I want to live in a kinder world. A world where people are connecting with greater understanding. I believe one big way we create a kinder world is with gatherings - getting together, connecting, and helping each other.
Right now, in my life, I’m really interested in joining and even facilitating gatherings. Searching online for community building efforts around the globe, I found a particular kind of event that caught my attention - wisdom shares. These gatherings are about getting together in intimate groups to share each other’s wisdom.
I loved the idea and wanting to attend one right here in Providence, I put up an event page, invited a few people, and hosted the first, local Wisdom Share.
Preparing for the event I felt nervous. I wasn’t sure if enough people would attend, exactly how it would unfold, and if people would find it valuable.
What exactly is a wisdom share anyway? Afterall, I had only seen it described on a webpage.
Doubts aside, on November 8th, 2017 twelve brave humans showed up to sit in a circle together and share their wisdom.
Because this was my first time hosting such an event, I opened our time together by inviting everyone to co-create the experience together.
Three pre-selected storytellers shared a story of their own lived experience, with a specific lesson, a piece of wisdom, and some career advice.
After listening to the three stories, the floor was opened for discussion and everyone in the circle was invited to share anything they wanted to add.
A talking piece was passed around to symbolize that the person speaking had our undivided attention.
At the end of the event I was happily surprised to see people lingered to talk to one another and the general consensus was clear - it was a lovely gathering.
The experience was rich and a summarization doesn’t do the experience justice relative to the in-person connection of hearing stories told live by their authors.
However, in the spirit of spreading wisdom, like ripples continually expanding, here are some of my takeaways from the stories shared at our first Wisdom Share in Providence:
- When you are not feeling fully supported and motivated where you are, expand your circle of connections and plug into the local community. Join other networks or other organizations to find the support you need. Let the community refuel you.
- Be fully engaged in whatever you are doing. Give one hundred percent and do your best. Your time and effort are valuable.
- Know yourself. As life unfolds, you are changing with it. Who you are and what you want are continually evolving. Keep checking in with yourself to stay aware of these changes. What served you yesterday might or might not serve you today.
One of my favorite phrases of the evening was “checkered career” - used to describe a participant's windy work trajectory.
I can recall plenty of times when describing my many work transitions has felt uncomfortable, as if it suggested instability in some way.
Yet, here were others proudly describing their varied work history in such a powerful way: their checkered careers had created many valuable experiences and synergies.
When I heard the phrase it immediately resonated; my career is definitely a checkered one. I was happy to hear others in the circle echo this description.
More and more, checkered careers are becoming the norm for many of us. Statistically millennials are changing jobs every two years, on average.
That evening at Wisdom Share, we were fortunate to have a group diverse in age range - from young professionals to retirees.
As people of different ages spoke in the circle, it became clear that at all stages of our lives we are always going to be dancing with the question: What’s next?
The good thing is that dancing is learnable. With practice we get better at it.
At Wisdom Share, we heard how this question - What’s next? - can bring fear and doubt, and also openness and possibility.
Just as at one point we might feel uncomfortable with our windy work history, we can eventually look back and proudly point to our checkered career as a source of strength and wisdom.
With the Wisdom Share experience and learnings fresh in my heart, I am committing to owning how my checkered career describes me as an agile, adaptable, opportunity maximizer.
I will end by sharing with you a quote by Buckminster Fuller, which was offered by a participant at the end of our wisdom share:
“I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.”
We are verbs. We are becoming. We are dancing with What’s next? and getting better at it as we go.
A special THANK YOU to everyone that joined us for Wisdom Share, so much gratitude for your presence and wisdom.
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