Recently I had the honor to sit with Craig and Patricia Neal, authors of The Art of Convening and founders of The Center for Purposeful Leadership. Their career spans a lifetime of bringing people together in ways that generate authentic engagement and meaningful connection.
What stood out for me was their emphasis on the internal journey of convening work. In my own process, I increasingly find how important it is to be clear on my commitment. Often this is not something that is necessarily comfortable, particularly in transformative spaces that hold difficult conversations.
Patricia talks about the power of agreements both within a space and with herself:
The agreements are as much with myself as they are with the people. I have an agreement with myself to show up and hold space for people to find their voice and hear themselves in their authentic voice. I know how to hold space and I’m willing to do it. I’m fierce about knowing the power of a well convened and contained space.
Our conversation is wide ranging from the definition of convening to the life journey that brought them to that definition. Craig and Patricia share a moving account of how they convened hundreds of people in conjunction with city officials in their hometown of Minneapolis after the killing of George Floyd. They share details of how they transformed this potentially contentious political gathering into one that left everybody feeling heard.
Their next Art of Convening Core Training is hosted on Sutra and starts on September 16th. You can find it in our newly launched Discovery Section.
In this interview, Craig and Patricia offer deep wisdom informed by a long lifetime of work. Please enjoy.