Much of the time I do things for others that I cannot do for myself. Hah! Maybe this is typical for women, or moms, or Italian-Americans. Maybe it is just an archaic social leftover. But I often find the motivation for making a grand gesture once there is someone else counting on it, or people who will be the happy recipients of said gesture.
Perhaps my own cultural programming is why, when I learned about “hosting practice” a few years ago, it was instantly appealing to me. Here was a set of methods for working more effectively, getting things done — all strung together with a basic notion of hosting others. The idea was that you could take these methods along with traditional tenets of event planning and create extraordinary spaces that allowed people to come together in deep conversation to solve complex problems and build profound relationships with one another in a fairly short period of time.
A basic definition of host is one who receives other people. This is fascinating to me. By hosting, you are literally opening yourself up to others and inviting them into your space. If you extend that a bit – there’s also the assumption that you are inviting others into a space that is engaging, meaningful, fun.
I first practiced these methods at work, within my own software development team. But I noticed quickly that their application was universal. Soon, each time I considered planning an event, whether it was user testing, a birthday dinner, or a 4-day retreat, I was suddenly seeing everything through the considered lens of a host. For example, it became critical to think a lot about the space or “container” I was trying to create for others to inhabit. What was I inviting people into? What were the elements that might compete for space? What or who must I save space for? What could we accomplish?
These kinds of questions generated more energy. They spurred me on to plan more events, craft more invitations, and practice creating more spaces where imaginative things could happen. For me, it was like finding a tool I didn’t know I’d had all along, and being so eager to use it.
As my hosting practice deepens, it feeds me as much as it feeds the communities with whom I engage. As I create events with a thought toward others, I end up creating a space for myself to thrive as well.