Emergent Leadership

By Sarah Marshank


On leadership and learning: (“Emergent Leadership: A Report from my First Selfistry Teacher Training”)

They arrived from all over the world—nine individuals ready to embark on a journey with me and with 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.

My plan was to spend a few days diving deep into the core map of Selfistry. Afterward we’d spend time diving deep into the embodied realms of Selfistry in motion. A shared exploration. But, push back was to come. Why is this training different than 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, using us to brainstorm the next phase of your business?

What else could I do? I needed to look where they were pointing. My response came with a certainty rooted deeper inside than I would’ve imagined.

How I structure the offerings (and run the business) must be a system that allows for organic emergence. “If this does not work for you,” I said to the group, “ I completely understand. I’m happy to refund your money. Not only are you free, but I bless you on your way.”

I felt a blessing towards the group. I felt certain 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. People will love or hate it. Others will be indifferent. Most will never ever notice that I exist. And it’s all okay.

“If, however, 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.” The room was silent. The field softened. The conversation opened up.

By the end of the week we had forged a vision for Selfistry that incorporated each of our needs and dreams. We honed in on the heart of the work and who it might benefit and how to share it with the world. Through this challenge and humbling I learned that strong leadership is not only possible but is strengthened and uplifted through vulnerability, listening, softening, and opening.

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