On Sunday night a few friends decided to get together to host a special evening with food, music and poetry. They called it #wordsandmusic and I’ve been thinking about what they did to get it so right.
“It all began when some friends and I started talking” says Meg Wheatley, one of the authors who has most shaped my definition of leadership.
While her quote refers to social change, it’s equally relevant when it comes to dinner parties. Because a conversation has the ability to gather magical momentum whether we’re talking about starting a movement or hosting friends.
First came the inspiration of Lionel Bastos (who I’m delighted to say will perform once more at our Women’s Leadership Conference this year with Wendy Oldfield) Now I know that Lionel is a great musician and also that he has retained his humility and remains a mensch. But I could never have guessed at his sensitivity as creativity coach as he shared the stage with Mandy Collins. He knew just how much to support and how much to let go – a rare talent
Then of course was the courage of the evening’s convenor Mandy Collins who took action and turned Lionel’s suggestion into reality by acknowledging that it was time to let the world hear her original music and her voice.
There’s something powerfully generative about doing what makes you scared. Mandy said she was terrified but by facing her fears and going where her creativity needed her to go she unleashed a special kind of magic. She did so with a gentle presence and musicality that saw her harmonise easily with one of SA’s best musical talents.
Poet Ruth Everson brought a gravitas to the evening with her courage with words that made us all feel that truth is the only option. What better gift could a poet give? The fact that she was Robyn Clark’s English teacher was one of the many delightful little connections which lit up the gathering like the fairylights in Mandy’s garden,
Clive Simpkins was the perfect MC. ( one member of the audience tweeted that he was “starstruck to have met him) As much facilitator as raconteur, he was perfectly tuned in to the atmosphere and to what needed to be said when. (Not only to all the performers but his easy reference to many members of the audience too made us feel we were at a big dinner party rather than an event)
There was also gratitude aplenty – I’ve hosted many events and I can’t tell you how often speakers forget to say thank you to the host.
But not this time. Everyone was beautifully aware that we’d been invited to something intimate and special and we were more than happy to pay for the privilege of being there. There was also a spirit of collaboration – not one of the performers tried in any way to overshadow any of the others
I left wanting more and inspired that there’s a group of people up the road from me who are genuinely committed to creativity and collaboration.
If you’d like to lead like Mandy and start your own conversation, this is the simple guide I give at many QualityLife events which #wordsandmusic followed so instinctively