2. Social conversations were part of the glue that kept the group together. There was abeauty to it, and there emerged—quite naturally—a sort of jazzlike dialogue andexchange that created a harmonic resonance.3. Instead of serving as interrupters, the expressions of personal issues were part ofthe natural flow, and the needs were addressed organically. They were an integratedpart of the whole.4. It rarely happened that one participant would directly confront another, but when itdid happen, it looked different than the system I’m used to of offering directfeedback or being confronted myself on my own behavior. Instead, participantsmade suggestions, offered input, and invited inquiry. Within this context, the womencommunicated a lot to one another and learned from one another as well.5. The women were unabashed in establishing a sort of natural support system. Womentook care of each other and of the whole, with little fanfare, and yet with great heart.6. Women expressed their feelings very naturally, and when they did, there was a senseof ease about it and caring from the group. There was little drama; the womenseemed to naturally know what to do in response.This was a tribe, very different than the tribe I was used to or the one in which I grewup. I was raised in a male tribe, where agendas were set, where we tightly controlledoutcomes, and where the alpha male got his way. Hierarchies were natural in my tribe, andfocus and direct communications the norm.In my uninitiated mind, I found the behavior of this different tribe all quite draining atfirst. It did not produce direct and immediate outcomes. It did not match the way Iunderstood learning to happen. And it certainly didn’t follow the design of the workshop.Every bit of me wanted to shout, “Stop it!” or “Stay focused, d*&^% it!” Thankfully,
wisdom got the better of me. Rather than try to control the process and the outcome, I keptmy frustration rather quiet, and I kept observing. Instead of expecting the women to act likeI would (and thus finding them failing at their task), by valuing the difference between us Igrew fascinated by the cultural norms that emerged before me. I watched and listened. I thusbegan to honor this process, so foreign to my male mind.As the event unfolded, I could see the participants learn. It certainly wasn’t at my paceor in the way I was used to, but it happened nonetheless. At the conclusion, I could notclearly identify many moments of direct learning (at least the predefined learning that wehad designed to take place). To my surprise, the participants reported that it was a rich andwelcome learning experience. It was as though magically the learning happened in thewhite spaces between conversations. What seemed blank to me was rich with meaning,even the spaces part of the patchwork whole.