We hear a lot about the anxiety people feel during these uncertain economic times, when long-held systems are breaking down and new ones are not yet visible. A discomforting chaos comes along with these breakdowns, but we can also see them as breakthroughs, where an opportunity for a new, stronger order can emerge. In that sense, it's a very exciting time, when things can really be different. This applies especially to women, who, unlike any previous time, now have an opportunity to take their rightful place in the new order as leaders. Depending on the choices we make, we will either evolve to a higher level of consciousness or devolve and regress to old outdated but familiar structures.
As we go through this social transformation, how can we feel secure when the ground beneath us is shifting? How can we stay clear and centered when all around us is ambiguity? In our interconnected and interdependent work, security lies within our positive connections to others, in being part of a community. From these positive connections, we women have an opportunity to realize our collective power to impact the things around us; we can be agents of change if we stick together.
How do I get there from here? Start a power circle.
When I was in Australia doing research for my book Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World, I had the good fortune to interview an aboriginal elder, Violet. Well, actually Violet said I didn't need to interview her, saying I already knew what I needed to know. Instead, she would initiate me in her ways. In the end I got much more than I imagined; as she initiated me she also told me her story, so I got my interview.
The initiation was powerful; it rattled me to my core. At the end I had a vision. I saw a circle of women elders smiling at me, and behind them stood Violet laughing. Feeling their powerful, good humored presence drew a gasp from me and I felt my eyes well up with tears. The sense of support that they emitted connected me to how much I missed the support of women, in circle, in community with each other. I was missing sisterhood.
Circle is not anything new. Circle is an ancient process of consultation and communion, a place for slowing down, respectfully listening and being heard, a place to change the conversation and a way of being together that taps into the deep well of wisdom and creative thinking that is so needed in this time and place in history. Being in Circle is a matter of remembering our original way of being in community.
Some people are resistant to circles, such as one business executive who said he wouldn't sit in a circle because it was "too democratic!" All the more reason to take what some may regard as a radical step.
Circle is a place women can come home to themselves and feel the support of other women. In circle, women are not "empowered." Instead, they have an opportunity to remember their power and to discover that being an agent of change is not about doing it alone. In fact, part of the shift I am talking about is learning to do it together and developing our skills of cooperation, necessary skills for leaders in the future. In order to do it together, women need face-to-face time with other women in order to connect to the magic that circle energy releases. Online communities are a great support for on-going groups, but they don't replace the face-to-face experience.
Everyone is so busy, I know, but two hours a month could be the best investment of time you could make for yourself. Many of you are already in community. Maybe it's a book club or girl's night out. How about changing the conversation and explore the meaning of success, courageous vulnerability, leadership, power, peace? When we take a deeper look at the forces that affect our lives and our responses to them, amazing things can happen.
As a convener of over 200 circles, this is Susan Lucci's (no, not the soap opera star) experience.
Circle is one of deep connection, mutual respect and creative collaboration. This resonant field energizes, inspires and supports each of us to see and be seen, to hear and be heard, to become a better version of ourselves. By deliberately changing the conversation in the safe container of a Circle, we are modeling the new, emerging culture... and it is beautiful to behold!
Power Circles become a vehicle for women who want to participate and be agents of change but don't quite know how to go about it. Power Circles create an opportunity for women to practice the art of collaboration and support each others leadership. Power Circles are a place to connect to your highest self and to collective wisdom.
Here are some sources for starting a circle: Craig Neal's Art of Convening ; Jeanne Shinoda Bolen's The Millionth Circle; Christina Baldwin's The Circle Way; PeacexPeace, The World Café, and my own Iron Butterflies Power Circles.
Take a leap of faith into the future. Start a circle. Model the future. Be the change we are seeking.