Grace in the Yukon: 2

photo by  Keith Williams

(This post is part of an ongoing series where I share some reflections after facilitating events. I hope it will illuminate some of my work for folks who are interested as well as be a good record of my own learning. Additionally, this particular post is the second of two posts about my recent trip to the Yukon Territory to facilitate a leadership event. Please see Part 1 here.)

Last week, Caitlin FrostChris Corrigan, Wedlidi Speck and I facilitated a leadership event in the Yukon Territory with the Yukon government and First Nations governments employees who are Aboriginal. In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about the event itself as well as some of the highlights. (You can see more here.) Below I share some of the challenges as well as my take away learnings.  



One of the key challenges of the conference was weaving together all the elements: individual workshops, participatory work with the large group, traditional conference panels and processes, and cultural honoring and celebration. And while that was challenging, of course, that IS the work.  None of our lives is just one thing. A key moment of weaving happened mid-morning the first day. Chris Corrigan asked us the group to think about their own leadership by asking if folks considered themselves leaders. When only about 5 people of 100 raised their hands, Chris reframed leadership as “the willingness to help” and almost everyone could find themselves in this definition. This shift really supported the shared cultural values of humility and service as active leadership. It was a really brilliant integrating moment. It helped people arrive.  It began to stretch their thinking, and it got us all ready to work.


After the first round of workshops, I needed to redesign my Shared Work offering. Having met the group more in depth after one workshop, I realized that what was I had provided was more of a strategic / conceptual teach that needed to be brought much closer to the ground as many folks were on the front lines and working with implementation. They needed clear ideas on how to do this today, tomorrow, and the next day in their daily work lives. So after the first day, I redesigned my entire workshop and focused on not sharing all the things but instead making sure folks had tools to take home with them. It felt great to redesign and was really well received.



A leader in every chair, sorta

While I’m quite comfortable with the idea of “leader in every chair” and participatory leadership, this can be really new for folks, and spending real time helping folks see their own leadership is valuable. In my broad, inclusive definition of leadership, I can actually leave people behind with my own assumptions about how they might see themselves or understand leadership.

Protocol matters

I knew this, of course. But when with new peoples, I continue to be mindful of asking ahead of time what to be aware of, inquiring about honorifics and titles, and generally stepping back and listening. And also, I have to be careful not to get too earnest and in my own head about this stuff. Folks are generally kind and while I may mess up—and someone will let me know and practice grace!—it’s best for me to go forward humble but unafraid.

Shared work, 76 right ways

I want to come up with 3-4 other ways to teach Shared Work based on audience. It was really fun to redesign and focus on not just sharing the concepts but daily application. That feels like a rich area of exploration for me.

Let go, let go, let go

There were several pieces of facilitation process that were good “in theory” but when, for example, a the end of a long day the group’s attention was caught by a deer caught on the ice, you have to go with the energy and close the day the best you can and join your new friends touching your heart as you watch a quiet life or death struggle.


The above is just some of what I got from my trip to the Yukon. It was really rich and great learning for me. Let me know if it spurs anything for you!

Want to learn more about my work or the Art of Hosting?  Tim Merry and I have a recorded webinar series starting today featuring Art of Hosting tools and practices as well as lots of other offerings over at  

This post was originally published at Tuesday Ryan-Hart's site.