One of the key components in the Genuine Contact way of working is mentoring one-on-one, in online forums, and in Mentoring Circles that happen face to face.
In the Netherlands, where I live, people working with Genuine Contact and those interested come together on a yearly basis in what we have come to call, Face to Face Genuine Contact Mentoring Circles. This year, Covid-19 made it feel risky to gather face-to-face, and yet, after looking at the Dutch health guidelines and checking in with ourselves, we in the organizing team decided to go for it, inviting people to join us at a live venue. For me, it turned out to profound experience to once again gather with a diverse group of people from the Netherlands and Germany to share, learn together, and inspire each other. I watched how the simple structure that these Mentoring Circles offer created a background for the divergent ideas, needs, and experience of each of us to blend together and harmonize as if into a song enriched by all the different voices.
Genuine Contact Mentoring Circles
For many years we’ve provided the same basic structure. There is an arrival with an informal lunch, a Whole Person Process Facilitation (WPPF) container is opened. There is time for transferring in, sharing hopes and fears. There is time for sharing stories and touching in to what is important and alive in people at this moment in time. Then there is an Open Space Technology (OST) meeting with a theme that is formulated something like this: Issues and Opportunities of Living/Working in Genuine Contact. There is time for action planning at the end of the Open Space and there is time to close the event in a closing circle. Through it all, we share food together and some people stay overnight at the same venue. This year we had a special celebration to commemorate 20 years of Genuine Contact.
Commemorating 20 years of Genuine Contact in the world
Perhaps because of the 20-year celebration, perhaps because of the special circumstances offered by Covid-19, or maybe just because the time was right, I found myself taking stock of what 11 years of having mentoring Circles in the Netherlands has meant for me, and for our community. As I sat in the circle I could feel myself relaxing into the familiar structure. I could feel myself connecting with everyone around me and feel the echoes of those who have been with us over the years. I could felt myself being drawn back through a web of learning and experience and friendship that has developed over the years.
As we shared stories I could feel the power of the past and how those experiences from the past became present in the moment, shining light and new insight into my personal and professional life. I felt the joy of re-engaging with people I have known but don’t often see, people I often see and people I had just met. I noticed how our different experiences and needs started to weave together into a complex harmony allowing each of us individually to be supported in our questions and ideas, or share inspiration with others. I noticed how all of that divergent cacophony of ideas somehow coalesced into a melody with each individual strand standing alone while also contributing to the complex composition of what I would call the wisdom of the group of the moment.
Noticing the gift
As this was taking place, I had time to take stock of my personal experience of being a part of this yearly cycle. I saw clearly how this pulse of GC energy brings with it a kind of stability to hold onto in what have been quite turbulent years, personally, professionally, and societally. I notice how valuable it is to have this repeating rhythm, like a drumbeat that guides and orients me in time and space.
Reflecting on this today, I realize Mentoring Circles offer special gifts to those who take part in them. They offer the gift of continuity in a community. They offer the gift of meeting colleagues old and new over and over throughout the years. They offer the gift of holding an anchor for my work and developing trust as issues (challenging and “easeful”) arise and are “digested” over time and transformed. I realized how each Mentoring Circle has given me an insight that I have continued to work with long after the Mentoring Circle has passed.
In this crazy 2020 year when so much is changing around us, taking part in this Mentoring Circle reminded me that genuine connection, over time, and in a life-nurturing container are of deep value. I am glad that I am part of a community and organization that values, encourages, and offers Mentoring in so many forms and very grateful for the use of Mentoring Circles as a key component of the offer of continuous learning in Genuine Contact.
Want to have this kind of experience? Find an upcoming Genuine Contact Mentoring Circle here.