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Writing by Sarah Marshank and news from the Selfistry Community

Emergent Leadership: A Report from my First Selfistry Teacher Training

They arrived from all over—Utah, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Dubai—nine unique individuals ready to embark on a journey with me and with Selfistry. The way I viewed it, these good folks had made this seven day event happen. They’d called me forward in their hunger to share Selfistry.

I was humbled and terrified. I wasn’t sure how I would train them or what I would ask of them in return for carrying my baby into the world. I had no idea how tightly I was holding on to control, nor how willing they were to discover the road ahead together.

Let’s be clear. I’m a well educated educator. I’ve developed curriculum and delivered teachings across many disciplines. However, the content of this particular training felt elusive to me. Emergent. After attempting to structure a plan that felt contrived I decided instead to go with a quality of amorphousness and not force anything. After all, the discovery process is what Selfistry is all about. Why not allow the training be a fractal of the work itself? I loved this idea.

My plan was to spend the first three days diving deep into each of the realms that make up Selfistry’s core map. After all, one thing I know for certain is that the primary requisite for teaching this work is embodiment of it. Self as instrument is the guiding principle. It can be no other way. A cognitive understanding of Selfistry is essential, but understanding is secondary. Selfistry teachers need to be living what they’re teaching. Period.

I figured after we spent time in a deep dive together and could feel the depth of the realms in ourselves and each other, we could begin exploring how to transmit the work, how to structure the levels of our offerings, how to ensure that the work sustains integrity as it scales.

It was there, in the midway turning of the training, that the push back came.

Why is this training not like other more traditional trainings?

Why were you not clear beforehand what you were going to do and what you would expect from us?

Why does it seem as though you’re figuring it out as you go, and essentially using us to brainstorm or troubleshoot the next phase of your business’ development. And having us pay you for doing so?

The charge came sharp and strong.

I opened to it.

What else could I do?

I needed to look where they were pointing.

I had to see if it was true?

My response came out of me with a certainty rooted someplace deeper inside than I would’ve imagined it, had you asked me about my conviction and not put me in the position of being attacked. Classic, right? We never know what we’re made of until the shit hits the fan. There I was, placed squarely in the hot seat with my skin beginning to melt.

I explained that Selfistry is not only a unique offering for these times but like other post modern bodies of work, Selfistry, as a business, doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional business model. How I structure the offerings, open the revenue streams, strategize the marketing plan, and collaborate with partners must all take shape within an open field of inquiry. Selfistry as a business must be a system that allows for the organic quality of emergence to be of high value, maybe even central to the business strategy.

“If this does not work for you,” I said to the group, “ I completely understand. I’m happy to refund your money. I know I can’t prevent you from applying the principles of Selfistry into a method that you use with your clients. I claim no ownership of the realms, nor the perennial wisdom that permeates every element of Selfistry’s teachings. I merely claim authorship of the artistry that has come through me in the form of Selfistry herself. You’re free to do the same. Not only are you free, but I bless you on your way.”

My rootedness felt like fresh water coursing through the river of me. I really was feeling blessing towards the one particular woman whose eyes I was meeting with all my heart. I felt the certainty that Selfistry is not mine. I am not in control of her destiny. Selfistry is not for everybody. It’s not the one-and-only cure for humanity. Some people will love it. Some will hate it. Others will be indifferent. Some folks will view me as a charlatan; others, a guru. Most will never ever even notice that I exist.

All of this surfaced in me like a symphonic chorus instead of a cacophony. My shadow selves wanting to be right, to be seen, to not let people down, to not be messy, to not be imperfect, all arose within the field of my integrity, my being-seen-ness, my letting people down—right in that very moment—my messiness, my flagrant imperfection.

And it was all okay.

I was okay.

“If, however,” I continued, “you appreciate the beauty of Selfistry’s system and want to play with her, then you’re agreeing to engage in a journey of discovery with me on how to teach it, how to get paid, and how to bring it into the world. We’re in an emergent field. Alone. Together. I see no other way.”

The room was silent.

The field softened.

The conversation opened up.

We proceeded with the plan for the day.

By the end of the week we had forged a vision for Selfistry that incorporated each of our needs and dreams. Together we honed in on the heart of Selfistry and who it might benefit and how to share it with the world. We may not have a tight business plan with mission vision and values in place, but we’re carrying the soul of Selfistry into her next phase of growth.

On the final day, as we were discussing potential business models, the term Aquarian leadership came to me. I decided that this is the style of emergent leadership I’m employing with my business. Being born under the sun sign Aquarius, I figure I have the right. The archetype of Aquarius points to leadership, innovation, and teaching. However, the heart of the water bearer strives to include her community, seeking to walk with them into the future not carry them. If you’re still wondering what I mean by Aquarian leadership, reread this blog.

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