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Read an excerpt from the book!

Holding Space: A Guide to Mindful Facilitation

is out now!

Before you buy, read an excerpt from the first chapter.

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Holding a Space for Others

“When we hold space for one another, we are fully present to the

other’s experience. We are fully present in the moment and in the

sharing. We are witnesses to human experience.”

–Parker Palmer

THE HARBOR TWINKLED in the morning light through the large

windows that made-up the western wall of the hotel ballroom.

Three well-placed bouquets of flowers sat on linen covered

tables. Staff wandered in and out of the space, placing immaculately

arranged trays of food down for breakfast and shifting chairs

into order.

Kate, Izzy and the rest of the Nebo team bustled about, ensuring

their microphones were in place, the slide advancer functioned

properly and the graphic facilitator had enough space to set up her

large, blank canvas. By the end of the day, that canvas would be filled

with a collective vision of a major American city could look like in five years.


A large organization had enlisted The Nebo Company to work

with them to create a vision for a future that could transform the

city. The event was an opportunity for the leaders to unite together

around a shared dream and work in unison towards a better future

for the city they loved.

The event took place at the edge of the harbor, offering the

participants a view of the water and of the city’s skyline. From the

choice of the room where the event took place, the seats arranged

in a large circle and the natural lighting glancing in from the windows,

each element was thoughtfully curated. As the conveners of

this event, we sought to create a memorable experience that would

leave an imprint on each leader who walked into the room.

Towards the end of the day, after framing the topic and diving

deep into important conversations, we gathered the leaders and

had them read aloud the visions that they had created. They stood,

and with the harbor still glistening in the background, they described

a city that didn’t yet exist, but could. One after the other,

these leaders dreamed together, and by the end of the day it felt

like a tide had turned. The road ahead was long and winding, but

the first brick had been laid. New connections were forged, commitments

made, and, as the participants left the room there was

a lightness to the air that was evident in their movements as they

walked out of the space.

To “hold space” means to create the conditions for transformation.

In our work, we hold space for individuals, organizations

and teams every day. We help lead them through their toughest

challenges and remind them to tap into their innermost resources–

their own stories, experiences, emotions, barriers and breath.

The future depends upon the work of facilitation. In order to

solve our most complex challenges, we must have conversations

that produce understanding, action and new outcomes. While

facilitation proves to be demanding and intense work, it is also

deeply rewarding. To do this work well, one must commit to growing

through the work, to examining ourselves as facilitators, opening

ourselves up to feedback and trying methods and modalities

that create breakthroughs.

After thousands of facilitations over many years, we recognize

that there is something special that distinguishes skilled facilitators

and makes for transformational facilitation. We see genius

in the unique, authentic work of many different styles and approaches.

A willingness to bring one’s authentic self to the work,

accompanied by thoughtful, disciplined preparation characterize

great facilitation. The mindset, skills and methods of facilitation

can be learned and honed. As a facilitator, there are many ways to

establish the conditions for success for yourself and for those who

participate with you. In truth, the task of holding space is the same

whether you are leading a group of executive leaders through a

strategic visioning process or hosting your family reunion.


How do we do this intentionally, thoughtfully and mindfully?


This book first and foremost offers a philosophy, a belief in

what it means to create the conditions for transformation, and

the strategies and tools that you need to create safe, creative environments

where important work can be done. We invite you to

consider the ideas here and experiment with the strategies. Our

approach has grown out of the work itself, and we expect that your

approach will evolve that way, too.

The starting point–and where we begin in this book together–

is within ourselves. To hold space in a transformational way, one

must hold space in a mindful way.


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