The following interview took place with Toke Møller.
What could I accomplish, if my leadership would enable
connectedness between people and efficiency in action? -Toke Paludan Møller
It would be difficult to describe Toke Paludan Møller without mentioning his intense curiosity that is reflected in some of the provocative questions driving his quest for wisdom. In contrast to his calm and gentle disposition, his questions stimulate thought and cut to the quick with precision:
• How do I dance in the space between Chaos and Order without surrendering to control?
• What if the solutions for our future are hidden in our collective intelligence and wisdom?
• What if hosting conversations is the kind of leadership that allows learning to take place?
These questions have been wandering around Europe and North America with Toke. Based in Silkeborg, Denmark, Toke specializes in designing and hosting gatherings for learning, dialogue, and practice in the areas of entrepreneurship, team and network building, sustainable leadership, educational renewal, and social responsibility. His work has taken him to all over Europe, Israel, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Between his overseas journeys, Toke has found the time to make an annual migration to Halifax and the Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership. For the past four years, Toke has co-led the module “Convening Strategic Conversations” with Marianne Knuth and "The Circle, The Brush and the Sword" with Barbara Bash and Bob Wing. The module explored how gatherings can be organized to ask meaningful questions in an inclusive way that enhances a group’s capacity for inquiry and dialogue.
Little did he know that connections made at the Institute would lead to even more collaborative projects in other parts of the world. Back in 2003, the Summer Institute featured a special plenary on healing and conflict, highlighting the dialogue of participants from countries such as South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine.
Toke recalls his experience: “I was in the café on reconciliation work and was touched by the stories and conversations– it was one of the most meaningful plenaries I’ve been to.”
Towards the end of the week, Toke hosted an “open house” to allow participants to get a taste of other core modules. During this open house, Toke made the connection with one of his future collaborators – one of the Healing Conflict participants named Yitzhak Mendelson from the Middle East.
“We talked about the dilemma that there are hot beds of violence around the world and reconciliation needs to happen everywhere, not just in the Middle East. We’ve forgotten how to really be together. That hit him [Yitzhak] deeply as he had felt the burden of being the troubled area.”
This conversation led to an interesting collaboration between Yitzhak (from Israel), a Palestinian named Zoubghbi, and an American named Whit Jones. This team had a vision of breaking the cycle of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Toke was invited by the group to design a process to best support a meaningful conversation. In October 2004, this project, called the Centre for Individual Recovery and Reconciliation (CIRR) www.cirr.org, successfully brought together a group of Israeli and Palestinians for a three-day gathering. Toke comments, “This is one example of how connections born in the Institute create something in the world. It is taking leadership and compassion into practice. It is also about allowing the humanity to surface even beyond great personal pain.”
Another project born out of the Summer Institute is a project with another participant, Phil Cass, involves creating host training for individual leaders in Columbus.
The focus of Toke’s work is about finding new ways to bring people together in a deeper way. Or as Toke says, “To be really here, focus the energy and speak from a different place.”
And throughout his work, Toke is looking at ways to explore some of these questions.
“How can we lead with clarity, strength and courage? I’m discovering it is both warriorship and midwife skills.”
He goes on to say, “my work in discovering the art of the male and female energy converging and becoming one. One moment leading, the next following. One moment a teacher, one moment a student.”
“In my heart, I’m seeking a simple oneness with the moment. With the 'in' breath and with the 'out' breath, the dance of life. There is work to do in the world and none of us can do it alone.”
In 2006 Toke will be returning to the Summer Institute and will co-lead with Barbara Bash and Bob Wing the module “Circle, Brush & Sword – Hosting conversations as a martial art.” Through the warrior arts of brush calligraphy and Aikido, the workshop will focus on creating and holding conversational spaces where learning and insight can flourish, and where complex problems can be resolved.
Workshop details can be found at http://www.shambhalainstitute.org/2005/cm_moeller.shtml.