January 16, 2016
In this newsletter:

I want to start this letter with huge gratitude to all the people who joined the Circle of Support since the last newsletter went out in December: we now have 17 new members and are almost back to where we were before the recent drop in support. I am full of gratitude and in awe of this surge. This, together with some conversations I've had with friends and supporters and some experience of grace I cannot explain, have combined to bring a shift in my orientation to what's happening with our finances.

oneUpdate on where things are

Last month, when I spoke about the challenges we are facing, I didn't include specific numbers. This time I want to be even more open about what we are facing even while I recognize that I myself am holding it differently. The short version: in our current projections, we are short somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000 in revenue for the year in order to cover expenses.

This is happening at the same time as the most astonishing opening that I and we have ever experienced, which is demonstrated best by the response to the free Convergent Facilitation training Feb 20-21, with 150 registered and more than that number on a growing waiting list. The cliché about doors opening as others are closing is very apt now. Clearly, the path forward is through this new opening, and we are definitely working with that clarity. I now am more confident that this financial challenge is temporary and not indefinite. Which is not to say that the problem is "solved" or that we "know" what to do; this is only an intuition and a direction.

twoHow do we step into co-holding?

My current course at the NVC Academy is called Collaboration in the Workplace. The foundation of such collaboration, as so many of us already know, is having shared holding of a purpose, values, and agreements about how to work together. As irony would have it, the next segment of the course is called Creating and Sustaining Strong Teams. The timing couldn't be more significant, since the last few weeks have been a laboratory for me about this very topic: how does a team handle a crisis and come together more strongly?
  • Why Co-holding matters. From the start, it was clear to me that the financial challenge was bigger than me alone. I was all set to ask for support, which I have learned to do over the years, more and more, to the point of having few obstacles in my way. My friend Anne Symens-Bucher, rigorous student of both NVC and Joanna Macy's systems approach, challenged me to transcend the illusion of the separate self. She showed me, with gentle fierceness, that asking for support still kept me separate. Instead, she painted a picture of a system that, as a whole, is self-organizing to attend to all that's within it, as all living systems do. This shifted my entire orientation.
  • Systems need feedback in order to operate. For years, I have been absorbing as much as I can, with "capacity" being the only limit. This leaves the systems of which I am part without crucial information to hone processes and decisions. How can others know the cost to me of what I do when I don't say it? I have committed to growing my willingness to share the cost even when I am not sure it will be received or understood. This can be messy, and I still trust it to bring about more truth and alignment within the system.
  • Leadership cannot be usefully abandoned. As the saga has been unfolding, I happened to talk to a friend, also in a position of leadership, about his experiences of waking up from taking on too much. The result of his bringing it to his staff some years back was a disaster, and he was ultimately fired from the organization he founded, which left immense trauma for him. I realized that, just like the Transition Town movement has been advocating for energy descent plans, increasing co-holding in a team with a strong leader requires what I could name a "leadership descent plan." I am committed to finding ways to continue to learn and model what truly collaborative leadership means and looks like.

  • The illusion of separate self interferes with team co-holding. In this case, it was both me and others within the team. My own difficulty has been in letting go of sole responsibility. Somehow, I didn't fully see that I wouldn't be the only one challenged to step into co-holding. In the course of the meeting I heard from one team member a concern about stepping into co-holding given the level of stress we all have. It took some effort to recognize this as another example of my earlier experiences of speaking about sharing resources within communities I was part of. In those moments, as in this one, people could see what would be taken away from them, not what they would receive from sharing resources. Here, similarly, rather than seeing that every person's stress would be co-held, it all looked like more stress. This is a subtle and complex point. Co-holding, as I understand it, is not about who does what; it's about who holds what. When there is stress anywhere in the system, it might mean someone else stepping in to take the load who otherwise wouldn't have known about it; or it might mean a creative breakthrough about how things are done that would reduce the overall amount of what seems necessary to do. Regarding the financial situation, in this case, it's not about who takes action; it's about how we think about what to do, so that I am not all alone trying to figure it out. Togetherness is an experience and an orientation, not a specific action.
  • Unmasking our interdependence. This is not a new insight, and I still want to name it because of its centrality. Our actions affect each other - even globally, and certainly within a team that works together closely - whether we are conscious of it or not, tend to it or not. Money, for example, masks this interdependence, making it look like we don't have relationships with the people who make the things we consume, or that our actions and choices don't affect them. For a team to step fully into co-holding means removing the illusion, with both its comforts and background isolation. It means choosing, consciously, to recognize that when we all hold together all of our stresses and challenges, there is less pressure on each of us, not more.
threeDo you want to learn more about how this could apply to your team?

