Reflection on the Community Winter City Gathering

Collage Winter City Gathering FNL

On January 27, 2024, the Foundation for Natural Leadership (FNL) Community hosted the Winter City Gathering, an inspiring annual event themed “Listening and Connecting”. The gathering took place at De Roos, a beautiful venue for self-development on the edge of Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The purpose of the Winter City Gathering was to explore the art of listening and understand how it can help us truly connect with one another.

It was a beautiful meeting at the start of the year to reconnect with each other, former trail participants, and those interested. All were inspired by nature and interested in personal leadership.

The four levels of listening

The Winter City Gathering began with a fascinating introduction about the power of listening and the four levels of listening, as proposed by Otto Scharmer. Boy van Droffelaar, PhD, known for his research on the effects of nature on leadership, started the session.

He emphasized that listening can occur at different levels. The first level is listening where the sender leaves little room for others, similar to some public figures. The second level of listening implies an open mind with sincere attention and factual information. The third level of listening goes deeper, involving opening our hearts to the experiences and perspectives of others. The fourth level of listening is listening with an open will, creating space for inspiration, collective creativity, and genuine change. Boy’s story was inspiring for everyone, with examples such as Holding Space, giving space to others, empathetic listening, and more.

After Boy’s inspiring contribution, Esther Koning calmly and openly guided us to also listen to ourselves. Then, we went into Vondelpark, first in silence and later in pairs, to simply listen to everything around us amidst the relative bustle of the park.

Guest Speaker Princess Laurentien of Orange-Nassau

In a time of increasing fragmentation and polarization, the speaker and moderator, Joost Leeflang, highlighted the importance of connection, which can be built by listening without judgment and with authenticity as the foundation. FNL had the honor of welcoming Princess Laurentien of Orange-Nassau, who shared her insights and experiences regarding listening as a tool for change and connection in the context of the Dutch child care benefits scandal.

Princess Laurentien emphasized how you can initiate change by listening and delving into others. Her inspiring story provided deep insight into the dynamics of power and systems in contrast to human-centric leadership and empathy. She highlighted the role of action-oriented leadership after truly understanding others, she is an example of personal leadership for many.

After Laurentien’s contribution, the participants came together for lunch, where they had the opportunity to engage in conversation and listen to each other’s stories and reflections.

The 2024 Winter City Gathering was a valuable event that highlighted the art of listening as a powerful tool for creating connection in a world that sometimes seems divided. The inspiring words of the speakers and the experiences during the walk in nature will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the participants, encouraging them to listen and connect with others in their environment with open minds, hearts, and will.

And if you want to contribute to that connection, sign up as a listening writer:

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