Announcing Gathering Elan

“You are practicing at becoming someone . . . a powerful question to ask is who in my work at present am I practicing becoming? Is that someone I actually want to become? Or am I practicing at becoming further and further away from myself?” 

David Whyte

What are you practicing at becoming? If you want to get wiser and more intentional about that, I hope you will read this story behind Gathering Elan and learn about the current opportunities to work with me. And if you feel called to gather your elan, I look forward to hearing from you.

Imagine yourself in a place that connects you to something bigger than yourself. A place where the messages and expectations that are bouncing around in your mind quiet and still. In fact, everything slows and even comes to a still around you. This is a place where the hustle and bustle of life and work sits patiently outside of your senses’ reach. Here, you get to drop your guard and settle into you. In this place, you feel deeply cared for, held, and nurtured. You belong. You feel empowered, alive, and energized. Grounded, centered and connected. Your heart is open. To yourself, other people, and the living world around you. You fully feel in touch and aligned with yourself, your best self. You feel powerful, purposeful, connected and tender all at the same time. You believe anything is possible.

Give yourself a minute to close your eyes and connect to your unique place. Experience the connection in your body.

Now, imagine what could be possible if this version of you was the version that showed up on a regular basis to work and life.

  • What if this version of you showed up as a leader?
  • What if you could attune to this vital version of you to grow and sustain yourself as the leader you want to be?

This is what I’ve often referred to as presence in leadership. It is now what I think more of as vital and spiritful leadership.  

Merriam-Webster defines spirit as: the activating or essential principle influencing a person and an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms. Oxford defines vital as absolutely necessary or important, as well as full of energy or lively.

I would not claim to be an expert on the spirit.

In fact, I spent much of my life as an ardent Atheist, finding myself attracted to things of science and logic, like Environmental and Law studies. I was simultaneously interested in how people interacted with their environments and each other. When I was studying to become a Certified Professional Integrative Coach, my coach asked me what spirituality was for me. I had often told people that I considered myself a spiritual person, but I hadn’t really given thought to what that meant. For me. Not someone else’s definition of spirituality, but my own unique take on it. I have continued to sit with this question for almost a decade, and its relationship to leadership. I literally sat my way into becoming a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher in a quest to better understand spirituality and leadership.

In my first meditation retreat, one of the teachers was talking to us about opening to our own experience in meditation, guiding us to allow whatever showed up, and to trust what arose for us. She quoted Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to illustrate. “There is good news and bad news,” she said. “The bad news is that you’re falling through the air and you have no parachute. The good news is that there is no ground.” This quote has stuck with me and I’ve shared it many times. It illustrates the fear and excitement of tapping into the unknown and the power and protection that come along with it.

Choosing to be a leader is like falling through the air with no parachute. This is especially true if you are a leader who is trying to break out of a mold of harmful and oppressive leadership. At times, it might feel like you chose to jump. At other times, it probably seems that you’ve been thrown out the airplane door without any say in the matter. If you are having days of smooth sailing, congratulations! That is not easy in our world today. Hopefully some days feel like an exhilarating dive through the air. I bet other days probably feel more like terrifying plunges. And other days, you might believe there’s no ground, but those tree branches you keep banging into are real!

Maybe you don’t even want to call yourself a leader because you’ve witnessed and experienced repeated abuses of power. But you feel that doing things differently is imperative for a better world, right? It’s vital

  • to disrupt and let go of oppressive and disempowering practices (in yourself and organizations),
  • lead with deep care for yourself and others,
  • connect through presence, compassion, integration, and co-powering relationships,
  • and remember that we are each only a small piece of a much larger interconnected whole.

And so, to keep lift, to lead in a way that is purposeful, aligned, and heartfelt, we harness spirit and vitality.

“Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long…Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.”

Joy Harjo, “For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in its Human Feet”

We gather ourselves up, collect what might be in disarray. It is work we must do on our own. And it is work that needs to be done in community, with the support of community, and for the support of community.

Enter Gathering Elan. I have operated as Elan Consulting for over a decade and am now excited to shift to a different name, one that I feel better represents the work that I’ve increasingly been called to do.  This calling is to bring more vital and spiritful leadership into the world.

Why gathering? Gathering connotes collecting. Collecting ourselves and others, information and resources.

  • We gather information, pieces of a puzzle or complex system, and data to inform and understand.
  • We gather ourselves individually to recharge and restore, to sustain, find courage and strength, and face challenges.
  • We gather in groups to celebrate, connect, support, build power, learn, inform, and, again, find courage and support.
  • We gather to feed our spirits, energize and nourish, to build trust, to belong.
  • We gather to feel our humanity and to feed our human spirit.  

Why Elan? Elan means Vitality. Spirit. And Elan happens to be my middle name.

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