I hope that seeing what emerged for me and for us in this exploration will inspire you to look into attending the Creating and Sustaining Strong Teams course starting February 12th. Each week, I cover one key topic.

First, we look at how teams can attend both to their relationships and to their shared purpose, instead of seeing them as mutually exclusive.

In the next two weeks, we explore how to collaborate in contexts that include power differences, as most teams do. This means finding ways to overcompensate for needs that remain invisible or less attended to, unleashing trust and synergy in the process. 

The final week focuses on meetings: how they can become both more efficient and more collaborative at the same time. I hope to see you there.

And if being part of a course is not what would work for your team or organization, and you want a more customized approach, I am reminding you to visit the Center for Efficient Collaboration and talk about it with key decision-makers in your workplace:
  • Team leaders
  • HR
  • Training and development departments.
fourMoving into this year

Rather than retrenching into doing fewer free events, part of my response is to reinfuse energy into my gift offerings and expand their reach. I am doubling my Facing Privilege calls because the response has been so rich and overwhelming. See my current blog post - Crisscrossing Layers of Privilege - for more of what I am learning and sharing about this painful topic that I am now committed to speaking about at any opportunity. I am also adding free calls for people who've taken Convergent Facilitation trainings with me. If you are local to the Bay Area, mark your calendar for two more free in-person offerings: Embracing Nonviolent in Thought, Word, and Action on May 8th, and Connecting across Power Differences on October 2nd. If you can join the Circle of Support, your contribution goes directly towards supporting all these free offerings and many other pro-bono activities that I do.

I am traveling this year to North Carolina, Israel, Chicago, Seattle, Poland, England, Scotland, and the Northeast. In most of these places I am offering Convergent Facilitation trainings. It's the work that I most want to make sure outlives me.

If you want more of the recent celebrations, click hereIn this moment, wrapping up this letter, I am coming back to the immense gratitude I feel for the people who work with me, for the culture of honesty and mutual support we share, even when under significant stress, and for the hope I have when I remember all the people who want to learn how to embody their values more. I am here for the ride. 

In hope and peace,

Miki Kashtan
Image credits from top, all from Flickr: Earth ball by Neal Schneider (CC BY-NC 2.0); stand with your sisters by McBeth; Rafting by AlisaRyan; Agape's Dance Team huddles before their performance by AgapeCommunityCtr (last 3 all CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 
In Costa Rica, Mexico, N. Carolina, Chicago, and Poland

Miki is traveling and presenting these workshops and retreats:
Jan 19-24 in Costa Rica: Leveraging Your Influence Using Nonviolent Communication. Info.
Jan 29-31 in Puebla, Mexico: Peace Starts at Home: Bringing love, truth, and courage to your relationships (and yourself). Register.
Feb 2-3 in Mexico City: The Art and Craft of Dialogue. Register. 
Feb 20-21 in Oakland: the Convergent Facilitation workshop is full. You can still join the waiting list here and receive a recording.
Mar 25-27 in Asheville, North Carolina: Convergent Facilitation. Info
June 23-30 in Chicago: Leveraging Your Influence, week-long intensive. Info
Aug 5-11 in Poland: Leveraging Your Influence, week-long intensive in Poland. Register
Creating and Sustaining Strong Teams
At the NVC Academy
4 Fridays, 12-2 Pacific Time: Feb 12 & 26 (not 19), Mar 4 & 11
Register by Feb 2 to get $25 off. Register at NVCA and please direct all queries there. 
Supporting a Culture of Collaboration
At the NVC Academy
4 Fridays, 12-2 Pacific Time: Apr 15 & 29 (not 22), May 6 & 13
Register by April 5 to get $25 off. Register at NVCA and please direct all queries there. 
Free Calls 
Miki's Facing Privilege Calls and  Fearless Heart teleseminars are ongoing. See links for dates and details.
 Read Miki's Books
Reweaving Our Human Fabric  


Imagine: a future world in which we value all people and life and participate in a flow of generosity. 

In Reweaving Our Human FabricMiki weaves together vivid "social science fiction" stories that bring that world to life and compelling nonfiction about how to get there. 


Read three of the stories for free, starting here.


Start a book reading group and give copies to the group. OK, you do have to buy them first, but at 40% off for 5 or more from us