Peace Leadership Conference Wrap Up
Ann Dinan is co-convener of the ILA Peace Leadership Affinity Group and President of the Deeper Leadership Institute. Previously she was Head of North American Operations for the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative. Ann has taught Strategic and Personal Leadership at Xavier University and is on the faculty of the Whole Foods Market Academy for Conscious Leadership. She trains, consults, and coaches in a variety of leadership-related area and is working on a new book on Peace Leadership.
MAGIC. That was the word I heard over and over at the close of the inaugural Peace Leadership Conference (PLC) created by the Deeper Leadership Institute (DLI) in partnership with the International Leadership Association (ILA). It was also the sentiment I personally felt throughout the conference.
The Peace Leadership Conference convened February 17-19 at the Aurovalley Ashram in Raiwala, India located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. Why here? Because it’s where the idea for this conference was conceptualized two and half years ago. I was visiting the ashram and realized that I was being housed at the Temple for Human Unity, whose ultimate goal of human unity — per the founder of the ashram — was world peace. With that background story, it became clear that this was the place to host the inaugural Peace Leadership Conference.
The location itself, near the spiritually important Ganges River and holy cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar, was tranquil. Not easy and also not difficult to reach, the journey to the ashram provided participants insight into the local culture and encouraged individuals interested in peace leadership to gather from all around the world.
The conference provided many learnings with respect to diverse perspectives and applications for peace leadership. Participants came from the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K., South Africa, the Seychelles, and, of course, India. An appreciation for the diverse attendance was a common theme in conference evaluations. As one person wrote, “It was great meeting people from different backgrounds and getting exposed to their work.”
The conference presentations, covering topics related to peace and leadership, included, in order:
Insights From Integral Yoga – This exploration of how the principles of integral yoga, upon which the ashram was founded, and the extracurricular events available to conference attendees, such as yoga and meditation, can help with achieving inner peace so that people are ready to work on peace in the world.
A Peace Leadership Model - The peace model I created, which is inclusive of both eastern and western approaches, was offered as a possible guide/model for working in the area of peace leadership. The model is posited on the idea that inner peace needs to be developed to support a just and caring global community.
Why Peace Is So Elusive - Using Richard Barrett’s Seven Stages of Psychological Development, participants reflected upon the ego/soul dynamics of worldviews and applied these learnings to an agenda for peace at the individual level, the internal level of the nation, and the level of external peace.
The Role of Peace Leadership in Resolving Conflict in Turbulent Times and The Inner Game of Leadership – Presenters shared the first hand experiences they had with resolving conflict in difficult situations.
Male Initiations: The Urgent Imperative for Global Peace – Attendees participated in an experiential understanding of the ego masculine and the ego feminine and how to resolve those towards peace between the genders.
Women, Leadership, and Peacekeeping and Peace Inside, Peace Outside, and Peace of Action – These two talks offered a discussion of the body of work in this area around inequity with respect to the representation of women at the peacekeeping table —and around the leadership table, in general — and the importance of women’s voices in the peace process.
Life's Principles for Peace: Taking Our Cue from Nature for Creating Conditions Conducive to Life - A biomimicry approach to peace was explored by recognizing the connection between peace and nature.
Creating a New (Ancient) Narrative of Peace: From Inner Peace to International Peacebuilding - Storytelling illustrated for the participants the importance of inner peace in the international peacebuilding world.
Engaging Entertainment Media in Storytelling From the Soul: Creating New Narratives About Human Unity – Storytelling on the larger stage of Hollywood and other international resources was discussed.
Sanctuary – A recitation of poetry was offered as a way for attendees to examine their inner selves for inner peace.
Closing Ceremony – Participants engaged in a silent dance of acknowledgement of all.
As a small conference with all participants engaged in the same sessions, many attendees quickly formed bonds that were nothing short of amazing and made plans to continue working with one another to further their interests in this area. Several participants have already approached me and expressed both desire and intent to return to a future Peace Leadership conference, with the hopes that it be an even longer and deeper experience. It was beautiful to witness people who were complete strangers only days before, share and experience with such openness!
From the location and its context to the topics and participants, the inaugural Peace Leadership conference truly provided a unique learning experience. And, when participants are eager, and in fact demanding, to stay connected and to gather together again, you know that magic has truly been created.