up more fully and contribute more genuinely and  generously. Let it be your secret superpower, opening the way to foster the positive core of relationships, teams and entire organizations. Appreciation magnifies possibility and helps everyone feel more valued and reinforce what’s already working.

2. Story

My story is my agency

On a very real level, we are creating the world every day through the stories we tell ourselves about it. The dog you are passing on the street is simply a dog, but your past experiences with dogs – and the story that resulted – could mean you cross to the other side of the street as it approaches. Our stories determine our agency, that is our ability to interact and be creative in the world. They are also how we hold all our experiences in the brain. Learning to work with stories is an important skill for life.

3. Invitation

What is the invitation?

We all like to be invited. When we are invited in a good way we can step into the relationship, the task or the group action in a manner that helps everyone go further, faster. Essentially, everything we do is an invitation, but some of our invitations ask others to show up and some of them ask others to shut down. Being mindful and intentional about your invitations can make all the difference to working with others. 

4. Questions

A question IS an intervention

One of the fastest ways to change anything is to ask a powerful question. The brain is enticed by questions and if it has been hooked by a good one, it will keep pursuing it to find the answer. Often in organizations, we get stuck in transactional questions: How much does it cost? Who has done that before? Transformational questions change the playing field and open the possibility for innovation. Asking great questions is a skill and an artform. Some people believe knowing the answer is important. A good leader knows asking a question can support people to find the answers for themselves. Move out of “I know” and into “I wonder”.

5. Hosting

From hero to host

We are so captivated by the hero’s journey that we all want to be the hero of the story. But in life as well as work we often need to take the role of support person to help more happen than we could do on our own. This is a call for hosting. We know the power of excellent hosts. They make a dinner party a transformational life experience. They create collective wisdom in meetings where there was discord. Sometimes we don’t know how the magic happened, but most often it has been the work of a skilled host who decided to make the purpose the hero. We can all grow our hosting capacity.

Your foundation

Presence comes from Practice… and leads to Purpose

It is easy to see the difference between someone who is grounded practitioner and someone who is not. Those who have a strong personal practice seem more present. They are more flexible, and less stressed when challenges arise. They have more resilience. People naturally turn to them because they have mastered the art of staying in curiosity and out of judgement. This helps them find more innovative ways to achieve results. 

Your personal practice is just that – highly personal! Some people exercise, some meditate, some practice a martial art, some read or walk, some pet the dog. What is your daily practice for coming back to being, instead of always focusing on doing?

When you are present, thoughts fall away, stillness arises, and you can attend to the moment with all your senses. With this kind of attention, it is easier to find and stay focused on your purpose.

Every moment is practice

As with any skill, you need to keep practicing in order to hone your capacity. Then your practice moves into mastery, and from there, artistry. When you become an artist in your life, that’s when mystery can show up. You feel like life is “in the flow” and magic happens. You are present to life and life presents its wonders to you. Every moment is simply practice for the next moment. 


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