I have reached that stage in my professional life where I am “rewiring” (versus retiring). I’ve become super selective on which projects to work – for pay or pro bono. I have three criteria: great people, a container where learning is happening for ALL parties, and a meaningful purpose.

I work hard to fulfill those criteria back to my clients. One way is to always take a learner’s stance. It turns out this is my personal secret sauce for my stories of openness. 

Here’s an example.  8 or 9 years ago I was invited to contribute to a retreat of a nonprofit network by leading a session on communities of practice – something I LOVE. As we planned, I realized that there was a thread that was either missing or had not yet been pulled across the retreat’s agenda that logically linked things together towards their purpose. So of course, I meddled. (I guess meddling is part of learning, right?)

In the end we used an emerging approach that I was just learning (Knotworking, if you care). We all learned a ton and the client let me write about it to share the learning. 

So that’s it, right? Nope. In the intervening years it seems we all have been sharing the story of that week. Both via our published artifacts and through online and F2F groups. It has yielded invitations to share the experience with other parts of the client’s network and more broadly across my network. There was reciprocity from the get-go. 

Their trust in me let me take that learner’s stance and to figure more about the process. My sharing it with other practitioners brought their experience into mine and the process improved. We created little practitioner nodes in the broader network and to this day, we are still moving the work forward. And the approach keeps getting better. Openness, right?

This is about online openness, so yes, there is an online part – connecting, writing and sharing. But the people part of showing up as a good person, putting learning in a central position, and working on stuff that matters is the soil, the base, the core that makes the writing and sharing valuable both as an artifact openly given, AND as a process, a container, for it to happen in the first place.

A place for crosspollination.

A space to hold for open and generative, collaborative work. 

Media Description: Bee on a pink dahlia

Shared by: Nancy White

Reuse License: Public Domain