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BJörn Johansson caused a very strong ripple during the summer retreat. As we were having dinner, he asked me: why does it seem so simple for people to have conversations about what they want to get, how to make business or how to find health and develop themselves, but rarely have conversations about what they do to contribute to the world or create meaning for others?

I understood this question as an invitation and shared my stories of things I and others in my direct environment are already doing to make a difference. It caused another strong ripple and Anton Stellamans decided to bring a short presentation about the most dramatic situation, now taking place in East Congo and about how he is involved in a think tank who is trying to find a sustainable solution for the many traumatized victims of the war, especially women that are systematically being raped.

Immediately after his presentation, the Sol Retreaters brought up ideas, collected money and other resources and a lively conversation unfolded at the tables, about what we do or could do to make this world a better place. I was most moved by this shift to Other Centredness. I get more and more convinced that happiness is about contributing to others rather than to the self, (not meaning that self care is not important).

My thoughts immediately went out to my father, who spent a life taking care of others and now can only take of himself, due to different serious illnesses that ruined his health. Peter Musschoot sent me this link, just yesterday (isn't that amazing) and I makes a lot of sense to me.
It's a blog from Kathryn Britton about 'Finding Meaning in a shrinking world'

I trust and am looking forward to keep this focus alive, keep talking about what we do, and invite others to talk about it and I strongly hope that the next summer retreats will keep making useful ripples into the world.

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Comment by Elta Boshard on August 27, 2010 at 16:23
thanks for sharing a bit about the conversation with George, Liselotte. I agree so much with your conclusion - e.g. "it takes time to be able to 'accept' (be present)" What fascinates me when coaching coaches is the ripple effect - they (us?) first struggle to become present in terms of self-observation. Perhaps it’s an occupational habit?
Doug Silsbee (Presence-Based Coaching) illustrates some of this with two loops: the Self-Generative vs the Habit loop but once we enter through the three doorways to presence: mind, body, heart, it becomes an ever-widening internal ripple- embracing ‘acceptance’- deploying strength, and sometimes it’s necessary to forgive self. It often takes time.
I'll add Zander's book to my want to read list- but before that I still want to know much more about the book “Veerkracht” about self-care....that’s the one I voted for, yes?
Comment by Liselotte Baeijaert on August 27, 2010 at 15:29
Elta, I just read in the book of Benjamin Zander (the art of possibility) that "Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are (...) It doesn't mean you should drown out your negative feelings or pretend you like what you really can't stand. It doesn't mean you should work to achieve some 'higher plane of existence' so you can 'transcend negativity'. It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense." I like that nuance, it makes clear what we mean by 'accept'. And during the retreat I had a very intersting conversation with George, where we concluded that sometimes it takes time to be able to 'accept' (be present) and that is very normal and understandable that we first hide, withdraw from reality and take care of ourselves in some useful (or sometimes not so useful) way, in order to come to the stage where we can accept and be present. Thx for keeping this conversation going!
Comment by Elta Boshard on August 27, 2010 at 15:16
Anton of te wel "veerkracht" - and it is not always so easy to take the first step to accept... it somtimes courage - and then comes the strength and the wisdom Thanks for the reminder.
Comment by Anton Stellamans on August 25, 2010 at 14:31
Hi all, "perseverence" in the way Wheatley describes it, sounds very much like the way we use the word "resilience": the capacity to accept with the problems we face, the strength to work ourselves through these problems and the wisdom of learning from these experiences.
Comment by Elta Boshard on August 25, 2010 at 14:12
You know what, Liselotte? I never even had the opportunity to ask her about SF!
I believe that there are so many "cousins" of SF, that it would we hard to put them all under one SF-umbrella, e.g. Nancy Kline, and all the other 'cousins discussed in the varius groups mentions on SOLWorld.
However I thought to type out this quote and would like to know what you think after considering it: Does she sound like a "SF-relative".... ;) or not?
QUOTE: PERSEVERANCE (p9) "The scale is different now, but the human experience is the same. And so are our human spirits, capable of generosity or abuse, creativity or destruction, survival or extinction. As we face the challenges and struggles of this time, it might help to recall the centuries of solid shoulders we stand on.
And if you reflect on your own life experience, what else have you endured?
You’re still here – how did you stay here?
How have you come through rough times before?
What from your own personal history gives you now the capacity to get through this time? END QUOTE.
Curious, but in no hurry, to hear your reflections, enjoy!
Comment by Liselotte Baeijaert on August 25, 2010 at 9:36
@Elta: I've been inspired by Margareth Wheatley too in the past and am wondering if she knows about SF and if SF people know about her. Thx for bringing her up, I'll have a look at her new book for sure.
@Stanus," Making a difference is what gives meaning to my life.", YES! and I was not that aware about the outcome in Malmo that we "could do more pro dono work and build relationships with the decision makers in society". I am curious what is happening already since Malmo and how people communicate about it?
@Eva: yes... what else? and I will try to find out how we can share our initiatives in daily conversations, without feeling uneasy?
Have a great day!
Comment by Stanus Cloete on August 25, 2010 at 8:39
Hi Liselot and Katalin,
Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly what makes me exited about SF. As an approach I have experienced that it makes more of a difference in the communities and people I serve than any other approach I tried in the past 30 years. Making a difference is what gives meaning to my life.
The summit in Malmo also underlined the fact that we should do something to propagate this approach more widely in the world. Two ideas that caught my attention in Malmo was that we could do this by doing more pro bono work and also will have to build relationships with the decision makers in society. This is particularly pertinent to South Africa and the many socio- economic and political problems we are strugling with.
I am impressed by the ripple that was caused by the summer retreat attendees. Great job! May you see the wonderful fruits it will produce.
Comment by Eva Persson on August 24, 2010 at 20:26
Liselott, thanks for sharing this to others who was not with us. And what else are we doing to create a better world?
Comment by Anton Stellamans on August 24, 2010 at 16:17
Nice principle, Elta: "Whatever the problem, the community is the answer."
Comment by Elta Boshard on August 24, 2010 at 15:21
PS - What urge me to share this was the host's mention of the "ripple effect"... and the pay forward principle of those who persevered for us to be where we are, today.
If ever I should have to single out ONE person who influenced my life the most, it is she! - who taught us as South African community development teams so much about this principle: Whatever the problem, community is the answer.

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